Many Christians blame Satan for every unpleasant thing that happens in their lives including sickness and disease. The Bible does clearly indicate that sickness is often the result of actions by Satan and demons, but not every time.
When they reached the crowd, a man approached and knelt down before Him. “Lord,” he said, “have mercy on my son, because he has seizures and suffers severely. He often falls into the fire and often into the water. Jesus replied, “You unbelieving and rebellious generation! How long will I be with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring him here to Me.” Then Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and from that moment the boy was healed. Matthew 17:14-15, 17-18
As He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath, a woman was there who had been disabled by a spirit for over 18 years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. But the Lord answered him and said, “Hypocrites! Doesn’t each one of you untie his ox or donkey from the feeding trough on the Sabbath and lead it to water? Satan has bound this woman, a daughter of Abraham, for 18 years — shouldn’t she be untied from this bondage on the Sabbath day? ” Luke 13:10-11, 15-16
So Satan left the Lord ’s presence and infected Job with terrible boils from the sole of his foot to the top of his head. Job 2:7
Not All Sickness and Disease Comes From Satan
On the other hand there were times during, His ministry, that Jesus gives us some indication that not all sickness is the result of direct demonic activity. When a sickness was caused by a demon Jesus identified it as such, as were the examples I just gave of the young boy with seizures and the woman who could not stand straight. However there are other instances of Jesus healing people without the mention of casting out or rebuking of a demon(s). attacked by demons;
So Jesus and His disciples got up and followed him. Just then, a woman who had suffered from bleeding for 12 years approached from behind and touched the tassel on His robe, for she said to herself, “If I can just touch His robe, I’ll be made well! ” But Jesus turned and saw her. “Have courage, daughter,” He said. “Your faith has made you well.” And the woman was made well from that moment. Matthew 9:19-22
After He left the synagogue, He entered Simon’s house. Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked Him about her. So He stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. She got up immediately and began to serve them.
Some Sickness and Disease Comes From God
We don’t like to admit it, but there are even examples in scripture where God sometimes intentionally allows, or even causes sickness for His sovereign purposes.
Yahweh said to him, “Who made the human mouth? Who makes him mute or deaf, seeing or blind? Is it not I, Yahweh? Exodus 4:11
The Lord afflicted the king, and he had a serious skin disease until the day of his death. He lived in a separate house, while Jotham, the king’s son, was over the household governing the people of the land. 2 Kings 15:5
The angel answered him, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and tell you this good news. Now listen! You will become silent and unable to speak until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their proper time.” Luke 1:19-20
The Greatest Source of Sickness and Disease is Sin
There is also another reason, perhaps the greatest one or all, for sickness and disease, and that is sin. We are fallen beings because of Adam and Eve with physical bodies prone to disease and illness. Some sickness is simply a result of the natural course of things in this world. When Adam and Eve sinned their punishment, which was passed down to all of mankind, was death which is a form or sickness..
but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for on the day you eat from it, you will certainly die.” Genesis 2:17
Death, as well as sickness, are part of the effect of Adam's sin. When Adam sinned, he died. His death was not an immediate physical death, but spiritual death, a separation from God.
But your iniquities have built barriers between you and your God, and your sins have made Him hide His face from you so that He does not listen. Isaiah 59:2
Sin, with its impact, entered the creation through Adam who was to have dominion over it.
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness. They will rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the livestock, all the earth, and the creatures that crawl on the earth.” Genesis 1:26
Adam’s actions did not only affect mankind, but the entire creation. Man was now subject to diseases, sickness, illnesses and deterioration. Sin which is separation from God, was the source of disease. Just as every person is born in sin and subject to it and the consequences and punishment for it, every person is subject to the disease, sickness, illnesses and deterioration that came as the result of sins effect on the entire creation.
For the creation was subjected to futility — not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it — in the hope that the creation itself will also be set free from the bondage of corruption into the glorious freedom of God’s children. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together with labor pains until now. Romans 8:20-22
Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, in this way death spread to all men, because all sinned. Romans 5:12
Nobody is Immune
The entrance of sin, at the urging of Satan, is the primary cause of sickness. As we get older we get wrinkles, some of us need glasses, our muscles get shorter, and eventually we all die. Both the righteous and the unrighteous are subject to sickness and disease.
According to Scripture, the cause of man’s psychological and physical problems always has its origin in the fall of Adam. There would be no psychological problem or physical disease if there had been no sin. The original sin of Adam resulted in our individual, personal sin, sins against us which are often not our fault, and the many diseases and eventual death which are not always the direct result of personal sin.
Non-spiritual causes of abnormality include genetic influences which have been documented to exist, and must not be confused with those causes which are the result of personal behavior and personal sin. Genetic influences are shown to cause a predisposition toward certain physical and psychological ailments. These include the fact that gender influences many mood disorders. Women are known to experience more frequent depression than their male counterparts. In identical twin studies, the bipolar and schizophrenic disorders have been shown to have a very decided genetic influence.
Additionally, the victims of organic disorders (such as brain tumors and disorders resulting from physical trauma, as in the case of accident victims) are not to be held personally responsible for their inability to function at the level expected by society. It goes without saying that a child with down syndrome would not be personally responsible for this condition and should have limited social and spiritual expectations of responsibility. Unfortunately many who do not exhibit physical manifestations of their psychological problem are shown little respect for their non-physical, psychological disability. - A Christian Perspective on Medication by Dr. Scott Hadden and Theron Messer
The Apostle Paul preached to the Galatians the first time because he was sick.
you know that previously I preached the gospel to you because of a physical illness. You did not despise or reject me though my physical condition was a trial for you. On the contrary, you received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus Himself. Galatians 4:13-14
Timothy has stomach problems;
Don’t continue drinking only water, but use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses. 1 Timothy 5:23
The prophet Elisha died from an illness;
When Elisha became sick with the illness that he died from, Jehoash king of Israel went down and wept over him and said, “My father, my father, the chariots and horsemen of Israel! ” 2 Kings 13:14
We all know very devout believers, including my late wife, who is now with the Lord, who suffered and died the result of sickness and disease.
No Matter the Source God is Still in Control
The point is this that no matter the source, Satan, demons, the fallen state of creation, or God Himself, this world remains under His sovereign control.. For the believer, that means that God even works sickness together for their good.
We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28
When we are suffering with a sickness, disease, or injury, we usually focus solely on our own suffering. The key is remembering that God's ways are higher than our ways. Sickness can even be be a means of God's loving discipline.
Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your word. It was good for me to be afflicted so that I could learn Your statutes. I know, Lord , that Your judgments are just and that You have afflicted me fairly. Psalms 119:67, 71-71, 75
It’s hard for us to understand why God would work in this way but remember what I said earlier about him working everything together for good.
Sickness and suffering is never an easy thing to deal with, but sickness should not cause us to lose faith in God. God is good, even when we are suffering. Even the ultimate of suffering—death—is an act of God's goodness. Think of loved ones, who were believers and are now with the Lord as a result of sickness or suffering regrets and what they went through in this life.
One word of caution when people are suffering, it is our responsibility to minister to them, care for them, pray for them, and comfort them. When a person is suffering, it is not always appropriate to emphasize that God will bring good out of the suffering. Yes, that is the truth. However, in the midst of suffering, it is not always the best time to share that truth. Suffering people need our love and encouragement, not necessarily a reminder of sound biblical theology.
For the child of God, the hope is not perfect health in this lifetime but a resurrected body in the life to come.
Brothers, I tell you this: Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, and corruption cannot inherit incorruption. Listen! I am telling you a mystery: We will not all fall asleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the blink of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we will be changed. For this corruptible must be clothed with incorruptibility, and this mortal must be clothed with immortality. When this corruptible is clothed with incorruptibility, and this mortal is clothed with immortality, then the saying that is written will take place: Death has been swallowed up in victory. Death, where is your victory? Death, where is your sting? 1 Corinthians 15:50-55
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will no longer exist; grief, crying, and pain will exist no longer, because the previous things have passed away. Revelation 21:4
** All scriptures are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible unless otherwise noted
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Donald Jacobs is an ordained minister with the spiritual gift of teaching. He is the Associate Pastor of a non-denominational church in Los Angeles, CA.