Before I gave my life to Jesus Christ I was a rebel. I lived in sin.
"All have sinned," the Bible says. From the time of Adam, the first man, all people have broken God's laws. We live in a world that has rebelled against God.
Because of my sin, I experienced physical and emotional sickness. The 38th chapter of Deuteronomy tells us that sickness is a "curse" that man has brought upon himself by disobeying God and breaking his commandments. This "curse" has not only given entrance to virulent diseases, physical infirmities and emotional illness, it has also given the devil power over all who are under it.
I am not blaming the devil for my sin. We bring many sicknesses on ourselves through bad habits and riotous living. I am simply saying that in some cases, according to God's word, disease and sickness are attributed to demons. The curse of sin on mankind is far more devastating than we understand.
In his infinite mercy and kindness, God has made a way for the curse to be removed. God is holy and righteous; therefore, God must punish sin. Otherwise, God would deny his very nature. At the same time, he is a God of perfect love. He loves us so much that "he made him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in him."
Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came from heaven to take the judgment we deserved. Galatians 3:13 says, "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us."
In a hospital in New Bern, N.C., in the winter of 1975, I cried out in my suffering, "God, if you're really out there, please help me." I didn't really know how to pray. I knew little about Jesus of the Bible. But I was desperate and just being honest. Over the next few years God progressively healed me, and I gave my life to him. Since that time I have learned that he has always loved me and took no pleasure in seeing me suffer.
God loves man. He still wants to bless man. It is important for us to realize that God does not give empty promises concerning his desire to heal. Jesus paid dearly for those promises, with pain and blood. He did it for you and me.
The prophet Isaiah wrote about Jesus, "Surely our griefs he himself bore, and our sorrows he carried ... and by his scourging we are healed."
"Griefs" and "sorrows" literally mean "sickness" and "pains" in the Hebrew language. Jesus bore our sickness, carried our pains, and by the wounds he suffered on the cross we are healed. Notice, the verb is not future but present tense: "We are healed."
How do we get this healing? Jesus said, "Ask and you shall receive ... for everyone who asks receives." There is not one instance in the Bible where Jesus refused to heal anyone. Has he changed? No, "He is the same yesterday and today, yes and forever." What he did physically when on the Earth he is doing today by his Spirit. He is only a prayer away.
The Rev. Gene Smith is pastor of In Focus Baptist Church of Augusta.