Healing And Aging – A Great Controversy

Perfect physical health has been provided for all believers in Jesus’ atoning death. This provision for absolutely perfect health will one day manifest itself completely at the resurrection of our physical bodies. Christ's atonement provides the basis on which God can heal believers’ bodies now and later resurrect their bodies in a state of perfection. Our resurrected bodies will be free from all aging and decay.

1 Corinthians 15:51-54 predicts: “Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not al sleep, but we shall all be changed – in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’”

In Greek, the word “mortal” used twice above is a form of the word “thnetos” which means “subject or liable to death”. [1] In Greek, the word “immortality” is a form of the word “athanasia” and means “deathlessness” [2] or “the state of not being subject to death”. [3] The word “corruptible” used twice above is a form of “phthartos” in Greek and means “perishable, subject to decay or destruction” [4] or “of man’s body as death-doomed” [5] or “that which is bound to disintegrate and die”. [6] In Greek, the word “incorruption” used twice above is a form of the word “aphtharsia” and means “incorruptibility, immortality” [7] or “the state of not being subject to decay”. [8] It is obvious from examining these Greek words used in 1 Corinthians 15:51-54 that believers will have bodies which are mortal or subject to death and perishable or subject to decay or aging in this earthly life and their bodies will only lose these features at the resurrection.

Forms of the word “thnetos” meaning “mortal, subject to death” [9] are also used in Romans 6:12, 8:11, 2 Corinthians 4:11 and 5:4. Romans 6:12 and 8:11 refer to the mortal bodies of believers. 2 Corinthians 4:11 uses the word “flesh” in the sense of the body when it speaks of “our mortal flesh”. Vine says the “flesh” in 2 Corinthians 4:11 “stands, not simply for the body, but the body as that which consists of the element of decay, and is thereby death-doomed”. [10]

2 Corinthians 5:4 refers to our bodies as a tent and mortal: “For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life.”

1 Corinthians 15:42 refers to our present corrupt bodies being resurrected in a state of incorruption: “So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption.” In Greek, the word “corruption” here is “phthora”. “Phthora” means “the state of being perishable” [11] or “corruption, decay…corruptibility, mortality” [12] or “to rot or decay”. [13]

In Romans 7:24, Paul referred to the body as “this body of death”. There is much debate about whether Romans 7:14-24 refers to regenerated believers or the unsaved. If it refers to born-again believers, verse 24 also shows the bodies of believers are infected with the dying process.

There is Biblical tension between those verses which refer to God healing us by His grace and mercy and those verses previously quoted about the mortal decaying state of our physical bodies. For example, Acts 3:16 records: “And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.” In Greek, the expression “perfect soundness” here is a form of the word “holokleria” which means “a state of complete health or soundness in all parts of the body” [14] or “wholeness, completeness, soundness in all parts”. [15]

 

The Biblical balance between God-given healing and aging

 

But despite God miraculously giving this man complete health and soundness in all parts of his body, the man still had a mortal decaying aging body. This man later died.

Before our deaths, we can enjoy an exceedingly large measure of the healing power made available to us through Jesus’ death. But to say we can be healed to the degree our bodies no longer age but instead remain in a perfectly youthful state is Biblically unsound. For example, in 2 Corinthians 4:16 Paul said: “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.” This verse demonstrates that believers’ physical bodies are wasting away or decaying through the aging process even though their inner beings are being renewed every day.

In Greek, the expression “is perishing” in 2 Corinthians 4:16 a form of the word “diaphtheiro” and is present tense. “Diaphtheiro” means “to corrupt utterly, through and through” [16] or “to corrupt or destroyed utterly, to waste, bring to decay”. [17] The use of the word “destroyed” in this previous definition refers to the ultimate result of this perishing or decaying process – death. This aging or decaying process is a result of the Fall (see Genesis 2:17 and 3:19). In Greek, the present tense of the words “is perishing” signify the fact that this perishing or aging process is continuous or ongoing. The present tense in ancient Greek refers not to the time of the action but to the continuous or repeated or ongoing nature of the action.

This wasting away does not mean God desires believers to be full of sickness and disease. Such a conclusion would be contrary to other New Testament verses. But 2 Corinthians 4:16 shows that believers will have physical bodies which will increasingly show evidence of aging until they die. Then after death, all believers will experience what Paul refers to in Philippians 3:20-21: “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.”

We cannot through faith in God’s promises of healing and/or through obedience to God’s commands receive in the years of our earthly life the total removal or complete eradication of all the aging processes in their bodies which causes us to wear glasses, have bald heads, have grey hair, have false teeth and so on.

Some churchgoers believe God’s people can choose if their faith is supposedly strong enough to live for as long as they want. (Maybe I should choose in “faith to live to 1 million years old and delay Jesus’ Second Coming as a result. I say this in jest!)

Such ideas sound appealing. But they are contrary to God’s Word. Such teachings are based on the unstated assumption that believers in Christ can have the equivalent of fully resurrected bodies while living in their earthly lives. It is only fully resurrected bodies which will be totally freed from all effects of aging.

 

The resurrection of the body is a future event

 

In 2 Timothy 2:15-18, Paul attacked the teachings of Hymenaeus and Philetus for teaching that the resurrection of the physical body can occur during our earthy lives: “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and vain babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness. And their message will spread like cancer. Hymenaeus and Philetus are of this sort, who have strayed concerning the truth, saying that the resurrection is already past; and they overthrow the faith of some.” Note Paul here told Timothy to rightly divide the Word of truth and to avoid the babblings of teachers like Hymenaeus and Philetus. Paul warned that the babblings of such people spread like cancer, increase to more ungodliness and destroy some people’s faith in Christ.

Similar things to what Paul warned in 2 Timothy 2:15-18 have happened to those Pentecostals and Charismatics who teach believers can have the equivalent of resurrected perfect human bodies in this earthly life. Their teachings have spread like cancer and resulted in many gullible souls losing their faith in Jesus Christ when they found such false teachings did not work. Many have believed God for things which the written Word does not specifically promise and then when they failed to receive, blamed God or backslid through thinking they had little faith.

In 2 Timothy 2:15-18, Paul does not specify exactly how the false teachings of Hymenaeus and Philetus caused an increase in ungodliness. But over the years, I have observed various forms of ungodliness resulting from teachings which suggest believers can have the equivalent of resurrected perfected human bodies in their earthly lives.

Believers who rightly divide God’s Word avoid the idle babblings of teachers who suggest we can have a resurrected perfect human body in this life.

 

The firstfruits foretaste of the future resurrection

 

Romans 8:23 says: “And not only they, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.” In the Old Testament, the word “firstfruits” usually refers to what God’s people give to Him. But here Paul uses the term to mean the Person whom God has given to His people. The Holy Spirit is here the firstfruits. Paul is saying here either that the measure of the Holy Spirit we now have is a foretaste of the greater measure we will have after our death and/or the Holy Spirit is a foretaste of the multiple other blessings of God’s grace we will receive in future.

In Romans 8:11, Paul says the Holy Spirit will give life to our mortal bodies in future: “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” In Greek, the expression “will give life” is in the future tense and not present or ongoing tense. Also note in Greek, the word “mortal” is a form of the word “thnetos” which as stated earlier means “subject or liable to death, mortal”. [18]

Verses like Luke 4:18, Acts 10:38 and 1 Corinthians 12:9 show the Holy Spirit is the healer. So the Holy Spirit will not only resurrect our bodies in a state of immortality and perfection. As the firstfruits, the Holy Spirit is also now physically healing the bodies of believers from diseases and sicknesses. This is why I believe physical healing of believers’ bodies in this life is a first fruits of the later resurrection which is also the Holy Spirit’s work.

When God heals unbelievers by His grace and mercy, this is not a firstfruits of the resurrection unless they are later converted. But it is still given by the Holy Spirit on the basis of Jesus’ atoning death.

All believers can in faith receive healing from all sicknesses and diseases through God’s undeserved grace and mercy. But to receive the supernatural removal of the effects of various aging processes in the body requires a sovereign miracle from God. For example, in this earthly life to receive new youthful hair on a bald head, to see grey hairs changed to the person’s original colour and to see old skin rejuvenated to being like teenager’s skin requires a miracle which is not specifically promised to all believers. In His sovereignty or supreme rule, God decides who receive such miracles. Such miracles are called “the working of miracles” if given through others.

Note in 1 Corinthians 12:11, Paul says such miracles are under the control of God’s sovereign will: “But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.” If believers receive such miracles directly from God themselves, such acts of God’s sovereignty are also different from normal healing miracles received by faith.

I have heard many ministries preach and pray for the sick over the years. Have you ever noticed that all these end up with greying hair and/or bald patches, wrinkling skin and/or missing and/or decaying teeth and other signs of heading towards physical death? All healing ministries and other believers end up with physical bodies which cannot run as fast and move as flexibly as they did when they were younger. Normal parts of the aging process involve greying of the hair, wrinkling of the skin, decay of the teeth and often the gums and so on.

Even the great healing evangelist Smith Wigglesworth wore glasses to read his Bible. [19]

Also have you noticed that all healing ministries, even the most outstanding like John G, Lake, Kathryn Kulhman and Smith Wigglesworth did not live to 150 or 200 or 1000 or 1 million or more years old? Would you dare make the ridiculous comment that Lake, Kulhman, Wigglesworth and others died at less than 100 years old because they lacked faith in God and His Word. If you do say such a thing, you are ignoring many verses in the Bible.

Also note that those people recorded in the Bible as being raised from the dead later died. Even the miracle of raising them from the dead did not remove the effects of aging in their bodies. Christ's resurrected body was different from the bodies of people like Lazarus who were raised from the dead in a lesser sense.

 

Similar to the sinless perfectionists or eradicationists

 

Those who teach that believers in Christ can have the total removal or eradication of the processes and effects of aging are similar to sinless perfectionists or eradicationist preachers who enjoyed much popularity around the beginning of the 1900’s. The sinless perfectionists and eradicationists said rightly that total victory over all sin and perfect sanctification was provided for by Jesus’ atonement (see Hebrews 10:10). On the basis of this wonderful truth, they said that all believers could by faith reach a stage of permanent perfect sinlessness during this life. The eradicationists were similar. They taught that by faith believers could obtain the total eradication of the flesh during this life.

The sinless perfectionists confused living a blameless Christian life with permanent sinless perfection. This is just as some healing ministries have confused healing of all sicknesses and diseases with the total absence of aging. Refer to Chapter    “Integrity in the New Testament” for more details on being blameless before God. Part of being blameless is turning from all known sins.

Some of the former said sinless perfection involves only absence of known sin. Note, I believe that Christians can have victory over known sin, but on many occasions will have various sins in their lives that are hidden from their awareness.

Other sinless perfectionists who were involved in actual sins such as selfish anger or lack of love would attempt in so-called “faith” to deny their sins were actual sins. This is similar to how some healing ministries claim in “faith” to possess perfect physical bodies despite the fact they wear toupees, have false teeth, have tooth fillings, have wrinkled skin, have grey hair and so on.

It was obvious to other Christians that the sinless perfectionists had not reached a stage of perfect permanent sinlessness. This is just as it is obvious to others that there has never been a healing ministry who has had a perfect body in the sense of the total removal of all its aging processes. But the sinless perfectionists continued to live in a “fairyland” of unreality and denial in which they insisted they must continue to believe that they had received this permanent state of perfection and sinlessness even if what seemed to be sins were still manifesting in their lives. This is similar to these healing ministries who claim to have perfect bodies by faith despite the fact it is obvious to all who observe them that they have aging imperfect bodies.

The sinless perfectionists tried to bring the final complete manifestation of perfect permanent sinlessness, which will be a future certain occurrence in believers’ lives in heaven because of Jesus’ atoning death, into their earthly lives. This is similar to what some healing ministries do also. They try by “faith” to have the equivalent of resurrected human bodies prior to the resurrection. Both groups are to be commended for their zeal but to be corrected for their imbalanced use of the written Word of God.

Total victory over all known and unknown sin, healing and the total eradication of aging processes in the body through the resurrection are provided through God’s salvation by grace on the basis of Jesus’ atoning death and resurrection.

We should aim by faith to walk every day in the victory over sin that Jesus has provided for us by His atonement. Also, we should aim by faith each day to manifest God’s healing power in our mortal bodies. But we must avoid the errors of those who teach we can reach a stage of permanent perfect sinlessness and the total removal of all aging processes from our physical bodies during our present earthly lives.

In Matthew 6:10, Jesus taught His disciples to pray that God’s will in heaven be manifested on Earth: “Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” In heaven, there is no sin, sickness or disease. Also in future, every human in heaven will have resurrected bodies which do not age. God will answer Christ's prayer found in Matthew 6:10.

But to say God will immediately answer it in its fullness in relation to there being no sin on Earth and believers now having bodies which no longer age is contrary to other New Testament verses. The resurrection and permanent perfect sinlessness are future events associated with Jesus Second Coming.

 

The ultimate physical healing

 

It is wonderful for us by faith to receive very large numbers of physical healings based on Jesus’ atoning death. But we need to remember the ultimate physical healing begins at our death and is culminated at the resurrection of our physical bodies.

1 Corinthians 15:40-44 declares: “There are also celestial bodies and terrestrial bodies; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.” Read the whole of 1 Corinthians 15:40-55.

Many Christians have such an earthbound limited doctrine of healing. They do not emphasise that our physical deaths will be the beginning of the greatest physical healing we will ever experience. Such people are often only interested in physical healing so they can live longer to build their own little kingdoms here on Earth.

If Jesus Christ wishes us to remain alive, that is wonderful. But if He wishes us to be with Him, we have a strange unsurrendered attitude of we do not want this. How different was Paul’s attitude expressed in Acts 20:22-24: “And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me. But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” and Acts 21:12-13: “And when we heard these things, both we and those from that place pleaded with him not to go up to Jerusalem. Then Paul answered, ‘What do you mean by weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus’.”

In Colossians 3:1-3, God commands us through Paul’s words not to keep our minds primarily focussed on earth: “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”

Many Christians do not really believe we are only strangers in this world and just passing through. Their attitude is contrary to Hebrews 11:13 and 1 Peter 2:11. 1 Peter 2:11 says: “Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul.

 


 


[1] Vine, page 417.

[2] Ibid, page 320.

[3] Louw and Nida, page 268.

[4] Bauer, page 857.

[5] Vine page 131.

[6] Louw and Nida, page 267.

[7] Bauer, page 125.

[8] Louw and Nida, page 268.

[9] Perschbacher, page 203.

[10] Vine, page 417.

[11] Bauer, page 858.

[12] Perschbacher, page 428.

[13] Louw and Nida, page 277.

[14] Ibid, page 268.

[15] Bauer, page 564.

[16] Vine, page 130.

[17] Perschbacher, page 97.

[18] Vine, page 417.

[19] Barry Chant, “Heart of Fire”, The House of Tabor, Unley Park, 1984, page 68.

 

 


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