Does Confession of Sin bring Physical Healing?
James 5:15 suggests that the prayer of faith brings healing. Interestingly, this very unusual word for prayer is used only two other times and it is translated both times as "vow" (Acts 18:18; 21:23). This is, of course, accompanied by the Elders anointing the sick person with oil (v. 14) as well as confession of sins (v. 16). Thus it appears that this trio—Elders' oil, vow of faith, and the confession of sins—comprise a sacred request for healing. This raises a number of questions, but here I would like to address just one: the confession of sins as part of the healing process. I never anoint anyone with oil without first asking this question: Do you have any unconfessed sin in your life? There is simply too much power in the process of anointing to allow the infection of sin to be present with it. While sickness and sin are not always connected (cf. John 9:1-2), there certainly is Biblical precedent for connecting the two. Often sickness results from physiological causes of sin (anxiety, breaking the Sabbath principle, chemical abuse, etc), but there is also the spiritual curse of sin that affects the body. Paul explains that those who take the Lord' Supper improperly expose themselves to sickness or even death: "That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep" (1 Cor 11:30). Moreover, over half of the demonic episodes in the Gospels involve sicknesses of various sorts—blind, deaf, mute, epileptic, scoliosis. Hence, both demonization (often connected to sin) and unconfessed sin can cause sickness. Thus, the confession of sins seems to be essential to healing. What does this have to do with a blog about self-abnegation? Everything! Our road to healing involves revealing our secret sins and submitting to the community leaders. The reason many are still sick, even after praying to God for healing, is because their pride and self-dependence inhibits them from open confession and accountability which yields spiritual power even for the healing of the body. Obviously, we have no promises of health and wealth even if we are completely obedient to God's counsel. But many are suffering needlessly because they refuse to heed the word of God, denying themselves in order to receive God's blessing.