Tuesday, April 01, 2008

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.


Blogger M.joshua said...

Interesting thoughts with profoundly practical application...

April 3, 2008 at 10:43 AM  
Blogger Alex said...

So what does confession of sin look like today, in our current conception of community? Traditionally, I've heard of it talked about in terms of an "accountability partner." Now I think AP's are just great, I have relationships like that, though I wouldn't label it as such. But I get the feeling that James is talking about a different brand of confession than simply the AP model. How do we apply and foster such confession in the communities we function today?

April 4, 2008 at 2:14 PM  
Blogger Mark Moore said...

Alex, you touch on something significant. Accountability Partners are good and I would even say, critical. But confession of sins, it seems to me should not be with 'partners' who are peers, but with 'mentors' who are superiors. Certainly, in the context of James, the Elders of the church would fit that bill. But I doubt they are the only appropriate leaders to whom confession should be made. I would argue, in fact, that four young people, their parents are their primary Elders/Shepherds. The idea is confessing sin to those who truly have spiritual authority over so you that their prayers and accountability can be actualized. The point is not 'cleansing the soul' through confession, but actually living in submission to those who are in a position to discipline and disciple you.

April 14, 2008 at 9:36 AM  
Blogger Natalie Witcher said...

Couple of things: I have walked my kids through confession to me and helped them ask for it from Jesus. Very practical way of teaching them confession and the cleansing that comes with it.

And, I have read Andrew Murray's take on this and it, for a time, kind of stuck me speechless. I had to really chew on this, BUT, I do believe that unconfessed sin can perpetuate sickness, but would by no means say that if someone is not healed then they are full up on unconfessed sin. I figure if data shows that even stress can do damage to the physical body then why would be think that sin would do no less?

June 21, 2008 at 5:15 PM  
Blogger school_of_tyrannus said...

Is there no application (from this passage) if I'm praying for a girl without Jesus in her life? How do I view healing differently for her? What Scripture is applicable for me and her?

July 11, 2008 at 8:12 AM  

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