When we suffer, sometimes we're prone to wonder whether or not we contributed to our condition. We think, maybe God is angry with me.
Maybe my disease is connected to something I did wrong. Today on Insight for Living, Chuck Swindoll will respond to these speculations. In the process, he'll help us understand what the Bible says about suffering, sickness, and sin. And at the end of today's program, we'll explain how you can access Chuck's brand new book that parallels this teaching series.
It's called Clinging to Hope. But first, let's set the stage by reading the passage together. Please turn in God's Word to the fifth chapter of the letter of James. James chapter 5 verses 13 through 16 will ultimately be the passage I want us to understand in the days ahead. I've come to realize in my study that I cannot get it all said in one one message, so it will take me to this one and the next week we're together we'll spend on the subject, what about divine healing?
It's a delicate subject, nevertheless one that needs to be addressed. We'll come ultimately to the James 5 passage next time, but I want to read it now so you'll know what is before us. I'm going to lay a foundation in this first message that will help us correctly interpret the words that appear in these verses here in James 5.
James 5 13 through 16, I'll be reading from the New Living Translation. Are any of you suffering hardship? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises.
Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven.
Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. Our desire is to have an understanding of this passage, especially the application of it. In order for that to happen, we need to understand some solid theological truths that set the stage for that understanding, and that will come today. You're listening to Insight for Living.
To study the Bible with Chuck Swindoll, be sure to download his Searching the Scriptures studies by going to insight.org slash hope. And now the message from Chuck titled When Suffering Leaves Its Mark. I am fully aware that what I am going to speak on today and next time is very controversial. It has to do with three prominent areas in our lives that bring us pain. I'm referring to suffering and sickness and sin, but that's not the controversial part. Those things are complicated and at times they can be complex, but they're not controversial. What's controversial has to do with how God brings relief from those things, how God brings healing, and why on occasion he does not.
I realize that the subject of divine healing is also delicate, because we're talking about what is very close to the heart in our lives, as well as those we love, who are going through very painful times, and we long for them to be relieved of it. Let me begin with a true story that takes us back to February 1974. My wife and I were returning to our home where we lived at the time in Southern California.
We had spent almost a week in the city of Dallas. It had been a time of celebration as the seminary from which I graduated was having its jubilee celebration, 50-year anniversary, and I'd been invited to speak, as well as a number of others of my colleagues, some of whom came from our area, so we were all on the same plane, which happened to be a jumbo 747 which they flew back then on the route between Dallas and Southern California. Our section, the coach section, was half empty.
In fact, the back part of it was completely empty, I recall. We were having a great time as we were remembering years gone by when we were once students. We recall the great times we had had, some of the tests we had been through, and there was a lot of laughter and frivolity among us as we were remembering some of the great days of the past, and how the Lord had brought us into ministry for which we were so grateful.
Some were in one kind of work, others were in different kinds of ministry, but we were all in it together. There was a family in our section of the plane, however, that was not laughing and celebrating. They were very somber.
In fact, it caught our eye, so much so that we walked over to meet them and we learned their story. The father and husband in the family was deathly sick. He had been diagnosed in Stage 4 cancer, but interestingly, he was on that flight. They had him back in the back section of the plane, all the armrests they had pulled up, and he had sort of made him a bed out of the middle seats of that huge plane.
He was not able even to sit up in his own strength. He had really come close to the end of life. They knew that. They'd prayed for his healing, and they had learned of a so-called divine healer who was out in the Los Angeles area. They lived in Louisiana and had driven to Dallas, and from Dallas, Fort Worth Airport, they were taking the flight out to Los Angeles to bring him to Kathryn Kuhlman, who was the alleged faith healer.
And they had staked all their hopes on his healing. They had watched her on television. They had listened with interest.
The wife and mother in the family told me they had drawn their last savings out of their bank account, bringing it all with them, not knowing what may be charged for the healing. They didn't know, but they came ready. And then she looked at me, having explained their situation, and she said, as others of my colleagues were standing around, what do all of you think of this? At that moment, all of my colleagues got very, very quiet, and they all looked at me for some reason as if I was some kind of appointed spokesman, which I certainly didn't intend to be, but it seemed to fall my lot to give her an answer. With the time we had on the plane, I was able to share a number of the things I'm going to be sharing with you today. I had to do it rather quickly and carefully, as you can understand and appreciate. I sort of wrapped up my comments as I heard the announcement that we were beginning our descent and we needed to take our seats and prepare for landing.
I wrapped up my comments with a statement that went something like this. I said, I believe with all my heart in actual divine healing. I believe that God is a miracle-working God. With him, nothing is impossible.
However, I do not find biblical justification for believing in so-called divine healers. That was hard for her to hear, as we can all understand, her eyes filled with tears. I added this comment as I gave her my name and our home phone number. I said, Mrs. So-and-so, will you please call me and let me know if your husband is miraculously healed, call me, will you please, will you promise to do that? Oh, without hesitation, she said, I will. Wrote my number down, wrote my name down, said she would call.
I never heard from her or from anyone in her family. To this day, I've often thought about that. I've often thought of the many thousands of people like her who put all of their hopes and all of their dreams into a belief that if they could only get their loved one to this person who has this power, they could find the healing they long for. You understand that some of my ministry deals with the other side of that. It is often fought on my lot to talk to those who are disillusioned, having buried their loved ones, who were never healed. What can you say to those?
How can you help them? For they need answers. What I'm going to share with you is worth remembering. I say that not because I'm giving it to you, but because it is all based on the Word of God. And who knows but what you will need this information someday, yet future, perhaps sooner rather than later. I would like you to write these things down.
We'll only get a little bit through this message, and I'll cover the other part next time. But at least I want to get these five foundational facts that all of us need to know down clearly in writing, most importantly, understood in our minds. They are theological facts, they are random facts, and therefore they are found in various parts of God's Word to which we will turn here and there.
So be ready for that. The first one will take us to Psalm 51. If you want to prepare for it, go ahead and locate the verse.
Psalm number 51, which is a psalm that David wrote related to his adulterous affair with Bathsheba. But before we get into it, let me give you the first of the five foundational facts that I want you to remember. Number one, there are two classifications of sin. Original sin and personal sins, plural. Original sin and personal sins. Original sin represents the condition in which we are born. We are sinners at birth. Our parents were sinful people, though they may have been good people and moral people, people we respected, they were nevertheless sinful. They had a sinful nature that could be traced all the way back to Adam and Eve in the garden as a result of their eating the forbidden fruit.
When they fell into sin, they became our representatives for all humanity and as a result, all who are born into this world are born with original sin. And that is what prompts acts of sin or personal sins. But before I go there, look at Psalm 51 with me.
Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love, because of your great compassion. Blot out the stain of my sins. Please observe that's a reference to David's personal sins related to his adultery, the killing of Uriah on the battlefield, the hypocrisy of David, the act of adultery with Bathsheba. Those were among the personal sins. He's asking the Lord for forgiveness. But go down to verse five.
He goes to the root of the problem. I was born a sinner. Yes, from the moment my mother conceived me. Think of it this way. Original sin is the root. Personal sins represent the fruit that comes from a sinful nature. We sin, we disobey our God because we have a nature that is addicted to sinfulness. It will never be different until we die and are in a glorified or in a glorified state in heaven, free of that sinful nature. But as long as we're on this earth, breathing earthly air, we carry within us a nature that's sinful. Move ahead to Romans chapter three. Romans three.
I'll read for you from verse nine. Well, then, should we conclude that we Jews are better than others? No, not at all.
Not at all. For we have already shown that all people were the Jews or Gentiles are under the power of sin. No one is righteous. Verse 10 continues.
Not even one. No one is truly wise and on and on he goes through this litany of sin. This is the original sin problem. When you go down to verse 13, you come across some personal sins. Some personal sins. Their talk is foul like the stench from an open grave. We sin with our words. Their tongues are filled with lies. Lies are everywhere. The sinful act of lying is habitual.
It's universal. Snake venom drips from their lips. Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness. They rush to commit murder.
Destruction and misery always follow them. These are descriptive statements of personal sins. The nature is the root. The personal sins represent the fruit.
So to repeat, there are two classifications. Original sin, the nature, and personal sins, the acts of sin. If you get this mixed up, you'll be confused when we get to the subject of healing. So get this clear in your mind and think distinctly regarding the subject of sin.
Now the second statement. Original sin introduced suffering, sickness, and death to the human race. Original sin introduced suffering, sickness, and sin to the human race. I mentioned earlier Adam and Eve.
Remember the story. Genesis 2. God warned them against the forbidden fruit. Of all the other trees, you may freely eat, but of the tree and knowledge of good and evil, you must not eat of it. For in the day you eat of it, you will surely die. Telling us, had they never eaten of the forbidden fruit, they would never have died.
There would never have been death in the human race. But upon eating of the forbidden fruit, they immediately died spiritually, and they began to die physically. Look at Romans 5, verse 12, and I'm illustrating this second point. Original sin introduced suffering, sickness, and sin to the human race.
Romans 5, verse 12. When Adam sinned, sin entered into the world. Notice the introduction of sin.
Think of it as a pollution. Adam's sin polluted the human race. Adam and Eve's sin contaminated humanity with a sinful condition called original sin. Adam's sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned. Sin. We have inherited a nature. We are sinners by birth, by nature, and we ultimately become sinners by choice as we carry out acts of personal sinfulness. So original sin introduced suffering, sickness, and death to the human race. Third statement.
Very carefully understand this. Sometimes there is a direct relationship between personal sins and sickness. Sometimes there is a direct personal relationship between personal sins and sickness. A person becomes sick because of sin in their lives. On occasion, that's true. Understand pain and sickness are not always the caught brought on because of acts of sinfulness, but there are times that it is.
There are times that it is. That it is true. Now, if you're prepared to dig deeper on your own, you'll be glad to know that Chuck has written a brand new book that complements his teaching series. His book is called Clinging to Hope.
There's a complete chapter on the topic we address today. Plus, Chuck tackles tough questions such as how do we recover when we lose someone we loved? How do we make sense of the suffering in our world? And where is God when we're deeply disappointed?
You'll enjoy reading Chuck's biblical response to these questions and more. And this is a wonderful book to pass along to a friend or perhaps to a child or grandchild who needs a dose of encouragement. Again, Chuck's brand new book is called Clinging to Hope. To purchase a copy right now, go to insight.org slash hope or call us.
If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888. You often hear us say that it's not the sale of books and resources that fuels this ministry. Instead, it's the voluntary contributions from grateful friends like you that propel our mission forward. So thanks so much for remembering the critical importance of giving generously to Insight for Living. As you would imagine, our world is filled with people who are desperately searching for hope. And we make it our mission to send these daily programs far and wide so that people have access to clear and convincing Bible teaching.
In fact, Insight for Living is translated in eight languages other than English, expanding our audience in parts of the world where Bible teaching is rare. So please connect with us today. If you're listening in the United States, our phone number again is 800-772-8888. Or you can give online at insight.org slash donate.
I'm Bill Meyer inviting you to join us when Chuck Swindoll continues his helpful series called Clinging to Hope, tomorrow on Insight for Living. The preceding message, When Suffering Leaves Its Mark, was copyrighted in 2019 and 2022. And the sound recording was copyrighted in 2022 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
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