Thinking Cap #50 - Sin and Sickness

Can sin cause sickness? Does sin in your life result in you being sick? Always?

I think that there is more to this concept than we are willing to admit. Several respected professionals in the mental health profession have suggested that well over 90% of “mental sickness” is really a result of sin that has not been properly dealt with over a period of time.

Even the well known O. Hobart Mowrer, who was a humanistic psychologist and author, made some startling statements in this regard. He opposed the “Medical Model” for counseling, stating that it removed responsibility from the individual. Since a person cannot be considered blameworthy for catching the flu, his family treats him with sympathetic understanding, and others make allowance for him. This is because they know that he can’t help his sickness. He was invaded from without. It was not his fault. He must rely on experts from the outside to help him get well. Following this logic, many psychologists search into the past to find others (parents, the church, society, friends, school, grandparents) on whom to place the blame. We saw this emerge in the 1970’s when society began to refer to alcoholism as a “sickness” rather than holding people personally responsible for their drinking problems.

Mowrer once said that “the Bible would be fine if the vertical dimension could be removed from it.” Even this non-Christian could see through the “blame someone else” mess that our society has gotten itself into. He suggested that mentally “sick” people could be helped by confessing deviant behavior and assuming personal responsibility for it. He then proposed a “Moral Model” of responsibility. He said that the “patient’s” problems are moral, not medical. The “patient” suffers from real guilt, not guilt feelings (false guilt).

Jay Adams says that “the idea of sickness as the cause of personal problems vitiates all notions of human responsibility. This is the crux of the matter. People no longer consider themselves responsible for what they do wrong. They claim that their problems are allogenic (other-engendered) rather than autogenic (self-engendered). Instead of assuming personal responsibility for their behavior, they blame society. Society is easy to blame since what is everyone’s responsibility is no-ones responsibility.”

When you put God back into the equation and when you accept personal responsibility, that suggests that we could avoid a lot of “counseling fees” and get rid of a lot of hospital beds if we would just train our children (and ourselves) to:

But wait a minute, can sin actually cause a person to become sick? I know that is a radical thought, but consider with me some rather interesting Scriptures:

John Phillips labels the 38th Psalm as “Sickness and suffering brought on by sin.” Look at David’s description of his emotional, mental and physical health as a result of sin in his life. Here are verses 7-10 from the Message, “All my insides are on fire, my body is a wreck. I'm on my last legs; I've had it— my life is a vomit of groans. Lord, my longings are sitting in plain sight, my groans an old story to you. My heart's about to break; I'm a burned-out case. Cataracts blind me to God and good.” The ESV summarizes the result of sin in your life in verse 10 as follows: “My heart throbs; my strength fails me, and the light of my eyes—it also has gone from me.”

James 5:14-16 is a familiar verse to the church. Many refer to it when facing severe illness as they call for anointing of oil and the prayers of the elders. The key to healing in this setting is man’s confession. God’s remedy for man’s problems is confession. The concealing of transgressions brings misery, defeat and ruin, but the confession and forsaking of sin will bring merciful pardon and relief and health.

Now, just so you understand, I don’t believe that all sickness is a direct result of sin in one’s life. Bad things happen to good people for the purpose of punishment, for purification and for preparation. Our bodies along with the entire creation were adversely affected by the introduction of sin into the Garden of Eden by the self-willed choice of mankind. Some sickness (mental and physical) is a result of the nature decay and reduced entropy of the cosmos, but not nearly as much as modern man would like to believe. So we might well want to save ourselves a lot of money that is going to counselors and drugs, and just try the good old Biblical method of

Pleasant Thinking,
Kent Haralson

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