In two previous Q&A’s on healing, we pointed out that because of Christ’s supreme Sacrifice, God has promised to heal our physical illnesses, if we are fulfilling certain conditions. We showed that God expects of a sick person to ask the ministers of His Church to anoint the sick with oil, place their hands on the sick person’s head and pray over him or her, asking God for healing.
If a minister is not living close enough to the sick person, he can anoint a small piece of cloth with oil, lay his hands on it and pray over it, and then send it to the sick person who will place it on his or her head and pray to God for healing. It will be within the MINISTER’s discretion whether to anoint personally or to prepare and send an anointed cloth, and ONLY ordained ministers of God are permitted to anoint the sick or to prepare an anointed cloth for the sick.
It has been the long-held understanding of the Church of God that a sick person should first ask the ministry for anointing. This may be followed in appropriate cases by a prayer request from the ministry to the Church congregation. Usually, it would not be the right procedure to request of the ministry to ask for prayers from the congregation, without having first asked the ministry for anointing.
We also showed in our previous Q&A’s, that the sick person must have faith to be healed, being certain that he or she WILL be healed. A sick person must not doubt that God will heal him or her, because a doubter must not suppose that he or she will receive anything from God.
In our free booklet, “Sickness and Healing – What the Bible Tells Us” we explain the following:
“Faith is necessary for healing, but faith alone is not enough. Our way of life has a great deal to do with whether God may choose to heal us or not. We read in 1 John 3:22: ‘And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.’”
In this Q&A, we will focus on John’s statement that we must do those things which are pleasing in God’s sight. It is important to understand WHAT we must DO in order to please God.
The Greek word which is used for “pleasing” in 1 John 3:22 is “arestos.” Christ said in John 8:29: “The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please [Greek: “arestos”] Him.”
We read in the Old Testament that God was well pleased with Christ because He was righteous, exalted the law and made it more honorable (Isaiah 42:21). This is a reference to God’s spiritual law of the Ten Commandments and the statutes and judgments. Christ came to reveal the spiritual intent of the law. Ritual temporary animal sacrifices found their fulfillment in Christ’s Sacrifice, and in this context, David said in Psalm 69:30-31: “I will praise the name of God with a song, And will magnify Him with thanksgiving. This also shall please the LORD better than an ox or bull…” However, as we will see, we are still to give “spiritual” sacrifices to God.
In the New Testament, the Father confirmed on several occasions that Christ was His beloved Son in whom He was well pleased.
Greek words which are related to “arestos,” but emphasize a still higher degree of acceptance, are “euarestos” or “euaresteo.” The New King James Bible translates the last word sometimes with “acceptable” or “acceptably.”
We read in 2 Corinthians 5:9 that Paul and his co-workers made it their aim, “whether present or absent, to be well pleasing” to God. We read that Enoch pleased God because he had faith, and that it is impossible to please God without faith, knowing that God will reward us when we diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:5-6). We are told in Hebrews 12:28 that with God’s grace, we can and should serve Him “acceptably” or in a way which is well pleasing to God, with reverence and godly fear, knowing that we are to inherit the Kingdom of God.
Hebrews 13:16 reminds us to do good and to share, as God is well pleased with such sacrifices. Elaborating on this, Paul tells us in Romans 12:1-2 that we are to present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy and “acceptable” or well pleasing to God. He continues that we are not to be conformed to this world, but that we must be transformed by the renewing of our minds, so that we can prove what is God’s good, perfect and “acceptable” or well-pleasing will.
Ephesians 5:8-11 states that we were once darkness, but that we are not to have any more fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness; rather, we are now light in Christ and must walk as children of light, manifesting goodness, righteousness and truth in our lives and finding out what is “acceptable” or well pleasing to God. (Colossians 1:10 adds that Paul is praying for the brethren that they “may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” Even though a different Greek expression for “fully pleasing” is used here, the conveyed meaning is the same.)
Romans 14:18 tells us that we are “acceptable” or “well pleasing” to God and approved by men if we are living in righteousness and peace and joy through the power of the Holy Spirit (verse 17).
Focusing on the conditions and requirements for physical healing and the fact that we must be pleasing God in how we live, we find an interesting statement in Proverbs 16:7, which reads: “When a man’s ways please the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.” Since God is interested in a peaceful relationship with one’s enemies, how much more is He interested in peaceful reconciliation between brethren. We cited Romans 14:17-18, stating that we please God when we live in peace. We also read in Psalm 133:1 : “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brethren to dwell together in unity!”
Pleasing God includes seeking to establish a peaceful relationship with one another. This requires asking others for their forgiveness of trespasses which we might have committed against them, and forgiving others their trespasses against us. This is the reason why James says in chapter 5, verses 13–16: “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray… Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”
We state in our above-mentioned booklet about healing:
“We are being told in James 5:16 that we are to ‘confess [our] trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that [we] may be healed.’ The Greek word for ‘trespass,’ paraptoma, is used in numerous additional passages, for instance in Galatians 6:1; Ephesians 2:1; 2:5; or 2 Corinthians 5:19. It is consistently and correctly translated in the New King James Bible as ‘trespasses’ in those passages. We are told in Colossians 2:13 that God, upon our repentance, forgives us all of our ‘trespasses.’ We are also told that if we forgive men their ‘trespasses,’ our Father will forgive us our ‘trespasses’ as well, but if we do not forgive men their ‘trespasses,’ our Father will not forgive us our ‘trespasses,’ either (Matthew 6:14–15; compare Matthew 18:35).
“The ‘trespasses’ which we need to confess to our brother or sister, in order to obtain his or her ‘forgiveness,’ are those that we have committed against our brother or our sister. Mark 11:25–26 tells us: ‘And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.’
“Unresolved problems between brethren might… prevent healing of physical sickness. James 5:16 tells us, ‘Confess your trespasses to one another [with the goal to ‘clear the air’], and pray for one another, THAT you may be healed.’ After all, Christ told Peter to forgive his repenting brother ‘seventy times seven’ (Matthew 18:22). In Peter’s question, the brother had sinned against Peter and had come to him to express to him his sorrow—in other words, to ‘confess’ to Peter his trespass or sin against Peter…
“Notice, too, Matthew 5:23–24, ‘Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First, be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.’
“If we commit a sin or trespass against someone else, resulting in an offense and a problem within our relationship with that other person, we are to ‘confess’ our sin or trespass to that person, asking him or her for forgiveness, with the goal of restoring our relationship. At the same time, we are NOT to ‘confess’ or talk about our sin or trespass with others, unless a situation develops as described in Matthew 18:15–17. Notice, however, the very first step in the Matthew 18 process: ‘Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him ALONE. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.’ At that moment, the process is supposed to end, and the sin or trespass against the brother is supposed to be forgiven, buried and gone. It is not to be ‘resurrected’ by the parties, and it is most certainly not to be talked about to others…”
The Scripture in James 5:14–16 is a command for us that if we are sick, we are to ask for God’s true ministers to anoint us with oil [a symbol of God’s Holy Spirit of power] and to pray over us. We have to pray with faith. At the same time, we read that if we committed SINS, they will be forgiven us. This is addressing sins against God, and God will only forgive us when we REPENT. We must not think that we can ask God for healing, while we are willing, at the same time, to continue living in sin. Pleasing God means and includes that we deeply repent of our sins, cease from sin and forsake it, and ask God for His forgiveness.
In addition, we do what is pleasing in God’s sight when we confess our trespasses to one another; that is, we must repent of our trespasses and we may even have to ask the other person against whom we have trespassed to forgive us, if it is obvious that this particular trespass is still an ongoing problem between us. Further, we must be willing to forgive others their trespasses against us—the goal is to restore a peaceful relationship and unity between brethren.
If we behave in this way, then we “do those things that are pleasing in His sight,” and we have fulfilled another requirement or condition necessary for our healing.
Lead Writer: Norbert Link