A view in the Church today is that God sends sickness to test us throughout our daily walk with Christ. Is this really how a Father would act with His children? To answer this question, we must look at what God’s own Word says about His relationship with His children and sickness. Let’s explore some of these passages.
1 Peter 2:24:
Who his own self [Christ] bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.
3 John 1:2:
Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.
Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.
As we see in His Word, God wants us to be healthy and has already healed us through his Son’s sacrifice and resurrection. This notion that God sends disease upon us to test us is an absurd notion because the Bible is also clear on who sends us disease and death. This is, of course, the devil.
The thief [the devil] cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he [Christ] also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil…
1 Peter 5:8-9:
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.
All of this is but a taste of what the Word has to offer on the subject, but it is definitely enough to get the point of how God is referred to as a Healer and the devil as a destroyer. As we further expand on the record in 1 Peter 5, we see the dichotomy perfectly laid out to us between God and the devil.
1 Peter 5:8-11:
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
We see that the afflictions which are accomplished in our brethren are a continuation of the description of the devil as we are to resist him knowing that, “Yes, we might suffer his afflictions which he uses to inflict upon the world.” However, it is God Almighty who is there to lift us up in our sufferings. It is He Who perfects us and establishes us. In Psalm 69:29 it says, “But I am poor and sorrowful: let thy salvation, O God, set me up on high.” God sets us high above the Earth and the present trouble as it says in Psalm 46:1. It is God Who strengthens us as it says in Isaiah 40:31, “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” And it is God who settles us.
Does the God Who makes us perfect, strengthens, establishes, and settles us sound like the God who would give us sickness just to test us? Certainly not! Some might point out the passage in 1 Peter 1:6-7 which mentions trials of the faith as proof that God sends calamity to test our resolve. This simply is not the case.
1 Peter 1:6-7:
Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.
So, yes the Word does mention that our faith will go through trials or you could say “tested.” Though, God is not the one who is causing the trials. Reading in the context from verse 6, we see that the trials come from “manifold temptations” which only come from the devil and not from God.
Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.
Thus, the “manifold temptations” cannot come from God because God does not tempt man. A key word exists in this passage which will lead us to who exactly is responsible for the temptations and that is the word: death. As we learned in Hebrews 2:14, the devil has the power of death meaning that he must be the one who brings forth temptations. This fact is corroborated by Matthew 4:3 which refers to the devil as “the tempter.” The dichotomy between the goodness of God and the evilness of the devil is further expounded in 1 Corinthians.
1 Corinthians 10:13:
There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
God is so great that He will provide us with the means to escape anything we are going through or any temptation which might rear its ugly head. One last question must be asked concerning the passage in 1 Corinthians 10. So if we are to believe that God sends sickness to test us then what happens to those who have died or are incapacitated? Did those who die, fail the test God was administering? How much testing is enough for God to finally say, “Okay, I got what I needed?” Or, how far is God willing to take it with the sickness? Those question cannot be answered by the Word because that belief is not Biblical. It is clearly the devil who causes us to be sick and destroys us, but it is God who delivers.