Obstacles to Healing Grace Part 2
Dr. John I. Penn
February 11, 2017
If you have not read my first article on Obstacles to God Healing Grace, which was written on November 15, it will be helpful to do so. In that article, I discussed these three obstacles to healing grace: unworthiness, ignorance and fear.
Before continuing, let me restate these important facts. God desires that every person experience well-being or wholeness in every dimension of life: spirit, body, mind (emotions), and relationships. Jesus's atoning death on the cross has made available God's presence, love, forgiveness, healing, wholeness, and salvation. We cannot fully understand healing without the knowledge of God's redemptive plan of salvation. Why? Salvation and healing are inseparable. Salvation is ultimate healing.
The fourth obstacle to healing grace is unbelief. It is understood that no one's faith is perfect. The writer of Hebrews tells us that without faith it is impossible to please God.
However, Jesus teaches that all things are possible to those who have a faith, even as small as a mustard seed. Unbelief is the opposite of faith. Some people who lack faith in God lose hope and confidence in God's love and care for them. They believe their concerns are either too small for God to care about, or too large that is beyond God’s ability or power, or that God is indifferent to their needs.
This healing story about a father that brought his son to the disciples to be healed reveals the negative consequence of unbelief. When Jesus learns that his disciples could not heal the boy by driving out the evil spirit, he admonishes them, saying: "O unbelieving generation, how long shall I put up with you" (Mark 9:19). Jesus asks the father how long his son had this condition. The father answers, "From childhood" The father exclaims to Jesus, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief" (Mark 9:24). The father displays his unbelief in this statement to Jesus: "But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us" (Mark 9:22b). Without hesitation, Jesus said, "If you can?" Jesus goes on to say, "Everything is possible for him who believes" (Mark 9:23). Jesus then rebukes the evil spirit, naming it, "You deaf and mute spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again" (Mark 9:25). The boy was healed.
This healing story also gives us some insight concerning the value and importance of prayer in the life and ministry of believers. It makes clear that unbelief is a hindrance or obstacle to faith and prayer. By healing the boy, Jesus revealed to his disciples that prayer offered in his name carries both his authority and power to overcome Satan and his demons. The disciples and the father learned what the writer of Hebrews already understood, without faith it is impossible to please God.
Unforgiveness is the fifth obstacle to God’s healing grace. Jesus taught that if we do not forgive those who wrong us, God will not forgive us of our wrongs. Unforgiveness blocks God's forgiveness. Forgiveness is a choice of the will. We choose to forgive or not to forgive. Jesus also taught that forgiveness is always the right thing to do; we are to forgive, as often as needed.
Forgiveness transforms evil into good. Living in right relationship is everyone's responsibility, because it affects the quality of our worship. It also affects our relationships with God and others. Jesus warns us against holding anger inside ourselves. He instructs us to forgive quickly. Anger left to fester in the heart and mind becomes an obstacle to grace. It puts a wall between individuals and God. Although forgiveness is a choice, we need God's grace to forgive. It is a means of grace. We are to forgive others as God has forgiven us. When we disregard God’s paths to health and wholeness, we bring brokenness in to our lives. Often, unforgiveness leads to sin, which can bring more human brokenness.
In one of my healing workshops, I taught a session on the power of forgiveness. During the session, I encouraged the group to pause and think of a person they needed to forgive. A few minutes had passed, a woman in the class, exclaimed excitedly, "My fingers are opening. Look at my hands! My fingers are straightening out." The group looked at the woman in amazement of God's demonstration of mercy, grace, forgiveness, and healing power. I asked her what had happened. She said that she had silently prayed, asking God to forgive her, for holding bitterness, anger, and unforgiveness in her heart, toward her sister. When she forgave her sister, God released her from the anger, bitterness, and unforgiveness that had been festering in her for twelve years. Before she offered the prayer of forgiveness, the woman's fingers were drawn in close to her palms, which she could not open them. Unforgiveness is a form of bondage. Her fingers were deformed and looked like claws. It affects the one who holds unforgiveness.
The sixth obstacle of healing grace is unresolved grief. Grief occurs when a person experience any significant loss that is not worked through. This can be an important factor concerning our health and well-being. Such losses including a job, a family estate or home, financial security, or one's health, or the death of a friend or loved one. Each can have destructive consequences on our health and wholeness. Some physical and emotional symptoms cannot be treated by medical therapy or prayer alone.
Grief may be manifested physically or mentally (emotional), but it also affects us spiritually. The more compassionate we are about people or because we truly care about, the greater the anger and pain. Crises and losses acquaint us with both opportunities and trouble. Most of us do not know how to grow and learn from the opportunities in our crises and losses. Because of this, we grieve more than we should.
We grieve our losses because we are reminded that we have spent too much time putting things off. We do not love enough, say I am sorry enough, give enough, laugh and play enough, or embrace life as a precious gift that we should live to the fullest.
Everyone grieves differently. What makes grieving so difficult is that most of us grieve alone or don’t know how to grieve. Sadly, most churches do not offer any help to those going through grief. Why? Most pastors have not been trained in grief counseling.
God sent Jesus to bind up the brokenhearted (Isaiah 61:1). However, most people don't know this, or try to deal with their grief alone. These negative factors hinder or prolong the healing process.
The last obstacle to healing grace to be considered in this Healing Moment is sin. People turn away from God’s healing love and grace when they have missed the target of life. Our transgressions separate us from God. Sin is bondage. It is important to understand that Jesus taught us that not all sickness is related to sin. However, sin does bring human brokenness, separation, and the consequences of sin can lead to spiritual death.
Sin blinds us from being able to receive the truth of God's redemptive plan of salvation through Jesus Christ. The Scriptures, as well as human experience, teach universality of sin. Paul taught that "...all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Rom 3:23).
There is something that we must understand about sin. The work of the Holy Spirit convicts of us sin. However, the New Testament makes it clear that sin is not just about the theology of immorality or disobeying moral principles. The universality of sin is the refusal to have faith in Jesus Christ, God's Son who is the savior of the world. It is through the Spirit that we sinners come to know our tendency for sin and our deep need for healing, wholeness, and salvation. Likewise, the Spirit makes clear that the sin of the world is the rejection of God’s plan of salvation through Jesus's atoning sacrificial death on the cross.
Salvation is God's ultimate response to human sin. Salvation opens to us God's forgiveness, healing, and wholeness. The rejections of God's providence, brings upon us God's wrath, justice, and righteousness.
To learn more about healing, check out my books on healing in the bookstore of Faithwriters.com, on my website: www.JohnAndGloriaPenneMinistry.com/, or on Amazon.com.