One of the reasons King David was called “a man after God’s own heart” (see I Sam. 13:14 & Acts 13:22) I believe was because of how broken and contrite he was (most of the time) over his sin. Psalm 51 is his most famous Psalm illustrating this. But it can be seen in a number of the other Psalms he wrote.
David agreed with God regarding what God revealed about our sin problem generally and about what God revealed regarding David’s sins specifically. This can be seen in many of the Psalms David wrote and in the historical records of his life. But what I want to explore with you in this blog is the relationship your sin might have with your sickness as seen in a handful of David’s psalms. And the reason I want to explore this with you is because sometimes sin induces sickness, or sin opens a door to sickness. And God wants all of His sons and daughters to be increasingly free of sin and sickness.
It is generally agreed that one of the results or consequences of sin entering our world through Adam and Eve’s disobedience is that sickness, disease and the gradual deterioration of our bodies leading to death is now something that every human will battle and experience. We know there will be no sin or sickness in heaven from scriptures like Rev. 21:4. But as long as we humans live on this earth we will battle both of them.
In one sense all of our sicknesses and diseases are a result of the fall of man and entrance of sin into the world. But there are times where specific sicknesses and/or diseases are a result of specific sins. (I want to be clear that not all sicknesses or diseases are a result of some specific sin. Job’s many physical maladies brought about by Satan is one of the earliest examples of that).
Back to David - let’s start with a look at Psalm 31:9, 10, “Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; My eye is wasted away from grief, my soul and my body also. For my life is spent with sorrow And my years with sighing; My strength has failed because of my iniquity, And my body has wasted away.”
Comment: Because God has created man in such a way that our physical, mental, spiritual and emotional being is integrated and intertwined, when we sin - that willful act of independence from God or rebellion towards God slowly but surely affects every other part of our being. David confesses in these verses above that his sin or iniquity has caused him emotional distress; it has negatively affected his soul and his body. It has diminished his strength, and his body has wasted away.
Let’s bounce over to the next Psalm 32:3,4, “When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away Through my groaning all day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer.”
Comment: We know from the historical accounts of David’s life that he usually was pretty quick to acknowledge and confess his sins. But at least once (when he committed adultery with Bathsheba and had her husband killed to cover up his sin) we know he kept silent about it and tried to ignore it for two years. Whether these verses refer to that or to another time we do not know. What we do know is his unwillingness to confess his sins and repent from them caused his body to waste away and it greatly diminished his vitality.
The enemy of our souls tries relentlessly to get us to believe the lie that our sins are isolated events or actions or thoughts. But the truth is they never are. They always affect our soul, body, emotions and mental state in some negative way. Now in my Bible I do want to point out that the phrase “about my sin” in vs. 3 is italicized, which means those three words are not in the original Hebrew text. But because David goes on to say in vs. 5, “I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I did not hide; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord”; And You forgave the guilt of my sin” the translators inserted this to help us understand what was meant in light of the context of the whole passage. And thus the italicized words “about my sin” are helpful and true to the intended thrust of the passage.
Next in line is Psalm 38, also written by King David. And let’s start with vs. 3-8, and then vs. 18. “There is no soundness in my flesh because of Your indignation; There is no health in my bones because of my sin. For my iniquities are gone over my head; As a heavy burden they weigh too much for me. My wounds grow foul and fester Because of my folly. I am bent over and greatly bowed down; I go mourning all day long. For my loins are filled with burning, And there is no soundness in my flesh. I am benumbed and badly crushed; I groan because of the agitation of my heart.” Vs. 18, “For I confess my iniquity; I am full of anxiety because of my sin.”
Comment: Obviously not all sins have the same effect on us. Some have greater consequences than others. Some are felt bodily and emotionally more than others. But here again we see that our spiritual being and practice has a definite effect on our physical and mental well being (or lack of).
I love David’s honesty and humility. Overall my guess is he lived a healthier life than most because of his willingness to admit to and confess and repent of his sins. I often hear requests for one’s health or someone else’s in prayer meetings. I rarely hear this kind of confession of sin. Now plenty of times in human history God has healed people regardless of their sin because of His great mercy and compassion (see Psalm 107:17-21 for an example of that). But when it comes to the day in and day out praying for our own sicknesses, stress, injuries, diseases, etc., we best give more attention to what could be at the root of some of our physical issues – that being our sin.
The last passage I want us to look at in this blog is Isaiah 17:10,11, wherein Isaiah the prophet speaks to Damascus regarding their sins and their eventual effects: “For you have forgotten the God of your salvation And have not remembered the rock of your refuge. Therefore you plant delightful plants And set them with vine slips of a strange god. In the day that you plant it you carefully fence it in, And in the morning you bring your seed to blossom; But the harvest will be a heap In a day of sickliness and incurable pain.”
Comment: This passage is a great example of how the effects of our sin sometimes are not immediate, but eventually show up in the form of sickness and physical (possibly also emotional) pain. Unconfessed sin will eventually reap a harvest of physical, emotional and/or mental maladies.
Some Concluding Observations:
1. Too many of us have somehow been conditioned to excuse ourselves too quickly from the possibility of being in sin because we tend to think of sin as more blatant acts like stealing, murdering, raping, etc. But if the greatest commandment is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind,” wouldn’t the greatest sin be not obeying that command (see Luke 10:27)? And if so, who of us is not guilty of committing that sin most every day? Are we confessing that sin for what it is?
2. When wanting to be used by God to be His instrument of healing, please know that there are times where God bypasses (for a time) a person’s sin and out of His goodness and mercy and compassion He heals that person. Sometimes His intention is to use that gracious and miraculous act to help the person see how much God loves them since many find it very difficult to believe that God loves them after the life they have lived. There are other times where when praying for a person’s physical healing, God may highlight their sin as something He is wanting to free them from. If you are sensing that, you might ask a question like, “How is your relationship with God in these days? Are you sensing His pleasure and favor and presence throughout the day? If not, any thoughts on what might be hindering that?” If they can’t go there, then you might need to back off until they are more broken, spiritually aware and ready to confess.
3. David’s son King Solomon once said, “He who conceals his transgression will not prosper, But he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion.” Proverbs 28:13. I think this is true both with God and man. But one of the humans we often fear we will not find compassion with is our spouse, and thus if we confess our sins at all, we tend to confess them with a friend instead. We have found this to be a great mistake, and we thus want to encourage those of us who are married to look to the Lord for the courage, faith or whatever it takes to practice this in our marriages first. We are not saying we can’t or shouldn’t confess our sins to a friend or brother or sister in Christ. What we are saying is that should not take the place of confessing to our mate. For those of you spouses, who have the surprise (maybe shock) of having your spouse confess his/her sins to you, please know just as he/she had to find from God the courage to confess, you will be able to find in Christ the grace to forgive and move forward in oneness with your spouse as you daily look to Him for that.
4. One of my great regrets looking back over 45 years of ministry is that we pastors/church leaders have built a church culture by and large in America that does not encourage confession of sins. Ultimately if we want to see our people healthy and whole this must change! May the Head of the church show us how to play our part in seeing this culture transformed. We will deal with this more when we get to the New Testament.
Thanks for reading and please continue to pray for Danny’s healing. Happy Birthday Billy!!