My grandmother is sick with lung cancer. One well-meaning sister-in-Christ from my home church told me to: “rebuke the lung cancer and every cancer cell to die in Jesus’ name!” She also provided me Jer. 33:6 as a promise that God would heal my grandmother. When I hear stuff like this, I get a bit wary esp. with the whole charismatic healing stuff. But what is the Biblical view of God’s physical healing? Is there such a thing as rebuking sickness? Is all sickness caused by sin or demons?
First of all, I am so sorry about your grandmother. I have had relatives deal with cancer and it is a terrible thing. I am praying for you and your family.
That is both absolutely the way I feel and a handy example for what to say when someone tells you their grandmother has cancer, if you want to act like a person.
Does God miraculously heal people? I believe so. He is God, He can do whatever He wants. There are biblical accounts of Jesus and the disciples healing people’s physical illnesses, but it does not say anyone else can heal. I have never personally known anyone it has happened to, and I believe it is a very rare thing.
To be frank, your friend who told you to rebuke cancer (seriously, just take a look at that sentence) was wildly misinterpreting that verse. Maybe it was just out of ignorance, but there is a possibility that she just really wants on demand miraculous healing to be true, and will twist a verse to justify it. Jeremiah 33:6 refers to “bringing health and healing.” It is referring to bringing those to a city destroyed in the Israelites’ fight with the Babylonians. We know this because in verses 4 and 5, God says “For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says about the houses in this city and the royal palaces of Judah that have been torn down to be used against the siege ramps and the sword in the fight with the Babylonians.” Pretty cut and dry what He is talking about.
Nowhere in the Bible does it say that the cause of physical illness is sin or demons. In John 9, the disciples asked Jesus if a blind man was blind because of his own sins, or his parents (both popular theories at that time). Jesus shot that down when He answered “Neither this man not his parents sinned.”
There are times when Jesus heals someone and tells them that their faith has healed them. Though it is reasonable to believe that Jesus was talking about how their faith has healed their spiritual problem. In Luke 5:17-26, Jesus heals a paralyzed man. First, He forgives his sins. The religious people are angered about that. Jesus heals the man physically because “I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” Our faith effects our spiritual health, not our physical.
Cancer is caused because certain cells grow uncontrollably and form malignant tumors. No demons or sin involved. Telling someone that they have a disease because they aren’t praying hard enough (which is the clear, if unintended, implication of “rebuke those cancer cells”) is biblically false, medically stupid, and offensive on about every level.
Timothy wrote to Paul about having stomach sickness, among other things. Paul wrote back, in the letter that we know as 1 Timothy. He told him to take a little wine with his water to treat his stomach. He didn’t ask about secret sin, and didn’t say that Timothy’s problem was that he just didn’t believe hard enough.
Illnesses like cancer are hard enough on families without church people running off at the mouth. Rebuking cancer cells won’t help your grandmother. Driving her to doctor’s appointments, helping her out around the house, sitting with her and chatting about something other than her sickness, that stuff will definitely help. Should you pray for her? Absolutely, but nowhere in the Bible does it say that if you have enough faith, God will do whatever you ask Him to. Don’t put that pressure on yourself.
-Matt from The Bridge