In our day of church history, a very popular doctrine is widely accepted among the various streams of Pentecostalism and the Charismatic movement. The doctrine is closely associated with what has commonly become known as health, wealth, and prosperity teaching. In short, those who embrace such theology believe that Jesus died for our sickness and disease and that it’s God’s will for us to live life without failing health. Such teachers claim that because Jesus took our sickness and sorrow upon himself—we have power in Christ to be delivered from the pain and peril of such physical infirmities.
Benny Hinn writes, “The blood of Jesus was shed to forgive sin and provide healing—then and now!” Is this really the purpose of Jesus’ death? Benny Hinn goes on to suggest, “God wants you to live in divine healing and health. He wants you to understand more and more about divine healing.”  Is this really God’s will for the Christian?
Sin. Sickness, Disease, and Death
From the moment sin entered this world, death followed. Paul explains this truth in Romans 5:12, “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.” We live in a sin cursed world that’s broken by human depravity. We see the daily effects of sin which involves sickness, disease, and death.
When Jesus died on the cross, it was a substitutionary death in the very place of sinners. Jesus was being crushed on the cross by the wrath of the Father (Is. 53:10) for the sins of his people. He was not being crushed for the effects of sin. He was being crushed for the actual law violating rebellion of the sinful human heart. Therefore, when you overcome COVID-19 by God’s mercy—you should not be quoting Isaiah 53:5, “By his strips I’ve been healed.” No, it’s by his sovereignty that you’re healed. Jesus didn’t take your disease into his body and die for your disease. All sickness from the common cold to the most horrific brain cancer is the effect of sin.
It was through Jesus’ earthly ministry that his authority was put on regal display for a watching world to experience. He demonstrated his sovereign authority over disease, sickness, and death. Jesus caused the blind to see, the lame to walk, and the dead to rise from the power of death.
The Disconnect of Prosperity Theology
As you read the Bible, don’t allow false teachers to hijack the biblical text and apply a meaning that was never intended by the original author. The logical theological disconnect of popular prosperity theology is centered on the misguided fixation on having our best life now. The gospel approach is to fix our gaze on eternity where our true treasure is secure and moth and rust do not destroy and thieves do not steal (Matt. 6:20). Our eyes should be looking forward to where there will be no more tears, no more pain, and no more death—for the former things have passed away (Rev. 21:1-4). The Apostle John was not encouraging us to experience our best life now, but rather he was pointing us beyond the precipice of this life into eternal glory.
The technical and grammatical disconnect of prosperity theology is often built upon a misuse of Matthew 8:14-17. When Matthew quotes Isaiah 53:4, he’s not teaching that the long-awaited Messiah would come and die a horrific death on the cross by taking our sicknesses, colds, and diseases into his body.
The Hebrew words translated “griefs” and “sorrows” in Isaiah 53:4 and Isaiah 53:10 can be a reference to physical pain, infirmities, mental pain, or spiritual sickness. Isaiah speaks of “healing” in Isaiah 53:5. He used “רָפָא” (healing) six different times throughout his book (6:10; 19:22; 30:26; 53:5; 57:18; 57:19). The word “רָפָא” can be employed literally in reference to physical healing (Gen. 20:17) or figuratively in reference to spiritual healing. Each time Isaiah uses the word “רָפָא” other than 53:5, he employs it figuratively—in reference to healing from sin.
Therefore, when Matthew cites the Isaiah passage, he is not misquoting or using the text in a way that violated the great prophet’s original intention. In Matthew 8:17, as he uses the terms “took” (“λαμβάνω” lambanö) and “bore” (“βαστάξω” bastaio), they are different than the typical Greek term employed by the Greek version of the Old Testament (“φέρω” pherö, “bear, carry”). Furthermore, these words are never used one time in the Greek New Testament in reference to atonement or propitiation. Therefore, it would be a far stretch to imply that when Jesus died he took our sicknesses, illnesses, and diseases upon his body on the cross and suffered so that we could live life without prosperous health on this side of eternity.
The idea that Matthew is communicating is perfectly in line with what Isaiah intended in his Christological prophecy. In Jesus’ atoning death, Jesus was taking our sickness away from us. The effect of Jesus’ death overcomes the effect of sin’s corruption. In Jesus’ death, one day we will live with Christ in perfect glory with bodies that are no longer stained by sin and no longer experience the effects of sin (sickness, disease, and death).
Each time we sing, “Jesus paid it all” we must remember that he died for every last one of our sins and the full debt has been paid. However, we still struggle onward down the broken road of human history with temptations, complications, and distractions of sin. The same is true regarding disease and sickness that will eventually result in our death. Until Christ comes or we step out into eternity through death—we will experience the effects of sin.
If we experience disease and sickness, it’s never wrong for us to pray for healing and restoration. If we experience restored health, it’s one more testimony of God’s sovereignty over this physical world—including physical infirmities. The proper response to physical healing should be to praise God, but we should not cite Isaiah 53:4 like a spiritual rabbit’s foot or some biblical formula that results in God’s people claiming a healing that Jesus purchased. That’s a misuse of Isaiah 53 and a misunderstanding of Matthew 8.
The context of Matthew 8 demonstrates that Jesus was putting on display his sovereign authority to speak the word and healing would occur and demons would flee. He is sovereign God, one with the Father, very God of very God—the Word who became flesh.
After Jesus, the apostles and a few close associates were gifted with the gift of healing. It was always for the purpose of validating the gospel, Jesus as the Messiah, and the building of Jesus’ Church. When the apostles died, the gift of the apostles passed away. It was no longer given to the church of Jesus. The same thing was true in regard to the gift of healing. It was a temporary season of miracles, signs, and wonders.
John MacArthur, in his excellent book Charismatic Chaos, writes the following:
Healing was a miraculous sign gift to be used for special purposes. It was not intended as a permanent way to keep the Christian community in perfect health. Yet today most charismatics teach that God wants every Christian well. If that is true, why does God allow Christians to get sick in the first place? 
Jesus’ death was a substitutionary death in the place of sinners whereby he took upon himself our sins—every last one of them—in order that the righteous demands of the law would be fulfilled. Holy justice was accomplished as the Father crushed his Son on Calvary’s cross (Isaiah 53:10). In Jesus, we experience spiritual healing that results in physical healing in glory.
My sin—oh, the bliss of this glorious thought—
My sin, not in part, but the whole,
Is nailed to His Cross, and I bear it no more;
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
- Benny Hinn, “Seven Biblical Purposes for Divine Healing” [accessed 2-7-21]
- John MacArthur, Charismatic Chaos, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992), 264.