Does God EVER Cause Sickness or Disability? In chapter 9 of John, we find Jesus approaching a man who was born blind. The disciples wonder whose fault it is that the man was born without eyes. Many read this chapter and conclude that God will, at times, arbitrarily put sickness or disease upon some, for His glory. Is this true? We will examine this question in our study.
[Jhn 9:1-41 KJV] 1 And as [Jesus] passed by, he saw a man which was blind from [his] birth. 2 And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? 3 Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. 4 I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. 6 When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay, 7 And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing. 8 The neighbours therefore, and they which before had seen him that he was blind, said, Is not this he that sat and begged? 9 Some said, This is he: others [said], He is like him: [but] he said, I am [he]. 10 Therefore said they unto him, How were thine eyes opened? 11 He answered and said, A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed mine eyes, and said unto me, Go to the pool of Siloam, and wash: and I went and washed, and I received sight. 12 Then said they unto him, Where is he? He said, I know not. 13 They brought to the Pharisees him that aforetime was blind. 14 And it was the sabbath day when Jesus made the clay, and opened his eyes. 15 Then again the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. He said unto them, He put clay upon mine eyes, and I washed, and do see. 16 Therefore said some of the Pharisees, This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the sabbath day. Others said, How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles? And there was a division among them. 17 They say unto the blind man again, What sayest thou of him, that he hath opened thine eyes? He said, He is a prophet. 18 But the Jews did not believe concerning him, that he had been blind, and received his sight, until they called the parents of him that had received his sight. 19 And they asked them, saying, Is this your son, who ye say was born blind? how then doth he now see? 20 His parents answered them and said, We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind: 21 But by what means he now seeth, we know not; or who hath opened his eyes, we know not: he is of age; ask him: he shall speak for himself. 22 These [words] spake his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue. 23 Therefore said his parents, He is of age; ask him. 24 Then again called they the man that was blind, and said unto him, Give God the praise: we know that this man is a sinner. 25 He answered and said, Whether he be a sinner [or no], I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see. 26 Then said they to him again, What did he to thee? how opened he thine eyes? 27 He answered them, I have told you already, and ye did not hear: wherefore would ye hear [it] again? will ye also be his disciples? 28 Then they reviled him, and said, Thou art his disciple; but we are Moses’ disciples. 29 We know that God spake unto Moses: [as for] this [fellow], we know not from whence he is. 30 The man answered and said unto them, Why herein is a marvellous thing, that ye know not from whence he is, and [yet] he hath opened mine eyes. 31 Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth. 32 Since the world began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind. 33 If this man were not of God, he could do nothing. 34 They answered and said unto him, Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us? And they cast him out. 35 Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God? 36 He answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him? 37 And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee. 38 And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him. 39 And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind. 40 And [some] of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and said unto him, Are we blind also? 41 Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.
In v. 1, we see Jesus passing by a man who was blind from birth and stops to take notice of him. The disciples ask Him to assign blame regarding the man’s condition. Jesus’ response to their question has predicated much debate on the cause of affliction and disease. Jesus states in v. 3 that there was no specific sin in the man or in his parents that resulted in the man being made blind from birth. Instead, he declares that the works of God are to be made manifest upon him, or rather than God would be glorified in the situation. The way many theologians interpret this is that God inflicted blindness on this child from birth to show His healing power. Let us examine that supposition.
First, Jesus says that neither the man nor his parents had sinned, thereby bringing about this condition. Does that mean that the man and his parents were without sin? Were they, among all the peoples of the earth, sinless themselves just as Jesus was sinless because He was born of a virgin? No, that wouldn’t be the case. They were born of Adam’s race, and as 1 Cor. 15:22 says, in Adam, all die, and Rom. 4:23 that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, including this man and his parents. Since they are sinners, and thereby come short of the glory of God, then we can only conclude that it is not the man’s blindness that glorified God, but what Jesus did about the blindness of the man by healing him that glorified God. There are those who have lifelong conditions who seek God for healing without change. They then often point to this verse and claim that God is not healing them for the purpose of glorifying Jesus. If that is what is happening here, then why did Jesus heal the man, if in his blind condition the man was glorifying God. There is no glory in sickness or infirmity. There is no glory in asking God to heal and not receiving healing. God was glorified not by the man’s blindness or continued blindness but by the fact that Jesus healed him.
Secondly, Jesus does not say that God inflicted the blindness on the man. He says that God is going to get glory by healing him, but he does not mean that God caused the blind condition in the first place. There is no reading of this verse by which that conclusion can be drawn in any way. If God didn’t cause the man to be born blind, and there was no specific sin that brought this on, neither by his parents or the man himself, then what caused him to be born blind? Let’s give a few examples. A certain person is a lifelong smoker and contracts lung cancer and dies. Did this person die through no fault of their own? No, there was a specific cause brought about by the action of the person. We can look at the person and say they had lung cancer connected with a lifelong tobacco habit. We won’t say, “how could God let this happen” because there is a clear cause and effect. This same man had a spouse who, after years of marriage, and inhaling the second-hand smoke from her husband, likewise contracts emphysema and in due time, dies from the disease. Was this condition caused by the woman or was it caused by what someone else did? It would be very likely that the only reason she contracted emphysema is because of the choices her husband made to expose her to his lifelong tobacco habit. Now, there was a next-door neighbor to this couple, who lived a healthy life, ate right, exercised, and so on but at a relatively early age contracted mesothelioma and, over time, passed away. After their death an investigation revealed that unknown to the individual, asbestos products in the ceiling material, the insulation and the siding of the house that were the likely reason they suffered the disease. They hadn’t made any choices relating to the problem; they just had the unfortunate outcome of living in a home, unknown to them that was contaminated with a carcinogen that took their life. They didn’t sin. Their parents didn’t sin, but the person died anyway.
Back to the man born blind. If Adam had never sinned and cast the world in darkness, would this man have been born blind? That would be very unlikely, because in heaven there is no sickness, no sin, no blindness, etc. So, while the man had not specifically sinned, neither his parents, they were born into a fallen race. They lived out their lives in a fallen environment that randomly resulted in a causality unknown to us and not addressed by Jesus that brought about the genetic defect that results in him being born without eyes. Jesus in v. 6 makes clay out of saliva, and putting it in the man’s empty eye socket, creates the eyes that are lacking, and he came seeing after washing in the pool of Siloam.
We can see then that God was glorified not by the man’s blindness but by the fact that Jesus healed him and restored his sight. To suggest that God made the man blind in the first place would then place Jesus and the Father in opposition to one another and as Jesus said in Matt. 12:26 a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand. Jesus healed the man because both He and His Father were in opposition not to each other but to the stricken condition of the blind man. If God had put this blindness on the man to glorify Himself then Jesus would have declined to heal him, but He did not. He healed the man because the blind condition of the man was contrary to God’s will. We thus conclude that sickness and disability are never God’s will because in God (James 1:17), there is no variableness or turning. He doesn’t will disease on one person and not will it on another for any reason. How can we say this? Because Acts 10:34 states that God is no respecter of persons. He doesn’t will something in one person’s life and not will it in another.
1 Peter 2:24 tells us that by the stripes of Jesus, we WERE healed. Healing, physical healing is promised in the same atonement that promises us salvation. The salvation of the soul and healing of the body were provided by the same stroke upon Jesus on the cross. God will not, for any reason, suspend the merits of the cross in any specific person’s life. If as some suggest that God may choose not to heal someone for some ineffable reason, then it would then follow that He might not choose to save someone, regardless of whether they exercise believing faith or not. We know that is not so because Jesus said in John 6:37 that any who came to Him, He would in no wise cast out. If we go to Him for salvation, He will save us. If we go to Him for healing that was provided on Calvary just as salvation was provided on Calvary, there is no instance or scenario where He will say, “no, I won’t do that…”
People will go to the Old Testament and find verses where God struck someone with a plague or some such thing and then insist that God will indeed cause sickness or disability for different reasons. They make this assumption because they are ignorant of the scriptures. Consider the following:
[Heb 1:1-2 KJV] 1 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, 2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by [his] Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;
It is true that God spoke through the law and the prophets, but now, in the New Testament advent, He is speaking to us through His son. Did Jesus ever lay hands on someone and give them sickness? Did He ever refuse to heal, even though a person standing before Him had faith to be healed? When people say God chose not to heal, it is because they presume the person who is sick had the faith required to receive their healing but that God said: “no, I won’t do that…” Jesus, however, healed many times, stating that it was the person’s faith that healed them even though He may not have even been aware that they had touched Him, as was the case with the woman with the issue of blood.
If God is speaking through His son Jesus according to Hebrews 1:1-2 and we see no instance of Jesus putting sickness on someone or refusing to heal someone regardless of whether they had faith or not, then we can safely conclude that whatever the cause of sickness or disease, be it sin of the individual or generational sin, or simply being found in a fallen environment where sin brings forth not only illness but death – nonetheless none of these things come from God or are caused by God. Jesus came that we might have life and life more abundantly, and there is nothing abundant or blessed about being disabled, homebound, dying of illness, etc. These things are not God’s plan for your life ever for any reason!
After the man’s healing, the Pharisees object because Jesus healed the man on the Sabbath day. They would rather the man not to have been healed rather than to be healed in contravention of their religious traditions. The same holds true today. Churches pass out badges to altar workers and strictly instruct that no one may pray or minister to those in need unless it is done in the backroom by an appointed person with an alter worker’s badge. If you do otherwise and are caught doing it you will be instructed to stop or not to come back to their church. Can you imagine it? Jesus is passing this way, but wait! He doesn’t have a badge? The needy person isn’t in the after-glow room; they are in the parking lot! Should Jesus wait or refer the person to the prayer team down at the front? This is ridiculous. If Jesus is exempt from such constraints upon Him, then so are you. Those that suggest otherwise are not thinking of the sick or the unsaved; neither are they thinking of the plan of God. They are thinking of themselves and their own controlling concepts of how the church is to be run. We need to change our thinking on this. Refusing to allow the people to minister to each other shows that our leadership has no respect for the very people they claim the right to lead, or for the honor of God that is serviced when the body ministers to the body. Only Pharisees suggest otherwise.
After confronting the man about his healing, the leaders face down the man’s parents. It is incredible how leaders today spend so much energy talking themselves and others out of the miraculous. If Christians and specifically leaders spent more time seeking out healing and the miraculous as they do talking themselves and others out of whether or not someone actually got healed, we would see signs and miracles every day in our midst. Why do people feel the need to question the validity of a miracle? Because the absence of a miracle affirms them in their powerlessness. They are more comfortable in who they see themselves to be without a miracle than they would be in facing the reality of their own lack of faith when someone does get a miracle, and they weren’t a part of making it happen.
Since the leaders cannot deny the man’s miracle, they cast him out of their midst. Jesus very importantly goes to find the man. He challenges Him not to back down on what he believed. It is true that many times healing or some divine intervention comes and with it comes persecution and rejection from those we thought would rejoice to see what God had wrought. This is the backside of experiencing God’s glory, and you have to be ready for it lest you become scandalized and lose out on all God has for you not only in the miracle but what comes after. The man believes, and Jesus declares in v. 39 that He has for judgment come into the world. What is the judgment? The judgment is not whether or not the religious traditions of men have been violated rather by whether or not we choose to accept the light of Christ that is plainly revealed of His character and His will toward us in the gospels.