I’ll conclude this three-part post and try to bring it all together. Not all sin leads to sickness, and not all sickness is the result of sin. Jesus died for sin and for sickness, and forgiveness and healing are available in His Name.
What about mercy? Let’s talk about mercy for a while. If you sin, you seek forgiveness, which is available through grace. Grace is unmerited favor. If you are sick, you desire healing – you are not looking for forgiveness unless sin was involved.
Actually, what you desire is mercy. Mercy is different from forgiveness. I’ll give an example. You hit a person’s car and you’re in the wrong. He tells you, “I forgive you”, but holds you liable and takes you to court to recover the damages to his car. He forgave you, but did not have mercy on you. It was the same with David, after his sin with Bathsheba. God forgave him, but the child died anyway.
To put it another way, forgiveness washes your sins away – a spiritual action with spiritual outcomes; mercy is a tangible action with physical outcomes. Not convinced? Let’s take a look at what Bartimaeus cried out in Mark 10,
46…a blind man, Bartimaeus (that is, the Son of Timaeus), was sitting by the roadside begging. 47When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
This is similar to the man with the epileptic son in Matthew 17:15:
“Lord, have mercy on my son,” he said. “He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water.
Do a word search of “mercy” in the gospels and you’ll see it used many times in the context of healing. The healings of the Canaanite’s daughter (Matthew 15:22), Elizabeth’s barrenness (Luke 1:58) and of the madman of Gadara (Mark 5:19) were all described as acts of mercy. The Good Samaritan was also described as the one who had mercy, when Jesus asked in Luke 10;
36″Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
What’s my point? When we ask God for healing, it is important to know what we are really asking for. We are really asking for mercy, regardless of whether we have sinned or not.
If your illness has resulted from sin (e.g., poor lifestyle choices), you need forgiveness of sins, but more than that, you need mercy. This not limited to healing, even though that is our focus here. Many enter financial or relationship ruin because of bad decisions. They often ask for forgiveness, but not mercy. They receive forgiveness, but not mercy. Is that possible? Yes, it is, just look again at King David. He actually had it happen not only with Bathsheba, but when he performed an unauthorized census of Israel.
Moses had the same thing happen when he struck the rock twice. He received forgiveness, but mercy was unavailable in regard to his entering the Promised Land. God was merciful enough to let him go up on the mountain and see it, but he never entered it. The deeper your experiences and maturity with God, and the more you partake of the Holy Spirit and of the powers of the coming age, it seems to me that mercy is less available if you play the fool. This writ is not for everyone; those at that stage in their walk know who they are. A scripture that underlines this is James 3:1:
Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.
To conclude, ask for mercy in addition to forgiveness when you seek healing for sickness that may be partially or wholly due to sin. Ask for mercy even if there is no sin involved. Realize, as many did in Jesus’ day, that healing is a mercy of God. Grace gets us into right standing or favor with God, but mercy obtains for us healing and other interventions in our lives. This is really what you are asking for when you ask for healing—you are asking for mercy.
God is rich in mercy (Ephesians 2:4). May you be recipients of God’s mercy today and for the rest of your life, through Jesus Christ. Amen.