Discipleship / Relationship with God Miracles / Healing / Signs and Wonders

Question: How can God use sickness and disease as discipline for believers?

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Question: In light of Genesis 1:27-28, I ask, did God make us in his image so he could watch us in his discipline for his children even if they die of sickness and diseases and is that what we should teach as the gospel?


In the beginning, God created man in His image to be fruitful, multiply, replenish the earth and subdue it. As we are taught in scripture, this was the plan for humanity until sin entered the world through disobedience. As a result of sin – sickness, disease, and death entered the world. Hebrews 9:27, “And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,”. Death came into the world through sin, and it is appointed that all must die (Genesis 2:17).

In the Old and New Testaments, we see instances where God uses sickness as a form of discipline. In both, the discipline is directed to those who God calls His children. In the Old Testament, the nation of Israel was called God’s firstborn son. Exodus 4:22-23 says, “Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the LORD, Israel is my firstborn son, and I say to you, “Let my son go that he may serve me.” If you refuse to let him go, behold, I will kill your firstborn son.'” 

Yet when the people of Israel sinned, God used sickness as a form of discipline. An example is when Miriam and Aaron question the leadership of Moses. Because of their rebellion, God was displeased with Miriam, and she became leprous (Numbers 12). Another example was when Gehazi, the servant of the prophet Elisha was struck with leprosy because he wanted to profit from divine healing (2 Kings 5:19-27).

Likewise, in the New Testament, we also see instances where God uses such judgments. One example is in Acts 5, where God killed both Ananaias and Saphhira because they had lied to the Holy Spirit. This was also a warning to the church to regard God as Holy. Again in 1 Corinthians 11, we are told that some believers got weak, sick, and died because of dishonouring the Lord’s supper. 1 Corinthians 11:30 says, “That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.”

The gospel is the good news of salvation for those who are lost. We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. While we have been spiritually redeemed, but we are still in our flesh. We require God’s help through His Spirit to live a life that glorifies God through sanctification. When we do not walk in the Lord’s ways, discipline and judgment come upon His children. Notice, this is not an eternal judgment as of the unbeliever, but the judgment that draws us closer to Him and that we do not go deeper into sinful living.

Death is the door to eternity, and for the children of God, sometimes God can use sickness or death so that we end up on the right side of eternity. This is His grace. The good news is that we have salvation through Christ, and we become children of God. Being a child of God also involves being disciplined by Him as children, in whichever way it sees fit and according to the counsel of His will (Hebrews 12). 

Hebrews 12:11 says, “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”

I pray this has bought clarification and that our prayers are like Job’s when God used death and sickness on Job and his family for God’s ultimate glory and purpose and taught us to trust God in all situations. Job 1:21-22 “And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” In all this, Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.”

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