“The Lord struck the baby that Uriah’s wife had borne to David, and he became ill.” (2 Samuel 12:15b CSB) “See, you are well. Do not sin any more, so that something worse doesn’t happen to you.” (John 5:14 CSB)
Does someone’s illness come about because God made them sick because of some sin they have committed?
In a very general sense, all sickness is the judgment of God on mankind’s sin. Illness and death are, in fact, the result of Adam and Eve’s sin in the garden. Their sin “broke” the universe for everyone. God’s judgment was that man’s rebellion would not be tolerated, so man must die. Thus, the Lord condemned man to death, which means illness entered into the world. So, sin is the general cause of all illness.
But what about one individual person’s illness? Is that particular illness the result of his or her sin?
The text above points to two examples in the Bible where illness was the result of someone’s sin. The baby borne to David and Bathsheba was stricken with an illness from the Lord. That is what the Bible tells us. It may seem unjust in our way of thinking. We certainly do not understand it, but we simply trust that our Sovereign Lord had some good reason in making that decision. Clearly, it was punishment on David and Bathsheba for their sin, which included adultery, the murder of Uriah her husband, and the deaths of a number of other soldiers who happened to be near Uriah when it happened.
In the New Testament, Jesus healed a man who had been sick for 38 years. When Jesus found the man later in the temple He told him, “See, you are well. Do not sin any more, so that something worse doesn’t happen to you.” That suggests to us that the man’s illness of 38 years was related to his personal sin, and that further sin would result in an even worse condition.
On another occasion, the disciples asked Jesus about a sick man they saw, “Who sinned, this man or his parents?” Jesus told them that neither of them sinned in a way that resulted in that illness. And remember Jesus’ friend, Lazarus? He got sick and died, but that was not related to sin.
So, here is what we understand. There are certainly times when God afflicts people with an illness as the result of their sin. Not every illness, however, is necessarily the result of someone’s personal sin. Yet, all sin is the result of the original sin.
When someone gets a serious illness, he or she should first examine himself and determine if there is sin that needs to be dealt with, but no one should just assume that an illness is the result of personal sin. To do so would be to put yourself in the place of an all-knowing God. If we cannot point to a personal sin that resulted in our condition, we need then to simply realize that it is not related to personal sin, and simply seek healing from the Lord.
Father, Help us to be honest before You and with ourselves in any illness we may face and seek Your heart as to whether there is sin in our lives that does not belong there. Help us also to accept as truth when sin is not part of this, as Your Spirit may testify to that. In either case, we seek Your healing, whether spiritual or physical. Amen.