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Don Stewart :: What Are Some of the Common Misconceptions Surrounding the Subject of Divine Healing?

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What Are Some of the Common Misconceptions Surrounding the Subject of Divine Healing?

Divine Healing – Question 1

Before we look at what the Bible has to say about divine or supernatural healing, it is imperative that we clear up a number of widespread misconceptions which people have about this topic. Thus, we need to start our study by setting the record straight. So, before we look at what the Scripture does say about God and healing it is vital that we understand what it does not say.

Unhappily there has been much confusion as well as false information about the subject of divine healing. Many of these misconceptions are built upon half-truths or taking a verse here and there out of context. Therefore, it is vital that we clear up these wrong ideas so that we can have a proper biblical understanding of this question.

The most common misconceptions which we find concerning the subject of the Bible and supernatural healing include the following.

Misconception 1: All Sickness Comes from the Devil

This first misconception involves the origin of sickness itself. It is often taught that all sickness originates from the devil. In other words, sickness is something which exclusively the tool of Satan the archenemy of God. One of the verses that is often quoted to support this idea comes from the writings of Paul. He stated the following to the Corinthians.

I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me (2 Corinthians 12:7 TNIV).

Paul said that his “thorn in the flesh,” which was likely some sort of physical ailment, was a messenger of Satan. In other words, it originated from the devil. In addition, he says that the purpose of this ailment was to “torment him.” This passage convinces many people that all sickness comes from the devil himself and it is meant to torment believers in Jesus Christ. This is further confirmed by of story of Job. The Bible records the trials and tribulations of a man named Job. Among other things, he was struck with painful boils all over his body.

From the Book of Job we discover that it was the devil himself who was behind Job’s suffering. Scripture explains it this way.

So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD and struck Job with loathsome sores from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. And he took a piece of broken pottery with which to scrape himself while he sat in the ashes (Job 2:7-8 ESV).

Thus, from the experience of Job, we have further indication from Scripture that sickness has its origin in the devil.

There is one further passage which is often cited. Simon Peter, when explaining the mission of Jesus Christ to a number of Gentiles or non-Jews, stated the following.

The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ–He is Lord of all–that word you know, which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee after the baptism which John preached: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him (Acts 10:36-38 NKJV).

Peter said that Jesus healed all who were oppressed by the devil. This is understood to mean that everyone who has a sickness or physical infirmity can ultimately attribute it to Satan since he is the one who is oppressing them. This passage further confirms that all physical ailments come from the devil.

If this is true then we must do whatever is necessary to rid ourselves of our sickness and physical infirmities since it always originates from the evil one and it is never for our own benefit.


This misconception about sickness contains a half-truth. As we examine the Scripture, we find that it is possible that sickness can originate from the devil. Indeed, the above passages make this clear. However, it is wrong to assume that it is the devil alone which is responsible for all of our ailments. In fact, is it simply not true to blame Satan for each and every illness that people suffer. There are a number of points which need to be made about this.

To begin with, the Bible says that sickness is a result of the fallen sinful nature. This nature is something which every human being possesses. In point of fact, each of us has inherited a sinful nature which causes us to become ill at times. There are no exceptions to this. Thus, we become sick because of who we are; fallen human beings. This is not the devils doing. This is who we are.

Sickness can also result from the lack of care we show our bodies. In other words it is our own doing. If we do not eat right, sleep right, or properly take care of ourselves, then we will become sick. In these cases we have nobody to blame but ourselves.

There is also the possibility that sickness or some physical infirmity is something which is sent by God Himself! In fact, the Lord testifies that He, for His own purposes, allows people to be sick or causes people to be infirmed. We read in the Book of Exodus the words of the Lord to Moses.

The LORD said to him, “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the LORD?” (Exodus 4:11 TNIV).

In this passage the Lord says that He is the One who makes people deaf, mute and blind. Thus, while sickness may be a result of an attack of the devil, it certainly is not the only reason as to why a person becomes infirmed. Consequently, we should not assume that sicknesses are always his work. They are not.

As far as the statement of Paul proving that all sickness comes from the devil, we find that just the opposite is the case when we read his entire statement in context. He wrote the following.

Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Corinthians 12:7-10 TNIV).

Several things are important to note. First, this ailment, whatever it may have been, was given to keep Paul from being conceited. It was not something which came from the devil to halt Paul’s ministry.

We also learn that Paul never demands to be healed. Rather he pleads with the Lord for healing. Paul realizes that he needed to ask the Lord for divine healing; it was not his right to be healed.

In addition, he was told that the grace of the Lord was sufficient for him to continue with his ministry with this “thorn in the flesh.” Paul accepted this answer to his request.

Indeed, the fact that he could minister with this continuing problem exhibited the “power of the Christ.” Therefore, Paul acknowledged the fact that this thorn in the flesh would remain with him. He then continued with his life and ministry suffering with this particular ailment.

Satan Had to Ask Permission to Touch Job

As far as the experience of Job is concerned, we find that Satan had to ask permission of the Lord before he could do anything to Job. We read.

Then Satan answered the LORD and said, “Skin for skin! All that a man has he will give for his life. But stretch out your hand and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face.” And the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your hand; only spare his life” (Job 2:4, 5 ESV).

The fact that the devil had to make a request to harm Job shows that sickness is not something that he can send whenever and wherever he pleases. This further illustrates that the Lord is ultimately the One who makes the decisions as to who is sick and who is not.

Peter Was Not Attempting to Explain Where Illness Originates

The statement of Peter, about Jesus healing all those oppressed by the devil, can be understood in a number of different ways without assuming Satan is behind every illness. For one thing, it is a general statement of what Jesus accomplished. In other words, it is not trying to specifically state the source of illnesses and infirmities.

Furthermore, the statement could be understood to refer to a certain category of people; those who were under demonic influence. When confronted with those who were demon-possessed, Jesus always exorcised the evil spirit or spirits from the person.

However, we wish to understand Peter’s statement, we do not have to assume that all sickness comes from the devil. The Bible makes it clear that it does not.

All in all we can conclude that sickness is not always the work of the devil. Therefore, sickness as well as other physical infirmities, should not viewed in this manner.

Misconception 2: Sickness Is Sin

The first misconception about sin leads to the next one. If all sickness is assumed to come from the devil then sickness is always equated with sin since sin originated with the rebellion of the devil. Therefore, it has been taught that if a person is sick then they must be engaged in some type of sin or perhaps they are displaying a lack of faith. In other words, it is their fault that they are infirmed because they are practicing some type of sin since sickness is always related to sin. Consequently there is the need to confess their sin to rid themselves of the sickness.


Again we find that there is a partial truth in this. While sickness can indeed be a result of sin, it is wrong to always equate the two. Sickness itself is not sin. Indeed, believers in Jesus Christ are never told to confess their sicknesses to the Lord. Instead, they are only commanded to confess their sin.

As we mentioned, there are many different reasons as to why we become sick. Sin is not the only reason. Therefore, when a person is sick we should not necessarily assume that they are engaged in some type of gross sin or displaying some lack of faith toward God. Personal sin may have nothing to do with their present illness. There are many other factors which may be involved. Consequently it is not merely a simple thing to attribute all sickness to personal sin.

Misconception 3: God Wants to Always Bless His People Thus Sickness Is a Sign of Judgment

The idea that sickness is always equated with sin leads to another misconception. If sickness is to be equated with sin in each and every instance, then when a believer is sick this is a sign of God’s judgment upon them, not His blessing. Those who are sick are assumed to be under the judgment of God because of some sin in their life. Indeed, they are often treated by other Christians as though they are in some state of sin because of their health problems.

On the other hand, those who are healthy are assumed to be experiencing the blessings of the Lord. Consequently, it is often assumed there is no real sin in their lives because they are presently in a healthy state.

Therefore, it is the responsibility of the ailing believer to confess his or her sin which is causing this judgment of God. This will allow them to become like the healthy believers who are being blessed by God because of the lack of sin in their lives.


Again, this misconception contains some truth. On occasion, God will judge the sinful believer by allowing them to become sick or infirmed. Yet sickness does not necessarily mean that God is judging that person. In fact, personal sin may have nothing to do with a believer in Christ experiencing physical suffering. A number of other factors may be involved.

Furthermore, we cannot equate good health with God’s favor. Indeed, a person can be constantly ill or suffering from some chronic disease and still be in the will of God. On the other hand, a person can be in perfect health but, at the same time, living in some type of gross sin. Health is not always an indicator of spirituality.

This being the case, we should never assume that the outward circumstances of an individual are a way in which we can determine their spiritual state. Realizing this ought to keep us from judging those who have health problems as well as praising those who are healthy. Indeed, it is not a simple thing to determine the spirituality of a person by looking at their present state of health.

Misconception 4: Jesus Christ Died So That We Can Always Be Healthy

Those who claim the Lord wants believers to always be healthy usually claim a biblical basis for their belief. One of the ways in which this is done is by claiming that Jesus Christ died for our sicknesses as well as for our sins. The biblical basis is then given. One of the more popular passages comes from Matthew. It reads as follows.

When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: “He took up our infirmities and bore our diseases” (Matthew 8:16, 17 TNIV).

This passage is cited to prove that Jesus Christ took our sicknesses upon Himself as well as our sins. In fact, the passage says that He bore our infirmities and our diseases. It is concluded from this statement that we do not have to be sick because Jesus Himself took our sicknesses upon Him.

There is another passage from the pen of the Apostle Peter wrote which is also cited to prove this point. He stated the following.

He [Jesus] himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed (1 Peter 2:24 TNIV).

This verse is used to prove that the wounds of Christ on the cross were for our physical healing as well as our spiritual healing.

Consequently, it is said that there is a biblical basis for claiming that Jesus Christ took our sicknesses as well as our sins. This being the case, there is no need for the believer to ever be sick. Thus, we must claim our healing “by faith.”


These verses do not teach what is claimed by those who believe that the Lord wants every Christian healthy. The first passage is used out of context. In fact, when read in context, it refers to Jesus Christ taking the diseases of the people as He was proclaiming His message to the people. Indeed, this statement about Him taking our diseases is made about what Jesus did before His death on the cross!

Thus, it spoke of His healing of diseases when He was upon the earth during His public ministry. These healing miracles were signs to the people of Israel that He was the genuine Messiah. The signs were given to draw attention to Jesus’ message. With His healing signs, Jesus fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah concerning the coming Messiah. These signs demonstrated that Jesus had the proper credentials. Therefore, the people were to listen to what He had to say.

The passage in Peter has to do with Christ suffering for our “sins,” not our sicknesses. It clearly states that Jesus Christ bore our sins on the cross so that we can be healed from the results of sin. There is nothing in the passage, nor in the context, which deal with sickness. The issue is personal sin, not sickness.

Thus, we do not find any passage in the New Testament which explicitly states or infers that the death of Jesus Christ was for the healing of our sicknesses while we live here upon the earth. Indeed, His death on the cross did not relieve us from our physical suffering while we live in these bodies. Eventually we will receive new bodies. Until that time, we will suffer in these fallen, sinful bodies in which each of us has to live.

Misconception 5: Always Assume God Wants You Well, Never Request to Be Healed

If Jesus Christ did die for our sickness then we do not request to be healed. Indeed, we demand to be healed or we “accept” our healing. We never ask if it is His will to be healed because Scripture says that it always is. It is thus lack of faith to request something God has already promised to us. Thus, we never say “if it is your will” when it comes to asking for healing. We know it is His will. Therefore, we accept or demand our healing. This is something which is rightfully ours.


This idea of “claiming our healing” is not faith in God’s Word, rather it is presumption. In fact, it is contrary to everything which we read in Scripture about the subject of healing.

There is an excellent example of the difference between recognizing the ability of the Lord to heal and assuming His willingness to heal. We read the following account in Matthew which illustrates this.

When Jesus came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him. A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean” (Matthew 8:1, 2 TNIV).

Interestingly, in the way the leper framed the question he made the distinction in his belief about Jesus’ ability to heal and Jesus’ willingness to heal. The leper assumed the ability of Jesus to heal. Indeed, His power to heal was not in question. What was in question was His “willingness” to heal this man. This man realized that the Lord does not always desire people to be in good health.

While this does not always come out that clearly in our English translations, in the original Greek, a distinction is plainly made. Indeed, the way the question is framed in the Greek makes it clear that the leper assumed Jesus “could” heal him but he did not assume that Jesus “would” heal him.

There is something else. Notice Jesus’ response.

Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy (Matthew 8:3 TNIV).

Jesus said that He was “willing.” The Lord then healed Him. Furthermore, Jesus did not rebuke the leper for not demanding to be healed. The man had no right to be healed. None of us do. When Jesus healed Him, it was an act of mercy and grace.

Paul Asked to Be Healed

We also have the illustration of the Apostle Paul. When he received his thorn in the flesh, likely some physical ailment, he asked to be healed. There was no assumption on his part that he would be healed. Neither do we find the Apostle Paul claiming the right to be healed. Since Paul is the one whom the Lord used to write most of the New Testament letters to the churches, he certainly would have known whether the Lord wanted every believer in good health. The fact that he requested to be healed demonstrates that Paul knew that physical healing was not something guaranteed to every Christian. Certainly, we do not have that guarantee in this life.

When the Lord did not heal him Paul in answer to his request, Paul accepted God’s response. Consequently, we do not ever find the Bible teaching that we somehow have a right to demand to be physically healed from any sickness or infirmity. We do not. We can request to be healed but our request may be denied.

Misconception 6: If One Has Enough Faith They Will Be Healed

Why are people still sick if Jesus Christ has died for their sicknesses? It is usually claimed by those who believe that God wants everyone healthy that the problem is from of the lack of faith on the part of the sick person. If only we would show sufficient faith toward God, then healing would occur. Consequently, sickness is assumed to be the result of the lack of faith on the part of the ailing person. God has done His part. It is claimed that it is now our part to accept our healing “in faith.” When we do this we will be healed.


We certainly must exercise faith toward God. The Bible makes this plain. However, faith is to be exercised in our belief in God’s ability to heal, not His willingness. We do not know if it is best for us that we become healed from our ailment. Perhaps the Lord has reasons for allowing the illness; reasons which we do not understand. We must always allow for that possibility. His ways are certainly not our ways. If we assume that He wants us healed then we are presuming on Him. Presumption is not faith!

On the other hand, there were certain people who were healed of their infirmities who displayed no faith whatsoever. Indeed, the Bible records a number of people who were brought back from the dead. Obviously none of them could exercise faith. Nevertheless they were resuscitated. Faith, or lack of it, from the infirmed person is not always the issue.

Misconception 7: We Must Not Let Thoughts of Sickness Enter Our Minds or We Will Be Sick

Often people are encouraged not to even consider the possibility of themselves as being sick. They are told if they allow thoughts of sickness to enter their mind then they are opening themselves up to being sick.

Thus, they are to rebuke any thoughts they may have of less than perfect health. Otherwise these sinful thoughts will lead to sickness.


Again, this wrongly puts the pressure on the individual. While it is true that we are to set our mind on heavenly things, the fact that we may think about being sick does not mean that we are allowing sickness, which is assumed to be sin, to enter our body.

For example, we do not create illnesses, such as cancer, in our body by merely thinking about the disease of cancer. Indeed, we do not have that ability. While we can make ourselves ill to a certain point about worrying about possible ailments, we cannot give ourselves these ailments. Again, those who teach that Christians have such ability could not be more wrong. Indeed, the Bible never indicates that this is what is taking place.

Misconception 8: Sickness Never Brings about Anything Which Is Good

Sickness is not something which any of us enjoys. However, many Bible teachers proclaim that it is impossible for sickness to ever bring about anything which is good. In other words, everything about sickness is bad and it is always bad. This is why sickness must be fought. Indeed, it is claimed that illness must be rebuked.


This is a common belief. But it is wrong. None of us are in a position to determine “why” certain people are sick and others are not. Only the Lord knows the answer to this. Whether we are presently in good health, or we are sick, we should always believe that the Lord has the very best in mind for us. Sickness, even death, can bring about results which will further the kingdom of God.

In fact, many people will testify that they had never been so close to the Lord as they were during the time when they were catastrophically ill. Their terrible illness gave them new insights into the love and grace of the Lord. Indeed, when asked, a number of them have testified that they would gladly be put in the position again. Therefore, while sickness may indeed be terrible, and the suffering intense, we should never assume that it cannot bring about good results. It can.

Misconception 9: If You Are Continually Sick You Must Be Continually in Sin

One of the cruelest things which is mistaught about the Bible and divine healing concerns those Christians with chronic illnesses or who have some inherited disability. Often these suffering saints are accused of being continuously in sin as an explanation for their constant ailments. This is the only justification which is seemingly given for those believers who have some chronic illness. They are the ones who are to blame for their debilitating physical condition. Of course, this is the logical conclusion one would make if we assume that God always wants every believer healthy.


This reason alone makes it imperative that these misconceptions about divine healing be cleared up. First, it is it a cruel thing to say to one who is already in a weakened state that it is their fault that they are sick because of some hidden sin. Second, it is completely at odds with what the Bible teaches.

As we have emphasized, there are many reasons as to why someone is sick. To always blame the individual for their chronic condition, or for some inherited ailment from their parents, is about as low as a human being can stoop. It not only shows ignorance of what the Bible teaches on the subject, it misrepresents the character of the loving God who is revealed in Scripture. Inheriting a disease is not sin. Neither is it God’s judgment. It is the result of living in a fallen world where sickness, disease and death plague each of us.

The good news is that Jesus Christ died so that there will come a day when all sickness, pain, and death will be done away with. The Book of Revelation has the following to say about this coming day.

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new” (Revelation 21:4, 5 ESV).

What a wonderful day that will be.

Misconception 10: You Have Been Healed but Satan Keeps the Symptoms from Leaving

This is a common conclusion from those who claim God wants every believer in good health. Indeed, if the Lord wants every believer well, then we must already be healed. Though we are healed, Satan keeps the symptoms from leaving us. Thus, any symptom of illness is a lie of the devil. Consequently, we should ignore any symptoms of sickness by assuming that they are not really there.


This ploy is often used by faith healers to explain why their “healings” do not look like genuine healings. They claim that the person has actually been healed but that the devil, or the lack of faith by the sick person, explains why the symptoms remain. While this explanation sounds ridiculous, as it truly is, it has convinced many people that their healing has taken place and that they are to blame for experiencing the symptoms.

This is such a contrast to the healing miracles recorded in Scripture. When people were healed by God they were truly healed. The results were instantaneous; the symptoms did not remain or return. A genuine healing miracle means exactly that. The person is healed.

Conclusion: It Matters What We Believe about Divine Healing

As we can readily observe, these common misconceptions about divine healing are not merely topics which make for interesting discussion. Indeed, countless lives have been adversely affected because of the acceptance of these misconceptions and half-truths. People become disillusioned with God as well as doubting His existence because they are not healed as some “Bible teacher” told them that they would be.

Therefore, it is crucial that we have the correct biblical view on this subject. In fact, what we believe about the Bible and divine healing will affect the way we look at God, the way we look at ourselves and others, as well as the way in which we view our own spiritual maturity.

Therefore, it is imperative that we discover what the totality of Scripture actually does say about the subject of sickness and healing. With this in mind, it will be of the utmost benefit to each of us to find out what the Bible truly says about this subject.

Summary – Question 1
What Are Some of the Common Misconceptions Surrounding the Subject of Divine Healing?

The subject of divine healing is of interest to every Christian because each of us, sooner or later, gets sick. However, there has been so much misinformation, misconceptions, and half-truths about God and healing that it is vital to set the record straight before we take an in depth look at the subject. The most common misconceptions about divine healing can be summed up as follows.

First, there is the claim that Satan is behind all disease. This is wrong. While the devil may indeed have something to do with the reasons as to why some people are sick there are a number of other possible factors. This includes our fallen human nature which makes us prone to illness, our lack of taking care of ourselves, and the possibility that the Lord Himself has sent the sickness. Sickness does not always originate from the devil. Indeed, the Bible never teaches that it does.

Another common misconception equates sickness with sin. Since all sickness is blamed on the devil there must be some sin involved when people are sick. Yet this too is a misconception. Sickness is never exclusively equated with sin. While sin may cause people to be sick we are never told to ask forgiveness for our diseases. There may be other causes for our ailments which have nothing to do with our personal sin.

There is also the mistaken idea that a sick believer must be experiencing God’s judgment and that those Christians who are healthy are receiving God’s blessings for their behavior. This is not always true. While God may be judging a believer through sickness there are many other reasons as to why one is ill. Furthermore, the fact that a Christian is healthy does not necessarily mean that they are in a vital spiritual relationship with the Lord. It is not a simple thing to assume that sick Christians are being judged while those which are presently healthy are being blessed.

Often a biblical basis is claimed for God desiring every believer to be in good health. The statement in Matthew about Jesus taking our diseases upon Himself has been viewed as God’s explanation of the meaning of His death. In other words, He died for our sicknesses. Peter said that we are healed by Jesus’ wounds. This is considered as further evidence of Jesus’ death being for our sicknesses as well as for our sins.

Yet the passage about Jesus taking our diseases refers to His healing ministry while He was here on the earth. It has nothing to do with the meaning of His death. Likewise, Peter’s statement is misinterpreted. His words concern Jesus being wounded for our sins, not our sicknesses. Indeed, nowhere do we find that Jesus died for our illnesses so that we could be pain free in this life.

There is a further misconception which says that we are to demand, not ask, for our healing. However, we never find this taught in Scripture. We are to have faith that God is able to heal us; that He has the ability. Yet we are never to presume that He has the desire to do so. He may, or He may not. We leave this entirely up to Him.

Neither is our amount of faith the issue as some would make it. We are not refused healing because of our lack of faith in God’s willingness. Instead we are refused healing because the Lord has something better in mind for us.

There is also the mistaken idea that if Christians just think healthy thoughts then they will not be sick. Yet the Bible never teaches that our thoughts about sickness will make us sick or that our thinking about health will always make us healthy. It is not that simple.

One huge misconception concerns whether or not anything good can come out of sickness. Contrary to what is often taught, sicknesses can bring about good results. Indeed, many people who have suffered miserably have testified that their suffering had a positive outcome on their lives. Through their physical suffering they learned lessons which they never otherwise would have learned.

People who are chronically ill are sometimes accused of causing their own illness because of sin in their lives. Yet this cruel accusation ignores the other possibilities as to why one may be ill. Indeed, we should never assume the habitually sick person is causing their own illness. There are so many other factors which may be involved.

There is also the mistaken idea that somehow believers may already be completely healed but still display the symptoms! While this is often said, it does not fit with what the Scripture says about divine healing. When a person was healed, they were healed! The symptoms went away.

This sums up some of the main misconceptions that surround what the Bible has to say about divine healing. As noted, these are very important matters. Indeed, much pain, suffering, and doubt has resulted from a lack of understanding of what Scripture teaches on the subject.

Consequently, not only should we clear up these misconceptions about this subject we should also have an understanding of what the Bible does have to say about sickness and the Christian. Therefore, a study of what the Bible has to say about God and healing is vital.

Does God Want to Heal Everyone? (Introduction) ← Prior Section
What Does the Old Testament Have to Say about God Supernaturally Healing the Sick? Next Section →
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