This is an excellent article by Sandy Simpson and thought it would bear repeating.
Biblical Divine Healing
There are basically five types of healing in the world today. Biblical Divine Healing, Natural Healing, Medicinal/Medical Healing, Psychological Healing, and Paranormal/Demonic Healing. This paper is an attempt to study these various types of healings, to identify their characteristics, to show their biblical support, and then to make comparisons with some of the healing claims of televangelists like Benny Hinn and others. We will be using mainly references from the New Testament for our examples on healing, even though there are many excellent ones in the Old Testament as well.
To study the various kinds of healing, I am going to start with Biblical Divine Healing first to give us something to compare with all other forms of healing.
(1) Biblical Divine Healing
True Biblical Divine Healing is immediate, lasting, verifiable and all the glory goes to Jesus Christ. I will add to this description after proving some additional points.
All the examples of Biblical Divine Healing in the New Testament (hereafter NT) were accomplished by the power of God instantaneously. They were not done by the person (with the exception of Jesus Christ Himself) but were done through the person by the Holy Spirit. God is the only One who can do a creative healing. All other healings are natural or lying wonders, but only God can create. Healings in the NT never took a long time. They were always accomplished the same day, and in most cases were instantaneous.
All Biblical Divine Healings were lasting. They lasted for the rest of the person's natural life. They did not wear off. The person that was healed did not have to come back for repeated treatments or healings. The only case where there might be an exemption to this fact would be in the case of a conditional healing, where a person is exhorted to obey the Lord or the healing will be nullified. But, though there are hints of this in the story of the adulterous woman in John 8:1-11 (which story is not present in the majority of early manuscripts and papyri) and in the healing of Hezekiah in 2 Kings 20:5, I am hard pressed to absolutely prove that assumption by Scripture. Perhaps someone else can dig out an example of this.
All Biblical Divine Healings were verifiable. The NT healings were obvious healings. The most obvious were recorded as proof. Nearly half the incidents of healings in the NT that are descriptively recorded are of the most obvious kind, completely verifiable, beyond question. The people who were healed were well known in the community, in fact they were known by their ailment. Following are the NT incidents of obvious healings that were used as proof, as a sign verifying who Jesus Christ was and the validity of the ministry and the authority of the Apostles.
Matthew 4:24 News about him spread all over Syria, and people
brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering
severe pain, the demon possessed, those having seizures, and
the paralyzed, and he healed them. - obvious illnesses
Furthermore ALL the diseases listed as proof were incurable at that time of history. Demonic diseases, oppression, and possession that were obvious are listed below:
Matthew 8:33 Those tending the pigs ran off, went into the town and
reported all this, including what had happened to the demon possessed
The other verses in the NT on healing, as listed below, were generic listings which were not specific as to what kind of healings were done. We cannot infer anything from the silence of these passages as to the types of healings, simply that Jesus healed many types of diseases and conditions.
Matthew 4:23 Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their
synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every
disease and sickness among the people.
(d) All Glory to God
All the glory goes to God for Biblical Divine Healing because it is impossible for anything or anyone to effect Biblical Divine Healing except God Himself. Divine healing can occur at any time or any place. God can heal in response to the prayers of the righteous (James 5:16) in answer to the prayers of the elders in a local church (James 5:14) or simply because God wants to heal someone. I see no evidence in Scripture AT ALL of divine healing occurring as a sign to justify false teachers or false prophets. I believe it is possible for a person to receive divine healing anywhere. It is even remotely possible for God to heal someone for His own purposes at a meeting of a false teacher, but in that case it is also a test and the responsibility of that Christian to understand that the Lord did the healing and he is commanded to get away from false teachers as Jesus and the Apostles told us to do.
To definitively prove that a healing is a Biblical Divine Healing today ... that healing would have to be (1) of an incurable condition (2) obvious (3) verifiable (4) a problem well known to many people (5) immediate (6) lasting and (7) ascribed alone to the glory of God Who accomplished it by His omnipotent power alone. If it does not meet ALL these criteria it should not be used to prove it is a type of Biblical Divine Healing.
(2) Natural Healing
Natural healing is a feature that God created in all plant, animal and human life. The information needed to effect a great deal of healing in the human body is part of our genetic code. Natural healing is the type of healing that occurs most often. It is truly a gift from God, but most people don't even give it a second thought.
There is ample evidence for Natural Healing in the Bible (Leviticus 13:18, 37; Joshua 5:8) because God created us (Psalms 139:13) carries (sustains) us, and rescues us (Isaiah 46:4). We must be careful to be truthful about what is Natural Healing versus Divine Healing. They are two radically different processes.
Natural Healing is, for many reasons, a slow process. Over time the body heals itself, giving itself time to rest and recoup.
(b) May or may not last
Natural Healing usually lasts until the next sickness, injury or other problem presents itself. But Natural Healing is not always a cure all. There are times when the body is overwhelmed and, without outside help, it cannot heal itself. Also, if the body becomes weakened, such as a weak immune system, the body may no longer be able to repair itself and disease may continually reoccur.
(c) Verifiable and hard to verify
Natural healing is many times verifiable because it is obvious when a person gets better, when a cut heals, etc. But it can also occur yet be mistaken for other types of healing. A person may think the pill they are taking for Medicinal Healing cured them, but it could be mainly due to Natural Healing or other types of healing.
(d) God deserves the glory, mostly glory is given to the evolution of man
Though God deserves all the glory for creating our bodies with the wonderful ability to repair themselves, most of the glory these days is being given to the evolution of man. I believe that the Bible teaches that we are actually devolved from the pure genetic code of Adam and Eve and those who lived before the flood. Unfortunately man often glories in his own abilities and attributes without giving credit where credit is ultimately due.
Natural Healing happens over and over through the lifetime of the individual. Biblical Divine Healing is a one time event dealing with a specific disease. God has provided the body with marvelous self healing functions. But Natural Healing is not Biblical Divine Healing. God can work through Natural Healing, but it is not Biblical Divine Healing as was demonstrated by Jesus Christ and the Apostles.
(3) Medicinal/Medical Healing
Medicinal healing can be obtained by using plants, herbs and many other substances God created for us to use. Because of the accumulated human learning we have acquired over the millennia that God's grace has tarried, we also have much wisdom in the healing arts that have been passed down to us. Practitioners of Medical Healing today are doctors, dentists, and many other healing professions.
There is a lot of evidence of Medicinal Healing in the Bible (2 Chronicles 28:15, Jeremiah 8:22, 1 Timothy 4:3,5:23) as well as Medical Healing (Ezekiel 30:21, Colossians 4:14). Interestingly, the nations will eventually be healed by the fruit and leaves from a tree, the Tree of Life (Ezekiel 47:12, Revelation 22:2).
Medicinal/Medical Healing should not be confused with Divine Healing. They are totally different.
(a) Mostly slow, rarely fast
Most treatments, both medicinally and medically, promote slow healing. There are a few exceptions. A shot of pain killer can quickly mask pain. Ice water on a burn can almost immediately soothe the pain. But in both these cases actual healing takes a longer time.
(b) May or may not last
This type of healing can promote lasting healing, but can also simply give temporary healing.
(c) Fairly verifiable
Medicinal Healing is fairly verifiable when Natural Healing has not worked. But there are other factors that could also be at play, including Psychological Healing. Medical Healing can often be measured when accurate charts are kept. But again it is not an exact science and other factors could be at play at the same time.
(d) God deserves the glory; mostly glory is given to man
Again, God deserves the glory for creating the plants and other natural materials necessary to develop medicines. He also deserves the glory for allowing the human race to be around long enough to, through trial and error, develop what is today medical knowledge that can help many people. Unfortunately the glory usually goes to the medicine or the medical practitioner.
Medicinal/Medical Healing generally happens over and over through the lifetime of the individual for various problems that can reoccur if not treated. Biblical Divine Healing is a one time event dealing with a specific disease. God can and does use Medicinal/Medical Healing to heal people, particularly when righteous Christians are praying that the Lord will give the medical practitioner wisdom to know how to treat a given problem. But it is not Biblical Divine Healing as was demonstrated by Jesus Christ and the Apostles.
(4) Psychological Healing
There are many helps to healing that come under the heading of Psychological Healing, some positive and some negative. In the positive category would be things like positive thinking. The benefits of positive thinking and having a happy, carefree attitude have an effect on health issues, especially on emotional problems. But it can also affect the physical, particularly where the root problem is psychological to begin with. Keep in mind that positive thinking is not Divine Healing, but is a change of attitude. Adrenaline and seratonin can also play a role in making people feel better, even in thinking they are healed when they aren't. This is one of the key factors we see in the modern "faith healer" crusades. People are pronounced healed by Biblical Divine Healing who have merely been manipulated to the point where adrenaline or seratonin are released, thus helping them to get up out of their wheelchair for a time, or feel like they are healed. The problem is that this is a temporary condition and wears off. It can even be detrimental to their health in the long run. Along with emotional manipulation to get people to the point where their body excretes pain reducing chemicals, is outright hypnosis. This is another trick in the "faith healer's" bag of tricks. People are brainwashed and put into an altered state of consciousness by loud repetitious music, repetition of key phrases, group dynamics and reinforcement techniques, and other cultic practices. Finally they end up in a type of trance state where they suspend their cognitive faculties in favor of a pure emotional experience. This can lead to delusions of healing and visions that are not real. Hypnosis has ties to Paranormal/Demonic Healing that cannot be ignored.
(a) Sometimes immediate, mostly slow
Sometimes an immediate rush of body chemicals can cause temporary alleviation of pain, euphoria, etc. But this is not true healing, it is only temporary. Generally positive thinking is a slow process that may bring some healing over time.
(b) May or may not last
Again, the effects of Psychological Healing are only lasting if the original condition was psychologically induced, or if the emotional state of the person directly affects their physical health. Chemicals and hypnosis usually wear off over time. In any cases, this type of "healing" is temporary over time and will have to be "experienced" over and over.
(c) Almost impossible to verify
Needless to say, Psychological Healing is almost impossible to verify in any way known to modern science, or even experientially. That "faith healers" would use this type of healing to justify themselves is scandalous when science can't even adequately explain the mechanisms and effects involved.
(d) God deserves the glory, mostly glory is given to self
Though God does deserve the glory for creating the mind and body that responds to Natural Healing, Medicinal/Medical Healing and Psychological Healing, this type of healing is rarely attributed to God. It is almost always attributed to psychology, faith healers or the individual. God does help people emotionally, mentally, psychologically to promote healing, but it is not Biblical Divine Healing as was demonstrated by Jesus Christ and the Apostles.
(5) Paranormal/Demonic Healing
Paranormal/Demonic Healing has been in existence in the world practically since the creation. It is the oldest healing art. But the problem with this type of healing is that it is a (1) lying wonder and (2) opens the door to demonic influence, demonization, even possession. A lying wonder is not necessarily a false wonder or false miracle, but it is, more importantly, a miracle claimed to be from God but whose source is really from the devil. It is important to understand that actual healing can come from a lying wonder. But it is a type of healing that leads the person into bondage to the enemy. It is often used to confirm the alleged power of an individual, but behind it come the deceptions of the enemy. It's like a fish trap. The bait in the trap is real food and will nourish the fish that eats is, but after he is finished he is inside of a trap, whether or not he realizes it. There is much evidence also that suggests that this type of healing is a shell game of the enemy. By that I mean that the original condition was caused by the enemy, then when it is brought to a faith healer, witch doctor or shaman, the enemy cleverly lifts that condition only to replace it with other forms of demonization. This type of healing also, in many documented cases, may eventually lead to suicide and death. We must also remember that lying begets lying. People who get this kind of healing become part of the deception themselves, in turn deceiving others. It is an insidious form of healing that must be avoided at all costs.
(a) Immediate to slow
This type of healing can be immediate to slow. I have seen documentary evidence of miraculous Paranormal/Demonic Healings at the hands of shaman (including Christian "faith healers"). The length of the problem all depends on what the enemy wants to accomplish with the healing.
(b) May last for awhile, but usually temporary
This is one fairly good indicator to test the difference between Divine and Paranormal/Demonic Healing. It is my studied opinion that this type of healing is usually temporary or a "shell game" as I previously indicated. Repeated treatments are necessary, either for the original problem or for the string of problems caused as a result of continued demonization.
(c) Usually hard to verify
There are very visual cases of this type of healing where people have apparently been healed, making it very hard to discern the difference between Biblical Divine and Paranormal/Demonic Healing. But for the most part this kind of healing is usually of problems that are hard, if not impossible, to verify. This is because Satan is the master of the occult, the hidden. He loves to makes fools of people with his lies and deception.
(d) All glory to man and the devil while lip service to God
This is the point to watch most closely. Test and see who gets the
glory. In Biblical Divine Healing all the glory goes to God. In
Paranormal/Demonic Healing glory to God may be given lip service, but
most of the glory actually goes to men and the enemy. Satan, by causing
people to place their faith in the "power", "it", "the river", "the
force of faith" or some faith healing guru, usurps worship for himself
that belongs to God. God does not use Paranormal/Demonic Healing to
heal. God does not validate the work of shamans, faith healers, false
teachers or false prophets. As stated before, Divine Healing can occur
Paranormal/Demonic Healing is to be avoided at all costs. It is the most dangerous. It has nothing to do with Biblical Divine Healing as was demonstrated by Jesus Christ and the Apostles, but it can look the most like it of any of the modes of healing.
Here is a helpful chart to put all the information above in a quick
How To Judge Healers
Here's how we are to judge, discern and test those who claim to be able to heal.
Most importantly we are to judge healers first by what they teach. If their teaching deviates from the core doctrines of the Faith as found in the sixty-six books of the Bible we are to avoid them and warn others against them. Read my booklet called "What Should I Say" for a short biblical view of how we are to judge, discern and test the spirits.
An equally important test to apply is to test the truth of alleged prophecies from the Lord made by the healer. If a prophet does not tell the truth while claiming to have a direct line or communication from God, that prophet is to be avoided like the plague. It doesn't matter if he can bring fire down from heaven and raise the dead, he is not to be trusted.
Fruit of the Spirit (not gifts)
The more difficult test, yet a biblical one, is the fruit of the Spirit. We're not talking about the gifts of the Spirit, but the fruit of the Spirit. We are to look for the attributes of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control in their lives. False healers can act like they have these, but usually they betray themselves sooner or later in one way or another. With reference to Third Wave faith healers, they ALWAYS go against the fruit of peace and self-control. This is because the "faith healing" is almost always tied to "slain in the spirit", a phenomena that almost always results in pandemonium and mayhem rather than peace and self-control. Those being "slain" are often taught to empty their minds, stop praying, let go, leave their minds at the door. The meetings of Third Wave faith healers are almost always places of the lack of peace and self-control. They are often also places where people are being fleeced of their money and faith healers are reaping the profits. This is not the fruit of goodness and kindness, but of greed and a lack of sympathy for the less fortunate. They betray themselves to be false brethren when they do these things.
How Not To Judge Healers
Healers should not be tested, as to whether or not Biblical Divine Healing is happening in their ministries, on the merits of the miracles themselves. Though the chart above will be helpful in ruling out deception and pinpointing types of healing, it is not the best way to discern and test faith healers. Bear in mind that every deception of the enemy is also leading up to the big end times deception of the Antichrist and the False Prophet. The False Prophet will bring fire down from heaven and likely heal the Antichrist. The Lord states clearly that there will be many who claim to prophesy, cast out demons and do miracles that He never knew (Matthew 7:21-23). The secular world, as well as much of what is called the "Church" today, has been conditioned to judge the validity of a ministry or a person by virtue of the signs and wonders he can perform. This is not a good basis for judgment, especially because these same things are being done by occultists now and will ultimately be done by the False Prophet.
The conclusion of this matter is simple. You can have your body healed but lose your soul. So you should test any alleged Biblical Divine Healing claim by testing the person to see if he is a true teacher, a true prophet, and exhibits the fruit of the Spirit. If they fail this test, no matter how spectacular the healing and no matter if it happened to you personally, get away from false teachers and false prophets. God can and still does heal with Biblical Divine Healing. If you want healing, ask the Lord. Go to the elders of your church and have them pray for you. But stay away from healing crusades and Christian shaman masquerading as true men of God.