Why Promising Prosperity Delivers Despair

10 May

I sat quietly in the back of the room, cringing at every word.

“God is not the author of sickness! God is not the author of disease! He has already healed you—Isaiah said ‘By His stripes we are healed!’”

Used with permission

Used with permission

She paused to take a breath.

“Ladies. Stop asking for healing and start walking in the healing He has already given you. He will heal you if you have the faith to believe it!”

The room broke out in a chorus of “Hallelujahs” and “Amens” as I sank lower into my chair.

My thoughts turned to Ethan Hallmark, a brave young warrior who lost his earthly battle to a brutal cancer that ravaged his body. As he lay in his hospice bed, he beckoned his mother to lean in. Later, she told me what he said. He was afraid, not of dying, but of something else.

He was afraid that people would blame God for his cancer.

Ethan Hallmark had great faith.

So why did he die? Why wasn’t he healed? How can his faith possibly be reconciled with the prosperity message?

It can’t.

It doesn’t have to.

The prosperity message is not in the Bible.

The prosperity message needs one important component to succeed:

Your lack of Biblical knowledge

I had politely challenged the conference speaker before the event. I asked her why people with great faith lost battles to disease and sickness. She couldn’t answer me. Her only response was that God had given her a special revelation that He has already healed us, and we must simply walk in the healing we already have.

Let’s look at the passage she cited:

But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.

—Isaiah 53:5

At first glance, this does, indeed, look like a promise of healing. But before we jump to that conclusion, let’s look at the next verse:

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

—Isaiah 53:6

These verses were taken out of the Old Testament book of Isaiah. Chapter 53 is the great messianic chapter of the book, and Christian scholars unanimously agree that the chapter is about Jesus. But is this chapter about our physical healing?


Verse 5 states that Jesus was bruised for our iniquities; verse 6 says the Lord laid on Him the iniquities of the world.

What are our iniquities?

Merriam-Webster defines iniquity as “gross injustice, wickedness, a wicked act or thing” and “sin.”

When Isaiah speaks of healing, he is not talking about disease or disability. He is talking about something more frightening, more desperate, and far more lethal.

He is talking about our sinful condition.

Romans 3:23 reminds us that every person that has ever occupied space on planet earth has sinned and fallen short of God’s standard. Our sinful condition is so deeply intertwined with our DNA, so intricately woven through the fabric of our lives, that physical healing is the least of our concerns.

We need a Savior to heal us of our sinful condition.

We need a Savior to save us from ourselves, because in our own strength, we are as powerless in the face of our sin as a bug is in the face of a boot.

Here are a few things of which we can be sure:

  • Life is full of trials and sorrows (John 16:33)
  • We will face many battles (Ephesians 6:10-18)
  • We will suffer (1 Peter 3:17)
  • Our own flesh wages war against us (1 Peter 2:11)

You will never find that in the prosperity message, but you will find it running through Scripture like a scarlet thread.

So where is the good news?

  • We fight from victory, not for victory (John 16:33)
  • At the end of the battle we will be standing if we stand in the Lord’s power (Ephesians 6:10-18)
  • The Lord’s power courses through our spirit (Ephesians 3:20)
  • Because of the cross, sin does not have the final say (Romans 6:6-7)

The good news is that, by His stripes, we are fully justified before the Father. We are healed of our sinful condition, and we will one day shed the sinful bodies that hold us captive, and join our Savior in glory.

The problem with the prosperity message is that it will always fail us. Eventually, no matter how many “miraculous healings” one might see, we will one day leave our bodies to be united with Christ. That is our hope. That is where we turn our thoughts and affections.

The goal of the mature believer is not health, wealth, and prosperity.

The goal of the mature believer is to glorify God no matter the cost.


Would you like to go deeper in your study of the Word? Rebecca is currently a student at Dallas Theological Seminary. Click HERE for information on their new Master’s program that is perfectly suited for the non-traditional student. Click HERE to take an online class for FREE. Click HERE for information on your last year free.

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