Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. —James 5:14-15
Jesus cared about the sick. One of the first things said about Jesus in the New Testament is His care for the afflicted: “Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people” (Matt. 4:23). The sick came to Him, and healing them was much of His ministry. Even after He went to heaven, the ministry of healing continued. It is even mentioned in the very last chapter of the Book of Acts that the apostle Paul healed people on the island called Malta. The sick people came to him; he placed his hands on them and healed them, and everybody on the island was cured (Acts 28:9).
James says, “Is any of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him. … If he has sinned, he will be forgiven” (James 5:14-15). Why did James say that? Because the healing ministry of Jesus was not over. God cares about our well-being—spirit, soul, and body. He still wants to heal you.
Sometimes sin and suffering are related. Sometimes they are so related that James actually said if one has sinned (meaning that if the illness they are praying for is traceable to sin), when the prayer of faith is offered, then the one who is healed will also have this sin forgiven. So James is showing the possibility of the connection with sin. This is why he says if one has sinned, he will be forgiven. And that’s a big if, because it is implying that sin may not be the cause of illness at all. Do not let the devil accuse you or make you believe your illness is because of sin. However, if you have valid suspicion that it is, then, before God, ask for the elders of your church to pray for you.
Excerpted from The Thorn in the Flesh (Charisma House, 2004).