Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed (1 Peter 2:24KJV).
Perhaps one of the popular teachings of our time is the health and wealth gospel which teaches that God wants believers to be physically healthy, materially wealthy, and personally happy. The text above is one of the biblical texts used by proponents of this gospel. The last section of the text–by whose stripes ye were healed — is taken to mean Christ’s death and his punishment on the cross secured for believers, what they call divine healing. Now there is no disputing that God does heal people in his own Sovereignty and in answer to prayer. However, there is no promise in the Bible guaranteeing healing for the believer who is sick. It is faulty biblical hermeneutics which leads to such doctrine. One may therefore ask, “what does by whose stripes ye were healed mean then“? To answer that question, we will have to ask another question:
What Were We Healed Of?
The answer— sin. Clearly, the subject under discussion is sin: “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body.” You see, our greatest predicament as human beings is not poverty or sickness. Therefore the offering of health and wealth as the solution to our problems is false and no gospel at all. It is simply another gospel. Our greatest predicament as humans is sin. Hence our greatest need is the forgiveness of sin. The Bible condemns all human beings under sin and declares us separated from God. Separation from God is man’s greatest problem and no amount of money or good health can make up for that void.
Sin is a disease which plagues all humankind. And this sin is what we have been healed of by Christ’s stripes. And this disease, if not dealt with, leads to death—spiritual death and eternal damnation. The wages of sin, we are told is death (Rom 6:23). Look around you and see the havoc in this sin infested world. Sin also has eternal consequences.
The prophet Isaiah paints a good picture of the impact of sin on humanity.
Ah, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, offspring of evildoers, children who deal corruptly! They have forsaken the Lord, they have despised the Holy One of Israel, they are utterly estranged. Why will you still be struck down? Why will you continue to rebel? The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even to the head, there is no soundness in it, but bruises and sores and raw wounds; they are not pressed out or bound up or softened with oil (Isaiah 1:4-6 ESV)
This is the state of our sickness and our sin which the prophet graphically likens to sores and bruises that have covered the whole body from head to toe. This is the sickness of sin Christ died to heal us of that we might live to righteousness! How tragic that 1Peter 2:24 which deals with the grave situation of the life estranged from God by sin; and the glorious promise of redemption through the substitutionary sacrifice of the Lord Jesus will be cheapened to one of material significance!
Healed Of Our Sins And Restored Unto Rigtheousness
Peter quotes Isaiah 53:5 to tell us how we were healed. How? by Christ’s stripes—the punishment he received in his body on the Cross was for our sins. He bore our sins in his body. That is good news. God has made a way to reconcile us unto Himself by putting our sins on Christ. This is what theologians call double imputation. Our Sin is imputed to Christ and His righteousness imputed to us. Oh, what good news. Our sins are all forgiven when we trust in Christ.
The result of this imputation is that we “should live unto righteousness“.
Righteousness simply is right standing with God as if we have never sinned. In Christ we who previously were sick and dead in sin are healed and made alive and reconciled to God: “And you hath he quickened [made alive], who were dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1KJV). “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him”(2Corinthians 5:21KJV).
Have you experienced this exchange; your sin for Christ’s forgiveness? If not seek His forgiveness. That’s what 1Peter 2:24 is about. It is not about healing of our physical diseases. This pales in comparison to the true healing Christ died for—the forgiveness of sin.