What was the correlation between healing and forgiveness in Jesus’s time and what is the connection in our time between a person being healed and that person being forgiven of sins?
Thank you for taking a moment to ask a question covering the juxtaposition of healing and forgiveness during Christ’s time versus healing and forgiveness during our time. Let’s first begin with these verses of scripture:
1. Mormon 9:9, “For do we not read that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and in him there is no variableness neither shadow of changing?
2. Matthew 9:6, “But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house.
These two scriptures highlight the following that God doesn’t change, and that the Son of man is the only person who can forgive sins. If God is an unchanging being then the correlation between Christ’s time and our time are the same, with one exception — Christ being a living mortal man of flesh and blood which we do not have now. The New Testament period can be broken into two parts, as it pertains to this question, 1) when Christ was living and 2) after Christ’s resurrection when Peter was given authority to lead as the prophet of Christ’s Church (at that time).
The second verse clearly shows that the miracle, at this time, was given as a sign that Christ (the Messiah) not only can heal (as did many other prophets in the Old Testament) but that he could also forgive sins simultaneously (which no prophet ever could as done in Matthew 9: 6). Forgiveness of sins (as it is today) is only done in and through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ — our Redeemer.
Let’s look at Matthew 8:3-4:
3 And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.
4 And Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no man; but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.
In this example, we see that a healing took place and the individual was then commanded to follow the law in order to be cleansed through the sin offering. It seems as though, in many cases, the Lord told them to follow the law as was written. Obedience to law brings forth blessings, and in this case obedience brings forth forgiveness. It appears while Christ lived that he could give forgiveness at the same time a healing occurred – through his voice.
After Christ died and was resurrected we can read the following (which would be the same for our day) James 5:14-15:
14 Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:
15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. (emphasis mine)
This verse would have the same application in our time as it did in James time, and during the living ministry of Christ. We are informed that when a healing takes place, which can only come through exercising faith in Christ that this faith in Christ also allows a forgiveness of sins. This correlation between healing and forgiveness may be a direct result of the Holy Ghost. Once we are cleansed, healed and made whole, then comes the fire (justification) by the Holy Ghost by which we then experience sanctification from the Lord’s Atonement (forgiveness). As to how this works, well I think that is one of the many mysteries of the Kingdom of God.
In that sense, the only difference I can see regarding the correlation of healing and forgiveness of sins when Jesus lived verses the time we live now is that when Jesus lived he could do what we could not. He, and he alone, could say simultaneously you are forgiven and healed at the exact same time. Otherwise, after his death, the apostles and prophets (any servant of Jesus Christ) could only heal, and inform what the Lord already stated as we have no permission or authority to forgive sins.