Articles ECF Article The Early Church

The Art of Healing

The art of healing goes far beyond a physical miracle, it is an intricate process that our soul must go through.

We may think of healing as something simplistic in nature, of the body, riddled with disease or some type of disfigurement, that is healed miraculously, or naturally. Although these healings do take place, myself being a recipient of such miracles, I also find that the inner healing process is much more complex. Inner healing can be intricate because the wounds we have are complex themselves. Healing is more of an art form than a simple prayer. 

The inner healing I refer to is a process that takes fasting, prayer, wisdom, divine understanding, discipline and sometimes pain and suffering. The reason why healing is so complicated is that it is not just our body, but our soul that needs healing. In all honesty the healing of the soul is more intricate and even more critical than the healing of the body. What good is it to be perfectly healthy and have a soul that is defiled by sin?

We hear in many Christian circles today that when Jesus said we would “do greater works than these” (John 14:12), that this is concerning miracles that will blow our minds, based on what we physically see. However, Origen expounds that the greater works Jesus was speaking of could not be perceived by our physical senses. 

Agreeably to the promise of Jesus, His disciples performed even greater works than these miracles of Jesus, which were perceptible only to the senses. For the eyes of those who are blind in soul are ever opened; and the ears of those who were deaf to virtuous words, listen readily to the doctrine of God, and of the blessed life with Him; and many, too, who were lame in the feet of the “inner man,” as Scripture calls it, having now been healed by the word, do not simply leap, but leap as the hart, which is an animal hostile to serpents, and stronger than all the poison of vipers. And these lame who have been healed, receive from Jesus power to trample, with those feet in which they were formerly lame, upon the serpents and scorpions of wickedness, and generally upon all the power of the enemy; and though they tread upon it, they sustain no injury, for they also have become stronger than the poison of all evil and of demons. (1)

The soul being healed in order to be capable of hearing the virtuous doctrine of God; to have eyes to see the wonderful things of the Torah; our inner man being able to trample on demonic forces, is much more fruitful than to have physical healing. The greater works has to do with the ability to transform and heal the inner man. Tertullian expresses that the healings Jesus completed were not only physically fulfilled, but were an allegory of the soul. 

Were not the eyes of the blind opened? did not the tongue of the dumb recover speech? (Isa 35:5) did not the relaxed hands and palsied knees become strong, (Isa 35:3) and the lame leap as an hart? (Isa 35:6) No doubt we are accustomed also to give a spiritual significance to these statements of prophecy, according to the analogy of the physical diseases which were healed by the Lord; but still they were all fulfilled literally. (2)

These miracles were two-fold. They were physically manifesting in people’s lives, and also a foreshadow of the members of the soul being healed. The Apostle Paul spoke about the war within his members. This is an ongoing war we all have going on within our mind, our soul. In order for us to appear with Christ in glory we must “put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.”  (Colossians 3:5). Paul is indicating that we have a different body, an inner man. “Evil desire” is not a physical body part that we have, neither do we have a body part called “idolatry”, however these are different areas of our soul that are requiring a cure. 

The Lord said the closer we get to the end we will “hear of wars and rumors of wars” (Matthew 24:6). To the Early Church the greatest war is within our mind. James states, “Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members?” (James 4:1) Furthermore, Paul emphasizes that it is not the physical war we are to be concerned about, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”  (Ephesians 6:12). This is a war to bring healing to our soul. 

We tend to think of healing as something that is meant to be soothing and comforting. However, at times healing is painful. The reason some of us do not go through the healing we need is because we are immature in understanding what God is trying to remedy within us. The Word states that God “I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; Nor is there any who can deliver from My hand.” (Deuteronomy 32:29). Like a frightened, immature child hides their wound, not trusting in their paternal physician who attempts to heal the wound before it becomes infected; we do the same to our spiritual parents (the Apostles and Prophets) and to God our heavenly Father. 

Origen describes this process, utilizing an analogy to help us understand the process of healing our soul must go through. 

There are also many other things which escape our notice, and are known to Him alone who is the physician of our souls. For if, on account of those bad effects which we bring upon ourselves by eating and drinking, we deem it necessary for the health of the body to make use of some unpleasant and painful drug, sometimes even, if the nature of the disease demand, requiring the severe process of the amputating knife; and if the virulence of the disease shall transcend even these remedies, the evil has at last to be burned out by fire; how much more is it to be understood that God our Physician, desiring to remove the defects of our souls, which they had contracted from their different sins and crimes, should employ penal measures of this sort, and should apply even, in addition, the punishment of fire to those who have lost their soundness of mind! (3)

Our soul becoming diseased with the vices of the flesh will at times require an abrasive procedure to ensure our healing. Amputation does not sound pleasant, but Jesus himself said “And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.”  (Matthew 5:30) This will prove to be most difficult for those who read the bible to the letter. The hand has to do with our spiritual works, our character and our conduct. 

Origen further expounds on the process of healing, that many would deem too fearful to endure. Believe it or not, the wrath and judgement of God is part of the healing process for the soul as well. 

To understand now, that in the same way in which physicians apply remedies to the sick, in order that by careful treatment they may recover their health, God so deals towards those who have lapsed and fallen into sin, is proved by this, that the cup of God’s fury is ordered, through the agency of the prophet Jeremiah, (Cf. Jer 25:15-16) to be offered to all nations, that they may drink it, and be in a state of madness, and vomit it forth. In doing which, He threatens them, saying, That if any one refuse to drink, he shall not be cleansed. (Cf. Jer 25:28-29) By which certainly it is understood that the fury of God’s vengeance is profitable for the purgation of souls. That the punishment, also, which is said to be applied by fire, is understood to be applied with the object of healing, is taught by Isaiah, who speaks thus of Israel: “The Lord will wash away the filth of the sons or daughters of Zion, and shall purge away the blood from the midst of them by the spirit of judgment, and the spirit of burning.” (Isa 4:4) Of the Chaldeans he thus speaks: “Thou hast the coals of fire; sit upon them: they will be to thee a help.” And in other passages he says, “The Lord will sanctify in a burning fire” (Isa 10:17, cf. Isa 66:16) and in the prophecies of Malachi he says, “The Lord sitting will blow, and purify, and will pour forth the cleansed sons of Judah.” (Cf. Mal 3:3) (3)

If we refuse the wrath and judgment of God, we are refusing the healing fire that comes to burn out the sinful nature and every evil desire that plagues our soul. Part of the judgment is the refusal to go through this process of healing. We must even count the cost to go through with the healing. What it takes is trust. We cannot trust what we do not understand. Like a child not understanding their parental physician, we could lack the understanding of our heavenly Father, holding the cure before us and still yet refuse the goodness of God. 

If there are certain areas of our soul that we need healing in, which we all do, and we have not received healing in that area, we need to be asking ourselves why haven’t we been healed yet? Are we refusing the healing power of God? Are we afraid of amputation? If we lack understanding then we ought to ask the Father to open our mind to understand our soul, and the process He is trying to bring us through. So, like a mature son, we are working with our spiritual Physician, the physician of our souls, instead of against Him. Amen. 


  1. Origen, Against Celsus, Bk. 2, Ch. XLVIII [emphasis added]
  2. Tertullian, Resurrection, Ch. XX [emphasis added]
  3. Origen, First Principles, Bk. 2, Ch. X [emphasis added]

All scripture references from The Holy Bible: New King James Version: NKJV. Thomas Nelson, 2010.