“And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.”
and the Lord will raise him up.
The context appears to teach that James has both spiritual and physical healing in view. The “Lord” raised him up; the person who prayed did not raise him up. God does something here – He respects the biblically based prayer by bringing the believer back from a desperate situation.
And if he has committed sins,
The “if” indicates that this believer of his own will went into rebellion. He sinned without confession over time. He accumulated the sin unto death by this unconfessed sin.
The tense of the word “committed” in Greek means this believer committed this sin in the past with the result that he remains unrepentant of that sin. We can translate this phrase in this way, “And if he has been committing sins.” This is a persistent rebellion against God’s Word. He is a person who refuses to confess and repent of his sin. He is in a state of rebellion against God.
Ps. 32:5, “I acknowledged my sin to You,
And my iniquity I have not hidden.
I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,
And You forgave the iniquity of my sin.”
Pr. 28:13, “He who covers his sins will not prosper,
But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.”
1 Jn 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
The “sins” of this phrase are special sins – sins that caused this believer to go into protracted spiritual decline.
he will be forgiven.
Forgiveness goes with spiritual recovery. We can start over with God’s blessing. God holds no grudge against us. The word “forgive” means to send away. God sends our sin away.
Sin can cause physical sickness.
Several passages in the Word of God show that sin causes sickness (De 28:22,27; Jn 5:14; 1 Co 11:30). This only occurs when a believer in rebellion to the Word of God refuses to confess his sin over a protracted period. Rebellion against God can produce sickness and even premature death.
We must acknowledge our sins and not to use other people as patsies for our sin. We sin from our own free will; therefore, we do not blame others for our sin. If we do, we may draw the sin unto death unto ourselves.”
Ps 51:2-4, “Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
And cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I acknowledge my transgressions,
And my sin is always before me.
4 Against You, You only, have I sinned,
And done this evil in Your sight—
That You may be found just when You speak,
And blameless when You judge.”
Personal sin does not necessarily result in physical illness, but it can cause physical illness under special circumstances. We cannot say that a physically healthy Christian is so because he is free from sin. We can say that there are times when Christians enter into flagrant rebellion against God, that God puts that believer under physical divine discipline. That is the “if” in the phrase “if he has committed sins.”
1 Co 11:30-32, “For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep [died]. 31 For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.”
God killed Ananias and Sapphira because they lied to the Holy Spirit. They dropped dead instantly.
We cannot conclude that if God does not heal a sick person that it is because of sin in his life. Jesus healed sinful people. He said, “Go and sin no more.” Healing does not depend necessarily on the absence of sin. Sin can lead to sickness.
This section on sin unto death seems to be talking about persistant sin and rebellion. How does that correlate with the fate of Annanias & Saphira?
James 5 needs to be interpreted within the argument of the book, and thus my conclusion. Acts 5 has to do with lying to the Holy Spirit, which involved more immediate action because it set a precedent for the new economy of the church. God does not always discipline after a protracted period of time; there are times when God judges immediately, as He did in 1 Cor 11.