It’s been nearly 25 years since he held the press conference in 1991. The venue was the Forum in Los Angeles and it hosted one of the greatest NBA teams of all times, the Los Angeles Lakers, who were simply known as “Showtime.” Magic Johnson stood before a room full of reporters and announced his retirement from the game. He had the HIV virus.
At that time, Magic and Larry Bird were two of the most visible faces of the NBA. They entered the league in 1976 after facing each other for the collegiate National Championship a few months earlier.
During the press conference, this highly recognized and well liked athlete made a statement that gave voice to the thinking and beliefs of many, including Christians: “God gave me the HIV virus to teach me and young people about the danger of having unprotected sex."
That day, Magic “confirmed” and “legitimized” what most Christians believed and sadly, still believe today – God will punish you with disease or sickness to teach you a lesson.
But it’s a lie.
It’s a lie birthed by Satan that has been strategically and methodically propagated for centuries. Sadly, it is one of the strongest ungodly beliefs living in the hearts and minds of many Christians.
It’s odd. Christians, who say they love and serve God, are holding on to and believing a lie about Him.
Many Christians point to God’s interaction with people in the Old Testament as justification for believing this lie. Why? Because they don’t understand they are not like the believers of the Old Testament.
God dealt with them differently than He does with those of His own household because they were different. They didn’t have His life living inside of them. And even then, God didn’t place sickness and disease on them.
“This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” (I John 1:5) The Amplified Bible renders the latter part of the verse this way: God is Light, and there is no darkness in Him at all [no, not in any way].
The word “no” in the Greek is ou and expresses the strongest negation possible. In other words, there is no possible way to attribute to God the bad things that happen to people unless you reject the witness of Scripture.
Let’s look at one more witness.
“Let no man say when he is tempted (tested or tried), I am tempted (tested or tried) of God: for God cannot be tempted (tested or tried) with evil, neither tempteth (tests or tries) he any man.” (James 1:13) The Amplified says it this way: “Let no one say when he is tempted, I am tempted from God; for God is incapable of being tempted by [what is] evil and He Himself tempts no one.”
If there is nothing in God that can cause Him to be tempted to do evil, how can He be the one who gave Magic Johnson the HIV virus to teach him a lesson?
Then how did Magic get the HIV virus?
In this situation, the 14th verse has the answer.
“But every man is tempted (tested and tried) when he is drawn away of (by) his own lust, and enticed.”
The words “drawn away,” “own lust” and “enticed” create an image of a person whose desire is so strong that he is baited like a fish and fulfills it. And when this happens, verse 15 says "Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth (gives birth to) sin."
Now read the last part of verse 15: “and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.”
When we open the door to sin and sin runs its course (fully matures), it can lead to our physical death. If we don’t repent of the sin, it can lead to our spiritual death. Sobering thoughts.
Is God causing the death? No. The person causes the death by his or her actions. In the case of Magic Johnson, he contracted the HIV virus by his actions, not because God was punishing him for those actions.
Let me end with James 1:16 and 17.
“Do not err, my beloved brethren. ("Don’t err in thinking that God brings evil into your life to tempt you child of God.") Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no (ou) variableness, neither shadow of turning.”
Doesn’t this sound a lot like I John 1:5?
Never again believe the lie that your Heavenly Father will bring sickness or disease or any kind of hardship into your life to teach you a lesson.
I am a father and I wouldn’t do that to my children. Am I a better father than God? I think not!