I was recently asked a question that I found to be very interesting: “What does the Bible say about Doctors?” which really was directed to a more pointed question, “Is it okay to use doctors, or should God alone be trusted to fix us when our physical bodies fail?” This is a fair question that deserves an honest answer.
MEDICAL CARE IN THE BIBLE
The Bible never offers any specific remarks condemning or condoning medical doctors, but it definitely does address doctors. For example, Paul endearingly refers to his friend “Luke the beloved physician” in Colossians 4:14. Jesus also references medical doctors in Matthew 9:12. He says, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.” He certainly was not condemning the use of physicians – he compares himself to a physician! Like the physically ill need doctors, the dying sinful world needs Jesus. Seeking natural remedies to physical illness is never condemned in the Bible. Sometimes, its encouraged. For example, in 1 Timothy 5:23 Paul tells Timothy, “No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for your stomach’s sake and your frequent infirmities.” Seeking natural interventions is perfectly appropriate and expected.
Another significant mention of physicians in the Bible is recorded in 2 Chronicles 16:12-13:
“And in the thirty-ninth year of his reign, Asa became diseased in his feet, and his malady was severe; yet in his disease he did not seek the LORD, but the physicians. So Asa rested with his fathers; he died in the forty-first year of his reign.”
For King Asa, the physicians failed, and the Bible explains why – Asa consulted the physicians instead of God.
Although using available medical care is never discouraged in the Bible, seeking natural interventions instead of seeking of God’s supernatural interventions is condemned. When a Christian puts their faith first in human medicine, they are destined to be disappointed. Medical care is not an alternative to God’s healing power. God is the Healer.
GOD IS THE HEALER
Seeking God first for all of our needs, especially physical illness, is well addressed in the Bible. Physicians will fail. Medicine will fail. But God, who does not fail, promises to be our healer.
In Exodus 15:26, God says, “I am the Lord who heals you.” David said of the Lord in Psalm 103:3, “He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases.” In Psalm 41:3, God promises blessings of health and healings to the benevolent: “The LORD will strengthen him on his bed of illness; You will sustain him on his sickbed.” Under all circumstances, God is the greatest physician, and we must consult him and petition him first.
God wants to be our healer and provider. He cares for us, and he directs us to give all of our concerns to him. The Scriptures speak to this point. Philippians 4:6: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” Again in 1 Peter 5:6-7: “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” God’s desire is that we trust him with all of our cares, physical frailties included. This is confirmed in James 5:14 when the Spirit says: “Is anyone among you sick? 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.”
FAITH AND PRAYER
So what does it take to receive healing from God? The first thing is faith. Acts 14:9-10: “This man heard Paul speaking. Paul, observing him intently and seeing that he had faith to be healed, said with a loud voice, ‘Stand up straight on your feet!’ And he leaped and walked.” Jesus said to the woman in Luke 8:48, “Daughter, be of good cheer; your faith has made you well. Go in peace.” Matthew 15:28: “Then Jesus answered and said to her, ‘O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.’ And her daughter was healed from that very hour.” Additional scriptures pointing to the role of faith in the healing process are abundant.
While God no longer heals through supernatural powers placed in human hands, he absolutely still heals. We offer him our faith and we approach him in prayer: James 5:16, “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” Faithful prayer is a powerful tool. God wants to answer our prayers. He wants to heal us. To suggest that God no longer has an interest in healing our physical bodies is not an honest representation of the New Testament Scripture.
Given all the evidence concerning God’s intention to hear and answer prayer, one major question still remains – why doesn’t God always answer prayer? The Bible explains. Doubt (James 1:5-7), sin (Proverbs 15:29), and evil intentions (James 4:3) all present obstacles to our prayers. If we will despise God’s law, he will reject our prayers: Proverbs 28:9, “One who turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination.” Of course, these obstacles may not be the issue at all. What about when we have petitioned God in faith and still our prayers remain unanswered? Remember, God knows best. Isaiah 55:8-9:
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.”
He knows when healing is good and when sickness is better.
So what does the Bible say about doctors? Use them, but remember God is the true healer. Seek his healing first and seek it always.