Does God only heal through the medical profession today or does He still make house calls? (Mark 1:29-31)
To assist in understanding the subject of healing of sickness, I will discuss it in parallel with forgiveness of sin, a more familiar topic.
Forgiveness of Sin
Recall that sin entered the world when the first Adam rebelled (1) against God's commandment by eating of the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:17). To save us Jesus, the last Adam, took upon Himself our sin as a sacrificial lamb on Calvary's cross so that we might take upon ourselves His righteousness through His resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:3,4. 2 Corinthians 5:21. 1 Corinthians 1:30). This means that the power of sin over our lives was broken by Jesus. Thus we do not have to sin (1) (Romans 6:6-14). However, we still sin since our spirit lives in a weak sin-prone body and in a sin governed fallen world (Matthew 26:41. Romans 7:15-25. 1 John 1:8. 1 John 5:19). When we sin our right to be forgiven and cleansed by God from our sins, and their effects is based on Jesus' righteousness. That is, we can come boldly, not condemningly, to God our Father's throne of grace to obtain mercy and discover grace based on Jesus having never sinned (Hebrews 4:16. Romans 8:1,34,35,). As a reminder, we are to live the Christian life, not by our performance but the same way we were saved (Colossians 2:6). That is, by faith that received God's gift of grace based on Jesus His son's payment in full for all of mankind's transgressions once and for all on the cross of Calvary (Ephesians 2:8. Colossians 2:13,14). Knowing these facts, when we sin we turn to God our Father first to repent and ask for forgiveness from it (1 John 1:9). Even if this is an area of addiction where we repeatedly sin we still find forgiveness from God and not man (Hebrews 4:15,16).
For example, a person is having trouble not looking at pornography and has joined a recovery group lead by a Christian psychiatrist. While this group can provide a fantastic support system and even prescribe medication to assist in recovery, it cannot provide forgiveness from sin. Consequently, after sinning by lustfully looking at pornography, if this person goes to this group first, they might find help to live with guilt or suppress it with medication, but they cannot obtain forgiveness of sin.
The correct response would be first to go to God asking (1) for forgiveness with a repentant heart (i.e., sorry for sinning against a holy God and not merely sorry for having to face the consequences of the sin). Next, ask God to deliver you from the addiction. It is possible that God may supernaturally deliver you from the addiction then and there. However, it is more probable that He will deliver you while you work through His plan and process (i.e., by a WORKING of a miracle, 1 Corinthians 12:10). Why? Because things that take longer to obtain typically last longer (Proverbs 20:21. Exodus 23:29,30. Matthew 12:43-45). A mushroom grows in hours but only lasts a few days whereas an oak tree takes years to mature but lasts decades. Also, having to obey God by working step by step with Him to obtain deliverance from the addiction will deepen your relationship with God and cause you to grow in spiritual maturity. I offer a heuristic (i.e., a thumb rule) for understanding God's ways, everything He does is for and about relationships! (Galatians 4:6. 1 John 1:3) While our destination may be deliverance from the addiction, the journey is about growing (1) a profound and intimate relationship with our loving heavenly Father.
Healing from Sickness
When sin entered the world so did sickness (Deuteronomy 28:15,21,22,27,28,29,35,59,60,61) and death (Romans 5:12). Nevertheless, Jesus not only paid the price for our sin at Calvary but also the consequences of sin (e.g., sickness, death, etc.). That is, every curse that Satan brought into the world through the first Adam's sin, the last Adam set us free from by paying the price of freedom for us by laying down His life on the cross of Calvary (1 Corinthians 15:45,47. Galatians 3:13,14). Again, God did a greater work through the last Adam (i.e., Jesus) than Satan did through the first Adam (i.e., Eve's husband).
He was wounded because of our rebellious deeds, crushed because of our sins; he endured punishment that made us well; because of his wounds we have been healed. (Isaiah 53:5 NET)
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we may cease from sinning and live for righteousness. By his wounds you were healed. (1 Peter 2:24 NET)
I have heard some say that the above scriptures refer to a "spiritual healing". However, the scripture below identifies that Isaiah 53:5 includes physical healing.
When it was evening, many demon-possessed people were brought to him. He drove out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick. In this way what was spoken by Isaiah the prophet was fulfilled: "He took our weaknesses and carried our diseases." (Matthew 8:16-17 NET)
Similar to our being set free from sin, yet we still sin, we have been set free from the curse of sickness - yet we still get sick. Nevertheless, we must approach being sick the same way we approach having sinned. That is, we must first come boldly to the throne of grace to obtain the healing (for deliverance from infection, disease, etc.) and/or miracle (for the restoration of something that is damaged or missing) that we require.
In the thirty-ninth year of his reign, Asa developed a foot disease. Though his disease was severe, he did not seek the LORD, but only the doctors. Asa passed away in the forty-first year of his reign. (2 Chronicles. 16:12-13 NET)
It is possible that God may choose to supernaturally deliver us from our condition immediately. Again, it is more probable that He will have us work through steps (John 9:7) to obtain what is needed and that typically involves the medical profession. This means we should pray for the doctors and nurses to have the wisdom of God to know what to do, the medicine would be blessed to cause no harm, and efficient to accomplish the desired outcome, etc.
Some are under a false doctrine (1) that in some way substitutes traditions of men for the Word of God thus making it ineffective (Mark 7:13). For example, the spiritual gifts and miracles stopped with the Apostles, the original manuscripts of the Bible contained errors (i.e., the Bible cannot be trusted), only the clergy need to study the Bible, the Bible is just a beautiful book of stories but does not contain things you must believe in order to receive from God (Hebrews 4:1,2. Hebrews 3:18,19. Hebrews 4:6,11,12. Hebrews 4:9,10), etc. These are under false doctrine denying the power of the Gospel (Colossians 2:8). Again, they evolve into those that have an appearance of godliness but deny the power (2 Timothy 3:5). Consequently, these individuals seek to be healed only through the medical profession without God. This can lead to further development of a false doctrine that undermines the Word of God and emphasizes earning God’s approval via suffering. However, this approach can easily result in feelings of self-pity, self-righteousness and a desire for false comfort which can lead to more sin. Furthermore, not having the rock of the Word of God in their lives a sickness will not serve to conform them to Christ (1) but rather can slowly destroy them (Isaiah 1:20. Jeremiah 23:29. Luke 20:18. 1 Peter 2:7,8). However, some in this category of healing without God are those that are significantly hurting people who have such a negative emotional picture of themselves and the Lord that they cannot trust Him or surrender themselves to Him in a significant way (Exodus 6:9) in order to ask Him for healing.
Others are those with a false doctrine (1) that Christians are not to suffer at all because Jesus suffered for them (contrast Psalms 34:19. Acts 14:22. 2 Thessalonians 1:5. 2 Timothy 3:12;2:3;4:5. Philippians 1:29. 1 Peter 4:1). Consequently, they go into denial when sickness comes and do not mature through it. That is, they will deny being sick thinking that this will demonstrate their faith in God who will, in turn, heal them. Actually, that is calling things that are (i.e., the sickness) as though it is not, which is a lie (Exodus 20:16). Faith calls things that are not (in the physical) as though they were (in the physical because they are already true in the spiritual) (Romans 4:17). For example, if you are sick you do not deny it, but rather you declare the thing that is presently not observable but is spiritually correct (i.e., the healing) as though it were (e.g., Surely Jesus bore my sickness and disease, and by His stripes, I am healed!). Also, these individuals typically have learned of the power of the Word of God but have been deceived into making it a performance-based system of trying to please God by their works of faith. That is, they feel they must perform the Christian disciplines to please God enough so that He will give them His healing power. For example, if I only had more faith, spent more time in the Word, fasted more, or prayed more, etc. then God will heal me. This is called legalism, a performance-based religion instead of a relationship based one (1). Consequently, these individuals legalistically seek to be healed only through God without the medical profession.
Healing today for the Christian can be by God's miraculous power alone (1), the medical profession, or both. The issue is not which one of these we seek but rather which one we seek first! That is, God!
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:33 ESV)
He sent out his word and healed them, and delivered them from their destruction. (Psalms 107:20 ESV)
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was fully God. (John 1:1 NET)
with respect to Jesus from Nazareth, that God anointed him with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, because God was with him. (Acts 10:38 NET)
He said, "If you will diligently obey the LORD your God, and do what is right in his sight, and pay attention to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, then all the diseases that I brought on the Egyptians I will not bring on you, for I, the LORD, am your healer." (2) (Exodus 15:26 NET)
Praise the LORD, O my soul! Do not forget all his kind deeds! He is the one who forgives all your sins, who heals all your diseases, (Psalms 103:2-3 NET)
And a leper approached, and bowed low before him, saying, "Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean." He stretched out his hand and touched him saying, "I am willing. Be clean!" Immediately his leprosy was cleansed. (Matthew 8:2-3 NET)
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever! (Hebrews 13:8 NET)
Is anyone among you ill? He should summon the elders of the church, and they should pray for him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick and the Lord will raise him up– and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. So confess your sins to one another and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great effectiveness. (James 5:14-16 NET)
(1) Left click on underlined phrase to open another article in a new tab with more explanation.