The Lord did not permit the removal of Pauls "thorn in the flesh", and Lazarus sickness was for His glory. What Scriptures can be brought to bear when we consider the option of NOT permitting medical treatment of illness?
I do not think we can regard Pauls thorn in the flesh or the sickness of Lazarus as examples proving the legitimacy of refusing medical help for sickness, serious or otherwise. Pauls thorn in the flesh was designed by God to keep him humble. We do not know what the thorn was, but we know its purpose. Paul was not refusing medical help; rather he besought God to rid him of the thorn, whatever it was. Any medical help administered would not have brought relief to Paul because the thorn had been given to him by God. In the case of Lazarus sickness for all we know his sisters may have tried remedies in the absence of the Lord Jesus until it got worse, and this may have caused them to send for help. Both of the examples the questioner gives are exceptional and have to do with Gods sovereign purpose in the lives of Paul and Lazarus. These cases cannot be cited as giving justification for the non-use of medical treatment today.
The Scriptures do say, "Herb for the service of man" (Ps 104.14) and many believers try herbs for certain health problems rather than accept medical assistance from doctors. But this is entirely up to the individual, for it does not seem a part of Biblical teaching that Christians should refuse all medical help and treatment. Yes, God may allow sickness to afflict us for various reasons, and how often it is true that "sovereign love appoints the measure and the number of our pains".
We think of Luke, called the "beloved physician" (Col 4.14). Paul refers to him in 2 Timothy 4.11 when he writes, "Only Luke is with me". Was it not good that Luke was with him right to the end? Are we to conclude that if Paul and others needed his medical skill and treatment they refused all help of this nature? In these matters Christians must be sensible and wise.
John J Stubbs
I am studying 1 Timothy and refer to 1.1-11. I can see what this teaching was in Ephesus, but what would be the modern equivalent of that teaching today?
Timothy had been left in Ephesus to charge some not to teach doctrines different from "the gospel of the glory of the blessed God" (1 Tim 1.11, RV) and contrary to "sound (healthful) doctrine" (1.10).
Paul speaks of "fables and endless genealogies" (1.4) and he adds, "Neither give heed"; there needs to be purity in what we listen to, as well as in what we say. The word "fable" means a myth, something taught or accepted as true and factual. Paul characterises such teaching as "profane and old wives fables" (4.7); these fables are stamped as being Jewish (Tit 1.14).
However, the background of the pastoral epistles suggests that fables include the speculations and theories of Greek philosophy. These fables were apparently bound up with their fictitious amplification of the Old Testament genealogies. The apostle calls them "endless" because these inventions led to no certain conclusions. Indeed the false teachers were raising questions "which minister questions" (1.4) and were not answering them.
The false cults of today are marked by these same things. Many fanciful stories have arisen in connection with the founders of false religions and it is well known that genealogies occupy an important place in Mormonism.
Paul speaks of those who have "turned aside unto vain jangling (idle talk)" (1.6). Many today prefer to listen to the vain jangling of those who teach novelties rather than the pure Word of God which leads to holiness of life. In many modern so-called hymns or spiritual songs there is little or no doctrinal content; they may be described as soulish rather than spiritual.
The apostle also makes mention of those "Desiring to be teachers of the law" (1.7). These men (Judaisers) were seeking to mix Judaism with Christianity; they maintained that faith in Christ was not sufficient for salvation. They insisted that a man should be circumcised or in other ways had to keep the Law of Moses.
Such false teaching has led to the corruption of Christendom. In its modern form it states that although a person believes in Christ he must also have been baptised (often by sprinkling), confirmed and become a member of "the church". He must adhere to the law, tithe his income and perform other "good works" in order to ensure salvation.
The Word of God is always up-to-date!
David E West