Is a Christian a “poor testimony” for taking medication?


by Shawn Brasseaux

I recently dealt with a sister in Christ suffering from depression. Her medical doctor had diagnosed her with a chemical imbalance and gave her a prescription for an antidepressant. She asked me if it would be a “poor testimony” for her, a Christian, to take this medicine. After all, she thought that when the Bible said “Be careful for nothing” (Philippians 4:6), God had prohibited her from taking that depression medication. She reasoned that she needed to fight her condition by herself, without medicine, and ask the Holy Spirit help her overcome that depression. Is this wise, or dangerous? Should a Christian take medication for depression or other illnesses? “For what saith the Scriptures?”

While I would certainly agree we should let the Holy Spirit use sound Bible doctrine to renew our minds, there are certain medical conditions that limit us, some more than others. For example, Christians suffering from mentally debilitating diseases—Alzheimer’s and dementia, for example—are very limited in their Christian experience. Please note that God does not miraculously cure their conditions, as they still have very poor mental health. Even though they are Christians, they are unable to think normally and clearly. They may not even remember anything about their testimony, the Bible, or God. It is not their fault. They live in a sin-cursed world like the rest of us. (I once ministered to a Christian lady who suffered from Alzheimer’s for several years. Nothing could do be done for her medically. Her quality of life and faculties diminished until the Lord took her home to heaven—that was her ultimate healing!)

According to the depressed woman’s medical doctor, who is also a Bible-believing Christian, her medication supplies her with serotonin, a natural substance diminished in her brain. Bible verses cannot help in her case. It is not a spiritual problem; it is a physical problem in her physical brain. She must appeal to God’s other provisions for help—namely, medical knowledge and medicine. (By the way, her doctor, while attending medical school decades back, said he did not like studying depression. He said it was so saddening to see people struggling with it, and yet he knew he would have to deal with such patients for the rest of his career. Again, depression is a very devastating condition, and even this medical professional admitted it.)

If we Christians have to take medication, there is nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about. We all have our various frailties and sicknesses—cancer, arthritis, high blood pressure, poor eyesight, memory loss, birth defects, depression, loss of hearing, injuries due to accidents, and so on. These are our bodies wearing down. It is called age! With every passing day, there is a new concern. For those of us in our senior years, there a few more aches and groans as the days pass. But, we do not have to be miserable. Father God expects us to wear eyeglasses, hearing aids, do physical therapy, and take advantage of whatever medication is available. Sometimes surgery, although extreme, is the only viable choice. We must make the best decisions we can with what resources we have available. Again, there is nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about. Friend, take your medications and be grateful to God that His creation has provided their ingredients!

We need to consider 1 Timothy 5:23: “Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities.” Pastor Timothy had a number of “often infirmities.” His most troubling one, evidently, was related to his stomach. The water he was drinking was obviously polluted, which in turn caused him chronic sickness. Consequently, the Apostle Paul discouraged him from consuming additional water. Rather, Timothy was instructed to “use” (not “drink,” note!) “a little wine” for his stomach’s sakes and his other weaknesses. Medical knowledge and technology were very limited in the first century A.D.; the wine had some medicinal value and was all Timothy had available to him. (By the way, if it was a “poor testimony” for a Christian to resort to medical care, then we are forced to say that the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul encouraged Pastor Timothy to be a “poor testimony” as well. Would the Holy Spirit have endorsed sin in the life of a pastor of all Christians? Think about it. The “Christians-taking-medication-are-a-poor-testimony” argument makes no sense!)

No, it is not a sin for a Christian to visit a medical doctor and take medication. Again, Paul encouraged Timothy to resort to medication (1 Timothy 5:23). Furthermore, there was even a Christian doctor in the Bible—“Luke, the beloved physician” (Colossians 4:14). Pardon my sarcasm, friends, but Luke must have been the “poorest testimony” of all because he habitually dispensed medical advice and medication!!

On the contrary, it would be a sin for a Christian not to seek medical help. Friends, we should take care of our physical bodies as best as we can. Since we have believed on the Lord Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour, our bodies belong to God now. We are temples of the Holy Spirit. “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:19,20). Sometimes medical science can help us—sometimes it cannot. No matter what we do, however, these physical bodies are still “perishing” (2 Corinthians 4:16). We should not be overly concerned, irrationally fixated on trying to salvage them and prolong their duration for decades more. Remember, moderation!

The good news is that we are not confined to these vile bodies forever!! One day, praise God, we will receive new glorified bodies like Jesus Christ’s glorious body. That is the event we call the Rapture, our gathering together unto Christ. Philippians 3:20-21 says: “[20] For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: [21] Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.” Those resurrected bodies are described in 1 Corinthians 15:35-48.

We should take advantage of whatever quality medical care our part of the world offers. If medication and/or proper medical care are unavailable, and we must suffer pain because of sickness or injury, then God’s grace is more than enough to get us through it. Beloved, He will carry us along for the rest of our life. Our infirmity does not have to destroy us. Second Corinthians 12:9-10 was Paul’s own realization of this: “[9] And he [the Lord Jesus Christ] said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. [10] Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”

Does this really matter? Yes, it is very important. We must settle this in our thinking because a failure to understand these Bible verses and dispensational changes has caused people in the “faith healing” community to risk, and sometimes lose, their lives. They deprive their church members of medical cures, allowing them to remain untreated and urging them rather to “have faith in God for healing.” Eventually, the infirm, who could have been easily cured, DIE at the hands of these silly religionists. Outrageous! Behold the stupidity proclaimed in the name of “Jesus Christ!” Ridiculous ad infinitum! Such is our lot—spiritual insanity—if we fail to use God’s Word, God’s way!

Since they do not understand the Bible dispensationally, people mindlessly grab physical healing verses from Israel’s program and try to stick them onto us. They do not understand Paul is their apostle (Romans 11:13). They do not understand that we live in the Dispensation of the Grace of God (Ephesians 3:2). We are separate and distinct from Israel’s earthly blessings and earthly kingdom hope. They turn a blind eye to the lack of physical healing in the Pauline epistles, Romans through Philemon, and instead gravitate toward verses such as James 5:14-15: “[14] Is any sick among you? 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: [15] And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.”

They do not realize that Paul is God’s spokesman to them as Gentiles. We should not go to James 5:14-15 and try to find God’s Word to us—James 1:1 says James was written to “the twelve tribes scattered abroad.” James was writing to and about the nation Israel. We are the Church the Body of Christ, and only the Pauline epistles (Romans through Philemon) address the Church the Body of Christ. The temporary physical healing miracles associated with Christ’s earthly ministry, the early Acts period, and Hebrews through Revelation, are currently suspended. God is doing something different today. (Even the “faith healers” are forced to recognize this when they themselves grow sick, old, and eventually die like the rest of us!)

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Also see:
» What about modern-day “faith healing?”
» Is there healing in the Atonement?
» Should we pray for sick people?