What does the Bible say about the cause of illnesses?

Question:

What do you think about the appearance of various diseases in the human body more or less serious? What is their cause: genetic heritage of the individual, the environment, his lifestyle or simply the disease comes from God as a punishment? Secondly, for healing, do you think that treatments prescribed by doctors are those that matter, or God is the One who answers the prayers of the ill person and sometimes does miracles, that even doctors can not explain?

All causes listed above produce diseases, but, there are spiritual causes that are behind these genetic, environmental, lifestyle, etc. causes. Some people find it hard to believe that God brings disease and healing and yet, the Bible teaches us that …

Sin is one of the main causes of illness

In the end of the book of Deuteronomy, God gave the people of Israel a list of blessings and curses, depending if they listened or not to His Commandment and He says this:

If you are not careful to observe all the words of this law which are written in this book, to fear this honored and awesome name, the LORD your God, then the LORD will bring extraordinary plagues on you and your descendants, even severe and lasting plagues, and miserable and chronic sicknesses. He will bring back on you all the diseases of Egypt of which you were afraid, and they will cling to youAlso every sickness and every plague which, not written in the book of this law, the LORD will bring on you until you are destroyed. Then you shall be left few in number, whereas you were as numerous as the stars of heaven, because you did not obey the LORD your God. (Deuteronomy 28:58-62)(NASB)

But not all diseases are the result of our personal sin.

The parents’ sins also bring disease and death

Jeroboam was an evil emperor who led the 10 tribes of Israel into an inconceivable idolatry. When Abijah, his son, fell ill he sent his wife to the prophet Ahijah to ask him about the disease and whether the child would recover. Although he instructed his wife not to tell who she was, when she crossed the threshold, the prophet told her who she was and reminded her of the serious sins of her husband. Then, he told her the following things regarding their child’s disease:

Now you, arise, go to your house. When your feet enter the city the child will die. All Israel shall mourn for him and bury him, for he alone of Jeroboam’s family will come to the grave, because in him something good was found toward the LORD God of Israel in the house of Jeroboam. (1 Kings 14:12-13)(NASB)

The sickness and death of the child was the result of his father’s sin, but also a manifestation of God’s love which had allowed him to depart this life before he learned to do all the harm done by his father, the child died when in him something good was found toward God.

The manifestation of the glory of God

Because people were well aware that their own sin or the sin of their fathers is the cause of disease, this is what happened in the life of Lord Jesus and the Bible tells us:

As He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him. (John 9:1-3)(NASB)

Lord Jesus did not want to say that this man or his parents were without sin, but that not their sin was the cause of the disease, but because in that man the works of God were to be displayed. At that time the Savior healed him miraculously and so the glory and the works of God were displayed.

For the advance of the Gospel

When the Apostle Paul was in prison in Rome, Christians from the town of Philippi had sent him aid through Epaphroditus. The trip was long and Epaphroditus was close to death because of an illness. Paul did not specify what illness Epaphroditus had, but he wrote:

But I thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger and minister to my need; because he was longing for you all and was distressed because you had heard that he was sick. For indeed he was sick to the point of death, but God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, so that I would not have sorrow upon sorrow. Therefore I have sent him all the more eagerly so that when you see him again you may rejoice and I may be less concerned about you. Receive him then in the Lord with all joy, and hold men like him in high regard; because he came close to death for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was deficient in your service to me. (Philippians 2:25-30)(NASB)

In the II Epistle to Timothy, Paul writes about another disciple and fellow worker in the Gospel:

Erastus remained at Corinth, but Trophimus I left sick at Miletus. (2 Timothy 4:20)(NASB)

Manifestation of God’s power

While teaching people the Second Epistle of Paul to Timothy, when we got to see that Trophimus was left sick at Miletus, one of the students asked: “How is it that people were healed only when they touched the clothes of Paul and Trophimus, his fellow worker, was sick at Miletus and Paul could not help him?” That’s right, God was doing great miracles and healings through Paul to make people believe the gospel’s message preached by him. At the same time, many ministers were suffering from chronic illnesses while preaching the Gospel. In the first epistle to Timothy Paul wrote this:

No longer drink water exclusively, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments. (1 Timothy 5:23)(NASB)

Although his stomach was sick and he had frequent crises, Timothy was a tireless servant of the Gospel and served with full dedication. Why has God allowed diseases into these people’s lives? Because through their weaknesses He might even more reveal His power. We do not know if the Apostle Paul referred to the disease or to other trials when he said “thorn” but sickness surely makes us weak and produces weakness, therefore, it fits well within the context of what the Apostle said below:

Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me–to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness ” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)(NASB)

God brings healing

God brings the diseases, but He still protects us from them and brings healing when we are sick:

And He said, “If you will give earnest heed to the voice of the LORD your God, and do what is right in His sight, and give ear to His commandments, and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have put on the Egyptians; for I, the LORD, am your healer.” (Exodus 15:26)(NASB)

Who do we run to the first time?

Asa was a good king and had fear of God, however, the Bible says the following about him:

In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa became diseased in his feet. His disease was severe, yet even in his disease he did not seek the LORD, but the physicians. (2 Chronicles 16:12)(NASB)

It is important to understand that the healing comes from God and the doctors are a tool in His hand. Someone told me that before the surgery, the doctor said, “I will perform the surgery, but it is God who gives success and He will heal. Let us pray to God!” “It is very important that we may learn and tell all people to seek the Lord when they are sick and not to trust only in doctors or medicines.

Let us confess our sins

St James wrote in the Epistle that bears his name the following:

Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. (James 5:14-16)(NASB)

So, since sin is one of the leading causes of the disease, we should examine our lives in the light of the Word of God and if we have sinned, we must confess our sins and then pray for healing and for one another.

May God bring repentance, comfort and healing to those who are in sickness and suffering.

Translated by Felicia Rotaru