Symptoms or source?
The sale of prescription and non-prescription medicine is a multi-billion dollar industry. The health care industry as whole is the largest single sector of the economy. So much attention, effort, and resources are spent on this pursuit it is staggering. Pharmaceutical companies spend years and millions of dollars researching, developing, testing, seeking approval, and marketing new medicines. A large portion of advertising is about different medications for different illnesses. Yet the large majority of all this effort has to do with merely treating symptoms of problems, and not dealing with and rectifying the sources of them. Sometimes the disclaimers about the possible side effects of medicines are longer than the explanations of what they can do to help. One advertisement said that one of the possible side effects is death, and then advised the consumer to call their doctor if they experience any of the possible side effects. Another states it is not to be taken by children 0-6 years old, nor by children 6-18. Why do they not just say people under 18 should not take it? These things get lost in the onslaught of information urging us to treat our symptoms. Part of the problem is that since medicine is a big business, they make a lot more money if the symptoms continue than if they go away. My father had diabetes, and at first he was taking a pill that kept it under control. Then that pill was taken off the market. His doctor told him he would have to start using insulin instead. When my father asked why the pill was no longer available, the doctor told him that the supplies he would now need cost a lot more than just a simple pill. It was about making money, not my father's health. When was the last time you heard of a medicine that actually treats the cause of a problem and makes it go away permanently?
This is just an example of what man does all the time. We address symptoms and not the cause of problems. The government fought a war against the mafia for decades. By and large we no longer hear about this war. So what happened? Did organized crime go away? No. The mafia was replaced by gangs. There was a long and costly war fought against Al Qaeda after September 11, 2001. What eventually happened? Al Qaeda was replaced by Isis. Now we fight a war against them. What is the difference? Cocaine was a major drug problem for years, and great effort was made against it. So what happened? Heroin took its place. All the efforts against these and other things that afflict society may be well intentioned, but they only address symptoms. The cause is almost never addressed. A main reason for this is because the government or other entities are not able to. The best they can do is, as the saying goes, is put a bandage over a cancer. So what should we do? We look to the only place the larger, permanent answers are - God and the Bible. Yet this is the very thing so many refuse to do. Most people are determined to try to save themselves without God, when He has the solutions to all of our problems and is ready, able, and willing to help us.
Jesus died to provide us with salvation, and salvation is total. It is most importantly to save our souls for eternity, but sin has many side effects that Jesus also died to save us from. He took the cat-o-nine tails to His back. This was not directly necessary by the Old Testament principles of atonement or by prophecy for the salvation of our souls. So why did He do it? Why did the prophet Isaiah say He did it? It was for our healing (Is 53:5, 1Pet 2:24). This is spiritual, emotional, and physical. Jesus died for the whole person of man, to redeem it from the cause and effects. When God heals someone, He does not ask for their health insurance card, or how they will pay the deductible. There are no side effects He has to warn us about. He does not leave damage behind. No one ever has to say, "God healed me, but now I'm dealing with the aftermath." God heals the source of the problem, and does it right. If He does this for our bodies that He knows will go back to dust, how much more will He do it for our eternal souls?
The source of all man's problems is what he believes. When we believe things that are not based on the principles of the Bible, we are believing things that are made up in the mind of man, and/or inspired by the enemy of our souls. Why is it so difficult to defeat Islamic terrorism? It is because it is a belief. Until people are convinced that what they believe is wrong, and that there is something better to believe, we will only be dealing with symptoms and not the source. Why do people turn to a life of crime? They believe doing the right thing does not pay. Why do many marriages end in divorce? Their beliefs about marriage in general and/or their marriage specifically are flawed. Of course there are many issues, but sometimes we overcomplicate things. Even people who call themselves Christians can have this problem. Jesus Christ did not start a bunch of denominations. He started one church. It was man interjecting his beliefs into the doctrinal arena that made it so confused. Jesus and the apostles warned repeatedly that this would happen. This is what man tends to do. Some people do not think doctrine is important. They say, "Don't argue over religion. Just believe in God. It's all good." It is not all good. Doctrine determines beliefs. Beliefs determine actions. "Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners (1Cor 15:33)." Actions effect everyone and everything. What we believe is the source that we need to address and constantly attend to. Stop spinning your wheels dealing with symptoms. Get to the source. "That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive (Eph 4:14)." "Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine...Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee (1Tim 4:13 & 16)." "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness (2Tim 3:16)." Why? "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears (2Tim 4:3)." That time has come indeed. Paul's advice to pastors Timothy and Titus, and thus to all, is to pay attention to what is being taught and believed.