Snake Oil, Leeches, or Cocaine -- What Cure Are You Trusting In?

In the 1700s, physicians believed people ran fever because their body fluids were unbalanced. They often prescribed leeches as a way to reduce blood volume and bring about a “cure.” Doctors used bloodletting four times on George Washington when he contracted strep throat in the winter of 1799. The final time, they drained 32 ounces of blood from his body. 

He died soon after. 

Today we know that infection-fighting white blood cells help people recover from illnesses like strep throat. 

A 2012 article in Business Insider states that some of the greatest medical minds of the 1800s praised cocaine as a cure-all and wonder drug. Sigmund Freud believed in its health properties and wrote to his wife: "I take very small doses of it regularly against depression and against indigestion and with the most brilliant of success." Today we know it’s an incredibly additive drug with the power to damage a person’s body and mind. 

In the 1990s, The Center for Science in the Public Interest filed a lawsuit against Coca Cola for claiming Vitamin Water was healthy. The Center says that the 33 grams of sugar in each bottle “can do more harm by promoting obesity, diabetes, and other health problems, than the vitamins do to promote any health benefits.” 

I’ve seen medical theory come and go. I remember the oat bran craze of the 90s. Then came the promise that if you drank a tablespoon of vinegar every day you’d live to be a hundred. Cardiologists used to prescribe fish oil to help lower cholesterol and support heart health, but newer studies show it has little effect. Then there was the relative (who shall be nameless) who believed that blowing cigarette smoke into a child’s ear would cure an earache. 

As the body of knowledge grows, medical cures will continue to come and go. A growing understanding of disease processes will bring about new and more-effective treatments. Scientists may discover the cure for cancer in my lifetime. 

There is one sickness, however, that’s been around since the dawn of creation. Good people and evil ones have succumbed to its devastating effects. The young and the elderly suffer equally. It’s passed along from generation to generation and is always fatal. This disease is sin, and the Bible confirms the hopeless prognosis: 

“the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). 

Thankfully, although the disease is devastating, there is a cure. It’s also been around since the beginning and has never changed: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.” 

Since Adam and Eve chose to obey Satan instead of God in the Garden of Eden, mankind has suffered under sin’s curse. In love, God, the Great Physician, devised a cure. Like the “cures” of George Washington’s day, it involved bloodletting, but of a much different nature. On the cross of Calvary God shed the blood of his only Son.

Jesus bent his back to the whip that tore his flesh. He surrendered his head to the thorny crown that pierced his scalp. And held out his hands to the spikes that nailed him to the beam. When he had paid the sin debt of mankind, he pronounced the cure: 

“It is finished. The debt has been paid in full.” 

The blood he shed, when applied to a sin-sick soul, has the power to cleanse, heal, and make whole.

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him! For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!” (Rom. 5:8). 

If you’re still suffering under sin’s curse, stop trying to cure yourself. No amount of self-help, determination, or New Year’s resolutions can cure you. You can swallow snake oil all you like, but the only remedy is to confess your sin to God, ask for his forgiveness, and accept the cure Jesus makes available to us all. 

“For whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved” (Rom. 10:13). 

It’s that simple. What are you waiting for? 

And if you already know Christ as your Savior, will you stop a moment to pray for those reading this post who don’t? And while you’re praying, if the Lord brings someone to mind who doesn’t know for sure they’ll go to Heaven when they die, will you share this with them? Posting it on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest (click on the share buttons below the post) is another great way to reach people who need the hope of the Gospel.

And for a beautiful worship experience, here's Kari Jobe. If you're reading by email, click here to listen to Kari Jobe's,  "O, the Blood."

If you're within driving distance of Columbia, I'd love to meet you at the debut of my new presentation, Stepping Out, How Our Footwear Impacts Our Faith, at Sandhills Community Church, Saturday, January 23 from 9-12.

Veteran Bible teacher Carmen Roberson will be the co-leader for this event, which is open to the public. Click here to learn more and register. The deadline is Monday, January 18, so don't delay.

If you're not within driving distance or would like to host a women's ministry event of your own, I'd love share this fun presentation with your ladies. Check out the sneak preview. For all the glorious details on "Stepping Out," click here.

And if you're a homeschooling parent who lives in the Savannah, GA, area, I'll be sharing one of my favorite homeschooling talks, "8 Mistakes I Made While Homeschooling" with the amazing folks from Family Education for Christ Tuesday night, January 19. Guests are welcome. For more information on this meeting, email Janie Gibson at

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  1. As a new registered nurse, I was amazed and almost dismayed when some of the studies that were portrayed as absolute truth were found to be only unreliable theories! God alone seems to be the only source of absolute truth!

    1. Don't you wonder, Esther Joy, what modern cures we're going to look back upon as equally barbaric? Yes, seeking God's wisdom in everything is our best recourse! Thanks for dropping by today.