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Someone Cares Series
Preparing for Eternity
In Lesson 23 we learned that our bodies are temples "of the Holy Spirit" (1 Corinthians 6:19). We need clear minds so God can effectively communicate to us, and we need healthy bodies with which to serve Him properly. As with money and time, God has made us stewards of our body-temples.
The principles of healthful living are set forth in the Bible, but because ours is a special generation that God wants to translate, and because this generation is facing health problems that have never existed before, God has given us special health counsels through Ellen White. To shed light on the Bible we will quote from two of her books, The Ministry of Healing (MH) and Counsels on Diet and Foods (CD). Not all these principles are standards for church fellowship--some are ideals to grow into.
1. Why is God holding off earth's final disasters?
"And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree. And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads" (Revelation 7:1-3).
Four mighty angels hold back the powers of this earth till the servants of God are sealed in their foreheads. Angels are circling the world, refusing Satan his claim to supremacy, made because of the vast multitude of his adherents. We hear not the voices, we see not with natural sight the work of these angels, but their hands are linked about the world and with sleepless vigilance they are keeping the armies of Satan at bay till the sealing of God's people shall be accomplished. They are given the work of keeping back the raging power of him who has come down like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.
A mark is placed upon everyone of God's people, just as verily as a mark was placed over the doors of the Hebrew dwellings to preserve the people from the general ruin. God declares, "I gave them my Sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them that they might know that I am the Lord that sanctify them" (Ezekiel 20:12).
2. What will the church be like when Jesus returns?
"Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish" (Ephesians 5:25-27).
The church of Christ is very precious in His sight. It is the case which contains His jewels, the fold which encloses His flock. Those only who through faith in Christ obey all of God's Commandments will reach the condition of sinlessness in which Adam lived before his transgression. They testify to their love of Christ by obeying all His precepts.
On the Saviour's coronation day He will not acknowledge as His any who bear spot or wrinkle. But to His faithful ones He will give crowns of immortal glory.
3. So, to be acceptable, how should we present our bodies to God?
"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God" (Romans 12:1, 2).
In the Ten Commandments God has laid down the laws of His kingdom. Any violation of the laws of nature is a violation of the law of God.
The Lord has given His holy Commandments to be a wall of protection around His created beings, and those who will keep themselves from the defilement of appetite and passion may become partakers of the diving nature. Their perceptions will be clear. They will know how to preserve every faculty in health, so that it may be presented to God in service.
Fallen man may be transformed by the renewing of the mind, so that he can "prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God." How does he prove this? By the Holy Spirit taking possession of his mind, spirit, heart, and character.
Besetting sins are overcome; evil thoughts are not allowed in the mind; evil habits are purged from the soul temple. The tendencies which have been biased in a wrong direction are turned in a right direction. Wrong dispositions and feelings are changed, new principles of action supplied, and there is a new standard of character.
4. To what extent is God concerned about our physical health?
"Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth" (3 John 2).
The body must be kept in a healthy condition in order that the soul may be in health. The condition of the body affects the condition of the soul. He who would have physical and spiritual strength must educate his appetite in right lines. He must be careful not to burden the soul by ever taxing his physical or spiritual powers. Faithful adherence to right principles in eating, drinking and dressing is a a duty that God has laid upon human beings. The Lord desires us to obey the laws of health and life. He holds each one responsible to care properly for his body, that it may be kept in health.
5. How should we live if we hope to win the "imperishable crown?"
"Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway" (1 Corinthians 9:24-27).
All who seek for the prize are to place themselves under strict discipline. "Every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things." Those who enter into a contest of physical strength for a corruptible prize realize the necessity of rigid abstinence from every indulgence that would weaken the physical powers. They eat simple food at regular hours.
How much more should those who enter for the Gospel race restrain themselves from the unlawful indulgence of appetite, and "abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul." They must be temperate al all times. The same restrain that gives them the power to obtain the victory at one time will, if practiced constantly, give them a great advantage in the race for the crown of life.
When Christ healed disease He warned many of the afflicted ones, "Sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee" (John 5:14). Thus He taught that they had brought disease upon themselves by transgressing the laws of God, and that health could be preserved only by obedience.
6. What do the Scriptures say about wine?
"Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise" (Proverbs 20:1).
The immediate effect of intoxicating drink is to deaden the conscience and distort reasoning. It has destroyed millions of lives and homes--surely it is not of heavenly origin. Jesus refused even to taste vinegar upon the cross, and the wine He used for communion was "new" (unfermented) wine.
The Adventist Church believes in total abstinence from alcoholic beverages. This applies also to mind-altering drugs, except for true medical purposes. Tobacco, tea, and coffee contain addictive drugs and poisons, and must be given up before baptism.
"Tobacco is a slow, insidious, but most malignant poison. In whatever form it is used, it tells upon the constitution. ... Can you as Christians indulge a habit that is paralyzing your intellects and robbing you of power rightly to estimate eternal realities?" "Tea and coffee do not nourish the system. ... What seems to be strength is only nervous excitement. ... These nerve irritants ... wear away the life forces." (MH pp. 327, 329, 326). (See also Romans 6:3, 6, 16; 2 Peter 1:6; Proverbs 23:29-33; 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10; Hosea 4:11).
The man who has formed the habit of drinking intoxicating liquor is in a desperate situation. The prince of the powers of darkness holds him in bondage that he has no power to break.
7. What other area of intemperance does Solomon warn about?
"And put a knife to thy throat, if thou be a man given to appetite. ... Hear thou, my son, and be wise, and guide thine heart in the way. Be not among winebibbers; among riotous eaters of flesh: For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags" (Proverbs 23:2, 19-21).
Thus God presents the condition which God imposes upon every soul who enlists in His service. So the Christian today needs to keep strict guard over his appetite. The physical, mental and moral powers must be kept in the most perfect condition if he would obtain the approval of God.
Paul was ever on the watch lest evil propensities should get the better of him. He guarded well his appetites and passions and evil propensities.
8. What balancing counsels about work does God give?
"Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: ... Labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom" (Proverbs 6:6; 23:4).
Solomon presents to the world the industry of the ant as a reproach to those who waste their hours in sinful idleness, in practices which corrupt soul and body. The ant prepares for future seasons.
This is a lesson which many gifted with reasoning powers disregard. They fail entirely to prepare for the future immortal life which God has in His providence secured for the fallen race.
When Lot entered Sodom he fully intended to keep himself free from iniquity and to command his household after him. But he signally failed. Many are still making a similar mistake. In selecting a home they look more to the temporal advantages they may gain than to the moral and social influences that will surround them and their families. They choose a beautiful and fertile country, or remove to some flourishing city, in the hope of securing greater prosperity.
9. What was God's original diet for mankind?
"And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat" (Genesis 1:29).
In order to know what are the best foods we must study God's original plan for man's diet. He who created man and understands his needs appointed Adam his food.
Upon leaving Eden to gain his livelihood by tilling the earth under the curse of sin, man received permission to also eat "the herb of the field."
God gave our first parents the food He designed that the race should eat. It was contrary to His plan to have the life of any creature taken. There was to be no death in Eden. The fruit of the trees in the garden was the food man's wants required.
10. What does the Bible say about honey as part of one's diet?
"My son, eat thou honey, because it is good; and the honeycomb, which is sweet to thy taste: ... Hast thou found honey? eat so much as is sufficient for thee, lest thou be filled therewith, and vomit it. ... It is not good to eat much honey: so for men to search their own glory is not glory" (Proverbs 24:13; 25:16, 27).
Just as "it is not good to eat much honey," so it is not good to eat much sugar. "Far too much sugar is ordinarily used ... Especially harmful are the custards and puddings in which milk, eggs, and sugar are the chief ingredients." There are other refined foods that especially when eaten to excess, tend to weaken our bodies. "Fine flour bread," for example, "is lacking in nutritive elements to be found in bread from the whole wheat" (MH pp. 301, 300).
11. Into what kind of environment did God place our original parents?
"And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it" (Genesis 2:15).
The Creator chose for our first parents the surroundings best adapted for their health and happiness. He did not place them in a palace or surround them with the artificial adornments and luxuries that so many today are struggling to obtain. He placed them in close touch with nature and in close communion with the holy ones of heaven.
Adam and Eve, in the untainted purity, delighted in the sights and sounds of Eden. God appointed them their work in the garden, "to dress it, and to keep it."
12. What disposition leads to health?
"A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones" (Proverbs 17:22).
The relation that exists between the mind and the body is very intimate. When one is affected, the other sympathizes. The condition of the mind affects the health to a far greater degree than many realize. Many of the diseases from which men suffer are the result of mental depression. Grief, anxiety, discontent, remorse, guilt and distrust, all tend to break down the life forces and to invite decay and death.
Courage, hope, faith, sympathy and love promote health of prolong life. The contented mind, a cheerful spirit, is health to the body and strength to the soul.
13. Can healthful living earn us a place in heaven? What do you think should be our motive for healthful living?
"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:8-10).
Faith is the condition upon which God has seen fit to promise pardon to dinners, not that there is any virtue in faith whereby salvation is merited, but because faith can lay hold of the merits of Christ, the remedy provided for sin.
Because of our love for Jesus Christ and our hope in His soon return, and an inheritance with Him, we are desirous of being ready to meet Him. We want to present our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to Him.
Keeping our body-temples in health involves the proper use of "pure air, sunlight, abstemiousness, rest, exercise, ... diet, ... water, and trust in divine power" (MH p. 127). Will you dedicate your body-temple to God for His service? Will you invite the Holy Spirit to teach you how to preserve your health, preparing you to meet Jesus at His coming?
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