Deceitful Lusts

“Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul.”

1 Peter 2:11

During a recent worship service, the following quote was read from Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 114:

“We have the commandments of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ, which is the spirit of prophecy. Priceless gems are to be found in the word of God. Those who search this word should keep the mind clear. Never should they indulge perverted appetite in eating or drinking.

“If they do this, the brain will be confused; they will be unable to bear the strain of digging deep to find out the meaning of those things which relate to the closing scenes of this earth’s history.”

I had difficulty falling asleep that night, an unusual occurrence for me, as I usually have no trouble sleeping. As I tossed and turned, I remembered how David wrote in the Psalms about meditating on God’s word during the night: “When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches” (Psalm 63:6). The thought of being unable to find the meaning of the priceless gems relating to the closing scenes of this earth’s history kept running through my mind. So I decided to get up and see what I could find in inspired writings about the effects of a perverted appetite, which the above quote indicates as the cause for the inability to comprehend God’s word as we should.

Because we are undeniably in the closing scenes of this earth’s history, it is imperative that we dig deep to find the meaning of the priceless gems contained in the word of God. However, the passage quoted above from the testimony of Jesus Christ makes it clear that such digging would be useless if the miner is indulging in a perverted appetite in eating or drinking.

Thus began my search for a deeper understanding of what constitutes a perverted appetite. I had to admit that I occasionally ate things that caused me to feel some degree of guilt, especially when I visited my unbelieving relatives. I never consumed the flesh of dead animals, but I did not always refuse a slice of pie, a piece (or two) of candy, or a scoop of ice cream—all the while knowing that consuming these things is contrary to the counsel we are given in the testimony of Jesus.

I know that there are some—and I was one—who might think that indulging in an occasional “treat” is not all that harmful. After all, the Spirit of Prophecy does indeed say, “While cooking upon the Sabbath should be avoided, it is not necessary to eat cold food. In cold weather let the food prepared the day before be heated. And let the meals, though simple, be palatable and attractive. Provide something that will be regarded as a treat, something the family do not have every day.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 357. [Emphasis supplied.] However, having “something that will be regarded as a treat” on Sabbath is vastly different from the daily consumption of “treats.”

“The apostle Peter understood the relation between the mind and the body, and raised his voice in warning to his brethren: ‘Dearly beloved, I beseech you, as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul’ (1 Peter 2:11). Many regard this text as a warning against licentiousness only; but it has a broader meaning. It forbids every injurious gratification of appetite or passion.” Christian Temperance and Bible Hygiene, 53, 54.

For a much fuller understanding of this subject, read the entire first chapter of the above cited book (Christian Temperance and Bible Hygiene), entitled “Christian Temperance General Principles.” It will provide amazing insight into how intemperance obviates our ability to understand higher truth.

The point is made in the opening chapter quite clearly and quite forcibly that “The violation of physical law, with its consequent suffering and premature death, has so long prevailed that these results are regarded as the appointed lot of humanity; but God did not create the race in such a feeble condition. This state of things is not the work of Providence, but of man. It has been brought about by wrong habits—by violating the laws that God has made to govern man’s existence.” Ibid., 8.

“It is impossible for a man to present his body a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, while continuing to indulge habits that are depriving him of physical, mental, and moral vigor.” Ibid., 11.

So, what constitutes a perverted appetite and what are its effects? The following quotes should provide adequate guidance.

“Many separate themselves from God by their indulgence of appetite. He who notices the fall of a sparrow, who numbers the very hairs of the head, marks the sin of those who indulge perverted appetite at the expense of weakening the physical powers, benumbing the intellect, and deadening the moral perceptions.” Christian Education, 184.

“It must be kept before the people that the right balance of the mental and moral powers depends in a great degree on the right condition of the physical system. All narcotics and unnatural stimulants that enfeeble and degrade the physical nature tend to lower the tone of the intellect and morals. Intemperance lies at the foundation of the moral depravity of the world. By the indulgence of perverted appetite, man loses his power to resist temptation.” The Ministry of Healing, 335.

“Some are not impressed with the necessity of eating and drinking to the glory of God. The indulgence of appetite affects them in all the relations of life. It is seen in the family, in the church, in the prayer-meeting, and in the conduct of their children. It is the curse of their lives. It prevents them from understanding the truths for these last days.” Christian Temperance and Bible Hygiene, 151.

“Jesus, seated on the Mount of Olives, gave instruction to His disciples concerning the signs which should precede His coming: ‘As the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be’ (Matthew 24:37–39). The same sins that brought judgments upon the world in the days of Noah exist in our day. Men and women now carry their eating and drinking so far that it ends in gluttony and drunkenness. This prevailing sin, the indulgence of perverted appetite, inflamed the passions of men in the days of Noah and led to wide-spread corruption. Violence and sin reached to heaven. This moral pollution was finally swept from the earth by means of the flood. The same sins of gluttony and drunkenness benumbed the moral sensibilities of the inhabitants of Sodom, so that crime seemed to be the delight of the men and women of that wicked city. Christ thus warns the world: ‘Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; but the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed’ (Luke 17:28–30.)

“Christ has here left us a most important lesson. He would lay before us the danger of making our eating and drinking paramount. He presents the result of unrestrained indulgence of appetite. The moral powers are enfeebled, so that sin does not appear sinful. Crime is lightly regarded, and passion controls the mind, until good principles and impulses are rooted out, and God is blasphemed. All this is the result of eating and drinking to excess. This is the very condition of things which Christ declares will exist at His second coming.

“The Saviour presents to us something higher to toil for than merely what we shall eat and drink, and wherewithal we shall be clothed. Eating, drinking, and dressing are carried to such excess that they become crimes. They are among the marked sins of the last days, and constitute a sign of Christ’s soon coming. Time, money, and strength, which belong to the Lord, but which He has intrusted to us, are wasted in superfluities of dress and luxuries for the perverted appetite, which lessen vitality, and bring suffering and decay. It is impossible to present our bodies a living sacrifice to God when we continually fill them with corruption and disease by our own sinful indulgence.” Ibid., 11, 12.

“There are many who are educated in the sciences, and are familiar with the theory of the truth, who do not understand the laws that govern their own being. God has given us faculties and talents; and it is our duty, as His sons and daughters, to make the best use of them. If we weaken these powers of mind or body by wrong habits or indulgence of perverted appetite, it will be impossible for us to honor God as we should.” Ibid., 15.

“Temptations to the indulgence of appetite possess a power which can be overcome only by the help that God can impart. But with every temptation we have the promise of God that there shall be a way of escape. Why, then, are so many overcome? It is because they do not put their trust in God. They do not avail themselves of the means provided for their safety. The excuses offered for the gratification of perverted appetite, are therefore of no weight with God.” Ibid., 22.

“When God led the children of Israel out of Egypt, it was His purpose to establish them in the land of Canaan a pure, happy, healthy people. Let us look at the means by which He would accomplish this. He subjected them to a course of discipline, which, had it been cheerfully followed, would have resulted in good, both to themselves and to their posterity. He removed flesh-food from them in a great measure. He had granted them flesh in answer to their clamors, just before reaching Sinai, but it was furnished for only one day. God might have provided flesh as easily as manna, but a restriction was placed upon the people for their good. It was His purpose to supply them with food better suited to their wants than the feverish diet to which many of them had been accustomed in Egypt. The perverted appetite was to be brought into a more healthy state, that they might enjoy the food originally provided for man—the fruits of the earth, which God gave to Adam and Eve in Eden.” Ibid., 118.

“In order to reach excellency of character, we must realize the value which Christ has placed upon the human race. In the beginning, man was invested with dignity; but he fell through indulgence of appetite. Notwithstanding the great gulf thus opened between God and man, Christ loved the hopeless sinner, and came to our world to bridge the gulf, and unite divine power to human weakness, that in His strength and grace man might wrestle for himself against Satan’s temptations, overcome for himself, and stand in his God-given manhood, a victor over perverted appetite and degrading passions.” Ibid., 146.

“Every one of us may know that there is a power working with our efforts to overcome. Why will not men lay hold upon the help that has been provided, that they may become elevated and ennobled? Why do they degrade themselves by the indulgence of perverted appetite? Why do they not rise in the strength of Jesus and be victorious in His name? The very feeblest prayer that we can offer Jesus will hear. He pities the weakness of every soul. Help for everyone has been laid upon Him who is mighty to save. I point you to Jesus Christ, the sinner’s Saviour, who alone can give you power to overcome on every point.” Ibid., 148.

“Providence has been leading the people of God out from the extravagant habits of the world, away from the indulgence of appetite and passion, to take their stand upon the platform of self-denial, and temperance in all things. The people whom God is leading will be peculiar. They will not be like the world. If they follow the leadings of God, they will accomplish His purposes and will yield their will to His will. Christ will dwell in the heart. The temple of God will be holy. Your body, says the apostle, is the temple of the Holy Ghost. God does not require His children to deny themselves to the injury of physical strength. He requires them to obey natural law in order to preserve physical health. Nature’s path is the road He marks out, and it is broad enough for any Christian. With a lavish hand God has provided us with rich and varied bounties for our sustenance and enjoyment. But in order for us to enjoy the natural appetite, which will preserve health and prolong life, He restricts the appetite. He says, Beware! restrain, deny, unnatural appetite. If we create a perverted appetite, we violate the laws of our being, and assume the responsibility of abusing our bodies and of bringing disease upon ourselves.” Ibid., 150, 151.

“Satan gathered the fallen angels together to devise some way of doing the most possible evil to the human family. One proposition after another was made, till finally Satan himself thought of a plan. He would take the fruit of the vine, also wheat and other things given by God as food, and would convert them into poisons, which would ruin man’s physical, mental, and moral powers, and so overcome the senses that Satan should have full control. Under the influence of liquor, men would be led to commit crimes of all kinds. Through perverted appetite the world would be made corrupt. By leading men to drink alcohol, Satan would cause them to descend lower and lower in the scale.

“Satan has succeeded in turning the world from God. The blessings provided in God’s love and mercy he has turned into a deadly curse. He has filled men with a craving for liquor and tobacco. This appetite, which has no foundation in nature, has destroyed its millions.” The Review and Herald, April 16, 1901.

“The only safe course is to touch not, taste not, handle not, tea, coffee, wines, tobacco, opium, and alcoholic drinks. The necessity for the men of this generation to call to their aid the power of the will, strengthened by the grace of God, in order to withstand the temptations of Satan and resist the least indulgence of perverted appetite is twice as great as it was several generations ago. But the present generation have less power of self-control than had those who lived then. Those who have indulged the appetite for these stimulants have transmitted their depraved appetites and passions to their children, and greater moral power is required to resist intemperance in all its forms. The only perfectly safe course to pursue is to stand firmly on the side of temperance and not venture in the path of danger.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 488.

“The strength of the temptation to indulge appetite can be measured only by the inexpressible anguish of our Redeemer in that long fast in the wilderness. He knew that the indulgence of perverted appetite would so deaden man’s perceptions that sacred things could not be discerned. Adam fell by the indulgence of appetite; Christ overcame by the denial of appetite. And our only hope of regaining Eden is through firm self-control. If the power of indulged appetite was so strong upon the race, that, in order to break its hold, the divine Son of God, in man’s behalf, had to endure a fast of nearly six weeks, what a work is before the Christian! Yet, however great the struggle, he may overcome. By the help of that divine power which withstood the fiercest temptations that Satan could invent, he too may be entirely successful in his warfare with evil, and at last may wear the victor’s crown in the kingdom of God.”  Ibid., 54. [Emphasis supplied.]

There is hope, friends. Success in overcoming perverted appetite—and all other sinful indulgences—lies in our complete dependence on “that divine power which withstood the fiercest temptations that Satan could invent.”

All Bible quotes NKJV unless otherwise noted.

John R. Pearson is the office manager and a board member of Steps to Life. He may be contacted by email at:





Too much, even of simple food Ability to understand truth is lost Testimonies, vol. 2, 602, 603
Failure to eat and drink from principles of health reform Character will not be governed by principle The Health Reformer, August 1, 1866
Too frequently, too much Perverted judgment Testimonies, vol. 1, 618
Rich, unwholesome food Source of most church trials Ibid., 618, 619
Tea, coffee, flesh meats, tobacco, wines, liquor Blunted keener and holier emotions Ibid., vol. 3, 487
Too many kinds of food at one time “… a disturbance is created”; the stomach has too much to do; mental capacity is diminished Spaulding and Magan Collection, 259, 260
Eating between meals Enfeebled religious aspirations; inability to solve difficult problems Christian Temperance and Bible Hygiene, 83
Eating vegetables and fruit at same meal Inability to put forth mental effort; confused mind The Youth’s Instructor, May 31, 1894