If Seventh-day Adventists practiced what they profess to believe, if they were sincere health reformers, they would indeed be a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men. And they would show a far greater zeal for the salvation of those who are ignorant of the truth.
Greater reforms should be seen among the people who claim to be looking for the soon appearing of Christ. Health reform is to do among our people a work which it has not yet done. There are those who ought to be awake to the danger of meat eating, who are still eating the flesh of animals, thus endangering the physical, mental, and spiritual health. Many who are now only half converted on the question of meat eating will go from God’s people, to walk no more with them.
In all our work we must obey the laws which God has given, that the physical and spiritual energies may work in harmony. Men may have a form of godliness, they may even preach the gospel, and yet be unpurified and unsanctified. Ministers should be strictly temperate in their eating and drinking, lest they make crooked paths for their feet, turning the lame—those weak in the faith—out of the way. If while proclaiming the most solemn and important message God has ever given, men war against the truth by indulging wrong habits of eating and drinking, they take all the force from the message they bear.
Those who indulge in meat eating, tea drinking, and gluttony are sowing seeds for a harvest of pain and death. The unhealthful food placed in the stomach strengthens the appetites that war against the soul, developing the lower propensities. A diet of flesh meat tends to develop animalism. A development of animalism lessens spirituality, rendering the mind incapable of understanding truth.
The word of God plainly warns us that unless we abstain from fleshly lusts (I Peter 2:11), the physical nature will be brought into conflict with the spiritual nature. Lustful eating wars against health and peace. Thus a warfare is instituted between the higher and the lower attributes of the man. The lower propensities, strong and active, oppress the soul. The highest interests of the being are imperiled by the indulgence of appetites unsanctioned by Heaven.
Great care should be taken to form right habits of eating and drinking. The food eaten should be that which will make the best blood. The delicate organs of digestion should be respected. God requires us, by being temperate in all things, to act our part, toward keeping ourselves in health. He cannot enlighten the mind of a man who makes a cesspool of his stomach. He does not hear the prayers of those who are walking in the light of the sparks of their own kindling (Isaiah 50:11).
Common Errors in Diet
Intemperance is seen in the quantity as well as in the quality of food eaten. The Lord has instructed me that as a general rule we place too much food in the stomach. Many make themselves uncomfortable by overeating, and sickness is often the result. The Lord did not bring this punishment on them. They brought it on themselves, and God desires them to realize that pain is the result of transgression.
Daily abused, the digestive organs cannot do their work well. A poor quality of blood is made, and thus, through improper eating, the whole machinery is crippled. Give the stomach less to do. It will recover if proper care is shown in regard to the quality and quantity of food eaten.
Many eat too rapidly. Others eat at one meal varieties of food that do not agree. If men and women would only remember how greatly they afflict the soul when they afflict the stomach, and how deeply Christ is dishonored when the stomach is abused, they would deny the appetite, and thus give the stomach opportunity to recover its healthy action. While sitting at the table, we may do medical missionary work by eating and drinking to the glory of God.
To eat on the Sabbath the same amount of food eaten on a working day, is entirely out of place. The Sabbath is the day set apart for the worship of God (Exodus 20:4), and on it we are to be specially careful in regard to our diet. A clogged stomach means a clogged brain. Too often so large an amount of food is eaten on the Sabbath that the mind is rendered dull and stupid, incapable of appreciating spiritual things. The habits of eating have much to do with the many dull religious exercises of the Sabbath. The diet for the Sabbath should be selected with reference to the duties of the day on which the purest, holiest service is to be offered to God.
Eating has much to do with religion. The spiritual experience is greatly affected by the way in which the stomach is treated. Eating and drinking in accordance with the laws of health promote virtuous actions. But if the stomach is abused by habits that have no foundation in nature, Satan takes advantage of the wrong that has been done, and uses the stomach as an enemy of righteousness, creating a disturbance which affects the entire being. Sacred things are not appreciated. Spiritual zeal diminishes. Peace of mind is lost. There is dissension, strife, and discord. Impatient words are spoken, and unkind deeds are done; dishonest practices are followed, and anger is manifested—and all because the nerves of the brain are disturbed by the abuse heaped on the stomach.
What a pity it is that often, when the greatest self-denial should be exercised, the stomach is crowded with a mass of unhealthful food, which lies there to decompose. The affliction of the stomach afflicts the brain. The imprudent eater does not realize that he is disqualifying himself for giving wise counsel, disqualifying himself for laying plans for the best advancement of the work of God. But this is so. He cannot discern spiritual things, and in council meetings when he should say Yea, he says Nay. He makes propositions that are wide of the mark, because the food he has eaten has benumbed his brain power.
Relation of Health Principles to Spirituality
The failure to follow sound principles has marred the history of God’s people. There has been a continual backsliding in health reform, and as a result God is dishonored by a great lack of spirituality. Barriers have been erected which would never have been seen had God’s people walked in the light.
Shall we who have had such great opportunities allow the people of the world to go in advance of us in health reform? Shall we cheapen our minds and abuse our talents by wrong eating? Shall we transgress God’s holy law by following selfish practices? Shall our inconsistency become a byword? Shall we live such unchristianlike lives that the Saviour will be ashamed to call us brethren (Hebrews 2:11)?
Shall we not rather do that medical missionary work which is the gospel in practice, living in such a way that the peace of God can rule in our hearts? Shall we not remove every stumblingblock from the feet of unbelievers, ever remembering what is due to a profession of Christianity? Far better give up the name of Christian than make a profession and at the same time indulge appetites which strengthen unholy passions.
God calls upon every church member to dedicate his life unreservedly to the Lord’s service. He calls for decided reformation. All creation is groaning under the curse. God’s people should place themselves where they will grow in grace, being sanctified, body, soul, and spirit, by the truth. When they break away from all health-destroying indulgences, they will have a clearer perception of what constitutes true godliness. A wonderful change will be seen in the religious experience.
The apostle plainly states that those who reach a high standard of righteousness must be temperate in all things. The Lord sends this message to His people: “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” (I Corinthians 9:24, 27).
“It is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying, But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof” (Romans 13:11–14).
The Review and Herald, May 27, 1902.