Spiritual Digestion

We are marvelously created. Ellen White tells us that we should study anatomy and physiology. It should be one of the first subjects that we teach our children. We should be equipped with the knowledge of how to care for the human body.

Cells are the tiny building blocks of the body. They make up tissues, and tissues make up organs, and organs make up the systems within the body. The body has a number of systems that work together.

One of those systems is the respiratory system. It is amazing how we can breath! We take air into our lungs through the pocket-like alveoli cells, and oxygen is transferred into the blood stream and nourishes every cell in the body.

Another is the lymphatic system. It has two hundred and fifty thousand miles of lymphatic vessels, which work every day to remove toxins and poisons through the lymph fluid.

The musculo-skeletal system contains six hundred different muscles, and over two hundred bones. There are other amazing systems within the human body. Truly, we can praise the Lord and say, “Thank you Lord, for this wonderful body that you have given us.”

“I will praise Thee for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Marvelous are Thy works and that my soul knoweth right well.” Psalm 139:14. We are fearfully and wonderfully made by our God, the Creator, Who made us in His crowning act of creation.


Physical Digestion


The digestive system is another truly remarkable system, whereby we take in food and it is processed so that the nutrients can be absorbed into our cells, giving us life. In this week of prayer article, this is the system we will study.

The body has an irregular-shaped tube that begins in the mouth and ends in the anus. We take in food through the mouth, then the teeth are used to physically break down food through a process called mastication.

The whole point is to take the solid matter and break it down so that it will eventually be usable in the blood stream. The salivary glands are in the mouth. They produce approximately a liter of saliva every day. Saliva moistens food and contains digestive enzymes, such as amylase, which break down carbohydrates.

The tongue, a little organ with which we speak, also has another purpose. It is used to push the food to the back of the throat, so that it can be swallowed into the esophagus.

The esophagus is a long, narrow, muscular tube that carries the food down to the stomach. Food is pushed along through this tube by a wave-like motion called peristalsis. This action is so strong that even if I were standing on my head, it would be able to push the food to my stomach.

Next the food enters the stomach through the cardiac sphincter at the end of the esophagus. The food is further broken down by contractions in the stomach’s muscular wall, and the gastric juices, hydrochloric acid and enzymes. The food is now broken down to what is called chyme pronounced kime). After it is in the stomach generally for one to four hours, depending on the type and combination of food that was eaten, it passes through the pyloric sphincter into the small intestine.

The small intestine is approximately twenty feet long. The food passes through three sections. The first is the duodenum, the second is the jejunum and finally the ileum. The mucous lining of the small intestine contains thousands of microscopic glands called intestinal glands that secrete intestinal digestive juices. The circular folds of the intestine called plica are covered with thousands of tiny finger like membranes called villi.

Through the villi, the nutrients are absorbed from the chyme through the walls of the intestine into the blood stream. It is here in the small intestine, that the liver comes into play.

The liver is a remarkable organ. It weighs about three pounds and sits right underneath the rib cage. It is often referred to as the largest gland in the body. It produces about a pint of bile per day. Bile is the substance necessary for the breakdown of fats. It emulsifies fat globules into smaller particles.

The bile is stored in an organ called the gallbladder. The gallbladder releases bile when fat is brought into the body. It is stimulated by a hormone which causes it to contract and secrete its contents into the duodenum. For example, an olive is eaten, which has a high fat content, the gallbladder releases bile that was made by the liver to break it down into little portions.

The liver cells play a major role in the metabolism of several kinds of food, and their absorption through the small intestine into the blood stream where the nutrients can feed the cells.

When leaving the small intestine, the chyme passes through another sphincter into the large intestine. The large intestine is about five feet long, and forms the last part of the digestive tract. Its contents are now referred to as fecal matter. In the large intestine, materials that escaped digestion in the small intestine are acted upon by bacteria, and additional nutrients may be released from the fiber and absorbed.

The pancreas produces pancreatic juice, one of the most important digestive juices. It is necessary for the breakdown of foods from large material into nutrients that can be absorbed by the body. It contains tripsin, amylase, protease, lipase and other enzymes that help break the food down so it can finally be absorbed into the body.


You are What You Eat?


There is an old saying that says, “You are what you eat.” One day I was sitting beside a wise old woman who was more than eighty years old. She was eating a fresh avocado, and fresh tomato with some whole grain bread. I commented that you are what you eat. She looked at me, shaking her head, and said, “No, you are what you digest. If the food is not digested, whereby the nutrients can be extracted and put into the blood stream, of what value is it?”

Later in Mexico I visited Charlotte Gerson of the Gerson Clinic. There I learned that there was another phase in this process that I had neglected. I was listening to one of her lectures,where she was talking to a number of people who were terminally ill. She was talking to them about the nutrients within the food and how important they are in healing, and she said, “You are what you,” “digest,” I interjected. She looked at me and said, “No, Danny, you are what you assimilate.”

That is why she gives an eight ounce glass of juice, every hour, for thirteen hours a day, to cancer patients. She also feeds them a good vegetarian diet, high in calories, because, she saysmost cancer patients are starving. Their cells are starving, they need nutrition and the juice is in a form where there is little digestion required. Webster’s defines assimilate as: “The conversion of ingested food to substances suitable for incorporation into the body and its tissues.” Charlotte Gerson said, “unless we can get the nutrients to cellular levels they are worthless.” In other words, through the process of proper chewing, proper combinations of food, proper foods that are high in enzymes and the proper work of the stomach and the small intestine, we can not actually assimilate the nutrients. “That is where life is.”

Plants, fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, and seeds, through digestion and assimilation, become our flesh and bones. Consider a lettuce leaf. This vegetation makes flesh and bone. It is from the plants that we are built up. How is it, that the food we eat becomes flesh and bone? Plant foods are good enough for the animals to make their flesh, but what about a human body?

Ellen White says, “Those who eat flesh are but eating grains and vegetables second hand, for the animal receives from these things the nutrition that produces growth. The life that was in the grains and vegetables passes into the eater. We receive it by eating the flesh of the animal. How much better to get it direct, by eating the food that God provided for our use.” Counsels on Diet and Foods, 313. Properly chosen plant products—grains, fruits, nuts, and vegetables contain all the nutrient properties to make a healthy body.


Spiritual Digestion


Let us turn now from the physical to the spiritual. “When Jesus then lifted up His eyes, and saw a great company come unto Him, He saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? And this He said to prove him: for He himself knew what He would do. Philip answered Him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little. One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, saith unto Him, There is a lad here, with five barley loaves and two small fishes: but what are they among so many? And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. And Jesus took the loaves; and when He had given thanks, He distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down: and likewise of the fishes as much as they would.” John 6:5–11. In the feeding of the five thousand, Jesus worked a miracle and fed all that came to see Him. He made ample provisions for every person present.

“And when they had found Him on the other side of the sea, they said unto Him, Rabbi, when camest thou hither? Jesus answered them and said . . . Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.” John 6:25, 26. In other words there was great temporal blessings for those that followed Christ. He provided food for them. Five thousand were hungry and Jesus multiplied two little articles of food and fed every one. Jesus said to them: “Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of Man shall give unto you: for Him hath God the Father sealed.” John 6:27.

Those in the end who have the mind of Christ will not be people who are satisfied with the temporal—the fish and the loaves, but spiritually filled people. People who are eating of the Word of God and are totally satisfied. Through eating the Word of God a change is taking place in their lives. Thereby His people are sealed.

The Jews said, “Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat.” John 6:31. They could not see the spiritual applications of the words of Christ. They were still looking at the earthly.

Jesus answered, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but My Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world . . . I am the bread of life: he that cometh to Me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on Me shall never thirst.” John 6:32–35.

When food is eaten, the life of that food becomes part of you. “The giver of the manna was standing among them. It was Christ Himself who had led the Hebrews to the wilderness and had daily fed them with the bread from heaven. That food was a type of the real bread from heaven. The life giving spirit flowing from the infinite fullness of God is the true manna. Jesus said, ‘The bread of God is that which cometh down out of heaven and giveth life unto the world.’ ” The Desire of Ages, 386.


Set Your Affections On Things Above


How many of us are looking to the temporal and to the earthly. Esau should have had the birthright, but instead he sold it for a pot of lentils. He sold his spiritual inheritance to satisfy his temporal wants. How many of us are looking to the earthly, wandering in the wilderness, perhaps murmuring against the health message from heaven, and some even eating from the flesh pots of Egypt. Instead, should we not be looking for the spiritual food from heaven?

The Jews murmured against Christ, but He answered them, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you.” John 6:53. If you do not eat life, you will not have life.

Christ is now taking them from a temporal thing to a spiritual one. He is saying, “I provided the fish and the loaves, I gave you everything you needed for your temporal needs. I am the bread, eat of Me, and you shall never hunger. You shall never thirst if you drink of Me.”

He is saying to you right now, “Except ye eat of the flesh of the Son of Man and drink of His blood ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, hath eternal life: and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is meat indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He that eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, dwelleth in Me, and I in him.” John 6:53–56.

What does it mean to eat the flesh of the Son of God? How do you drink His blood? “Only the day before, the great multitude, when faint and weary, had been fed by the bread which He had given. As from that bread they had received physical strength and refreshment, so from Christ they might receive spiritual strength unto eternal life.” The Desire of Ages, 386.

“To eat the flesh and drink the blood of Christ is to receive Him as a personal Savior, believing that He forgives our sins, and that we are complete in Him. It is by beholding His love, by dwelling upon it, by drinking it in, that we are to become partakers of His nature. What food is to the body, Christ must be to the soul.” The Desire of Ages, 389.

Apply what we have learned about physical digestion and assimilation to partaking of Christ. Food cannot benefit us unless we eat it, unless it becomes a part of our being. You are what you eat. You are what you digest. You are what you assimilate.

In the same way Christ is of no value to us if we do not know Him as a personal Savior. A theoretical knowledge will do us no good. We must feed upon Him, receive Him into the heart, so that His life becomes our life. His love, His grace must be assimilated. We take food into our mouths, but that is not enough. Similarly, we take the Word of God into the mind, but that is not enough. We may walk around with our theological knowledge and our theories. We may argue about what is truth, but unless our lives are changed, we have not assimilated Christ.

“Are you a follower of Christ? Then all that is written concerning the spiritual life is written for you, and may be attained through uniting yourself to Jesus. Is your zeal languishing? Has your first love grown cold? Accept again the proffered love of Christ. Eat of His flesh, drink of His blood, and you will become one with the Father and with the Son.” Ibid.

Jesus answered the unbelieving Jews. “Doth this offend you? What and if ye shall see the Son of Man ascend up where He was before? It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” John 6:61–63.

Do you want this spiritual process of a supernatural change to take place in your life? My friend, you must assimilate Christ. Make His life your example in everything. He wants to make you a new creature. Will you allow Him to do this work in your life? I urge you to make that choice today.

We eat the plants and they become our flesh and blood. What about when we eat Christ’s word? “As our physical life is sustained by food, so our spiritual life is sustained by the Word of God. And every soul is to receive life from God’s word for himself. As we must eat for ourselves in order to receive nourishment, so we must receive the word for ourselves. We are not to obtain it merely through the medium of another’s mind. Each must eat for himself. Each must assimilate the Word of God for himself.

“We should carefully study the Bible, asking God for the aid of the Holy Spirit, that we may understand His word. We should take one verse, and concentrate the mind on the task of ascertaining the thought which God has put in that verse for us. We should dwell upon the thought until it becomes our own.” The Desire of Ages, 390.

How many of us are content with getting up in the morning, and sleepily reading a couple of pages from the Spirit of Prophecy? Maybe we are even reading the Bible through, but have we assimilated the Word? If it does not become a part of us, and His life become our life, it has no value!

“The Word of God is the seed. Every seed has in itself a germinating principle. In it the life of the plant is enfolded. So there is life in God’s Word. Christ says, ‘The words that I speak unto you, they are Spirit, and they are life.’ John 6:63. ‘He that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life.’ John 5:24. In every command and in every promise of the Word of God is the power, the very life of God, by which the command may be fulfilled and the promise realized. He who by faith receives the Word is receiving the very life and character of God.

“Every seed brings forth fruit after its kind. Sow the seed under right conditions, and it will develop its own life in the plant. Receive into the soul by faith the incorruptible seed of the Word, and it will bring forth a character and a life after the similitude of the character and the life of God.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 38. What about your spiritual life, is it languishing? Are you giving it the nutrients of the Word, and assimilating it until it becomes your very own?

As the nutrients in the food give us life, so the Word of God gives us spiritual life. It gives us health and strength, and helps us to grow. No wonder the prophet Jeremiah said, “Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O Lord God of hosts.” Jeremiah 15:16.

We serve a personal God, who loves each of us individually. This quotation makes it very clear: “In His promises and warnings, Jesus means me. God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, that I by believing in Him, might not perish, but have everlasting life. The experiences related in God’s Word are to be my experiences. Prayer and promise, precept and warning, are mine . . . faith thus receives and assimilates the principles of truth, they become a part of the being and the motive power of the life. The Word of God, received into the soul, molds the thoughts, and enters into the development of character.” The Desire of Ages, 41.

God is speaking to each of us. He has a special message for you and me in His Word. We need to study the Bible, and contemplate it, until we see the meaning that God has for us.


The Leaven


In the book Christ’s Object Lessons, there is a study on leaven. It is the leaven, that when applied to the meal, causes growth. “The leaven hidden in the flour works invisibly to bring the whole mass under its leavening process; so the leaven of truth works secretly, silently, steadily, to transform the soul. The natural inclinations are softened and subdued. New thoughts, new feelings, new motives, are implanted.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 98.

Eating the Word, is taking His words into your mind, and by faith it becomes your very being. “A new standard of character is set up—the life of Christ. The mind is changed; the faculties are roused to action in new lines. Man is not endowed with new faculties, but the faculties he has are sanctified. The conscience is awakened. We are endowed with traits of character that enable us to do service for God.” Ibid.

I pray that from this day forward you will open the Bible with a new hunger to receive God’s words for you. Then communicate what you have learned and experienced with others.

“Christianity proposes a reformation in the heart. What Christ works within, will be worked out under the dictation of a converted intellect. The plan of beginning outside and trying to work inward has always failed, and always will fail. God’s plan with you is to begin at the very seat of all difficulties, the heart, and then from out of the heart will issue the principles of righteousness; the reformation will be outward as well as inward.” Counsels on Diets and Foods, 35.

Eat of the Lord, read His Word, study it carefully. In the Word of God is contained all the power and the promises for you to be changed. “By looking constantly to Jesus with the eye of faith, we shall be strengthened. God will make the most precious revelations to His hungering, thirsting people. They will find that Christ is a personal Saviour. As they feed upon His word, they find that it is spirit and life. The Word destroys the natural, earthly nature, and imparts a new life in Christ Jesus. The Holy Spirit comes to the soul as a Comforter. By the transforming agency of His grace, the image of God is reproduced in the disciple; he becomes a new creature. Love takes the place of hatred, and the heart receives the divine similitude. This is what it means to live ‘by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.’ This is eating the Bread that comes down from heaven.” The Desire of Ages, 391.

When the Holy Spirit speaks to the heart, the truth is not only digested, but assimilated. The assimilation is sanctification. It is a total renewal and change of the heart and mind.

I challenge you today, while we are in the sealing time: make a total surrender to the Lord. Allow Him to perform this supernatural change in your mind and life. Assimilate the Word. Let it change your life completely.

Ellen White had this special message for us today: “Now is the time to prepare. The seal of God will never be placed upon the forehead of an impure man or woman. It will never be placed upon the forehead of the ambitious, world-loving man or woman. It will never be placed upon the forehead of men or women of false tongues or deceitful hearts. All who receive the seal must be without spot before God—candidates for heaven. Go forward, my brethren and sisters. I can only write briefly upon these points at this time, merely calling your attention to the necessity of preparation. Search the Scriptures for yourselves, that you may understand the fearful solemnity of the present hour.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 216.