Temperance and Vital Force

It is important to recognize who God really is. He made the heavens and the earth and every thing that is. He also created this human body that is fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). “Know ye that the Lord, he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of His pasture.” Psalm 100:3.

Every manufacturer that produces a product, requiring instructions, leaves an owner’s manual explaining how to operate the product. We are a product of God’s design, and He has given us an owner’s manual, the word of God. Health is based on obedience. Therefore, by obeying God’s word, it not only impacts us physically, but it also helps us to develop trust in the living God. This is crucial in the development of our characters.

The Bible says, “Thy hands have made me and fashioned me: give me understanding, that I may learn thy commandments.” Psalm 119:73.

To have knowledge is power, but without understanding, that power is of no avail. Understanding is the ability to apply the knowledge. The subject of this article is health law or doctor number seven: Always temperate. Many times we don’t understand this particular doctor. Inspiration tells us, “The gospel minister should preach the health principles, for these have been given of God as among the means needed to prepare a people perfect in character. Therefore, health principles have been given to us that as a people we might be prepared in both mind and body to receive the fullness of God’s blessing.” A Call to Medical Evangelism and Health Education, 43.

The gospel minister should preach the health principles, for these have been given of God as among the means needed to prepare a people, to perfect a character. So the health message is not just about veganism; it is also about perfection. People are afraid of that word. The medical missionary work has its place and part to play in God’s finishing work.

To receive the fullness of God’s blessing, we are told, “It is a duty to know how to preserve the body in the very best condition of health, and it is a sacred duty to live up to the light which God has graciously given.” Counsels on Diet and Foods, 44. “The health should be as sacredly guarded as the character.” Medical Ministry, 77. Therefore it is important to understand that if character is our title to heaven, then health should be as sacredly guarded as our character, because there is an interrelationship between the health of the body and health of the soul.

Paul said, “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 I. You go to sleep at a certain time. You don’t drink; you don’t smoke. You do everything to win a corruptible crown. And if people can do that, I don’t know why they cannot be temperate in everything, because athletes definitely discipline themselves, but when it comes down to doing spiritual things, it’s hard.

I saw a documentary of a woman body builder. She was working out for a contest and had so much muscle that she looked horrid. Because of the hormones, even her voice had changed. She needed to get down to a certain weight, so she was fasting and eating nothing but protein. She knew the risk factor with kidney problems, but she said, “I gotta win this prize.” For a corruptible crown, it could cost irreversible damage to her kidneys. Paul said, “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 9:27.

The Bible tells us, “A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on and are punished.” Proverbs 22:3. A prudent man is a wise man—he avoids danger. A simple person is not aware of the situation, but nevertheless, whether we are ignorant or not, when we violate law, we will reap the consequence. Therefore, prevention is better than cure.

There is an old English style poem that we have put in our health books: “The Fence or the Ambulance.” It is about a village in which was a high mountain with a cliff. The road going up the mountain was so narrow and the drop so deadly that many of the peasants who traveled the road often slipped off the edge into the valley, where they would be scooped up by an ambulance and taken off to the hospital.

One old gentleman in the town began to protest. He said, “Why don’t we put up a fence on the cliff and dispense with the ambulance in the valley? It doesn’t make sense; we spend more money on treating disease than preventing it.” And so they cried out, “Fanatic, fanatic! If we dispense with the ambulance, he would want us to dispense with all of our charity programs as well.” That is the whole mindset of society today. We spend more time and energy on treatments or cures than on prevention.

It is more beneficial to learn how to prevent sickness than to cure diseases. We need the fence. In Psalm 139:14, it says that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. Genesis 2:7 says that when God took the elements and the dirt of the ground and formed man, He breathed into him the breath of life. That life was not oxygen; that life was not the Holy Spirit; that life was the life of God. God put His life into that dirt and exalted it, and that dirt became a living organism. That is why the Bible says, “The Lord is the strength of my life.” Psalm 27:1. God has given me that life—a heartbeat and 60,000 miles of blood vessels in which the red blood cells travel at the speed of 43.5 miles an hour. What an amazing body we have been given!

At creation, when God put life into man, He gave him the power to move. God put vital force into that man. You can call that vital force electrical energy, because the first thing that develops in a fetus is the brain and the central nervous system, which communicates to the whole body; the brain is the instrument of the mind.

“The brain nerves which communicate with the entire system are the only medium through which Heaven can communicate to man and affect his inmost life. Whatever disturbs the circulation of the electric currents in the nervous system lessens the strength of the vital powers, and the result is a deadening of the sensibilities of the mind.” Temperance, 13.

Therefore, when we find ourselves moving, that is using vital force; that is electrical energy. Was the light that covered Adam and Eve a sunlight or electrical light? Neither; it came from God. God breathed the breath of life into him; that light came out, because the Bible says that God is life and is light (I John 1:5; Romans 6:23). Moses, after 40 days and 40 nights in the mount, glowed because of the time he was in the light (Exodus 34:29–35). Adam and Eve were created with that vital force. “This sinless pair wore no artificial garments. They were clothed with a covering of light and glory, such as the angels wear.” The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 1, 25.

The Bible says, in Psalms 104:2, “Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain.” They were clothed with light that came from the Light, not the sunlight. When Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit, the light vanished. The light did not come from barley green or Noni juice, but directly from God himself while ever they were connected to Him. Sin separates and disease is the result of disconnecting from the fountain of life.

“God endowed man with so great vital force that he has withstood the accumulation of disease upon the race in consequence of perverted habits, and has continued for six thousand years.” Healthful Living, 45. It took almost 2,000 years from the time of creation for disease to manifest itself and cause infant mortality rate; children dying before their parents. Children should outlive their parents. It was so rare, so uncommon for a child to die before his parents, within the first 2,000 years of this earth, that God put it on record in Genesis 11:28. There is only one place where you see it happen. In some countries, like Papua, New Guinea, the child mortality rate is almost 25 percent among children from 8 to 15 years of age.

Children today sometimes die before their parents. “This fact of itself is enough to evidence to us the strength and electrical energy that God gave to man at his creation.” Conflict and Courage, 21. It took more than 2,000 years of crime and indulgence of base passion, to bring bodily disease upon the race to any great extent.

“If Adam, at his creation, had not been endowed with twenty times as much vital force as men now have, the race, with their present habits of living in violation of natural law, would have become extinct. At the time of Christ’s first advent the race had degenerated so rapidly that an accumulation of disease pressed upon that generation, bringing in a tide of woe and a weight of misery inexpressible.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 138, 139. We are living off Adam’s vital force. Adam lived 930 years, and back then the people did not die of any disease.

There will be a group of people who do not have to die, because already there have been two people escape this world alive—Enoch and Elijah. There are two ways in which you can die. In Job 21:23, 24, it says, “One dieth in his full strength, being wholly at ease and quiet. His breasts are full of milk, and his bones are moistened with marrow.”

The description here does not sound like a sick man or woman. When the fruit gets ripe, it will either be plucked or fall to the ground. When God is finished with you, He will lay you to rest, or He is going to pluck you to be translated. That is a good way to die. Moses, at 120 years of age, struck the rock too many times in disobedience and was not allowed to live to enter the Promised Land. The Bible says that his vital force was not abated, and his vision was not dim. He just went up to the mount where God gave him a view of the Promised Land. He closed his eyes and died. If I have to die, that is the way I would like to go—just close my eyes, and the next time I open them I see Jesus.

However, “Another dieth in the bitterness of his soul, and never eateth with pleasure.” Verse 25. I pray to God that I never need to be on life support; I do not want to suffer.

Throughout the ten generations before the flood, from Adam down to Noah, the average lifespan was 912 years. After the flood, the lifespan dropped to 317, as we see in the example of Shem, the son of Noah, who was born before the flood. Today the average lifespan is 70 years.

There are two types of energy in our bodies—useable and reserve. The useable energy can be likened to a checking account. The reserve can be likened to a savings account. We write checks out of our checking account to pay bills and operating expenses. The savings account is extra money stored for emergency situations. Ideally, we do not touch our savings, but we add to it. If we have a bill for $150 and only have $100 in the checking account, and write a check for $150, there will not be enough in the account to cover the check. In order to honor the check, we would have to transfer $50 from the savings account into the checking account to make up the difference. If we continue to do that, when the roof starts leaking, the car breaks down, or some other emergency happens and we go to the savings, we may find that we have exhausted the savings by all the transfers into the checking account. When we expend our energy and are continually operating on reserve, we may end up with cancer or diabetes, and we will want a quick fix. But it does not work that way. We have exhausted our vital force, our savings account. We have to know how to preserve vital force to have good health.

“God has endowed us with a certain amount of vital force. He has also formed us with organs suited to maintain the various functions of life, and He designs that these organs shall work together in harmony. If we carefully preserve the life force, and keep the delicate mechanism of the body in order, the result is health; but if the vital force is too rapidly exhausted, the nervous system borrows power for present use from its resources of strength, and when one organ is injured, all are affected. Nature bears much abuse without apparent resistance; she then arouses and makes a determined effort to remove the effects of the ill-treatment she has suffered. Her effort to correct these conditions is often manifest in fever and various other forms of sickness.” The Ministry of Healing, 234, 235.

When one organ is affected, all are affected. If the liver is damaged, it is going to also impact the kidneys or the lungs.

If our vital force is too rapidly exhausted, the body seeks to compensate. It will pull from its resource, its savings account. Often symptoms are treated, but that does not solve the problem. We are depleting our vital force, and we need to know how to preserve that.

Road rules, speed signs, stoplights and guardrails are erected on roads for the purpose of safety and for the traveler to be aware of the existing dangers. God also has given us guardrails. Temperance is a guardrail. It is a wall of protection around us that preserves and restores one’s vital force.

“Temperance alone is the foundation of all the graces that come from God, the foundation of all victories to be gained.” Temperance, 201. Temperance is one of the fruits of the Spirit. True temperance teaches us to dispense entirely with everything hurtful and to use judiciously, wisely, that which is healthful. Few realize as they should that their habits of diet have to do with their health, their character, their usefulness in this world, and their eternal destiny. There are several areas in our lives where temperance needs to be incorporated. We are told that, “The appetite should ever be in subjection to the moral and intellectual powers. The body should be servant to the mind, and not the mind to the body.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 562.

The word temperance, when used in the context of health, has three very distinct meanings:

1 Moderation in the use of that which is good

2 Total abstinence from that which is harmful

3 Self-control

The Bible says, “My son, eat thou honey, because it is good; and the honeycomb, which is sweet to thy taste.” Proverbs 24:13. “Hast thou found honey? eat so much as is sufficient for thee, lest thou be filled therewith, and vomit it.” Proverbs 25:16. It is clearly saying not to overdo even good things. I call that the honey principle.

“Only one lease of life is granted us; and the inquiry with every one should be, ‘How can I invest my powers so that they may yield the greatest profit?’ ” Christian Temperance and Bible Hygiene, 41. How can I do most for the glory of God and the benefit of my fellow men? For life is valuable only as it is used for the attainment of these ends.

“Our first duty toward God and our fellow-beings is that of self-development. Every faculty with which the Creator has endowed us should be cultivated to the highest degree of perfection, that we may be able to do the greatest amount of good of which we are capable. Hence that time is spent to good account which is used in the establishment and preservation of physical and mental health.” Ibid. We cannot afford to dwarf a single function of mind or body. Intemperance in the true sense of the word is at the foundation of a large share of the ills of life.

“When the plagues of God shall be all around you, you will then see the principles of health reform and strict temperance in all things—that temperance alone is the foundation of all the graces that come from God, the foundation of all victories to be gained.” Temperance, 201. By the time the plagues are falling, if we have not practiced temperance, it will be too late.

We are told that, “Through intemperance, some sacrifice one half, and others two thirds, of their physical, mental, and moral powers, and become playthings for the enemy.” Ibid., 146. We rob God. It is gone for eternity.

One of first things to be aware of is excess in eating and drinking. Excessive indulgence in eating, drinking, sleeping and seeing, is sin. You can sleep too much. You can eat too much. When you see something constantly, whether it is reading or devilvision (television), it is sin. There is a law in temperance dealing with study. It says, “The more elevated and refined the powers, the more pure and unalloyed the happiness. …

“Those who eat and work intemperately and irrationally, talk and act irrationally. It is not necessary to drink alcoholic liquors in order to be intemperate. The sin of intemperate eating—eating too frequently, too much, and of rich, unwholesome food—destroys the healthy action of the digestive organs, affects the brain, and perverts the judgment, preventing rational, calm, healthy thinking and acting.” Ibid., 138.

We are talking here about the good stuff—eating and drinking too much, too frequently. There is more danger in eating too much than too little. “There are many sick who suffer from no disease. The cause of their sickness is indulgence of appetite. They think that if the food is healthful, they may eat as much as they please. This is a great mistake. Persons whose powers are debilitated should eat a moderate and even limited amount of food.” Child Guidance, 399. It amazes me that we continue to overload our bodies with too much food, especially when it is already debilitated.

“There should be no delay in reform. Efforts should be made to preserve carefully the remaining strength of the vital forces.” Counsels on Diet and Foods, 159. We must do everything to preserve what we have “by lifting off every overtaxing burden. The stomach may never fully recover health, but a proper course of diet will save further debility, and many will recover more or less, unless they have gone very far in gluttonous self-murder.” Ibid.

The next thing outside of food is temperance in dress, for which there is a physiological reason. “God’s people are to learn the meaning of temperance in all things. They are to practice temperance in eating and drinking and dressing. All self-indulgence is to be cut away from their lives. Before they can really understand the meaning of true sanctification and of conformity to the will of Christ, they must, by cooperating with God, obtain the mastery over wrong habits and practices.” Medical Ministry, 275.

“In all respects the dress should be healthful. ‘Above all things,’ God desires us to ‘be in health’—health of body and of soul (III John 1:2). And we are to be workers together with Him for the health of both soul and body. Both are promoted by healthful dress.

“It should have the grace, the beauty, the appropriateness of natural simplicity. Christ has warned us against the pride of life, but not against its grace and natural beauty.” The Ministry of Healing, 288, 289.

“Special attention should be given to the extremities, that they may be as thoroughly clothed as the chest and the region over the heart, where is the greatest amount of heat. Parents who dress their children with the extremities naked, or nearly so, are sacrificing the health and lives of their children to fashion. If these parts are not so warm as the body, the circulation is not equalized. When the extremities, which are remote from the vital organs, are not properly clad, the blood is driven to the head, causing headache or nosebleed; or there is a sense of fullness about the chest, producing cough or palpitation of the heart, on account of too much blood in that locality; or the stomach has too much blood, causing indigestion.” Testimonies, vol. 2, 531. The Bible tells me the life of the flesh is in the blood (Leviticus 17:11). In order to have good health, we must have good blood.

If there is unequal circulation in the body, we are going to have disease, especially women. Women have a lot of female problems because of improper dress. I would encourage us to study dress, not only in the spiritual sense, but in light of physiology, because the way we dress affects our vital force. “Satan invented the fashions which leave the limbs exposed, chilling back the life current from its original course. And parents bow at the shrine of fashion and so clothe their children that the nerves and veins become contracted and do not answer the purpose that God designed they should. The result is, habitually cold feet and hands. Those parents who follow fashion instead of reason will have an account to render to God for thus robbing their children of health. Even life itself is frequently sacrificed to the god of fashion.” Ibid., 532.

Temperance in Labor 

“We should practice temperance in our labor. It is not our duty to place ourselves where we shall be overworked. Some may at times be placed where this is necessary, but it should be the exception, not the rule.” Child Guidance, 397.

“They are expending the vital force which they will need at a future time. And when the energy they have so recklessly used is demanded, they fail for want of it. The physical strength is gone, the mental powers fail. They realize that they have met with a loss, but do not know what it is. Their time of need has come, but their physical resources are exhausted.” Christian Temperance and Bible Hygiene, 64, 65.

We need a little break every now and then. Come aside and rest. Remember the day of rest God gave us. Tests have been made on body processes that have determined that for everyone, regardless of religious beliefs, the heart beats more slowly on Saturday than on any other day of the week. I thank God for the Sabbath day.

Regular Hours of Sleep 

In daylight hours the pineal gland synthesizes serotonin. In the absence of light it converts serotonin to melatonin. The serotonin levels fall and the melatonin levels rise at night. The balance between serotonin and melatonin seems to affect mood and other physiological changes. Therefore we have to be in bed at a certain time in order to benefit from this precious hormone. But after 12:00 o’clock we can forget it.

The points of regularity in time for eating and sleeping should not be overlooked since the work of building up the body takes place during the hours of night.

Temperance in Study

Intemperance in study is a species of intoxication. And those who indulge in it like the drunkard wander from safe paths and stumble and fall in darkness. I know people who spend all their time and energy in studying, reading, studying and reading and basically nothing else, to excess.

“Make it habit not to sit up after nine o’clock. Every light should be extinguished. This turning night into day is a wretched, health-destroying habit, and this reading much by brain workers, up to the sleeping hours, is very injurious to health. It calls the blood to the brain and then there is restlessness and wakefulness, and the precious sleep, which should rest the body, does not come when desired.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 9, 46.

Every sin, every unrighteous act, every transgression of law affects the body and depletes it of its vital force. To go forth into the next life deprived of half the power that might be carried would be a tragedy.

The world should be no criteria for us though it is fashionable to indulge the appetite. There is no encouragement given to any of the sons or daughters of Adam that they may become victorious in the Christian warfare unless they decide to practice temperance in all things. Blessings of physical and mental vigor would be given to all Christians who keep their bodies in subjection, bringing their appetites and passions under control of an enlightened conscience, feeling it a duty owed to God and to their neighbors to obey the laws which govern health. They will have moral power to engage in the warfare against Satan. We can have no right understanding of the subject of temperance until we consider it from a Biblical standpoint. Nowhere should we find a more comprehensive and forceful illustration of true temperance and its attendant blessings than is afforded by the history of Daniel and his three friends in Babylon. (See Daniel 1, 2.)

“Sin brings physical and spiritual disease and weakness. Christ has made it possible for us to free ourselves from this curse. The Lord promises, by the medium of truth, to renovate the soul. The Holy Spirit will make all who are willing to be educated able to communicate the truth with power. It will renew every organ of the body, that God’s servants may work acceptably and successfully. Vitality increases under the influence of the Spirit’s action. Let us, then, by this power lift ourselves into a higher, holier atmosphere, that we may do well our appointed work.” Medical Ministry, 12.

Thomas Jackson is a health evangelist and director of Missionary Education and Evangelistic Training (M.E.E.T.) Ministry in Huntingdon, Tennessee. He may be contacted by e-mail at: godsplan@meetministry.org or by telephone at: 731-0986-3518.