Immutable laws govern the universe, acting upon everything and everyone. Ignorance of them does not suspend or annul their effect. Health and happiness result when we are in harmony with them; painful penalties are reaped when we break them. Health is not an accident—nor is disease. There are causes for every effect!
It is not the purpose of this booklet to give specific diet or therapeutic treatment for illness, but to give understanding and awareness of basic, living laws of radiant health.
IN SPITE of improved methods of early detection and treatment, heart disease, cancer, arthritis, diabetes, tuberculosis, and other plagues peculiar to modern "civilization" continue to exact a frightening toll. Few people in the world are free of disabilities or health problems of some kind. What is your condition? Are you bubbling over with energy and enthusiasm? Are you free from all aches, pains and sickness? Do you enjoy the kind of vigorous, dynamic health that makes it seem good to be alive? Or are you among the millions who are just half-well?
There Is a CAUSE for Sickness
People do not just happen to get sick. There is a CAUSE for every effect. And there is a definite cause for all the sickness, disease and physical suffering that is so common in this modern world. God does not intend for us to be sick. He inspired the apostle John to write: "Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health...." (III John 1-2). God wishes us to be in health! That is His will. Why, then, are so many sick today? In a nutshell it is because there are physical laws that regulate our bodies. If we break these laws or if they are accidentally broken, it is a transgression of law (I John 3:4)—and it automatically exacts a penalty. The penalty is pain, sickness—or possibly even death. The CAUSE of sickness is the breaking of physical laws set in motion to govern the operation of our human bodies. These laws are just as real as the law of gravity, and the penalty for breaking them is just as sure. God has been interested in the physical health of His people from the beginning. The Old Testament of the Bible is full of directions and laws concerned with maintaining health. And an honest and careful study of the New Testament will show that in apostolic times Christianity was a definite WAY OF LIFE (Acts 18:26; 19:23)—including an understanding and practice of basic health principles. The apostle Paul commanded the Christians at Corinth: "Glorify God in your body" (I Cor. 6:20). He said that we are "bought with a price"—our bodies belong to God. We should therefore glorify God in our physical bodies by using them as He intended, and by obeying the physical laws He has set in motion. Using the health principles revealed in the Bible, God's revelation to mankind, as a guide, and utilizing the results of man's observation and research into the subject, we can learn the definite laws that govern our physical health. By understanding and obeying these laws, we can begin to build or maintain the kind of radiant health that will enable us to live the full, active and joyful lives that God intended. There are reasons for feeling and being only half alive. The mounting rate of sickness, suffering and death clearly shows that this world has lost the way to health—the way to live. We need to learn how to really live. What, then, are the physical laws that affect our bodies—our lives—so much?
1. Food and Fasting
We truly are what we eat. Yet the average person has very little knowledge of what he really ought to eat to build a strong, vigorous body. Many of the products commonly called foods are of little or no value in sustaining, nourishing or building the body. In fact, it has been proven by tests that they do actual harm to the body. They clog the digestive system, aggravate it and become a real burden for the body to eliminate. In many cases, they act as poisons—not foods! Two basic factors to remember in selecting foods are to avoid those foods which have been corrupted or perverted in man-made "food" factories, and to maintain a balanced diet containing all the elements the body requires to sustain and build health. We should take care that our food is properly prepared so as not to destroy the body-building elements. Starchy, greasy, sugary, and spiced-up concoctions may taste good at the moment, but they contain little nutritional value and will, in time, wreck a person's stomach. Remember the principle that your foods should be natural foods—as the Creator caused them to grow or be formed in nature. These will include genuine whole grain breads (without poisonous preservatives added) and whole grain cereals, fresh fruits and fresh vegetables—or vegetables cooked at low temperatures so as to preserve their nutritional value, lean meats cooked without grease or fat, and dairy products. Few people fully realize the detriment caused by such "refined" or "improved" products as white bread, when these are substituted in place of the natural products that were intended as food. Man's effort to improve upon God's creation has FAILED. The more you intelligently study the food question, the more you will realize this. These days it takes some effort to eat a balanced diet of natural foods that have not been perverted by the hand of man, and to learn how to prepare foods so as not to destroy their nutritional value. Under the heading of diet, we should also consider the health value of water. Drinking water—and plenty of it—is one of the greatest aids to eliminating body poisons and keeping the entire system clean. It is an aid in preventing or overcoming constipation—that source of so many bodily ills. Greatly restricting one's diet is known as fasting. An animal, when sick, will frequently refuse to eat. It loses all appetite. Governed by its instincts, it fasts until it is well. But what about humans? Doctors and dietitians agree that we often eat far more food than our bodies require. If food is eaten in excess of bodily needs, it can clog up the vital processes; becoming productive of causes that lead to sickness and disease. A great number of sicknesses are caused by the presence of poisons in the bloodstream. Greatly restricting one's diet enables the body to cleanse itself of the accumulation of the products of an imperfect diet. As food intake is retarded, elimination proceeds rapidly and the body is truly "housecleaning" itself. For many, many common sicknesses such as colds, headaches, fevers, and stomach distress, such a procedure is often effective.
2. Cleanliness and Dress
It has been said that "cleanliness is next to Godliness," and, while this saying didn't come directly from the Bible, the principle is certainly correct. In order to teach ancient Israel the habit of cleanliness, God, through Moses, instituted many regulations commanding the people to bathe or wash their clothes after coming in contact with likely disease carriers. We should likewise keep our physical bodies clean. Regular care of the skin, hair, nails, and teeth and freedom from perspiration odor are essential to cleanliness and contribute to health. Waste products are eliminated through the pores of the skin, and regular bathing is always important. Keeping your person, your clothes, and your living quarters clean will not only aid in promoting vigorous health, but will tend to keep your thoughts on a higher level of productivity and accomplishment. Untold physical impairments are caused by the wearing of tight, ill-fitting, or unsuitable clothing. Clothing should afford proper protection from the weather, and should be loose-fitting and comfortable. The wearing of extremely tight girdles or corsets by women often results in the cramping of vital organs, and the weakening of muscles and tissues in the abdominal and pelvic areas—often causing physical distress in later life—and sometimes resulting in the inability to have children normally. Shoes that throw the whole body out of line can cause harm not only to the feet, but to the entire body. A common mistake is the wearing of unnecessarily tight-fitting shoes, which cause bunions, corns and ingrown nails.
3. Sunshine and Fresh Air
Occasionally exposing a portion of the body to the sun's rays is beneficial. The sun's rays which provide the greatest benefit to health are the ultraviolet rays. Try to spend a sensible amount of time out of doors in the open air and sunshine. Remember, though, that there is danger in sunlight if the body is exposed too long before it is conditioned to the sun. In acquiring a tan, one should proceed cautiously. At every opportunity, take a deep breath of the purest, freshest air you can find. Breathe deeply to be healthy. We breathe to get oxygen into our systems, without which we would quickly die. Every vital process in the body depends on oxygen for its performance. The more you breathe pure, fresh air, the more pep you will have, the brighter will be your color, the more alert you will be, and the better posture you will have. Most of us take in enough air to sustain life, but not enough to live it vigorously.
Someone once observed that most human progress from the Stone Age to the Space Age has sprung from man's earnest desire to avoid work. Certainly for the past two hundred years, we have hailed as "progress" ideas or inventions that reduced the need for human effort. Our definition of a "developed nation" implies one where muscle power has been largely replaced by machine power. We measure the "quality of life" in terms of how easy our work is, how abundant our leisure time, and how many labor-saving gadgets we have at our disposal. Before the advent of the Industrial Revolution, most people got plenty of exercise whether they wanted to or not. But today it can be all too easily avoided. Millions have adopted the philosophy of Robert Hutchin in Christopher Hale's Exit Screaming: "When I feel a desire to exercise, I lie down until it goes away." Consequently, muscles weaken and atrophy for lack of use. Bodies bulge with fat as the metabolic processes hoard excess calories in anticipation of activity that never comes. Perhaps future anthropologists will look back at twentieth-century man and classify us as "sitters," because that is the dominant posture of our age. We sit in a car or bus on our way to work, where we sit at our desk for eight hours a day. Then we sit down again to travel home, where after sitting for dinner, we sit in front of the TV set for several hours. On weekends, for recreation, we sit in front of stages or movie screens to be entertained, or pay for the pleasure of sitting in the bleachers to watch paid professionals get the exercise we so desperately need ourselves. Millions of people are only a fraction of the physical specimens they ought to be—because of a lack of exercise. Notice a crowd of people some time. Observe the various sizes and shapes—the fat people, the overfed businessmen, and then others who have no more meat on their bones than a scarecrow. This is not to say everybody needs to develop huge, bulging muscles. But nearly everyone does need an intelligently planned program of exercise. Exercise stimulates deep breathing and increases blood circulation. It aids in the expelling of poisons from the system, and tends to produce "normalcy" in all bodily functions. While work leaves one tired and sometimes enervated, proper exercise is of remarkable assistance in building up energy. The body is often recharged after systematic calisthenics, and this form of exercise can include all of the muscle groups of the body—whereas regular work or games often neglect many of these, while overtaxing others. Walking and hiking are excellent forms of exercise for people of all ages and occupations. But vigorous young people stand to benefit by supplementing even these with some form of activity which directly utilizes the arms, shoulders, and torso. Medical and physical education authorities now realize more than ever the importance of running, swimming, cycling, brisk walking and other similar forms of exercise that condition the heart, lungs and blood vessels of the body. It is important, of course, not to overdo it. If there is any question at all, seek the guidance of a reputable physical trainer or physician. But most "non-walking" people in our Western world—clear up into their forties and fifties—stand to benefit immeasurably by a controlled program of cycling, swimming or other physical activity. This type of "conditioning" is not something new at all. It has been the basis—or at least part of the basis—of the training and conditioning program for most sports. Football, basketball, baseball and track coaches have had their players "take their laps." Boxers have done their "roadwork." Swimmers also "take their laps." It has now been scientifically and medically demonstrated that this type of training increases the efficiency of the heart, the lungs and the number and size of the blood vessels that carry the blood to the body tissues, saturating the tissue throughout the body with energy-producing oxygen. The training effect from this type of exercise will tend to relax the individual, help banish many of his tensions and emotional traumas. It will enable him to tolerate the stress of daily living better. It will even help him sleep better, and get more work done, with less fatigue. And it will definitely help prevent heart disease. Few of us in this degenerate age are inclined to get too much exercise. Yet we do need a proper amount to build the kind of abundant, radiant health we should all enjoy. Building a strong, supple, graceful body does require effort. But it is eminently worthwhile.
5. Sleep and Rest
Many people, especially students, are inclined to delude themselves with the idea they can drive themselves on in work or play, then "catch up on sleep" later on—and be none the worse for it. Nothing will take the place of regular sleep and rest in its recuperative effects on the human body. Man can go much longer without food than he can without sleep. Sleep becomes even critically necessary after long periods of sleeplessness. Sufficient, regular sleep for most adults ranges from seven to nine hours each night. This is definitely not wasted time. It will enable one to be fully alive during his work and play, and to live a longer and fuller life in the end. However, too much sleep is not a benefit. Rather, it is depressing and causes sluggishness and a state of lethargy. We are warned in Proverbs against oversleeping and laziness (Prov. 24:33, 34). In addition to regular sleep, many physical education and health authorities recommend one or more short periods of rest throughout the day to recharge our worn nerve batteries. When the Creator said, "Six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work," He was giving a law of health—as well as a spiritual principle—which will never grow old. Both physically and mentally, we need to rest every seventh day—and so God gave the Sabbath rest as a great blessing. Thousands of years ago, God knew and enunciated what many men still haven't found out—that in depriving yourself of sufficient sleep and rest, you will accomplish not more, but less in the end.
6. Avoid Bodily Injury
Think of the tens of billions of dollars lost in doctor and hospital bills, and of the countless work hours which are forfeited each year because of bodily injury. This is entirely unnecessary! Too many reckless, careless people defile and destroy their bodies not only with perverted foods, drinks, cigarettes, drugs and the like—but by injuring them in mishaps and accidents. There is abundant information available regarding the prevention of accidents. It is important that you realize how seriously you should take this problem—and resolve to quit taking physical risks in your work or play. One such careless moment can easily undo and wreck the physical well-being you may have nourished for years. Carelessness just doesn't pay; develop the habit of thinking ahead. Consider the end results of your actions.
7. Build a POSITIVE Mental Attitude
One of the least-understood factors governing health is the profound effect that the mind has on the body. It is becoming increasingly recognized that a large part of the common ailments of mankind are caused—not so much by the body—as by the mind. Ulcers, indigestion, headaches, eye-strain, nervousness, and a host of other ailments are often found to be caused by the mind—not the body. Some medical authorities now believe that over 50 percent of all those seeking medical aid are sick or disturbed because of mental problems. And what is startling is that emotionally induced illness apparently becomes more prevalent as one goes up the ladder of human responsibility, mental alertness and capacity. Perhaps an alert mind can think of more to be worried about than an ordinary mind can! Strife, fear, tension and anxiety all take a terrible toll in the physical impairments which they either directly cause or aggravate in our bodies. Haven't you known families who engaged in a "free-for-all battle" during every meal? Perhaps they were ignorant of the fact that nagging and quarreling at the table is almost certain to cause nervous indigestion and other ailments. Few people today have the sense of contentment and genuine peace of mind upon which good health is predicated. And physical nourishment, exercise and care are not enough. For, as the writer of Proverbs stated: "Better is a dinner of herbs where LOVE is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith" (Prov. 15:17). But the strife, tension, resentments and bitterness which our present competitive society fosters create the exact opposite conditions in the body and nervous system from those which would guarantee good health and mental well-being. Hundreds of years before modern psychiatry "discovered" that carnal emotions help cause many of our bodily ills, the Bible condemned these emotions and provided a cure for them. Sexual immorality, hatred, quarreling, jealousy, bad temper, rivalry, factions, party-spirit, envy and drunkenness, for example, are among the harmful practices and traits listed in Galatians 5:19-21. Obedience to the laws of God is the KEY to mental health. "Great peace have they which love thy law," David wrote in the Psalms (Ps. 119:165). God's Law is the way to a long life, happiness and peace (Prov. 3:1-2). God's Law, summarized, is the law of LOVE—outgoing concern for others (Matt. 22:36-40). Love is the fulfilling of God's Law (I John 5:3; Rom. 13:10). Perfect, mature love casts out fear, worry, anxiety, depression, and the negative emotions that can wreck mental health. "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love" (I John 4:18). This kind of love is outgoing concern for the welfare of other people, as opposed to self-centered, selfish concern for one's own self. It is the attitude of Giving service to others, helpfulness. Jesus said it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). This kind of love is the essential key to mental health and emotional well-being. It conquers negative emotions such as jealousy, fear, hatred, vanity, worry and inferiority.
Remember these basic health laws. Strive to apply them in your life. It will take some effort, but the reward of a strong, graceful, vigorously healthful body will more than repay your efforts. Of course, if you have already broken these laws most of your life, you will not attain as great benefits as if you had started early. And in all honesty, we must realize one factor that we have nothing to do with—our heredity, and the fact that some of us have inherited certain weaknesses which may never be fully overcome. But nearly any physical condition can be greatly improved if the right steps are taken. The renewed zest, enthusiasm and sense of well-being will more than repay your efforts in making the laws of radiant health a veritable way of life. As much as possible, "Glorify God in your body" (I Cor. 6:20)!
THERE IS a Creator God. He "manufactured" the human race. And He wrote an "Instruction Book" that goes along with His product, telling how the human body and mind best function. Just as any automobile manufacturer sends an instruction book along with each new automobile, so God gave us an Instruction Book—the Bible—which tells us how to live, and even gives some guidelines on how to have robust health and vitality. The Bible is the foundation of all knowledge and it includes many commonsense principles of good health.
Sanitation and Hygiene
The Old Testament contains many injunctions which relate to this subject. If they had been put into practice the world's disease toll would have been drastically cut. Until the close of the 17th century, however, hygienic conditions in cities were generally deplorable. Excrement and filth were often dumped into the streets. Flies, breeding in the filth, spread and carried disease to millions. The principle of burying excrement and filth was given by the Scriptures over 1400 years before Christ (see Deut. 23:12-13). Medical historian Arturo Castiglioni observes: "The regulations in Deuteronomy as to how soldiers should prevent the danger of infection coming from their excrement by covering it with earth constitute a most important document of sanitary legislation" (A History of Medicine, p. 70). Castiglioni continued: "Study of Biblical texts appears to have demonstrated that the ancient Semitic peoples, in agreement with the most modern tenets of epidemiology, attributed more importance to animal transmitters of disease like the rat and the fly, than to the contagious individual" (p. 71). Three thousand years later, when the bubonic plague devastated Europe, this knowledge had generally been lost. Some blamed noxious fumes in the air; others attributed it to the stars; some thought it was caused by a conjunction of Mars, Jupiter and Saturn; yet others blamed the Jews, and many blamed God. Generally, the world did not wake up to the importance of hygiene and cleanliness until about the end of the 18th century. Yet vital principles of sanitation and cleanliness were expounded by God to Moses almost 3,500 years ago. The biblical laws of cleanliness, washings and purification were not all merely customs or rituals. They protected the camp of Israel from the dangers of contagious diseases and deadly plagues. Dr. D. T. Atkinson states: "In the Bible greater stress was placed upon prevention of disease than was given to the treatment of bodily ailments.... One has but to read the book of Leviticus carefully and thoughtfully to conclude that the admonitions of Moses contained therein are, in fact, the groundwork of most of today's sanitary laws. As one closes the book, he must, regardless of his spiritual leanings, feel that the wisdom therein expressed regarding the rules to protect health are superior to any which then existed in the world and that to this day they have been little improved upon" (Magic, Myth and Medicine p. 20). Unfortunately, even in the modern world the vital importance of sanitation and hygiene in combating and preventing illness and contagion are sometimes ignored. Cities have become increasingly congested, polluted and dirty. Garbage strikes, when they occur, pose serious health problems. Our air is unfit to breathe in too many cases; and our water is contaminated.
Bible Dietary Laws
As we pointed out in the first part of this booklet, proper diet is important in the prevention of disease. Leviticus 11 enumerates the dietary laws which God gave ancient Israel. Among other things, He forbade them to eat the flesh of pigs (swine), rabbits or shellfish (Lev. 11:6-12). Writes Dr. Louis Lasagna: "Many of these make good medical sense.... The prohibition of hare and swine as sources of food certainly must have diminished the incidence of disease, in view of the capacity of these animals to transmit tularemia and trichinosis, respectively. The transmission of gastrointestinal infections (including typhoid fever) via polluted shellfish or water also testifies to the apparent wisdom of the Hebrews in warning against such sea food and impure water" (The Doctors' Dilemmas, p. 85). Another interesting Old Testament law forbade the eating of animal fat. This also has proven a valuable health practice. Dr. Paul Dudley White, the heart specialist who treated President Eisenhower while he was in the White House, once quoted Leviticus 7:23: "You shall eat no fat, of ox, or sheep, or goat" (RSV). Animal fats are high in cholesterol, a fatty, waxy material which the body needs in limited amounts. The body's inability to properly metabolize cholesterol in some cases however, may be a contributing factor in some forms of heart disease. Therefore, Dr. White asserted: "It is conceivable that a few years from now we medical men may repeat to the citizens of the United States of America the advice that Moses was asked by God to present to the children of Israel 3,000 years ago."
The Bible vs. Venereal Disease
The fastest-spreading contagious diseases in the Western world today are the venereal diseases. Medical authorities know that they are spread through sexual contact. As long as there is promiscuity and free sex, there is bound to be venereal disease. But the solution to this terrible worldwide curse is as simple as it is ancient: "Shun immorality! Any other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body" (I Cor. 6:18, Moffatt translation). The growing incidence of this ancient plague speaks eloquently of the need for prevention. Thousands of years ago, biblical standards of morality safeguarded against this plague that can blight the lives of yet unborn generations. There is no safe, reliable cure for these diseases—except prevention. When God created mankind, He said: "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they shall be one flesh" (Gen. 2:24). If this one basic scriptural principle of faithful monogamy were followed today, the world would see the end of venereal diseases.
Laws of Quarantine
During the 14th century, bubonic plague struck Asia and spread to Russia, Persia, Turkey, North Africa and Europe. Perhaps one third of the European population died in those tragic years. Relentlessly, the plague invaded every city, hamlet or village. Millions lost their lives. Panic and confusion were rampant. Death was everywhere. The toll was so great that bodies were thrown into huge pits, mass graves. The Jewish physician Balavignus lived in those times and saw that miserable sanitation was a major factor in the spread of the disease. He instituted a cleanup movement among the Jews. The rats, consequently, left the Jewish ghettos and moved into the "Gentile" sectors of the city. As a result the Jews' mortality rate from the plague was only five percent of what it was among their non-Jewish neighbors. The general population soon saw the difference, but instead of emulating the Jewish hygienic measures, the people began accusing the Jews of causing the plague and poisoning wells. A general massacre was launched. Balavignus himself, persecuted and tortured, was finally compelled to "confess" that he and others were responsible for the disease. Another plague that prevailed in the 13th and 14th centuries in Europe was leprosy. England, Sweden, Iceland and Norway showed alarming gains in the numbers of leprosy cases in the 15th and 16th centuries. But when the authorities began to institute the quarantine, in the form of segregation of leprosy cases, the plague was again brought under control. Where did such quarantine laws come from? Dr. Atkinson tells us: "It is most singular that a description of leprosy, as found in the thirteenth chapter of Leviticus, could have been written so long before our time. It is to be noticed that such an accurate description of this dread malady as it appears in the Biblical narrative is not to be found in the literature of any nation for the next seventeen hundred years" (Magic, Myth and Medicine, pp. 25-26). Speaking of the biblical laws regarding leprosy, Dr. Atkinson states: "The laws of health laid down in Leviticus are the basis of modern sanitary science.... The modern quarantine harks back to these sanitary regulations of the Old Testament" (ibid. p. 58). Similarly, Arturo Castiglioni in A History of Medicine states, "The laws against leprosy in Leviticus 13 may be regarded as the first model of a sanitary legislation" (p. 71). These historical examples graphically demonstrate the effectiveness of the principles God handed down millennia ago. Strictly speaking, of course, the Bible is not a health textbook or medical manual. But it does lay the foundation of knowledge, and reveals many health laws which mankind has required thousands of years to rediscover.
AFTER THOUSANDS of years of human experience on earth, it seems there still is nothing people know less about than food. Observe a little baby. It seems to think that anything and everything its little chubby hands can get into its mouth is good to eat—and everything baby gets his hands on goes straight to his mouth! How often must young parents take things away, and try to teach the lovely little bundle of humanity that everything one's hands can touch is not necessarily good for the digestion!
We're Just Grown-up Babies!
Well, one might wonder if any of us has grown up! Most of us adults still seem to think that anything we can stuff in our mouths is good for food. About the only difference between us and the baby is that baby puts into his mouth whatever looks good, while we employ the sense of taste in deciding what goes into our mouths. Your stomach is your fuel tank. Your automobile's tank is its stomach. You wouldn't think of pouring just any old thing that will pour into the "stomach" of your car. You know that your car was not made to consume and "digest" fuel oil, water, milk, or kerosene. Yes, we are very careful what we "feed" our automobile—and totally careless and indifferent about what we feed ourselves and our children! What happens to the food you eat? In the stomach the digestive process takes place. And, once digested—if you have eaten fit and digestible food—a portion of the essential minerals and vitamins—the life-giving properties in the food—filter through the intestinal lining into the bloodstream to replenish and build up decaying cells, to provide energy, body warmth, good health. Your body is wonderfully made! It is the most wonderful mechanism in the world. But, just as you must use the right kind of gasoline in the gas tank and the right kind of oils and greases in the other parts of your car or impair its performance, so you must put the right kind of food into the most delicate mechanism of all, your body. If you tried to oil a fine watch with axle grease you wouldn't expect the watch to keep good time. And when you put into your stomach all kinds of foul things which the Great Architect who designed your human mechanism never intended, you foul up your body and bring on sickness, disease, aches, pains, a dulled and clogged-up mind, inefficiency and inability—and you commit suicide on the installment plan by actually shortening your life! The God who designed, created, and made your body has revealed some essential basic knowledge about which meats will keep that body functioning in tip-top shape. Why does humanity refuse His instructions?
You Are Eating Poison!
You don't eat every plant that grows out of the ground. Some things that grow are poison, not food. But did you know there are many kinds of poisons? Potassium cyanide will kill you very quickly. Some poisons will result in death within a few hours or a few days. But very few seem to know there are other poisons people mistakenly eat as foods which result in premature death after continuous usage for, say, ten, or thirty, or fifty years. The only difference between these poisons we falsely call foods and potassium cyanide is the relative number of minutes, hours, or years it takes to accomplish its mission. Just as every plant that God caused to grow out of the ground was not designed for food, so it is with animal flesh. Some will say, "Well, if swine's flesh isn't supposed to be eaten as food, what did God create swine for?" You might as well ask, what did God create weeds and poison vines for? Everything may have been created for a purpose, but not everything for the purpose of eating. Now some believe that in the original creation—in the Garden of Eden—God did not intend any animal flesh to be eaten. God's revelation on that point is vague, and many have argued it both ways. However, God has clearly revealed that certain animal meats may be eaten as food now, in this age, and Jesus who came to set us an example did eat flesh as well as vegetables and fruits, and so do I.
What the Great Architect of Your Stomach Instructs
When the first written revelation of God came to man through Moses, God instructed man as to which kinds of animal flesh man ought or ought not to eat. You will find this list in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14. This is a basic law—a revelation from God to man about which kinds of flesh will properly digest and assimilate in the human system, and which will not. It is not a part of God's spiritual law, summed up in the Ten Commandments. Neither is it part of the ceremonial, ritualistic, or sacrificial laws later abolished at the crucifixion of Christ. It is necessary to recognize that God is the Author of all law, and there are countless laws in motion. There are laws of physics and chemistry. You know of the law of gravity. There is the great immutable spiritual law to regulate man's relationship to God and to fellowmen—the law of love—the Ten Commandments. God gave His nation Israel civil statutes and judgments—national laws for the conduct of the national government. Israel was also His Church, under the Old Covenant. And for the dispensation then present God gave Israel rituals and ceremonial laws for the conduct of religious services, laws relating to typical and temporary sacrifices, meat and drink offerings—temporary substitutes for Christ and the Holy Spirit. Those laws, of course, ended when the Reality came. And then, we must realize, there are physical laws working in our bodies, regulating our health. This meat question has to do with these laws. I know of men who make a hobby of bitterly accusing others of sin for eating pork, oysters, and clams. Let us get this straight and clear! We usually speak of sin in its spiritual aspect. That is the aspect in which it is considered in the New Testament. The Bible definition of it is this: "Sin is the transgression of the law" (I John 3:4). The penalty for violation of that spiritual law is death—not the first, or physical death, but the second, or spiritual and eternal death in the "lake of fire" (Rev. 20:14). Now the eating of wrong food is not a transgression of this spiritual law, and is not a sin. To violate the physical laws of health often brings the penalty of disease, disability, pain, sickness, and sometimes the first death. It is not necessarily spiritual sin. That is what Jesus made plain, as recorded in Mark 7:14-23. Here Jesus was speaking of spiritual defilement, not physical health. Not that which enters into a man's mouth, but the evil that comes out of his heart, defiles the man spiritually. What defiles the man—and he is speaking of defiling the man, not injuring the body—is transgression of the Ten Commandments—evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, blasphemy (verses 21-22). These things have nothing to do with the physical laws of health. He was making a point concerning spiritual defilements, not physical health. Specifically, on the physical level, He was referring (verse 19) to a possible particle of dirt which might get on the food from dirty and unwashed hands—He was not here speaking of clean or unclean meats at all.
No Change in Structure of Animal Flesh at Cross
The animals whose flesh properly digests and nourishes the human body were so made in the original creation. No change was ever made in the structure of men's bodies at the time of the flood, or at the time of Jesus' death, or any other time. Neither did God make some sudden change in the structure of animal flesh, so that what once was unfit for food will now digest properly and supply the body's needs. The unclean animals were unclean before the flood. Notice, before the flood, Noah took into the ark of the clean animals, to be eaten for food, by sevens; but of the unclean, of which he was not to eat during the flood, by two's—only enough to preserve their lives. The inference is inescapable that the additional clean animals were taken aboard to be eaten for food while Noah and his family were in the ark. Prior to the flood, clean animals were usually offered as sacrifices. Those who ate the sacrifices often partook of the animal flesh, but vegetables were the main constituent of diet. After the flood God gave Noah not merely the green herb—vegetables—as the major part of diet, but of every type of living creature—clean animals, clean fish, clean fowl (Genesis 9:3 and Leviticus 11). Genesis 9:3 does not say that every living, breathing creature is clean and fit to eat, but that "as the green herb have I given you all things." God did not give poisonous herbs as food. He gave man the healthful herbs. Man can determine which herbs are healthful, but man cannot by himself determine which flesh foods are harmful. That is why God had to determine for us in His Word which meats are clean. Since the flood every moving clean, healthful, nonpoisonous type of animal life is good for food—just as God gave us the healthful, nonpoisonous herbs. This does not give us permission to do as we please!
Not Ceremonial Law
The instruction in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14, then, is not some ritualistic regulation for the Mosaic period only. Why do so many people have the idea that God is some great unfair monster who imposes foolish hardships on His people? Whatever God instructs us is for our good, not some nonsensical restriction for one period to be changed around some different way for other people of a different period. Now for some specific instruction concerning mammals: "These are the beasts which ye shall eat: the ox [beef], the sheep [lamb], and the goat, the hart, and the roebuck, and the fallow deer, and the wild goat, and the pygarg [antelope], and the wild ox, and the chamois [mountain sheep]. And every beast that parteth the hoof, and cleaveth the cleft into two claws, and cheweth the cud among the beasts, that ye shall eat. Nevertheless these ye shall not eat of them that chew the cud, or of them that divide the cloven hoof; as the camel, and the hare, and the coney: for they chew the cud, but divide not the hoof; therefore they are unclean unto you. And the swine [hogs], because it divideth the hoof, yet cheweth not the cud, it is unclean unto you: ye shall not eat of their flesh..." (Deut. 14:4-8). Horse meat is not fit for humans because horses not only do not have divided hoofs, but they also do not chew the cud. Similarly, swine flesh—pork, ham, bacon, sausage—rabbit meat, etc. is simply not fit for human consumption. The same is true with oysters, lobsters, clams, crabs, shrimp, crayfish, dogs, snakes, rats, and skunks. The only seafood fit for food are fish having both fins and scales. Halibut has both and is clean. Catfish is a skin fish—unclean. It's all a matter of what we have become accustomed to doing. It seems strange and horrifying to us to hear that some Orientals eat mice as a delicacy. But many Orientals are horrified to hear that we eat nasty, slimy, filthy oysters! But some human grown-ups, like little babies, will eat anything they can get their hands on and stuff into their mouths. At so-called "quality" grocery stores in large towns and cities, specializing in rare delicacies, you can purchase "delicious" canned rattlesnake—if you care for it. Would you eat slugs, skunks, cats or poison ivy? Would you then put fuel oil mixed with sand in the gas tank of your car? The day will come when we will at last learn that eating greasy hog flesh and other unfit "foods" has been a prime cause of cancer and other horrible diseases.
Prophecy for the Future
What does the Bible say the people would be doing today? Notice: They that eat "swine's flesh"—that is what most people are doing today—"and the abomination, and the mouse, shall be consumed together"—in the wrath of God—"saith the Lord" (Isa. 66:17). This is the fate of those who lust after the foods that God forbids us to eat because those meats will harm us. This is the fate of those "whose God is their belly" (Phil. 3:19). Is it any wonder today, that with all our scientific knowledge, we have more doctor bills, more sickness than ever before in the history of the world? It is time we returned to God and began to obey His laws. He is our Creator. He made us. He knows what our bodies were made to utilize as good, healthful foods. He set the laws in motion regulating clean and unclean meats. It is time we began to obey them as Jesus and the apostles did! God forbids also the eating of animal fat, or blood (Lev. 3:17; 7:23-27). Butter, olive oil, and some vegetable oils and shortenings are acceptable, but animal fat should be cut off before eating meat. Cheaper hamburger is not good because it is mixed with much fat. Lard should never be used. These things will wreck any stomach in time.
What About Fish and Fowl?
The Bible itself defines which sea life is good food: "Whatsoever hath fins and scales in the waters, in the seas, and in the rivers, them shall ye eat" (Lev. 11:9). In verse 10 it is further clarified: "and all that have not fins AND scales in the seas... they shall be an abomination unto you." "But which fish have both fins and scales"? is the question asked by many readers. First, let us name the commonly known unclean fish—these are scaleless fish—which are not fit for food: catfish, eels, paddlefish, sculpins, sticklebacks, and sturgeons. These fish do not have true scales. Together with these creatures are other forms of sea life unfit for human consumption: abalone, clams, crabs, lobsters, oysters, scallops, shrimp, squid, whale. A more complete list of fish fit for human consumption is available at the end of this booklet. The most important clean fish—having both scales and fins are: albacore, anchovy, barracuda, bass, blackfish, bowfin, buffalo, carp, characin, cod, croaker, darter, flounder, gaby, grayling, haddock, halibut, herring, jack, mackerel, minnow, mooneye, mullet, needlefish, perch, pike, salmon, sardine, shad, silverside, smelt, snapper, sole, sucker, sunfish, surf fish, tarpon, trout, tuna, weakfish, whitefish. If any question arises, consult such books as Field Book of Fresh-Water Fishes by Ray Schrenkeisen, which may be found in public libraries. Some people, who are not competent to judge fish, have thought certain of these clean fish were without scales, but this is not true. One point to remember is that many fish have very small or minute scales near the head and the tail fin. In either case, such fish are clean and fit for food. The second part of the question concerns fowl. Which birds are fit for human consumption? The answer is found in Leviticus 11:13-19 and Deuteronomy 14:11-20. Each of these sections lists specific varieties of birds unfit for human consumption. No clean birds are listed. Only about two dozen unclean birds are listed out of thousands found the world over. These unclean birds illustrate the characteristics of all unclean birds. They fall into types each of which is unclean "after its kind." The question is, how do these unclean birds differ from those known to be clean or fit for human consumption? The characteristics of clean fowl are, of course, determined by the dove and the pigeon (Luke 2:24 and Lev. 1:14-17) which were anciently used for sacrifice. By comparing the differences between these clean birds and those listed as unclean, we can arrive at the following six characteristics of clean birds: 1) they must not be birds of prey; 2) they catch food thrown to them in the air, but they bring it to the ground, where they divide it with their bills, if possible, before eating it; whereas unclean birds devour it in the air, or press it with one foot to the ground and tear it with their bills; 3) they must have an elongated middle front toe and a hind toe; 4) they must spread their toes so that three front toes are on one side of a perch and the hind toe on the other side; 5) they must have craws or crops; 6) they must have a gizzard with a double lining which can easily be separated. (Consult articles in Jewish Encyclopaedia under "Poultry," and "Clean and Unclean Animals.") Clean birds have all these characteristics; unclean birds lack one or more of these characteristics. If a bird lacks any one of these characteristics, it is unclean. Besides the pigeon and dove, the following birds are clean: chicken, pheasant, quail, partridge, grouse, turkey, all song birds, ducks and geese. Unclean birds not listed specifically in the Bible are roadrunners, woodpeckers and the parrot family (which divide their toes so that two are on either side of perch), aquatic and wading birds and gulls which have no crops or craws, no double lining of gizzards, and often no hind toe or no elongated middle front toe. It may not be spiritual sin to eat biblically unclean foods. Yet, if one deliberately does it out of lust of appetite, that breaks the tenth command and becomes sin. But in all events wrong food injures the body, which is the temple of the Holy Spirit. It defiles the BODY if not the man, and if we continue to defile our bodies God will destroy us (I Cor. 3:17).
Suppose you had lived in the days of the apostles, and you were hungry at noontime as Peter was. The meal was not yet ready as you were praying upon the housetop in private. Suppose, suddenly, you saw in vision "...heaven opened, and something descending, like a great sheet, let down by four corners upon the earth. In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air" (Acts 10:11-12, Revised Standard Version). And suppose, further, a voice from heaven ordered you, "...Rise... kill and eat." What would you have replied? Would you have decided in your mind, that swine, rabbits, dogs, ants, snails and ravens had somehow become clean and fit for human food? Would you have replied, "Yes, Lord, I'll kill and eat, for I have always wanted to taste what is unclean"? Peter, Jesus' chief apostle, had just such a vision (Acts 10:9-16). Most professing Christians have assumed Peter decided, on hearing "Rise, Peter; kill and eat," to announce to the Church that "creatures of every kind, whatever walks or crawls or flies" (verse 12, New English Bible) are now clean and fit for food. If you have thought this was Peter's decision, you would be absolutely wrong!
What Peter Did Decide
Look at Acts, chapters 10 and 11, again. They do not record what most people think! The events surrounding Peter's vision on a housetop in Joppa do not, in fact, begin in Joppa at all. Nor was there any controversy in the Church over clean and unclean meats that needed settling. The account begins in Caesarea, the Roman capital of Palestine. It was the residence of the Roman procurator. Stationed in Caesarea (by the sea) was a considerable Roman garrison. Among its officers was Cornelius, commander of a hundred men. He was "a devout man who feared God with all his household, gave alms liberally to the people, and prayed constantly to God" (Acts 10:2, RSV). Yet he was an Italian—not a circumcised Jew. Further, one afternoon as he was fasting, he had a vision. In it he was commanded to "send men to Joppa, and bring one Simon who is called Peter" (verse 5). Cornelius obeyed. "...he called two of his servants and a devout soldier... and having related everything to them, he sent them to Joppa" (verses 7-8). It was a 30-mile trip from Caesarea to Joppa. As the three gentiles approached Joppa next day it was about noon. Peter was at that moment on the housetop of Simon the tanner, praying. Suddenly a vision came to him. Let down from heaven in a great sheet of sailcloth "...were all manner of four-footed beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air" (verse 12, Authorized or King James Version). Then came the voice "... Rise, Peter; kill and eat" (verse 13). What was Peter's response? Notice carefully, "...No, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean" (verse 14, RSV). This is exactly opposite to what most people think.
Nothing Common or Unclean
It was already about 10 years after the crucifixion when this vision occurred. Yet Peter during this entire period had not once tasted unclean meats. And here he is, Christ's chief apostle, responding, " 'No, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.' And the voice came to him again a second time, 'What God has cleansed, you must not call common.' This happened three times, and the thing was taken up at once to heaven" (verses 15-16, RSV). Why do you suppose the voice spoke three times to Peter? Let us read on: "Now while Peter was inwardly perplexed as to what the vision which he had seen might mean, behold, the men that were sent by Cornelius, having made inquiry for Simon's house, stood before the gate and called out to ask whether Simon who was called Peter was lodging there. And while Peter was pondering the vision, the Spirit said to him..." (verses 17-19). Notice, "Peter was inwardly perplexed as to what the vision which he had seen might mean." Jesus' chief apostle did not jump to hasty conclusions. "And while Peter was pondering the vision..." Peter still had not come to any conclusion. He must have considered the scriptures that animals were clean and unclean before the flood in the days of Noah (Genesis 7:8). He remembered that more than eight centuries later God explained to Moses the differences between the clean and unclean creatures (Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14). And that Isaiah prophesied about the time of judgment after the millennium: "The Lord will judge by fire, with fire he will test all living men, and many will be slain by the Lord; those who hallow and purify themselves in garden-rites, one after another in a magic ring, those who eat the flesh of pigs and rats and all vile vermin, shall meet their end, one and all, says the Lord, for I know their deeds and their thoughts" (Isaiah 65:16-18, NEB).
What Did It Mean?
That prophecy left no doubt in Peter's mind! The vision he experienced was not about eating unclean animals and insects and birds of prey. Then what did it mean? At this point the Spirit gave Peter the answer! "...Behold, three men are looking for you. Rise and go down, and accompany them without hesitation; for I have sent them" (verses 19-20, RSV). Peter quickly understood the meaning of the vision. He went to the gate to meet the three men and took them in as guests that night. Next day he set out, accompanied by several brethren, with his three guests for Caesarea. When Peter entered the home of Cornelius he found many persons gathered to hear him. The first words of Peter to the assembled group make clear Peter's understanding of the vision: "...You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit any one of another nation; but God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean. So when I was sent for, I came without objection..." (verses 28-29, RSV). There is God's answer to Peter! "God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean." The vision is not about eating unclean foods.
In the days of the apostles social intercourse with gentiles—Cornelius and the three men sent to Peter were gentiles—rendered a Jew ceremonially unclean, according to the tradition of the elders. Even entering a gentile house (for example, John 18:28) or handling articles belonging to gentiles did so. Bread, milk or olive oil coming from gentile farms and marketplaces could not be eaten by an observant Jew. Flesh offered in sacrifice to idols and that in any case contained blood was forbidden. To sit down and eat with a gentile was unthinkable. In this environment in Palestine in the first century the apostles lived and worked. No wonder Jesus needed to instruct Peter about social contact with uncircumcised gentiles whom God was calling to eternal life! While Peter was explaining the forgiveness of sins through the name of Jesus Christ to Cornelius and these assembled with him, "...the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. And the believers from among the circumcised who came with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles" (verses 44-45, RSV). Notice it—for upwards of 10 years after the crucifixion the apostles had gone only to Jews and the circumcised Samaritans. No uncircumcised gentile had been called until the moment God called Cornelius. And the Jewish Christians who accompanied Peter north from Joppa to Caesarea were astounded that it was even possible for a gentile to be converted and receive the Holy Spirit and the gift of eternal life. No wonder Peter had to have a vision, in which a voice from heaven spoke three times, to know what to do when the three gentiles knocked at the gate of the home where Peter was residing. This event was the most significant turning point in the history of the Church of God.
Opposition in the Church
The account continues in the 11th chapter of Acts. "Now the apostles and the brethren who were in Judea heard that the gentiles also had received the word of God. So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcision party criticized him, saying, 'Why did you go to uncircumcised men and eat with them?' " Can you imagine in the New Testament Church of God men criticizing the very chief apostle? Yet here it is! "But Peter began and explained to them in order: 'I was in the city of Joppa praying: and in a trance I saw a vision, something descending, like a great sheet, let down from heaven by four corners; and it came down to me. Looking at it closely I observed animals and beasts of prey and reptiles and birds of the air. And I heard a voice saying to me, "Rise, Peter: kill and eat." But I said, "No, Lord; for nothing common or unclean has ever entered my mouth." But the voice answered a second time from heaven, "What God has cleansed you must not call common." This happened three times, and all was drawn up again into heaven. At that very moment three men arrived at the house in which we were, sent to me from Caesarea. And the Spirit told me to go with them, making no distinction...'" Peter concluded, "'If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?' When they [the critics] heard this they were silenced. And they glorified God saying, 'Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance unto life' " (Acts 11:1-18, RSV). The meaning of the vision is clear. It was given to make plain that gentiles who were uncircumcised were not to be counted as socially impure. God is able to clean up their hearts and purify them as He is also able to clean up and purify the hearts of the circumcised Jews. The New Testament Church took years to make this a living principle. It was not finally settled once and for all until in assembled council, nearly 10 years later, Peter declared that gentiles do not have to be circumcised to receive the gift of eternal life (Acts 15). The question of eating unclean meats was not the issue in Peter's vision. If it had been, then God made a great mistake by not including "sea life" in the sheet sent to Peter in vision on that housetop. It is not lions and vultures and snakes that most professing Christians clamor for. It is sea creatures—oyster, shrimp, turtle, lobster, eel, octopus, whale—that they crave. And these are the very creatures not included in the vision! Read it for yourself—Acts 10:12 and 11:6. Common sense tells us that God did not intend for us to eat every creature. But we just aren't willing to let our Creator tell us which meats will give us lasting health and strength, and which ones are injurious to our bodies, and will eventually bring on more sickness and disease. It is time we let God tell us what is clean and what is unclean instead of using our faulty human reason!
Some people, however, still want to argue with God. One text they will bring up is found in I Timothy 4:1-5. Read it carefully. Notice that these "doctrines of devils" include "commanding to abstain from meat which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving...." By whom? "Of them which believe and know the truth." What is truth? Christ said, "Thy Word is truth" (John 17:17). Then the Bible itself reveals the truth concerning which meats are good for food. We should not refuse to eat any food which, according to truth, God created to be eaten with thanksgiving. But this does not mean that all meats are healthful and fit for the human body. Notice that the false doctrine is commanding to abstain from meats which are thankfully received by those who believe and know the truth—who know God's Word. But God's Word—the Holy Bible—tells us that there are some meats which are "unclean," and are not to be received with thanksgiving! Now consider what verses 4 and 5 tell us: "For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer." What does it mean to be SANCTIFIED by the Word of God and prayer? "Sanctify" is a word meaning to make holy, or set apart for a right use or purpose—to set apart as fit for human food. Now which meats has God sanctified for human food? The only passages in all the Bible showing which meats God sanctified are found in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14. Here you find that it is the "clean"—healthful—meats which are good for food. These are the only meats that can be received with thanksgiving and prayer! There is not a single scripture showing that God ever set apart as fit for food any unclean creatures—snails, oysters, clams, snakes, octopuses, eels, horses, rabbits, or swine! Yet people eat these creatures without realizing the harm they are doing to their bodies.
Paul Instructs Vegetarians
Paul's letter to the saints at Rome is often quoted as supposed proof that any kind of flesh food is good to eat. But is this what Paul really taught? Turn to the beginning of the 14th chapter of Romans. Notice what the apostle is writing: "Him that is weak in the faith receive ye"—don't dispute with him and sit in judgment on him because of his weak understanding of the faith, Paul continues. "For one believeth that he may eat all things, another who is weak, eateth herbs [vegetables only]" (Romans 14:1-2). Of whom is Paul writing? Of those who were vegetarians, as well as those who believed in eating both flesh foods and vegetables. Paul was confronted with the same problem that we encounter today in carrying the gospel to the world. You would be surprised at the number of people who do not eat meat or even any animal products—milk, butter, cheese, eggs. Some have meatless days or days on which they will eat fish only. These are all people who, because they are weak in the faith, abstain from those clean meats which God originally sanctified or set apart in His Word for man's physical nourishment. The question confronting Paul was not that Christians at Rome contended that all unclean animals had now been cleansed by God—the common false assumption of today—but the real issue, according to verse two, was over the vegetarian belief held by some that no meats whatsoever should be eaten. Paul was straightening out the brethren on this matter, telling them that none of those clean meats which had been created by God to be received with thanksgiving should be refused. He pointed out to them, however, that it would be wrong for the vegetarians to eat meat if they had doubts about it, thereby defiling their weak consciences. For he wrote, "...Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth. And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin" (Rom. 14:22-23). We must follow what God has revealed to us to be right according to the Word of God. This does not mean that our consciences always tell us what is right—not at all. We have to continually study to learn what is right and wrong. But God thinks more highly of a vegetarian who might sincerely and conscientiously deny himself the clean meats, because he does not know the full truth, than He does a person who would do the right thing according to the letter, but who really believes in his heart that he is doing wrong. So "to him"—the vegetarian—"that esteemeth anything to be common, to him"—the vegetarian—"it is common." That is, it seems so to him. But it is not common in fact, nor to us, for we know that all clean meats are good for food. That is why Paul wrote: "I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing common of itself" (Rom. 14:14). Notice that in this verse Paul used, according to the margin of the Authorized or King James Version, the Greek word for "common," not the Greek word for "unclean." Why?
"Common" Does Not Mean "Unclean"
Many have carelessly assumed that Paul is writing about unclean meats in this 14th chapter of Romans. He is not! He is writing about the difference between vegetarians who regard that clean meats are common, and those who know that clean meats are of themselves not common. In the Greek there are two different words used which are often carelessly translated "unclean" or "common." Notice that in Acts 10:14 both of these words are used. The Bible does not repeat itself foolishly. Therefore these two words mean entirely different things. The Greek word for "unclean" is akathartos. It means "unclean and impure by nature." The Greek word for "common" is koinos, which means "polluted through external misuse." (See any of the Lexicons.) Paul used the Greek word for "common" throughout Romans 14:14. He did not use the Greek word for "unclean." In other words, Paul knew that no clean foods which God has sanctified are by nature polluted, but vegetarians who were weak in the faith—weak in understanding God's Word—thought meats should not be eaten. To such a vegetarian—"to him," not to others—that meat seemed to be polluted. His conscience defiled the meat for him; he would become upset if he were to eat meat. But that does not make the meat polluted in fact or for everybody else. Notice Paul's conclusion: "For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure"—that is, all things that God sanctified and gave us to eat are clean—"but it is evil for that man who eateth with offense. It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor anything whereby thy brother stumbleth..." (verses 20 and 21). Paul is not recommending eating unclean meats! Quite the opposite. He is recommending not eating any meat at all in the presence of a vegetarian brother if he is offended.
When Is "Clean" Meat "Common"?
The only circumstance in which clean meats are ever common or polluted is when the clean animals have died of themselves or when the blood has not been properly drained. That is why the apostles and elders who gathered at Jerusalem forbade the use of meat from strangled animals and meat with the blood in it (Acts 15:20). This is New Testament teaching for today! Such animal flesh was called "common" because it could be given to strangers or aliens in Old Testament times if those people wanted to eat it. They were the common and polluted people—the gentiles—not the chosen and clean people, Israel (Deut. 14:21). In New Testament times, clean meat offered to idols was prohibited if it had been polluted by strangulation or if the blood were remaining in it. Otherwise the meat was permitted to be eaten if it did not offend anyone. Paul devoted the entire 8th and 10th chapters of I Corinthians to instructions on not raising the question of meats offered to idols. "But if any man say unto you, This is offered in sacrifice unto idols, eat not for his sake that shewed it, and for conscience sake" (I Cor. 10:28). In other words, if clean meats offered to idols were not polluted, you could eat of them unless it offended someone. Under those circumstances the meat became common, not to you, but to the other person who raised the question about idols. Notice: "Conscience, I say, not thine own, but of the other" (verse 29). That is why Paul said in Romans, "But to him that esteemeth any thing to be common [margin], to him it is common" (Rom. 14:14).
WHY SHOULD it be in this enlightened century—this age of knowledge and advancement—that our hospitals are filled with sick bodies and sick minds? With the availability of modern research by way of electronic and print media, it would seem that this century should produce the healthiest people in the recorded history of man. And, yes, some argue that man is generally healthier in some areas of the world than he has ever been. But let's examine the record.
Before the 20th century, and in this century's earlier decades, diseases like smallpox, tuberculosis and polio plagued man. Through developments of better hygienic conditions, primarily, and vaccines, secondarily, the onslaught of these maladies was curbed. But paradoxically, it seems that once one disease falls before medical science, new and treatment-resistant afflictions spring up in its wake. Major epidemics like cholera, smallpox and diphtheria have all but been wiped out through improved sanitation and mass inoculation. But instead of British, European and American deaths from cholera, today thousands see their friends or loved ones suddenly develop unusual bleedings and discharges, or slight lumps, and undergo debilitating chemical and radiation treatment and/or surgery. Or they read about it afflicting others. And it's frightening! Or instead of dying of acute tuberculosis, a close friend unexpectedly expires of a heart attack. Even athletes aren't immune from the no. 1 killer disease in the Western world.
Why Early Death?
There has to be a cause for every effect! To research the underlying factors in heart disease and cancer, many large foundations and universities have developed whole staffs and facilities dedicated to conquering and eradicating fatal diseases. What has emerged as a contributing factor of maintaining good health is nutrition. Virtually all authorities agree that a balanced diet rich in certain foods positively contributes toward better health. Agreement is widespread that your diet—what you eat every day—plays a substantial role in both your mental and physical well-being. But the agreement stops there. As Jean Mayer, a professor of nutrition at Harvard University, admits: "nutrition is not a 'finished' science. We [the nutritionists and dieticians] are constantly discovering new facts." One aspect indeed that has accompanied nutrition through the years is heated debate (and that's putting it mildly!). Since nutrition is such a new and unexplored science, too many make themselves "experts." Accordingly, you can hear one story about nutrition in the university classroom, a completely different view in the so-called health food store and yet another view from advertisements. Why this Babylon of confusion? Scientists and home-grown nutrition experts (no pun intended) alike generally ignore and/or reject the basic source of all knowledge. Consider this: if you had a finely tuned electronic device that you needed to know more about, how would you gather information? You would look for the brand name of the device. Accordingly, the directions accompanying it would become your guide. Yet in many respects, this is exactly the opposite of what individuals do with the question of nutrition. Most people cut themselves off from the only source of information given from the Creator on the subject of human nutrition. That source of knowledge is none other than your Bible!
While the Bible is not a complete textbook covering every subject in minute detail, God does provide the main principles that judge all information. In addition to providing essential information by which to judge human behavior, the Bible serves as a point of reference for our very thoughts and reasoning processes. "My thoughts are not your thoughts... saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts" (Isa. 55:8-9). What God calls for in evaluating human, physical knowledge is that we compare it to his standard! "To the law and to the testimony [revealed knowledge from God]: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them" (Isa. 8:20). But—"It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter" (Prov. 25:2). Therefore, when we pursue nutritional information, we need to make sure it follows and agrees with the information revealed by God first. Let's look at some examples.
Is It True, or-?
One prominent nutritionist claims that an important key to maintaining good health is the strict avoidance of fat and oil in our diet. Researching this against the Bible shows him to be partially correct. God says: "It shall be a perpetual statute for your generations throughout all your dwellings, that ye eat neither fat nor blood" (Lev. 3:17) This shows that we should trim the fat from meat before eating. If more people followed this guidance from God, there would be less cardiovascular disease arising from excessive cholesterol intake. As heart disease statistics prove, you ignore God's health laws at your own risk. But what does the Bible say about olive oil? It says a lot, particularly about the positive uses of unrefined olive oil as a source of food (I Kings 17:12, 14). In a symbolic history of Jerusalem, God speaks of feeding His appointed bride "fine flour, and honey, and oil" (Ezek. 16:13). So from this we can determine that oil (not the petroleum kind of course) in a natural state (not altered by chemicals or unnecessary heat, as are hydrogenated vegetable oils), is divinely certified fit, under normal circumstances, for human consumption. Another item regarded as on the taboo list of some is milk. Certain nutritionists allege that human breast milk is fine for young babies, but animal milk, particularly cow's milk, is something that adult humans should not consume, whether it be in the form of cheese, ice cream or whatever. But when Abraham—the father of the faithful and the man whom God praised as a righteous man and a personal friend (Jas. 2:23)—was visited by two angels and the Being who was later to become Jesus Christ, what did he serve to them? "And he took butter, and milk, and the calf [beef, which some say you should never eat] which he had dressed, and set it before them; and... they did eat" (Gen. 18:8). Yet some suppose animal products are not to be eaten. By inference then, we can see here, and also by many other biblical examples (Deut. 32:14), that certain animal milk is available for human consumption. In Proverbs 27:27 it is noted that goat's milk, a food not normally thought of as a source of nutrition in some circles, is perfectly fit for consumption! God also approves the consumption of certain meats (Lev. 11 and Deut. 14), which today have also been recognized for their value by medical science. Contrary to certain nutritionists, the Bible also approves the use in temperate amounts of honey and, at appropriate occasions, alcoholic beverages.
But in addition to certifying foods for human consumption, the Bible also spells out another important principle relative to nutrition. Gluttony is condemned (Deut. 21:20-21; Luke 21:34; I Pet. 4:3). And: "Every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things" (I Cor. 9:25). Moderation is a law (Phil. 4:5). For example, the Bible says salt is good (Matt. 5:13; Luke 14:34). But, research has shown that too much salt can contribute significantly to high blood pressure and other maladies. This principle can also be applied to other natural products such as honey. The Bible reveals "it is not good to eat much honey" (Prov. 25:27). Also, nowhere is it commanded that we must eat meat or drink milk. Some people have problems digesting certain foods, or they might rightly want to abstain from certain meats because of the use of chemical preservatives. The scientific jury is still out so far as preservatives are concerned, but some wisely elect to avoid treated meat because of possible cancer-related consequences. The same is true of milled wheat. Some nutritionists and registered dieticians still claim there is substantially little difference between so-called white bread and commercially available whole wheat. A vast amount of evidence remains to be analyzed concerning the advantages of whole wheat flour (where the entire kernel of wheat is milled instead of only the soft interior). But those who mill their own bread and flour products made with whole grains know the difference. Most nutritionists will at least admit that whole wheat bread provides more bulk than its white counterpart. As implied in the prophet Daniel's controversy as a young student concerning the "king's meat" (Dan. 1:8-16), refined and processed food should give way to a diet fortified with more vegetables or grains in their natural form. God expects a person to use wisdom in selecting nutritional foods. And he expects his Word to be the foundation of that wisdom (II Tim. 3:15-16). It should be noted that in the area of nutrition and diet some are simply unable to utilize what God has made fit for humans in general. Why? Because of the accumulative effect of physical law-breaking for thousands of years. Some may inherit their physical problems, while others may suffer from years of improper diet, or related environmental problems. For example, a confirmed alcoholic should never use the Bible as an excuse to resume drinking. This same is true of other aspects of nutrition. Heart patients must generally avoid salt, even though the Bible reveals that salt is good. These same people and others must often restrict their cholesterol intake. It must be pointed out that the primary goal of this brochure is to promote understanding, not offer professional medical advice. What we print is meant to point the way to overall health and happiness. Our readers should be cognizant of their own unique needs and/or problems when evaluating any dietary information. You are always to "glorify God in your body" (I Cor. 6:20). We should strive not to eat things that we find harmful to us individually (because of allergies, for example). Developing a rational diet is one part of maintaining a sound, zestful, happy life.
IMAGINE you have been able to buy a new automobile. When you picked it up from the dealer, it had everything you needed; power steering, air conditioning, a medium-sized engine, comfortable seats, radial tires. The first thing you do with your new car is drive it to a scrap yard, where you have it crushed into a metal block. Then you take the crushed remains of your new car and have it pulled apart and painted until it resembles its old shape. You have a new engine installed and some accessories put in. It costs a fortune, but you're just following an accepted style. Sound crazy? Of course! But this analogy is similar to the process that the refined foods you eat go through. Bread, for example, often is so commercially processed that it only vaguely resembles in some aspects the wheat bread great-grandmother used to make.
Why Additives and Processing?
The refined-foods trend grew out of food prepared for royalty. Food was milled and carefully sculptured to please those in high standing. As the economy became more diversified, use of refined foods spread to the middle and lower classes. Today, increased usage of food additives and processed foods have arisen as a result of basic and fundamental changes in our society. Over a period of decades, our Western society has become time and economically oriented. As one person characterized it, we have become an "instant pudding" society. Everything must happen now! This change is reflected in our foods. Where a century ago wives and small children would spend several hours a day baking, cooking and preparing foods, today's family may have as little as 15 minutes to prepare and eat an average meal. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) even sponsored a nationwide program that attempted to educate children in proper food habits. But the proper preparation and consumption of food takes time. And there's the key word in understanding the rising use of food additives! As the pace of our society accelerated, people began to demand ready-packaged foods. For example, businessmen saw that people often get out of bed at the last moment, occasionally missing breakfast because they didn't have time to eat it. The use of whole grains as a breakfast food was already wide-spread, so they simply took it one step further to cut down time in both preparation and consumption by the family. They refined the grains to make them more palatable and easier to prepare—then sweetened the product to make it more pleasant tasting. The result? Millions of people now will rise in the morning, hurry into the kitchen and gulp down a bowl of presweetened cereal. Unfortunately, many of the vital nutrients were ripped out of the whole grain when it was refined, so companies compensated by adding artificial vitamins and other additives. Again, we can see our crushed car analogy. This life-style continues in the evening, where the husband and wife both arrive home from work tired and hungry. Neither feels like expending more energy in preparing an elaborate meal, so one reaches into the freezer and takes out a couple of frozen entrees to stick in the oven. While that's heating up, a can of peas (with various chemicals added to preserve the color and flavor) is opened and heated on the stove. Both the husband and wife feel like relaxing with a cool drink, so one mixes up a couple of before-dinner drinks—using powdered mix available from a liquor store. After the hastily prepared meal is consumed, our family turns their interests and energies to other pursuits—perhaps one is attending classes or there's office work to do. At any rate, little planning or advance work for tomorrow's meal will be done. A well-stocked cupboard of processed spaghetti, frozen or canned vegetables and preserved meat products will provide ample sustenance.
Is This What We Want?
We can see then, the use of additives and food processing is the result of a change in society. Additives and refined foods provide a short cut to save time, and in many instances, money. Because of the advances in technology, most processed food is cheaper than its unprocessed or unaltered counterpart. Food with additives is easier to store and easier to handle in terms of mass production and distribution. Few people realize that vegetable farmers face a very critical period from the harvest of their crop and its distribution to market. In a matter of hours, thousands of dollars can be lost through wilting lettuce, shriveled tomatoes or overripe berries. So faced with the problem of providing food to millions of people, companies have resorted to artificial means of preserving and storing foods.
Understanding the Reason
To understand the use of additives, we must look for causes, not merely the effect. In any society, the smallest and most fundamental building block is the family. It is a well-recognized fact of political science that whatever families do or tolerate, so follows the collective society. It therefore follows that if families begin to develop new life-styles—ones that don't allow time for properly preparing food, cultivating a garden for fresh vegetables—then the society will follow suit. And there you have it! It's time to realize what the change of family in our Western culture is doing to us! Both internal and external pressures mount to alter our life-styles and relationships. For years, The Plain Truth has thundered the warning that the family institution is in danger of crumbling! Confusion of roles within the family, nonaligned goals, zero communication between partners or parents and children, create complex pressures and problems that leave precious little time for things like worrying about proper nutrition! Hence, enter additives and refined foods. The academic jury is still out as to the long-term effect of these substances. It seems that consistent human opinion on nutrition is nonexistent. Concerning this, God gave a very interesting prophecy in Isaiah 3:1-2, 4: "Behold, the Lord, the Lord of hosts, doth take away... the whole stay of bread, and the whole stay of water, the mighty man [those honored in the community]... the judge, and the prophet, and the prudent [people with proper knowledge and understanding] and the ancient [those experienced and wise]... And I will give children [those without understanding and experience] to be their princes and babes shall rule over them." In plain modern words, God will remove from us the basic understanding—including the wisdom—required to practice proper nutrition on a wide scale! And if you look at the Babylon of confusion that surrounds academic and commercial disciplines of nutrition today, you have to admit that something is sorely lacking! Concerning practicing good nutrition (a term most nutritionists steer clear of because they recognize no final authority), let's look to a source we can regard as authoritative. That source is none other than the Bible! "Thy word is TRUTH reads John 17:17, so let's see what the Bible says. About 2,500 years ago, an unusually bright young man and his three companions were given the opportunity to attend a very prestigious school. This school was sponsored by the then most powerful man on the face of the earth. The young man Daniel and his three friends enjoyed a tremendous opportunity to partake of what was then considered to be the most advanced culture and literature of its day. Given the political climate of the time, one might think that it would be wise to "play ball" in whatever fashion the king desired—especially since Daniel was there as a Jewish captive, the entire nation of Judah then being slowly absorbed into the state of Babylon. But Daniel had strong principles. He knew the importance of proper diet and health. So he bucked the system. "Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank..." (Daniel 1:8). Pretty courageous for a teenager in the court of the then world-ruling king! Daniel spoke with the man who was in charge of him (Daniel 1:8-10) and talked him into changing his diet as an experiment. "Please test your servants for ten days," Daniel said to the man in charge of him and his friends. "Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then compare our appearance with that of the young men [who attended the royal school with Daniel and his friends] who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see" (Daniel 1:12-13, New International Version). The result? "At the end of the ten days they [Daniel and his friends] looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food"! (Daniel 1:15, NIV.) From the context, we can surmise that the king's food Daniel was referring to probably was of a refined nature—royalty was privy to gourmet-type foods, while servants and peasants had to eat coarse, whole-grain foods. (Today, this same stigma of food preference exists. Many older people who went through the great economic depression of the 1930s will not eat whole wheat bread because to them it, smacks of having to eat home-baked bread. Many were unable to afford anything else during this period.) The wisdom of Daniel's dietary practice was reconfirmed by the United States Department of Agriculture and a report by a U.S. Senate committee. They recommended that people eat less red meat and consume more vegetables and whole grain foods! The other possible inference gained from Daniel's refusal to eat the king's food is that it may have been unfit to eat by God's standards. According to God, certain meats are perfectly fine in moderation for human consumption. God wants you to enjoy food (Psalms 103:5; 104:14-15; Genesis 1:29-30), so He gave certain guidelines. In Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14 you will find God's instructions on which meats to eat and not to eat.
Building a Happy Family
Tying everything together now, we see that certain elements of our personal lives must be changed before we can develop sound nutritional habits. Chiefly, time must be made available—so food can be both prepared and enjoyed. You should be able to know why you are eating certain things and not be the pawn of advertising. Don't allow others to make the decision for you by way of the electronic media—get the facts, understand them and make rational decisions. Long before it was "chic" to write or be knowledgeable about nutrition, the late editor in chief of the Plain Truth magazine Herbert W. Armstrong was exhorting people to practice many of the things asserted by nutritionists today. In one publication, he wrote almost a decade ago: "The Almighty God made the human body so that—even though composed of material substance from the ground (Genesis 2:7, 3:19)—its normal condition is one of robust, invigorating, radiant GOOD HEALTH! "Sickness and disease are ABNORMAL—they are the PENALTY OF VIOLATION OF NATURAL LAWS.' He continued, giving the following advice: "There is another area in which our English-speaking peoples ruin their own health. They take a good steak, or a mixed green salad of uncooked leafy green vegetables, and then RUIN them with sauces, gravies, or dressings that will wreck any stomach—at least in time! People think they must mix foods into conglomerations of meat with starch, sugars, condiments, artificial flavors, preservatives, sea-'foods,' and unhealthful mixtures—IN CONFUSION! The 'best' chefs are those who can concoct the most injurious sauces and conglomerations." God wants you to enjoy life (III John 2). But you can't enjoy anything unless you're healthy. There's nothing so precious as good health.
PSYCHOSOMATIC illness—the term conjures up visions of fleeting aches and pains the doctor can't diagnose, people who call in sick on work days and the hypochondriac whose tombstone was inscribed: "See, I told you I was sick." But contrary to this popular image, psychosomatic illness is not "all in your head." In fact, you can die from a psychosomatic illness as well as from any other kind. And in reality, the "other kind" of illness may be extremely rare. Psychosomatic (or as some term it, "emotionally induced") illness probably accounts for over 50% of all cases doctors see—and some estimate that as much as 90% of all illness is precipitated by unhealthy emotions. Far from being a figment of imagination, emotionally induced illness is something we all suffer from at one time or another. Thousands of years ago, King Solomon wrote that "a broken spirit dries up the bones" (Prov. 17:22). The Bible recognizes the link between what goes on in our heads and the condition of our bodies. But how can what we think make us sick or healthy? Doesn't a person get sick because he comes into contact with a germ when he is injured, or fatigued, or his resistance is low? Yes, in part. But what makes a person's resistance low? What weakens his body to such an extent that germs can mount a successful attack? Research scientists have discovered that stress (defined as wear and tear on the body) can be produced by feelings and emotions. Experiments have shown that every emotion automatically produces certain physical changes in our bodies. One dramatic example of this was a man who had a surgical opening made in his stomach following an accident. This made it possible for doctors to observe the changes that occurred under different circumstances. When he was upset, "His stomach became red and engorged, and soon the folds were thick and turgid. Acid production accelerated sharply and vigorous contractions began" (Effective Psychology for Managers, Mortimer Feinberg, p. 92). If the provocation is only minor—if it does not involve a fight, then the body undergoes this stress for no good reason. You don't confront your boss for criticizing your work, so you suffer quietly while your stomach ulcerates. After being battered by enough negative emotions, the body breaks down at its weakest point and illness results. The list of diseases directly brought on by emotions is seemingly endless. Everything from colds to cancer has been attributed to mentally induced stress. And in between in seriousness are such maladies as arthritis, asthma, fatigue, hay fever, headaches, high cholesterol, heart attacks and circulatory disorders, hypertension, hives, insomnia and ulcers. Your mind can make you ill. But the reverse is also true. As Solomon wrote: "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine," and "A tranquil mind gives life to the flesh." Just as negative emotions can wear the body down, positive feelings can build it up. And we now know that people have a lot more control over the way their bodies function than was previously thought possible. The link between mind and body has been intensively explored in recent years. One resulting field of study is called biofeedback, which has given us new insights into how the human body functions.
Before biofeedback, it was believed that the autonomic nervous system (controlling breathing, heartbeat and other automatic functions) couldn't be consciously controlled. But research has proven this wrong. Patients have taught themselves to lower their blood pressure, increase poor circulation to their extremities, prevent migraine headaches and overcome insomnia through experimental training. In other words, they have improved various conditions formerly thought beyond their control. But such procedures are nothing really new—they have been around for years. Before modern pharmacology had developed to its present level, doctors relied heavily on placebos, or harmless sugar pills. These were dispensed to treat various ailments for which they had no specifically effective medicine. Repeatedly, patients got satisfactory relief of what was ailing them over 50% of the time. The placebo's beneficial effect was not due to some mystical faith in the doctor or even willpower. Rather the patients were exercising a certain amount of voluntary mental control over their health. Placebos seemed to reinforce a positive attitude in the patient that he will recover quickly. This emotion or feeling of well-being in turn stimulated the body to produce hormones conducive to repairing disease-caused damage. Establishing a right mental attitude can prevent and even alleviate certain physical maladies caused or aggravated by negative thinking. It cannot, however, rectify all afflictions and diseases. When the forgiveness of physical sins is needed, only God can heal. For a complete explanation of this vital subject, write for a copy of our free booklet The Plain Truth About Healing. Speaking of right thinking, the book of Proverbs shows that what doctors and scientists refer to as a "positive mental attitude" can go a long way toward making one's life long and pleasant (see facing page). This isn't just one ancient philosopher's opinion, either. Dr. Hans Selye, director of the Institute of Experimental Medicine and Surgery at the University of Montreal, and author of a number of books on stress, said the following: "Many of the eminent among the hard workers in almost any field have lived a long life... well into their seventies, eighties or even late nineties. They lived... a life of constant leisure by always doing what they like to do" (Stress Without Distress, p. 96).
Notice how Dr. Selye's words parallel the advice in the book of Ecclesiastes: "Go, eat your bread with enjoyment, and drink your wine with a merry heart... Let your garments be always white; let not oil be lacking on your head. Enjoy life with the wife whom you love, all the days of your vain life... because that is your portion in life and in your toil at which you toil under the sun. Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might..." (Eccl. 9:7-10, RSV). But very few of us find ourselves doing something we really enjoy "with our might." Dr. Selye agrees and adds that "Few people belong to this group of the creative elite; admittedly, their success in meeting the challenge of stress cannot serve as a basis for a general code of behavior. But you can live long and happily by working hard along more modest lines if you have found the proper job and are reasonably successful at it" (ibid. pp. 96-97).
Health and Hope
Scriptures such as Romans 8:28-31 ("We know that all things work together for good to them that love God.... If God be for us, who can be against us?") show it is unnecessary to become depressed or ill from the effects of hopelessness. The Bible is filled with information on how to maintain a hopeful, happy, tranquil mind. But one of the best summaries is found in Philippians 4:4-8 (RSV): "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.... Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." Be sure to write for a free copy of the reprint article "You Can Conquer Your Fears."
YOU'VE HEARD it before. Exercise regularly, enjoy a proper diet, jog a mile or two to keep weight off and build up your cardiovascular system—these immediately come to mind when one thinks of becoming healthy. But there is still a missing element in maintaining vigorous health. Do you know what it is? Millions constantly abuse it. Ask yourself: Do I stay up late watching TV? Do I feel tired, without pep, unable to concentrate? If so, you probably infringed on this missing element yourself within the last 48 hours. This vital missing dimension is proper rest and sleep!
Finding Answers in Sleep
When you buy a sophisticated tool or appliance, you receive an instruction manual that tells you how to maintain and utilize that tool properly. You often risk danger or damage to the tool by not reading the manual. You may not realize it, but an instruction manual was written for all humanity by the Creator God. This manual reveals basic, missing knowledge that, when applied, leads to an energy-filled life filled with happiness, prosperity and peace of mind. It also happens to be the world's best-seller, although many, perhaps including you, have never read it through. This manual is none other than the Bible! In it the Great Being who made you provided the means for you to understand yourself and the world around you. He revealed in it long ago what many doctors and academicians are confirming now! Every night, millions toss and turn, futilely chasing elusive slumber. Perhaps you are a little bleary-eyed now. And, as you well know, if you didn't have problems sleeping last night, you've had them before in one form or another, and will probably suffer mild insomnia in the future. Why? Let's understand cause and effect in this matter of restful sleep and waking up vibrant. "The sleep of a labouring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much: but the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep" (Ecclesiastes 5:12). Here the Bible reveals important psychological and physical precepts you need to know. Few realize how fully interdependent their bodies and minds are.
Why do laboring men sleep better than rich (and often worried) executives? Wouldn't it seem logical for the reverse to be true if money alone assures success? The truth is, men (and women) who perform strenuous, prolonged physical labor build their minds and bodies into one. They generally have no pretensions about who or what they are and see positive, physical achievement in what they accomplish—whether it is clearing brush or moving steel drums. And generally speaking, when they retire for the day, they enjoy sound sleep. On the other hand, an executive or office worker is often harried, under mental pressure to get things done. He or she sits at a desk, pushing papers all day long—often under stressful conditions. With no physical outlets for stored energy, mind and body drift apart. Excess weight collects from hasty, starchy meals, circulation lessens and muscle tone weakens. Eventually, a doctor may warn these people to slow down and "take it easy." But they can't! They've got large house payments, car payments, a certain life-style—they must produce. Workers do, too. But the executive carries his problems home. The phone constantly rings at night. He thinks about his investments. His marriage may be in trouble. Maybe the company union is raising an issue—little wonder he has trouble sleeping! He's expended little physical energy—but now mental turmoil from today's problems races through his mind. Unable to sleep, our friend switches on the television—cutting himself off from proper rest. "I'll make it up on the weekend," he thinks. He's trapped in a vicious circle. Dr. Ernest L. Hartmann explains that mental tiredness "has the paradoxical effect of making it hard to fall asleep." Has this ever happened to you? It is something to be concerned about. Even if we don't suffer from chronic insomnia, poor sleep habits can lead to many problems. "Irregular hours of sleep... have physical and perhaps mental consequences whose effect we simply do not know," say Gay Gaer Luce and Julius Segal of the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health. "Nobody is positive that we escape without permanent neural damage from simple loss of sleep." Research confirms that prolonged lack of sleep produces measurable effects on performance. This means if you are not getting proper rest and sleep, your judgment is impaired, mental functions decline, your ethical behavior changes and finally, after extreme loss of sleep, you start exhibiting psychotic symptoms. You may not be aware of this, but after 48 hours without sleep, your body begins manufacturing a stress chemical that causes hallucinations similar to the effects of LSD!
The Bible reveals other basic principles of getting normal sleep. Contrary to what some think, it does not condemn people for being rich or holding executive positions (III John 2). However, the message is, that if you have a job that requires more mental than physical activity you should exercise regularly to equalize the mental energy spent. If you don't, you will end up in a condition that prohibits sound slumber, and hence, makes you less effective—to your detriment. "But," some have said, "I do exercise and I still can't sleep!" There is a deeper reason! We should note that occasional mild insomnia is nothing to worry about. This can often be helped by drinking a glass of milk an hour before bed. Milk contains tryptophan, an amino acid that helps induce sleep. For some, however, sleep is affected because of physical problems like narcolepsy (falling asleep uncontrollably) or the hypersomnia, sleep apnea syndrome (unable to sleep at night, but uncontrollably falling asleep during the day). For the vast majority of us, sleep is chased away by anxiety arising from undisciplined personal problems. Both real and imagined, big and little, these problems seem to grow the biggest just when we close our eyes in a snug bed. The real problem starts when we begin worrying that we can't sleep from worrying about our problems. This vicious circle is completely unnecessary! Sleep is a mirror of your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual condition. How you sleep gives you clues on what's happening in your life. You need to analyze your sleep habits, as scientists have found disheartening evidence about the psychological effects of sleep loss. The Bible reveals the way to peaceful rest and peace of mind: "It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he [God] giveth his beloved sleep" (Psalms 127:2). This is no sentimental, maudlin statement! This is a promise from the One who created sleep. It is the person who is beloved of God who sleeps well. So we need to find out how to become "beloved" in order to claim this promise. Jesus Himself revealed how: "If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him" (John 14:23). And what words did Jesus say? "If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments" (Matthew 19:17). Yes, there is an invisible spiritual law that governs our lives. Mold your life along this law and your life will be filled with peace of mind and reasonable physical prosperity. Included will be the ability to enjoy sound sleep. Break this law and it breaks you! This is the fundamental, underlying cause that prevents millions each night from enjoying slumber. Further proof is in Proverbs 3:21, 24: "Let not them [the basic principles of this spiritual law] depart from thine eyes... [so] when thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid: yea, thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet"! There you have it! By keeping this spiritual law, your life smoothes out—you become tuned in to things that transcend the everyday problems we all face. Once you have focused on the purpose of life, ordinary hassles pale into nothing! The way to restful sleep has existed for thousands of years—God wants you to know this, but many don't heed: "God... told them... where true rest lay, rest for worn souls [Hebrew: ayeph—very tired people], refreshing rest, and yet they would not listen" (Isaiah 28:12, Moffatt). You must make the decision! You can either continue to be frustrated in attempting to solve your problems by defying this unbreakable law, or choose peace and prosperity. If you'd like to know more about this law and way of life and how to apply it, we have available a free booklet. It's called The Ten Commandments. You can sleep better after you read it and do what it says. Sleeping involves one third of your life. By observing God's statutes, practicing good sleep habits and exercising properly, you can enjoy sleep—a very special gift from God.