27. Healthy Living
It may seem strange that the health of the body should have anything to do with Christian practice; but it is not so strange when we consider the close relationship of the mind and the body. The brain is in fact a physical organ, and whatever affects the health of the body, must have some affect on the mind. God communicates with us through the Spirit by impressing His truths upon the mind. If the mind is dull through sickness or unhealthful living, then God’s avenue of communication is hampered, and our spiritual growth may be dwarfed.
01. Does the Bible suggest there is any connection between a healthy body and a healthy spirit?
3 John 2
Dear friend, I hope all is well with you and that you are as healthy in body as you are strong in spirit.
It is God’s desire that we enjoy good health. Some cannot because of inherited weaknesses, and others because of disobedience to the laws of their being; but if all follow Bible health principles, each individual can enjoy the best possible health for him/her personally.
02. What does Paul say regarding our responsibility towards our own bodies?
1 Corinthians 6:19-20; 1 Corinthians 3:16
6:19 Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself,
6:20 for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.
3:16 Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you?
Some feel they have a right to do as they please with their own lives. But the fact is we do not belong to ourselves, but to God, first of all because of creation, secondly because of redemption. When we consider our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit, this places us under obligation to care for our bodies.
There are eight recognised rules to follow to enjoy good health. They are as follows:
1. Fresh Air:
It is good to breathe deeply in the open air.
We do not need more than several minutes a day, but it is vital.
This is needed on the inside – about six glasses a day between meals. And on the outside – bathing or showering regularly.
Modern man has neglected this very important feature of healthful living. This neglect has resulted in much disease. Brisk walking daily for at least 20 minutes is the best exercise.
It is equally important to get adequate rest. The batteries must be recharged.
True temperance is moderation in that which is good, and total abstinence in that which is harmful. A good motto is: "all good things in moderation except moderation".
Correct eating is vital. We are what we eat.
8. Trust in God:
Most sicknesses originate in a disturbed mind. The relationship between a troubled mind and a diseased body is very real. When we trust God we experience peace
03. Did God recommend a diet for Adam and Eve?
Genesis 1:29; Genesis 3:18
1:29 Then God said, “Look! I have given you every seed-bearing plant throughout the earth and all the fruit trees for your food.
3:18 It will grow thorns and thistles for you, though you will eat of its grains.
04. How did the eating of flesh enter into man's diet?
2 All the animals of the earth, all the birds of the sky, all the small animals that scurry along the ground, and all the fish in the sea will look on you with fear and terror. I have placed them in your power.
3 I have given them to you for food, just as I have given you grain and vegetables.
4 But you must never eat any meat that still has the lifeblood in it.
After the flood, vegetation and food was scarce, so God permitted man to eat flesh, with one stipulation – the blood must first be drained. To suggest anything that lives is good for food, is not what is intended here, for Noah knew the difference between clean and unclean animals. For instance, to eat some fish will cause death. There was a limit on what could be eaten.
05. Was Noah aware that there was 'clean' flesh that could be eaten, and 'unclean' flesh that was not to be eaten?
2 You shall take with you seven each of every clean animal, a male and his female; two each of animals that are unclean, a male and his female; (NKJV)
Noah was well aware of the clean and unclean animals. After man started eating meat, it is interesting to see the decreased life span of man. The first ten patriarchs lived approximately 900 years each, but after the flood the age span gradually fell, until Abraham, the tenth after the flood, lived 175 years.
06. Did God specify more clearly how to know what animals were 'clean' and 'unclean' for human consumption?
3 “You must not eat any detestable animals that are ceremonially unclean.
4 These are the animals you may eat: the ox, the sheep, the goat,
5 the deer, the gazelle, the roe deer, the wild goat, the addax, the antelope, and the mountain sheep.
6 “You may eat any animal that has completely split hooves and chews the cud,
7 but if the animal doesn’t have both, it may not be eaten. So you may not eat the camel, the hare, or the hyrax. They chew the cud but do not have split hooves, so they are ceremonially unclean for you.
8 And you may not eat the pig. It has split hooves but does not chew the cud, so it is ceremonially unclean for you. You may not eat the meat of these animals or even touch their carcasses.
A clean animal must both chew the cud and have a split hoof. Cows, sheep, deer, goats, etc, are classed as clean because they chew the cud and have a split hoof. The rabbit, pig etc, are classed as unclean. In Isaiah 66:17 God says that eating of swine’s flesh is an abomination.
It is not a sin to eat meat, but because God made man a vegetarian, this must be the diet God intended man to follow; therefore it must be the most healthful. Man’s teeth and digestive system parallel herbivorous animals. Some feel that one would suffer bad health if meat was eliminated from the diet, but the opposite is more likely to be true. Meat contains many waste substances which the body must deal with in the digestive process. Also in our world today meat is often diseased, which makes eating it a health risk. There are a number of animal diseases which can be transmitted to man. According to some nutritionists, a lacto (milk and milk products) ovo (eggs) vegetarian diet is nutritionally sound. Other nutritionists have found a vegetarian diet without milk and eggs is better because milk and eggs still come from animals. The small book, The A.B.C’s of Feeding Your Family, by Dr Clifford R. Anderson, enables one to choose a healthful vegetarian diet. Perhaps the longest living race, and the most healthful people in the world, are the Hunzas, who live in the mountains of Pakistani controlled Kashmir. They live up to 140 to 160 years of age, free of sickness and disease. They are vegetarians.
07. Did God specify what sea animals were 'clean' and 'unclean' for human consumption?
9 “Of all the marine animals, you may eat whatever has both fins and scales.
10 You may not, however, eat marine animals that do not have both fins and scales. They are ceremonially unclean for you.
The only foods to be eaten from the sea are fish with both fins and scales. This eliminates prawns, crab, lobster etc.
08. Did God specify what birds were 'clean' and 'unclean' for human consumption?
11 “You may eat any bird that is ceremonially clean.
12 These are the birds you may not eat: the griffon vulture, the bearded vulture, the black vulture,
13 the kite, the falcon, buzzards of all kinds,
14 ravens of all kinds,
15 the eagle owl, the short-eared owl, the seagull, hawks of all kinds,
16 the little owl, the great owl, the barn owl,
17 the desert owl, the Egyptian vulture, the cormorant,
18 the stork, herons of all kinds, the hoopoe, and the bat.
19 “All winged insects that walk along the ground are ceremonially unclean for you and may not be eaten.
20 But you may eat any winged bird or insect that is ceremonially clean.
The Bible does not give us identifying features of birds that may categorise them as clean or unclean. The birds allowed for food seem to be the exceptions in this rather long list, which include fowl, turkey, duck, goose and dove.
09. Does the Bible tell us that it is only the foods that we eat that can have an impact on our health?
1 Corinthians 10:31
So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
Anything that passes through the mouth into the body will have an impact for good or bad on that persons health. This includes not only food but drink as well. It also includes other non-food elements such as tobacco, alcohol or other orally ingested poisons. We cannot say we are glorifying God when we are willingly partaking of body destroying substances.
10. Does the Bible say anything about the consumption of alcoholic beverages?
Proverbs 20:1; Proverbs 23:29-32
20:1 Wine produces mockers; alcohol leads to brawls. Those led astray by drink cannot be wise.
23:29 Who has anguish? Who has sorrow? Who is always fighting? Who is always complaining? Who has unnecessary bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes?
23:30 It is the one who spends long hours in the taverns, trying out new drinks.
23:31 Don’t gaze at the wine, seeing how red it is, how it sparkles in the cup, how smoothly it goes down.
23:32 For in the end it bites like a poisonous snake; it stings like a viper.
23:33 You will see hallucinations, and you will say crazy things.
23:34 You will stagger like a sailor tossed at sea, clinging to a swaying mast.
23:35 And you will say, “They hit me, but I didn’t feel it. I didn’t even know it when they beat me up. When will I wake up so I can look for another drink?”
When you know that any strong drink is alcoholic – the Bible says we would be wise to keep away from it. The results are disastrous - physically, socially and spiritually. Not to mention the widespread disastrous affects on home and family.
The key findings of a recent Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) report in Australia states the following:
- In 2011 there were 29,684 police-reported incidents of alcohol-related domestic violence in Australia, and that’s just in the four states and territories where this data is available.
- Children are being verbally abused, left in unsupervised or unsafe situations, physically hurt or exposed to domestic violence because of others’ drinking. Many were also witnessing verbal or physical conflict, drinking or inappropriate behaviour.
- Over a million children (22 per cent of all Australian children) are estimated to be affected in some way by the drinking of others (2008). 142,582 children were substantially affected (2008), and more than 10,000 Australian children are in the child protection system because of a carers drinking (2006-07).
11. Does the Bible say anything about those who try to 'peer pressure' others into consuming alcoholic beverages (and other intoxicating substances)?
15 “What sorrow awaits you who make your neighbors drunk! You force your cup on them so you can gloat over their shameful nakedness.
16 But soon it will be your turn to be disgraced. Come, drink and be exposed! Drink from the cup of the LORD’s judgement, and all your glory will be turned to shame.
12. But wait a minute .. doesn't the Bible also contain advice for 'taking a little wine'?
1 Timothy 5:23
Don’t drink only water. You ought to drink a little wine for the sake of your stomach because you are sick so often.
Many use this verse as an excuse to drink alcoholic beverages. Notice first of all that it is suggested for medicinal purposes, and not for pleasure. Those who use this text as an excuse, usually do not need such medicine. The second point is that it is a gross assumption to suggest that this wine is alcoholic. Fermented and unfermented grape juice are interchangeably called 'wine' in the Bible. Only the context helps us differentiate between the two. It seems most unlikely God would condemn alcohol so strongly in the Old Testament, and condone it in the New Testament. The fact is; the water in many of these middle eastern countries at the time was not good for drinking. The same situation exists today. Therefore it would have been safer for Timothy to drink nutritious unfermented grape juice (in line with Biblical principles) than water, especially considering the fact that he was ill.
13. Does the Bible say anything else regarding how we should be caring for our bodies?
1 Corinthians 3:17
God will destroy anyone who destroys this temple. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.
The Bible is not in favour of any activity that has a defiling or destructive effect on the body. These activities may include:
1. Tea and Coffee
Although tea and coffee are not mentioned in the Bible, the principle still applies. Tea and coffee contain no nourishment, but a drug is present – caffeine. This is a stimulant, and is detrimental to the nervous system. We cannot glorify God in what we drink while we partake knowingly of this drug. The same principle applies for all drugs unless they are used medicinally.
The Bible does not refer to smoking, simply because it was not practised then. Again the principle applies. One who smokes tobacco, defiles the body, because cigarettes contain approximately 30 poisons and the drug nicotine, which stimulates then paralyses the nervous system. Like most drugs, it is addictive. There is no justification for this practise. There is no food value in tobacco. Smoking is a violation of the commandment "thou shalt not kill".
3. Narcotics and other 'hard' drugs
It hardly needs to be said that these addictive and soul destroying drugs are completely incompatible with a spiritual, Christian lifestyle. It is the duty of every Christian who has an association with people who find themselves under the bondage of these destructive substances to do everything they can to help these people find a path to freedom in Jesus Christ.
14. Is there an example in the Bible regarding healthful eating?
8 But Daniel was determined not to defile himself by eating the food and wine given to them by the king. He asked the chief of staff for permission not to eat these unacceptable foods.
9 Now God had given the chief of staff both respect and affection for Daniel.
10 But he responded, “I am afraid of my lord the king, who has ordered that you eat this food and wine. If you become pale and thin compared to the other youths your age, I am afraid the king will have me beheaded.”
11 Daniel spoke with the attendant who had been appointed by the chief of staff to look after Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.
12 “Please test us for ten days on a diet of vegetables and water,” Daniel said.
13 “At the end of the ten days, see how we look compared to the other young men who are eating the king’s food. Then make your decision in light of what you see.”
14 The attendant agreed to Daniel’s suggestion and tested them for ten days.
15 At the end of the ten days, Daniel and his three friends looked healthier and better nourished than the young men who had been eating the food assigned by the king.
16 So after that, the attendant fed them only vegetables instead of the food and wine provided for the others.
15. What was the result of Daniel and his three friends remaining faithful to God's healthy eating plan?
God gave these four young men an unusual aptitude for understanding every aspect of literature and wisdom. And God gave Daniel the special ability to interpret the meanings of visions and dreams.
16. What is the ultimate reason that God wants up to be healthy in our spirit and our body?
1 Corinthians 6:20
for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.
God’s message is clear. If we knowingly and willingly defile our bodies we bring condemnation on ourselves. We have the solemn responsibility of eating, drinking, acting and worshipping in a way that will bring glory to the name of God. The Christian therefore, has an obligation to care for his body. Dear friend, will you determine this day that whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, you will do all to the glory of God?