Have you ever been told that diet has nothing to do with your spirituality, which, by the way, many pastors are teaching their congregations? It reminds me of the doctors who tell their patients that poor food choices have nothing to do with disease or whether you get sick or not. Doctors these days may admit diet can contribute to diabetes and heart disease, but when it comes to autoimmune diseases, cancer, and other incurable diseases, they rarely will admit that what you put into your body has something to do with disease.
I believe it is time to tackle this important subject head-on, because if what some pastors are saying is true, then the church will be eating junk food and consuming other health-destroying items until the Second Coming of Christ, disregarding the fact that our bodies are to be the temple of the Holy Spirit.
There are many Christians who draw the line when it comes to tobacco and drugs, while others refuse pork as prohibited by the Bible. So let me first ask the question: “Can smoking and drinking alcohol affect your spirituality?”
I once had a man come in to see me who had lung cancer. He smelled like tobacco and had a pack of Marlboro cigarettes in his t-shirt pocket. I looked again at his chart and asked him the question: “Are you still smoking?” He answered as quick as a flash: “Yes” and stuck his t-shirt out at me as if bragging about the “nails in his coffin.” I was a bit surprised by his behavior and said: “If you are still smoking then I refuse to see you.” He was shocked and responded indignantly: “And you call yourself a Christian! You Christians aren’t free. You can’t drink or smoke can you? You have no liberty.”
I shocked the cancer patient by asking him for one of his cigarettes and his lighter. I put the cigarette in my mouth and flicked the flame and brought in about 1 inch from the noxious weed. I said to the surprised terminally ill man: “Let me explain something about the words liberty and freedom. I can light this cigarette and smoke it right now if I want to, but you quit right now.” I asked him pointedly: “Who has liberty and freedom?”
I could see the poor man was deeply embarrassed. “I never thought of it like that before,” he said. I then read him a few verses in the Book of James: “Every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” James 1:I4, 15. I then said: “The Bible calls the moral law of God the Law of Liberty (James 2:12) by which you will be judged. The Bible teaches we may have true liberty from, not in, sin (see Matthew 1:21).
I then asked him to read me the warning on the side of the package of cigarettes: “Warning, cigarette smoking causes lung cancer.” I pressed him further and asked him: “Have you heard of the 10 Commandments? “Of course,” he answered. “Can you tell me what the sixth commandment says?” After failing to answer, I told him that it says: “Thou shalt not kill.” He was speechless. He finally whispered: “I am not free, am I? I am killing myself.”
I once read a very profound statement in a devotional book called My Life Today: “Others will seek their happiness in the indulgence of an unnatural appetite, and consider the indulgence of taste more desirable than health and life. Many suffer themselves to be enchained by sensual passions, and will sacrifice physical strength, intellect, and moral powers to the gratification of lust. They will bring themselves to untimely graves, and in the judgment will be charged with self-murder.” ML 162.
What a sobering thought! Will a man be guiltless who continues to kill himself with tobacco? What about alcohol? The Bible says: “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.” Prov. 20:1. A few chapters later the wisest man who ever lived wrote: “Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright (i.e. fermented). At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder. Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things.” Prov. 23:31-33. How many times when I was in the world did I try to pick up women in bars while uttering “perverse things”.
The Bible clearly says a drunk will not inherit the kingdom of heaven: “Now the works of the flesh are manifest which are these: … murders, drunkenness, revelings, and such like: of which I tell you … they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” Gal. 5:21.
How does God speak to us anyway? “The brain nerves which communicate with the entire system are the only medium through which Heaven can communicate to man, and affect his inmost life. Whatever disturbs the circulation of the electric currents in the nervous system, lessens the strength of the vital powers, and the result is a deadening of the sensibilities of the mind.” Healthful Living, p. 54.
When you consider smoking chokes off oxygen from the body and contains 3,000 chemicals, and alcohol kills brain cells and is toxic to the liver, may I ask: “Should Christians be using to these health-destroying vices who claim to have put on the mind of Christ?” These toxic substances disturb the electrical currents to the brain, deaden the mind, and increase disease. Can they be classified as lusts of the flesh that weaken our moral nature and our spirituality?
Paul said: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Rom. 12:1, 2. God wants to renew us in the mind and restore His image in us. Cigarette smoking is a stench in His nostrils and hardly something that will be practiced in the earth made new. Can you imagine intoxicating beverages inebriating the renewed mind in heaven?
“Both tobacco and liquor break down nerve force, and dull the finer perceptions, so that the slaves to these habits cannot discern between sacred and common things. An example of the demoralizing effect of intoxicants is seen in the case of Nadab and Abihu. They ventured to partake of wine before they entered the tabernacle to perform the duties of their sacred office, and the result was, they could not distinguish between common fire and that which was consecrated to the holy service. For this breach of trust they were slain. Some will say, “If they were intoxicated, and could not discern the difference between these fires, why should they be punished?” When they placed the cup to their lips, they made themselves responsible for all their deeds committed while under its influence.” CTBH 18.
I found an interesting statement from the late John Harvey Kellogg about fermented drink. It said: “Was the wine used by Christ and his disciples at the Passover supper, just before the crucifixion, fermented or unfermented? This is an interesting question; for all Christendom have for hundreds of years acted upon the supposition that the wine employed was fermented, and have used this kind of wine in the sacrament. If we can ascertain with certainty the character of the wine employed by the Jews in the Passover feast, we shall be able to settle this question satisfactorily. Can we do so? The following facts seem to make the matter sufficiently clear:
a. The process of fermentation is one of putrefaction or decay. The ancients understood this, and were also acquainted with the fact that fermentation is occasioned by leaven or ferment.
b. Not only leavened or fermented bread was forbidden during the Passover, but all fermented things. Says Kitto, “All fermented substances were prohibited during the Pascal feast of the Jews, and during the succeeding seven days.” Hence, the Passover was called the “feast of the unleavened,” the word bread not being found in the original.
c. If the body of Christ was necessarily represented by bread which was absolutely free from ferment or leaven, surely his blood– which is the life should be represented by wine equally free from putrefactive elements.” A CONSIDERATION OF THE USE OF ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES FROM A BIBLE STANDPOINT, J. H. Kellogg, M.D.
Now let’s look at a comparison between bad and good wine.
BAD WINE (FERMENTED – ALCOHOL)
Produced by decay.
A symbol of wrath.
“Wine is a mocker.”
“Look not thou upon the wine when it is red.”
“Strong drink is raging.”
“Poison of dragons.”
“Cruel venom of asps.”
“Biteth like a serpent and stingeth like an adder.”
“Woe unto him that giveth his neighbor drink, that puttest thy bottle to him”
GOOD WINE (FRESH JUICE OF THE GRAPE)
Contains no alcohol.
Produced by natural growth.
A symbol of blessing.
“Cheereth God and man.”
“Use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake.”
“And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them: and they all drank of it. And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many.” Mark 14:23, 24. Ibid.
To be continued