Back to top

Christian Temperance

Christian temperance has to do with all facets of our life here on earth and recognizes the intimate relation that exists between the spiritual, mental, and physical aspects of our being. The condition of the body affects the mind, and the condition of the mind affects not only the body but also man's spiritual relationship to God. True temperance may be defined as dispensing entirely all things which are harmful and making a judicious use of those things which are healthful. The general principle concerning temperance in all things has been outlined in the word of God by the apostle Paul. 1 Corinthians 10:31.


A Lesson From the Greek Athletes

"In referring to [the Grecian races] as a figure of Christian warfare, Paul emphasized the preparation necessary to the success of the contestants in the race—the preliminary discipline, the abstemious diet, the necessity for temperance. 'Every man that striveth for the mastery,' he declared, 'is temperate in all things.' The runner put aside every indulgence that would tend to weaken the physical powers, and by severe and continuous discipline trained their muscles to strength and endurance, that when the day of the contest should arrive, they might put the heaviest tax upon their powers. How much more important that the Christian, whose eternal interests are at stake, bring appetite and passion under subjection to reason and the will of God! Never must he allow his attention to be diverted by amusements, luxuries, or ease. All his habits and passions must be brought under the strictest discipline. Reason, enlightened by the teachings of God's word and guided by His Spirit, must hold the reins of control. . . .


"Paul presents the contrast between the chaplet of fading laurel received by the victor in the foot races, and the crown of immortal glory that will be given to him who runs with triumph the Christian race. 'They do it,' he declares, 'to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.' To win a perishable prize, the Grecian runners spared themselves no toil or discipline. We are striving for a prize infinitely more valuable, even the crown of everlasting life. How much more careful should be our striving, how much more willing our sacrifice and self-denial!"—The Acts of the Apostles, p. 311-312.


Health Reform from a Biblical Perspective

As a healthy mind is to a large degree developed in a healthy body, health reform has its place in the plan of redemption. Ecclesiastes 10:17; 3 John 2; 1 Thessalonians 5:23. God's Word beseeches us to take good care not only of our souls but also of our bodies. Romans 12:1; 1 Corinthians 3:16, 17; 9:25, 27.


The general principles related to eating and drinking, and to anything that may affect our physical, mental, or spiritual health, are outlined in the Word of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31.


As a part of the third angel's message, health reform is as closely connected with it as is the right arm with the body (cf Revelation 14:12; 2 Peter 1:6). Exodus 15:26; Proverbs 3:7, 8; 4:20-22.


Health reform is equated with the moderate use of good things. True temperance requires complete abstinence from all things which are harmful to the system, such as: flesh foods (including fish), animal fat, harmful chemicals added to ready-made foods (such as monosodium glutamate), alcoholic drinks, tea, coffee, caffeinated drinks, tobacco, narcotics et cetera. Since the longest list would still be incomplete, we give only a few examples. Hundreds of new products are launched on the market year after year; therefore, each person should find out for himself which ones are to be rejected. See examples in Judges 13:4, 7; Daniel 1:8, 12-16, 20.


Also marital excesses and all forms of sexual perversion are condemned in the Word of God. 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5; 2 Corinthians 7:1; Romans 1:24, 26, 27; 13:11-14; 1 Peter 4:2, 3.


"God requires His people to cleanse themselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord. All those who are indifferent and excuse themselves from this work, waiting for the Lord to do for them that which He requires them to do for themselves, will be found wanting when the meek of the earth, who have wrought His judgments, are hid in the day of the Lord's anger."—Counsels on Diet and Foods, p. 33.


"All who occupied positions of sacred responsibility [in Israel] were to be men of strict temperance that their minds might be clear to discriminate between right and wrong, that they might possess firmness of principle and wisdom to administer justice and to show mercy. The same obligation rests upon every follower of Christ. The apostle Peter declares, 'Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people.' 1 Peter 2:9. We are required by God to preserve every power in the best possible condition, that we may render acceptable service to our Creator."—Patriarchs and Prophets, 362.


"A strict compliance with the requirements of God is beneficial to the health of body and mind. In order to reach the highest standard of moral and intellectual attainments, it is necessary to seek wisdom and strength from God, and to observe strict temperance in all the habits of life."—Counsels on Diet and Foods, p. 32.


"We wish to present temperance and health reform from a Bible standpoint and to be very cautious not to go to extremes in abruptly advocating health reform. Let us be careful not to graft into health reform one false shoot according to our own peculiar overstrained ideas and weave into it our own strong traits of character making these as the voice of God and passing judgment on all who do not see as we do."—Selected Messages, bk. 3, pp. 284-285.


"The health reform is one branch of the great work which is to fit a people for the coming of the Lord. It is as closely connected with the third angel's message as the hand is with the body. The law of Ten Commandments has been lightly regarded by man; yet the Lord will not come to punish the transgressors of that law without first sending them a message of warning. Men and women cannot violate natural law by indulging depraved appetites and lustful passions, without violating the law of God. Therefore He has permitted the light of health reform to shine upon us, that we may realize the sinfulness of breaking the laws which He has established in our very being."—Counsels on Health, p. 20.


"In the ten commandments God has laid down the laws of His kingdom. Any violation of the laws of nature is a violation of the law of God."—The SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 1, p. 1105.


"The laws governing the physical nature are as truly divine in their origin and character as the law of the ten commandments. Man is fearfully and wonderfully made; for Jehovah has inscribed his law by his own mighty hand on every part of the human body.


"It is just as much sin to violate the laws of our being as to break one of the ten commandments, for we cannot do either without breaking God's law.


"The human being who is careless and reckless of the habits and practices that concern his physical life and health, sins against God.


"A violation of these laws is a violation of the immutable law of God, and the penalty will surely follow."—Healthful Living, p. 21.


Christian temperance involves our entire lifestyle and wellbeing. On this subject we recommend the reading of the following books: The Ministry of Healing, Counsels on Health, Counsels on Diet and Foods, Temperance, Christian Temperance and Bible Hygiene, and Healthful Living.


Our Bodies

The human body is the temple of the Holy Ghost. 1 Corinthians 3:16, 17; 6:19, 20. Therefore, it is our duty before God, not only to be very careful in preserving our spiritual health, but also our physical health. All those who are led by the Holy Spirit will conform to the principles of Christian temperance, which is one of the fruits of the Spirit. Acts 24:25; Galatians 5:22, 23.


Flesh Eating in the Last Days

Although the use of the flesh of "clean animals" was tolerated in the days of the apostles, it is the purpose of the gospel to restore all things including the original Edenic diet. Acts 3:19-21. As the Lord wanted His people to give up the use of flesh foods before entering the land of Canaan, He now requires us to discard all flesh foods in the time of the end as part of our preparation for the coming of Christ and for the heavenly Canaan. Numbers 11:4-20, 31-34; Psalm 78:17-32; 106:14, 15; 1 Corinthians 10:5, 6, 11 (cf Isaiah 22:12-14, 20-22; Revelation 3:7, 8). Isaiah 22:12-14 has a special application during the antitypical day of atonement, which began in 1844.


Those who persist in eating pork, guinea pigs, rats, and other abominations and/or forbidden things, while being aware of the prohibition, will be destroyed. Leviticus 11:7; Isaiah 66:15-17 (cf 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9); Acts 15:20; Leviticus 3:17.


The instructions coming from the Spirit of Prophecy concerning meat eating in these last days are in harmony with the Bible:


"God's people are to take a firm stand against meat eating."—Counsels on Diet and Foods, p. 383 (1902).


"You may ask, Would you do away entirely with meat eating? I answer, It will eventually come to this, but we are not prepared for this step just now. Meat eating will eventually be done away. The flesh of animals will no longer compose a part of our diet; and we shall look upon a butcher's shop with disgust." —Counsels on Diet and Foods, p. 407.


"Those who use flesh meat disregard all the warnings that God has given concerning this question. They have no evidence that they are walking in safe paths."—Counsels on Diet and Foods, p. 383 (1902)


Although the light on health reform had already come to the people of God, and the main reasons why meat eating should be discarded had been stated, at the turn of the century (1899-1900) the Advent people were not yet prepared to accept all the light on the question of diet. "My brother, you are not to make a test for the people of God upon the question of diet."—Counsels on Diet and Foods, p. 205 (1901).


In 1909 the church was instructed not "to make the use of flesh food a test of fellowship" (9T 159), because many ministers and leaders were still meat eaters (9T 160). For this reason, the strictly vegetarian diet could not be imposed as a test for new members. "The time has not yet come to prescribe the strictest diet."—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 9, p. 163.


At the same time, however, a more advanced step, which would demand the giving up of improper articles of diet, was predicted:


"Those who have received instruction regarding the evils of the use of flesh foods, tea and coffee, and rich and unhealthful food preparations, and who are determined to make a covenant with God by sacrifice, will not continue to indulge their appetite for food that they know to be unhealthful. God demands that the appetites be cleansed, and that self‑denial be practiced in regard to those things which are not good. This is a work that will have to be done before His people can stand before Him a perfected people."—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 9, pp. 153-154(1909).


"Among those who are waiting for the coming of the Lord, meat eating will eventually be done away; flesh will cease to form a part of their diet. We should ever keep this end in view, and endeavor to work steadily toward it. I cannot think that in the practice of flesh eating we are in harmony with the light which God has been pleased to give us."—Counsels on Diet and Foods, pp. 380-381(1890).


"Many who are now only half converted on the question of meat eating will go from God's people to walk no more with them."—Counsels on Diet and Foods, p. 382 (1902).


"No meat will be used by His people."—Counsels on Diets and Foods, p. 82 (1884).


"The meat diet is the serious question. Shall human beings live on the flesh of dead animals? The answer, from the light that God has given is, No, decidedly No."—Counsels on Diet and Foods, p. 388.


"It is for their own good that the Lord counsels the remnant church to discard the use of flesh meats, tea, and coffee, and other harmful foods. There are plenty of other things on which we can subsist that are wholesome and good." —Counsels on Diet and Foods, p. 381.


"At this stage of the earth's history meat-eating is dishonoring to God. It is meat-eating and liquor-drinking that are making the world as it was in the days of Noah."—Bible Training School, July 1, 1902.


Now, when the coming of Christ is so near, we believe we have reached a time when those who "make a covenant with God by sacrifice will not continue to indulge their appetite for food that they know to be unhealthful." Therefore, the half converted ones, who still want to eat meat, cannot be united with God's remnant people (CD 382). It is evident to us that the time has come for "the strictest diet [to] be prescribed."


"The diet reform should be progressive. As disease in animals increases, the use of milk and eggs will become more and more unsafe. An effort should be made to supply their place with other things that are healthful and inexpensive. The people everywhere should be taught how to cook without milk and eggs, so far as possible, and yet have their food wholesome and palatable."—Counsels on Diet and Foods, p. 365.


While the diseases among the animals increase in proportion to the increase of wickedness among men, it is evident that the use of animal products is not safe anymore. It is evident to us that the time has come for the "strictest diet (to) be prescribed."


Restoration of the Original Diet

At the beginning of the world, before the entrance of sin, God said to our first parents:


"Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat." Genesis 1:29


"Grains, fruits, nuts, and vegetables constitute the diet chosen for us by our Creator."—Ministry of Healing, p. 296 (CD 310)


"When flesh food is discarded, its place should be supplied with a variety of grains, nuts, vegetables, and fruits, that will be both nourishing and appetizing."—Ministry of Healing, p. 316 (CD 315)


Those who insist that meat eating is not forbidden in the Bible, although it is disapproved (Proverbs 23:20; Romans 14:21; cf James 4:17), should understand that "from the beginning it was not so" (Matthew 19:8) and that it will not be so when the work of restoration is completed (Acts 3:21) and when all things are made new (Revelation 21:5).


"In the time of the end every divine institution is to be restored."—Prophets and Kings, p. 678


In the Kingdom of Glory

In the earth made new, after the wicked have been destroyed, even the carnivorous (flesh-eating) animals will all be herbivorous (feeding on plants), as they were in the beginning. Genesis 1:30; Isaiah 11:4-9; 65:25; Ezekiel 47:12.


Dealing with Disease

We are God's property by creation (Genesis 1:27; 2:7) and by redemption (1 Corinthians 6:19, 20). Man was made in God's own image out of dust. This living machinery consist of three components—body, soul and spirit—that are governed by specific natural laws. It is God's plan to sanctify and preserve them blameless. 1 Thessalonians 5:23. Every person needs to have knowledge in taking care of his body which is God's temple. Life and health are God's gift to us.


When our body is abused sickness results. In such a case, the cause should be ascertained, the detrimental environment should be changed, and wrong habits corrected. Nature will then be assisted to eliminate the toxins and to reestablish the balance in the body. Both in prevention and in dealing with diseases, the best method is to use the natural remedies God has provided for us such as: diet, hygiene, pure air, sunlight, abstemiousness, rest, exercise, water, herbs, clay, and trust in divine power. Genesis 1:29; 3:18; 2 Peter 1:6; Mark 6:31; Genesis 2:15; 2 Kings 5:10, 14; 20:7; John 9:6, 7; Psalm 103:2, 3; Mathew 8:6-13; Mark 5:25-34; Luke 5:20, 24, 25; Psalm 104:14.


"To many of the afflicted ones who received healing, Christ said, 'Sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.' John 5:14. Thus He taught that disease is the result of violating God's laws, both natural and spiritual. The great misery in the world would not exist did men but live in harmony with the Creator's plan."—The Desire of Ages, p. 824.


"Many might recover without one grain of medicine if they would live out the laws of health. Drugs need seldom be used."—Medical Ministry, p. 259.


The advice to use natural preventive and healing methods should not be confused with acute health problems. Emergencies should be handled by medical professionals. Let us heed the warning:


"My voice shall be raised against novices undertaking to treat disease professedly according to the principles of health reform. God forbid that we should be the subjects for them to experiment upon!" Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, p. 375.


The main reason why the Lord sent us light on the principle of health reform is that, since 1844, we have been living in the antitypical Day of Atonement (Daniel 8:14), when our bodies are to be presented as "a living sacrifice wholly acceptable unto God." Romans 12:1.


Dress and Cosmetics

Since God has the health of the entire human being in view, all articles of dress that have a definite adverse effect on our health are clearly prohibited in the word of God. For example: anything that restricts free-breathing, that causes curvature of the spine or any deformity of the body, and unhealthful chemicals placed on the body such as those used for dying the hair and cosmetics. Exodus 15:26.


Healthful Dress

"In order to secure the most healthful clothing, the needs of every part of the body must be carefully studied. The character of the climate, the surroundings, the condition of health, the age, and the occupation must all be considered. Every article of dress should fit easily, obstructing neither the circulation of the blood nor a free, full, natural respiration. Everything worn should be so loose that when the arms are raised the clothing will be correspondingly lifted."—Ministry of Healing, p. 293.


"The suffering caused among women by unhealthful dress cannot be estimated. Many have become life-long invalids through their compliance with the demands of fashion. Health and life have been sacrificed to the insatiable goddess. Many seem to think that they have a right to treat their bodies as they please; but they forget that their bodies are not their own. The Creator who formed them has claims upon them that they cannot lightly throw off. Every needless transgression of the laws of our being is virtually a transgression of the law of God, and is sin in the sight of Heaven. The Creator knew how to form the human body. He did not need to consult the mantua-makers in regard to their ideas of beauty. God, who created everything that is lovely and glorious in nature, understood how to make the human form beautiful and healthy. The modern improvements upon his plan are insulting to the Creator. They deform that which he made perfect."—Christian Temperance and Bible Hygiene, pp. 87-88.