3 John 2
Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.
God desires that we prosper and be in health
1 Thessalonians 5:23
Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Sanctification includes body, mind, and emotions as well as spiritual faculties.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Present your bodies a living sacrifice unto God.
1 Corinthians 6:19,20
Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.
Your body is the temple of God.
1 Corinthians 10:31
Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
Whatever you eat or drink, do all to the glory of God.
Wine is a mocker, strong drink is a brawloer, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.
Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging.
Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has complaints? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? Those who linger long at the wine, those who go in search of mixed wine. Do not look on the wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it swirls around smoothly; at the last it bites like a serpent, and stings like a viper.
Do not drink fermented wine. It brings sorrow, woe, and contention. It is deceptive and clouds judgment.
Woe to those who rise early in the morning, that they may follow intoxicating drink; who continue until night, till wine inflames them!
Woe to those who are intoxicated by wine.
For they eat the bread of wickedness, and drink the wine of violence.
Excessive wine leads to violence.
It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to dink wine, now for princes intoxicating drink; lest they drink and forget the law, and pervert the justice of all the afflicted.
Wine is not for kings or princes since it perverts wise judgment.
And God said, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed: to you it shall be for food.
God’s original diet was a vegetarian diet.
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.
Noah understood the difference between clean and unclean animals. Since at the time of the flood, God gave permission to eat the clean animals, whey were brought by sevens. The unclean scavengers by twos.
Now the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying to them, “Speak to the children of Israel, saying, ‘These are the animals which you may eat among all the animals that are on the earth: among the animals, whatever divides the hoof, having cloven hooves and chewing the cud—that you may eat. Nevertheless these you shall not eat among those that chew the cud or those that have cloven hooves: the camel, because it chews the cud but does not have cloven hooves, is unclean to you; the rock hyrax, because it chews the cud but does not have cloven hooves, is unclean to you; the hare, because it chews the cud but does not have cloven hooves, is unclean to you; and the swine, though it divides the hoof, having cloven hooves, yet does not chew the cud, is unclean to you. Their flesh you shall not eat, and their carcasses you shall not touch. They are unclean to you. These you may eat of all that are in the water: whatever in the water has fins and scales, whether in the seas or in the rivers—that you may eat. But all in the seas or in the rivers that do not have fins and scales, all that move in the water or any living thing which is in the water, they are an abomination to you. They shall be an abomination to you; you shall not eat their flesh, but you shall regard their carcasses as an abomination. Whatever in the water does not have fins or scales—that shall be an abomination to you.”
Clean animals must have a split or divided hoof and chew the cud. Unclean animals are those like pigs that do not have the above features. Clean sea animals must have both fins and scales.
For behold, the Lord will come with fire and with His chariots, like a whirlwind, to render His anger with fury, and His rebuke with flames of fire. For by fire and by His sward the Lord will judge all flesh; and the slain of the Lord shall be many. Those who sanctify themselves and purify themselves, to go to the gardens after an idol in the midst, eating swine’s flesh and the abomination and the mouse, shall be consumed together,” says the Lord.
Those who rebel against God’s dietary standards will not be in the kingdom.
I was sought by those who did not ask for Me; I was found by those who did not seek Me. I said, “Here I am, here I am,” to a nation that was not called by My name. I have stretched out My hands all day long to a rebellious people, who walk in a way that is not good, according to their own thoughts; a people who provoke Me to anger continually to My face; who sacrifice in gardens, and burn incense on alters of brick; who sit among the graves, and spend the night in the tombs; who eat swine’s flesh, and the broth of abominable things Is in their vessels; who say, “Keep to yourself, do not come near me, for I am holier than you!” These are smoke in My nostrils, a fire that burns all the day.
God links eating unclean foods to heathen idolatry.
The next day, as they went on their journey and drew near the city, Peter went up on the housetop to pray, about the sixth hour. Then he became very hungry and wanted to eat; but while they made ready, he fell into a trance and saw heaven opened and an object like a great sheet bound at the four corners, descending to him and let down to the earth. In it were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air. And a voice came to him, “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” But Peter said, “Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean.” And a voice spoke to him gain the second time, “What God has cleansed you must not call common.” This was done three times. And the object was taken up into heaven again.
Peter’s sheet with all kinds of unclean animals, including rats, alligators, crocodiles. God says arise and eat. Peter is horrified! What does God mean? Verse 17 indicates Peter is uncertain.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Jesus provides spiritual strength to overcome physical habits.
For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Jesus was tempted like we are. He fasted 40 days and overcame so we, too, can receive His power to overcome.
Commonly Asked Questions Regarding Health
Didn’t Jesus say, “It is not what goes into a man but it’s what goes out which defiles him?” Why put so much emphasis on health? Does it really make much difference?
The passage under consideration is Mark 7:18-20. What issues are involved here? The New Testament plainly declares, “What, know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit…glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19,20). “If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy, for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are” (1 Corinthians 10:31). The scriptures are consistent. They don’t tell us to carefully consider what we eat and drink in one place, and then that it doesn’t matter what we eat or drink in another. Let’s summarize Mark 7 in its entirety. The Pharisees had very strict laws regarding ceremonial cleanliness. They believed to touch a Gentile (non-Jew) in the market place was defiling. All cooking utensils, such as pots, cups, and plates must be washed thoroughly lest some Gentile touch them, thereby defiling them (see Mark 7:1-5). The object of discussion in Mark 7 was not the Levitical health laws (Levitcus 11) given by a loving God to preserve the health of His people, but the Jewish “tradition of the elders” (Mark 7:5). The Pharisees believed that to eat with unwashed hands, you absorbed or took in defilement from the Gentiles. The question here is not what you eat, but how you eat. The issue is not a repudiation of the health laws which our Lord Himself gave, but rather a rejection of the idea of ceremonial defilement by touching Gentiles. In this context “nothing form outside you can produce defilement or sin. All sin results in the mind.” The Jews rejected God’s commandments, to maintain their tradition of exclusiveness (Mark 7:9). The expression “purging all meats” (K.J.V.) in verse 19 is better translated “purging all foods.” The word is broma. No food is ceremonially unclean. No food caries sin within it. Not from without, but from within sin arises (Mark 7:21). Jesus did not consider unclean animals food. They were scavengers never to be eaten. The issue in Mark 7 is not health which comes by eating unclean animals, but ceremonial defilement which comes by touching Gentiles and transferring it through foods into the body.
Didn’t the apostle Paul say, “Meat doesn’t commend us to God, we are no better or worse if we eat” (1 Corinthians 8:8). Didn’t he also declare, “Whatever is sold in the market place eat, asking no question for conscience sake (1 Corinthians 10:25)?
1 Corinthians 8:1 provides the background for the answer to these thoughtful questions. Paul introduces the passage by saying, “Now as touching things offered to idols” (verse 1) so there will be no misunderstanding he emphasizes it again in verse 4 “as concerning those things that are offered in sacrifices to idols.” In 1 Corinthians 10:28, at the end of the discussion, he speaks of meat “offered in sacrifice to idols.” Portions of the meat which were used in idol worship at pagan temples in Corinth were sold in the market places. This led some very strict Jesw to become vegetarians (Romans 14:2-4). The issue at stake here is whether it is morally wrong to eat meat offered to idols. In eating will one be participating in idol worship. Paul’s response is idols are nothing at all (1 Corinthians 8:4). We are no better or worse if we eat (1 Corinthians 8:8). If your liberty is a stumbling block to someone else, offending their weak conscience, don’t eat any meat offered to idols (1 Corinthians 8:11-13). At stake here is not unclean foods but food offered to idols. Jesus did not come to cleanse pigs. He came to cleanse sinners. Unclean animals which are unhealthful in the Old Testament are still unhealthful in the New. Since our Lord will not withhold from us any good thing (Psalm 84:11) unclean animals are not good things.
Aren’t the health laws Jewish Old Testament rituals which Christ did away with at the cross?
When Jesus died, He gave His life to redeem mankind. His death did not affect in any way what is healthy and what is not healthy. It only makes sense that if pork, for example, was unhealthy because it was a scavenger before the cross, it is unhealthy because it is a scavenger after the cross. Contrary to popular opinion, the Biblical health laws are not for the Jews alone. When Noah entered the ark, he was instructed to bring the clean animals by sevens and the unclean by twos. Since the lean animals would be eaten due to the shortage of vegetation after the flood, they were brought by sevens. In Leviticus 11, God distinguishes between clean and unclean animals for all mankind. Isaiah 65:2-5 describes those who have rebelled against God as worshipping idols and eating swine’s flesh. The prophet Isaiah reveals that the rebellious will be destroyed as those “eating swine’s flesh.” God knows best. He desires our bodies in good health. He invites us to give up anything which harms His temple.
Since God told Noah, “Every moving thing which liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things” (Genesis 9:3), isn’t it permissible to eat whatever we want?
We might ask, “was God giving Noah permission to eat snakes, rats, alligators, lizards, worms, and cockroaches?” Certainly not! Noah already knew the difference between clean and unclean foods (Genesis 7:2). God was simply making a statement, “Noah, you may now eat flesh foods.” The evidence for this is that God clearly forbade unclean animals later in both Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14. Since God does not change His moral standards (Psalm 89:34) and since God’s character does not change (Malachi 3:6), He did not give permission to Noah to do something He forbade Moses to do. All God’s laws including those relating to health were given in love to reduce disease and increase happiness (Exodus 15:26). Many in the scientific community recognize that the health principles of the Bible can significantly assist in reducing both heart disease and cancer. God’s ways are best.
Doesn’t the Bible say to beware of those who command you to abstain from meat (1 Timothy 4:3)?
Our passage describes a group who depart from the Biblical faith in the last days. According to 1 Timothy 4:3, they teach two twin errors. This group forbids marriage and commands to abstain from meats (K.J.V.) or foods (Greek broma) which God has created to be received with thanksgiving. The word meat here refers not to animals in particular, but food in general. The same word is used in the Greek version of the Old Testament in Genesis 1:29. “Every herb bearing seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree in which is a fruit of a tree yielding seed to you shall it be for “meat” or food.” Throughout the centuries, certain ascetics, monks, and priests have declared the world as evil. Both marriage and food created by God. They are both part of God’s good plan for the human race. According to 1 Timothy 4:4,5, those creatures sanctified by the word of God are good and not to be refused when received with thanksgiving. Paul here is arguing against the fanaticism which declares all physical pleasure as evil. He reveals that God’s creation is good. God desires that His creatures heartily enjoy the food He has created for them. The issue here is not clean or unclean foods, but whether food itself is part of the material world and rejected through monastic life. Paul says, NO! God’s creation is good.
What difference does it make what we eat and drink, isn’t God interested in our spiritual life only?
Human beings are a unit. Whatever affects the physical also affects the mental and spiritual faculties. Our physical habits affect the quality of blod which passes through the brain. A poor quality of blood supplied to the brain makes us less capable of comprehending spiritual truth. In 1 Thessalonians 5:23, Paul states, “I pray God will sanctify you wholly, body, soul and spirit.” In Romans 12:1, he adds, “I beseech you brethren, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice to God.” John adds, Jesus desire for all His children, “I wish above all things, that you prosper and be in health even as your soul prospers” (3 John 2). God’s word declares it does make a difference what we take into our bodies.
What did Paul mean when He instructed Timothy to take “a little wine for the stomach’s sake” (1 Timothy 5:23)?
It’s obvious that Paul was not advocating social drinking in this passage. He clearly states, “Drink no longer water.” (Anyone who has traveled in the Middle East knows the difficulty of getting pure, unpolluted water), but use a little wine for they stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities. Whatever kind of wine Paul was talking about (fermented or unfermented), it is exceedingly plain that the purpose of his counsel to Timothy was due to his stomach ailments. Paul’s counsel relates to a medical use, not a social enjoyment. What kind of wine was Paul recommending? Would the apostle encourage the moderate use of a drink which Proverbs 23:31 says “Look not upon the wine when it is red,” a drink which brings “woe, sorrow babbling, and sounds” (Proverbs 23:29), a drink which is deceptive (Proverbs 20:1), a drink which perverts the judgment causing thine eyes to behold strange women and thine heart to utter strange things (Proverbs 23:32,33). Certainly not! The Bible uses the word wine to refer to both an alcoholic fermented beverage as well as unfermented grape juice. According to Isaiah 65:8, the new wine is found in a cluster and there is blessing in it. This is obviously the unfermented, freshly squeezed juice of the grape. Referring to the communion wine served, Jesus told His disciples that He would not participate in the service again until He “drank it new with them in the Father’s kingdom” (Matthew 26:29). The communion wine representing Christ’s pure, undefiled Blood must be unfermented since fermentation is a sign of sin. In 1 Timothy 5:23, Paul encourages Timothy to us a little wine or grape products for his stomach’s sake. Unfermented grape juice has healthful properties for the body. Indeed there is blessing in the freshly squeezed juice of the grape.