By Anne Elliott
“It is futile for Christians to expect health and healing while deliberately ignoring the laws which govern its coming.” – Charles Finney
I strongly believe that as believers, we are privileged to come into the presence of our Heavenly Father and bring our petitions to Him (Hebrews 4:15-16). Of course, this includes our health. When we’re sick, we have an obligation to come to the Great Physician and humbly ask for his healing touch (James 5:13-16).
But has our Creator God also set physical laws into motion that affect our health and wellbeing? If we ignore these laws, should we expect God to simply answer our prayers for healing?
The Bible is not a scientific textbook, nor is it a book on nutrition. The Bible was written to point us to our need of a Savior and to reveal God’s loving plan for the redemption of mankind.
“I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.” Psalm 32:8
However, as we study the Bible, we can find God’s original design for His creation. We find that His creation was methodic and purposeful. We find that His designs were loving and life-giving. We find that when we acknowledge His sovereignty, we are nourished both in our souls and bodies.
Food Brings Glory to God
The Bible teaches us that God created all things for our good, and that He wants us to receive His provision with thanksgiving. By studying His Word and asking for wisdom from our Creator God (see James 1:5), we are acknowledging our dependence on Him.
During the first and second centuries, a dangerous doctrine called “Gnosticism” crept into the church. One of the things the Gnostics taught was that enjoying the physical world was evil. Even common, everyday things such as marriage and delicious foods were suspect. Instead, pious believers were to put aside all things of the material world and focus on the eternal.
Paul warned Timothy about this doctrine, when he wrote:
Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. 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 (1 Timothy 1:4-5).
It might seem strange that God intended for us to enjoy His creation. Yet our enjoyment should result in thanksgiving to God for all that He has provided. Enjoyment of food is a way to glorify God!
“Thou visitest the earth, and waterest it: thou greatly enrichest it with the river of God, which is full of water: thou preparest them corn, when thou hast so provided for it.” Psalm 65:9
In addition, God’s creation is designed to provide for our physical needs.
He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man:
that he may bring forth food out of the earth;
And wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine,
and bread which strengtheneth man’s heart.
Finally, observing God’s handiwork in the marvelous design of His creation, even down to the intricacies of the foods He made for our benefit, is one of the ways God has revealed Himself to mankind. Learning to enjoy the foods God made is a way to share the gospel with others!
For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen,
being understood by the things that are made,
even his eternal power and Godhead;
so that they are without excuse.
Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good,
and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons,
filling our hearts with food and gladness.
Two Kinds of Food
So what kinds of food has God created for our enjoyment and for His glory? The book of Genesis gives us two food laws to remember, designed to bring us vibrant health and vitality.
And God said, 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. And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so. Genesis 1:29-30
1. Eating Green Plants
Green plants form the foundation of healthy food. Notice that green herbs also formed the foundation of healthy food for animals. The closer we can come to eating from the lush bounty that fruits and vegetables provide, the more nutrients we will find.
When God brought Noah out of the ark, He expanded mankind’s diet by adding animals.
And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them…
Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you;
even as the green herb have I given you all things.
Do you remember how many animals came off the ark with Noah? Two of each? Yes, but God also asked Noah to bring seven of each of the clean animals.
And the LORD said unto Noah…
Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female: and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female. Of fowls also of the air by sevens, the male and the female; to keep seed alive upon the face of all the earth.
It is interesting to note that if Noah had eaten any of the unclean animals, of which there were only two each, those breeds would have become extinct. Yet this was not God’s plan, for He had said to Noah that the purpose for bringing the animals onto the ark was “to keep seed alive upon the face of all the earth.” So it makes sense that God intended Noah to eat the clean animals only.
While the Bible doesn’t list the clean animals for us until the book of Leviticus, obviously Noah knew which animals were clean and unclean even before the flood.
Many people have speculated about why only certain animals were declared fit for food by God. My opinion is that the clean animals are those that eat the green herbs for their food, rather than eating other animals (and their blood).
2. Keeping the Blood Clean
The second important category of food that God designed for us is food that keeps our blood clean. Poisoned blood is referred to medically as “toxemia.”
But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat. Genesis 9:1, 3-4
For the life of the flesh is in the blood… Leviticus 17:11
Not only are we to avoid eating the blood of animals, since it carries diseases; we are also to keep our own blood clean by avoiding animals that eat blood and by avoiding other toxins that can contaminate our bodies.
We’ll soon discuss how to remember these two food laws as we choose foods to enjoy.
The Life-Giving Law
“The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.” Deuteronomy 29:29
God reveals more about the foods which He created for food in the Law that He gave to Moses and the children of Israel.
God defined exactly which animals were clean and which were unclean.
These are the beasts which ye shall eat among all the beasts that are on the earth. Whatsoever parteth the hoof, and is clovenfooted, and cheweth the cud, among the beasts, that shall ye eat. Leviticus 11:2-3
These shall ye eat of all that are in the waters: whatsoever hath fins and scales in the waters, in the seas, and in the rivers, them shall ye eat. Leviticus 11:9
And these are they which ye shall have in abomination among the fowls; they shall not be eaten, they are an abomination: the eagle, and the ossifrage, and the ospray, And the vulture, and the kite after his kind; Every raven after his kind; And the owl, and the night hawk, and the cuckow, and the hawk after his kind, And the little owl, and the cormorant, and the great owl, And the swan, and the pelican, and the gier eagle, And the stork, the heron after her kind, and the lapwing, and the bat. Leviticus 11:13-20
All fowls that creep, going upon all four, shall be an abomination unto you. Yet these may ye eat of every flying creeping thing that goeth upon all four, which have legs above their feet, to leap withal upon the earth; Even these of them ye may eat; the locust after his kind, and the bald locust after his kind, and the beetle after his kind, and the grasshopper after his kind. Leviticus 11:20-22
The Reason for the Law
God’s Word reveals that He gave His laws to His people for their good. The law gave life.
Ye shall therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments: which if a man do, he shall live in them: I am the LORD. Leviticus 18:5
Now therefore hearken, O Israel, unto the statutes and unto the judgments, which I teach you, for to do them, that ye may live…. Deuteronomy 4:1
Thou shalt keep therefore his statutes, and his commandments, which I command thee this day, that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee, and that thou mayest prolong thy days upon the earth, which the LORD thy God giveth thee, for ever. Deuteronomy 4:40
Now these are the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments, which the LORD your God commanded to teach you, that ye might do them in the land whither ye go to possess it: That thou mightest fear the LORD thy God, to keep all his statutes and his commandments, which I command thee, thou, and thy son, and thy son’s son, all the days of thy life; and that thy days may be prolonged. Hear therefore, O Israel, and observe to do it; that it may be well with thee, and that ye may increase mightily, as the LORD God of thy fathers hath promised thee, in the land that floweth with milk and honey. Deuteronomy 6:1-3
And the LORD commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as it is at this day. Deuteronomy 6:24
And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, To keep the commandments of the LORD, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good? Deuteronomy 10:12-13
And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the LORD thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth: And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God. Deuteronomy 28:1-2
The New Testament clearly teaches that we cannot receive eternal life by keeping the Law. Because of Adam’s sin, he and all his descendants were doomed to death. Only through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ can we receive eternal life.
“But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully…” 1 Timothy 1:8
However, in the Law we can see God’s definition of what is good and what is evil. The Law is a textbook that shows us what the Intelligent Designer intends for us.
Warning: Knowledge can make us proud! Knowing what to eat or understanding the science behind good nutrition is not an excuse to be rude to others.
The Bible warns us about getting into food arguments. We are to extend the same grace to others as God has extended to us.
“For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” Galatians 5:14
Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations. For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs. Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him.…
“I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean. But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died. Let not then your good be evil spoken of: For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men. Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another. For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence. It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak. Romans 14:1-3, 14-21
This brings us to our final health principle: We can eat the best food in the world, but we can never be healthier than our inner character.
And [Jesus] saith unto them, Are ye so without understanding also? Do ye not perceive, that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, it cannot defile him; Because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats? And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man.
For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man. Mark 7:18-23 (see also Mark 7:1-23)
If we eat unclean foods, we can use various methods to cleanse our bodies of toxins. But nothing can cleanse our hearts of evil! Three specific sins can rob us of our good health:
Gluttony is greediness. Gluttony is desiring food or drink more than anything else. It is placing food before God or others.
When thou sittest to eat with a ruler, consider diligently what is before thee:
And put a knife to thy throat, if thou be a man given to appetite.
Be not desirous of his dainties: for they are deceitful meat.
Labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom.
Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven.
Eat thou not the bread of him that hath an evil eye, neither desire thou his dainty meats:
For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he:
Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee.
The morsel which thou hast eaten shalt thou vomit up, and lose thy sweet words.
Hast thou found honey? eat so much as is sufficient for thee,
lest thou be filled therewith, and vomit it.
The cure for gluttony is contentment and thankfulness.
Anxiety brings great stress to the body and damages internal organs. Anxiety is either a belief that God is not powerful enough to care for us, or a belief that God does not love us enough to provide for us.
Therefore take no thought, saying,
What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
(For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:)
for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness;
and all these things shall be added unto you.
The cure for anxiety is prayer and thankfulness (Philippians 4:6-7).
Hatred and Bitterness
Anger, hatred, bitterness, strife – the Bible warns us about the dangers of an unloving heart. A bitter spirit has been shown to cause both mental and physical problems.
And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.
1 John 2:3
And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him,
because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.
And this is his commandment,
That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another,
as he gave us commandment.
1 Jo 3:22-23
The cure for bitterness is humility and forgiveness.
The Great Physician, The True Source of Healing
“Is there no balm in Gilead; is there no physician there? why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?” Jeremiah 8:22
Science and technology have exploded during the past century. It is easy to believe that medical science holds a monopoly on knowledge about health. Yet, if this is the case, why are so many people sick?
As we begin to realize that we don’t always have all the answers but that we know the One who does, our minds can begin to see new ways to achieve health.
And Asa in the thirty and ninth year of his reign was diseased in his feet, until his disease was exceeding great: yet in his disease he sought not to the LORD, but to the physicians. 2 Chronicles 16:12
The Word of God, The Source of Eternal Life
All the commandments which I command thee this day shall ye observe to do, that ye may live, and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the LORD sware unto your fathers.
And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no.
And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live. Deuteronomy 8:1-3
For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. John 6:33-35
I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. John 6:48-51