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Part of series, “What Is Holiness?—Volume 2”
So we’re going to make a confession about our bodies.
My body is a temple for the Holy Spirit, redeemed, cleansed and sanctified by the blood of Jesus. My members, the parts of my body are instruments of righteousness, deeded to God for His service and for His glory. The devil has no place in me, no power over me, no unsettled claims against me. All has been settled by the blood of Jesus. I overcome Satan by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of my testimony and I do not love my life to the death. My body is for the Lord and the Lord is for my body and my testimony is this; Jesus Himself bore my sins in His own body on the tree that I, having died to sins, might live for righteousness by whose wounds I was healed.
Amen. As I was considering what to speak about this morning and meditating on this confession, I felt that God would have me to emphasize this fact that Jesus is the High Priest of our confession. And our confession sets the limits to what He can do for us as our High Priest. If we make a negative confession, if we confess unbelief or defeat or failure, we, in a sense we tie the hands of our High Priest. Our confession determines what He is able to do on our behalf.
I felt the Lord showed me that there are a number of you here, if you look back on the past it’s a series of negative confessions. You’ve been talking about what you could not do. You’ve been talking about your failures. You’ve been talking about your disappointments. You see your confession determines where you go. There’s a very vivid example of this in the story of the twelve spies whom Moses sent into the Promised Land. Two came back with a positive confession, ten with a negative. And the majority of the adult Israelites believed the negative confession. The negative confession was, “We cannot.” The positive confession was, “We are well able.” And they all settled their destiny by their confession. Those who said, “We cannot” could not. And those who said, “We are well able” were well able.
Now unfortunately all these wonderful truths have in some cases been perverted by preachers as ways of getting God to do what you want Him to do. That is not the purpose. But don’t let those preachers take away the blessing from us. So I feel there are a number of you here this morning as you look back on the past, how you’ve come here, you have to say, “I’ve uttered some very negative words. I’ve said words that did not glorify Jesus and that tied me in my impotence, in my failure.” You confess failure, and failure will be your portion. But you confess faith and God will be your portion.
So I want to give you a moment or two just quietly to think it over and repent if you have made wrong confessions. If you’ve been negative in your talking and thinking. I would like you to, God would like you to. Just take a few moments. Just bow down and quietly and say, “Lord, I’m sorry. I’ve tied Your hands. I’ve limited what You could do in my life by my unbelief and my negative thinking.”
The Scripture says, “If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” So don’t just end up by confessing your sins, but begin to thank God that when you’ve confessed “He is faithful and just to forgive you your sins and to cleanse you from all unrighteousness.” Just take a little while to say, “Thank you, Lord. I’ve come out of that slough of despond. I’ve come out of that dark lonely valley.” Amen. “I can do all things through Christ...” Let me give you the Prince version of that taken from the original.
I can do all things through the One who empowers me within.
That’s the literal translation. Would you like to say that?
I can do all things through the One who empowers me within. [Say it again.] I can do all things through the One who empowers me within. [Just once more.] I can do all things through the One who empowers me within.
Amen. Now I want to read you just a short passage from the introduction to a book by an American Baptist pastor called A Hunger For God.The book is good but I think the best part is the introduction actually.
The greatest enemy of hunger for God is not poison but apple pie. It is not the banquet of the wicked that dulls our appetite for heaven but endless nibbling at the table of the world. It is not the X-rated video, but the prime-time drivel of triviality we drink in every night. For all the ill that Satan can do when God describes what keeps us from the banquet table of His love it is a piece of land, a yoke of oxen and a wife. The greatest adversary of love to God is not His enemies, but His gifts. And the most deadly appetites are not for the poison of evil but for the simple pleasures of earth. For when these replace an appetite for God Himself, the idolatry is scarcely recognizable and almost incurable.
That really spoke to me. That really is the problem without, I mean we’re not wicked sinners. God forbid. We’re just sinners. And our problem, most of us, maybe some go for the X-rated video, but how many hours do you waste in front of the television sets listening to dribble? I want to tell you - I don’t boast about this, but Ruth and I do not own a television set. I mean...in Israel we’ve bought one because in an emergency which could easily take place, the only way to get information would be through the television. But we keep it under lock and key when we’re not using it. I mean, I just have to tell you, this is no sacrifice to me. If you really wanted to torture me, and I don’t want to put the idea in anybody’s head; you just keep me sitting in front of the television set all day. That’s all you’d have to do. It would be agony. I mean it’s not that I’m super holy or super righteous. I just can’t bear dribble.
Ruth spoke to a group of four hundred French women in France last year on the place, the role of a woman, a Christian woman. And she asked “How many of you gets your idea of what a woman should be from the Bible?” And out of four hundred about twelve raised their hand. So where do the rest get their idea? From the TV and from the movies and all of that drivel. Now every now and then there is a good movie—every now and then. But even the good ones are tainted.
I remember years ago, shortly after Ruth and I were married there was a movie called Frisco Kid.I don’t suppose any of you remember that. And it was a brilliant movie. It was about a Jewish student from a Yeshiva in Poland who had to go to San Francisco to become the Rabbi of a new congregation. I mean it was so witty. It was so true to life. But in the middle of it for no reason at all, they introduced some filthy language. And Ruth and I said we’d like to go back, I’d really like to see that twice. And then we said to one another, “But we don’t feel free to expose the Holy Spirit in us that that filthy language.” And so we never saw it again.
Now we come back to our theme, “How To Treat Your Body As God’s Temple.” First of all you need to appreciate your body. It is unscriptural to debase the body. David said in Psalm 139:
I am fearfully and wonderfully made, of that my soul knows right well.
So your body is a masterpiece. Many of you own a car which you are very careful of. Or a house which you seek to maintain. But many of you do not show the same interest or concern for your body, which is the most marvelous piece of mechanism you’ll ever have under your control. And listen, if your car goes up in flames you can buy another. If you house goes up in flames you can buy another. But when your body is finished, it’s finished. You’ll never get a second body. Treat it with respect. Treat it with honor. It’s one of God’s masterpieces. How anybody could be silly enough to think that all of that that’s in our body happened by accident, I simply cannot understand. “Professing themselves to be wise they have become fools,” Paul said.
Now I want to introduce my theme by pointing out to you that your body is a temple for the Holy Spirit. But I want to start further back, because in 1 Corinthians Paul speaks about two things which are God’s temple. In 1 Corinthians chapter 3 and verse 16 he says,
Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
The “you” is plural. He is speaking collective to the congregation and he says, “You [plural] are the temple of God...” And then he goes on with something which is fearful. I mean, I wonder how we read the Bible and never tremble before it. Maybe we do. He says you are the temple of the living God, and then he says,
If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.
Let’s pause and ask ourselves what would it mean to defile the temple of God if the temple of God is the congregation of God’s people? Now you’re as much entitled to your opinion as mine. But as I sat and meditated on this I thought defiling the temple of God would be introducing sin into the church. It would be introducing false doctrine into the church. It would be introducing demonic influences into the church. All of those defile the temple of God. And God said, “Anybody that does that, God will destroy.” I’m just, I’m amazed that people can be so casual and indifferent about ministry. I mean, things happen in the church that are ludicrous, bizarre, ugly, demonic and the people responsible for introducing them into the church, God will judge. He says He will. It’s not human opinion. It’s a fact, a fact of Scripture.
There’s no way I can express how astonished I am at the things that preachers permit themselves to do. And I’m not excluding myself from the list. But I sense somehow there is no sense of the awesomeness and holiness and righteousness of God. It’s just gone with the wind, blown away. All we have is a circus. I say to myself the Charismatic movement has become the Charismatic merry-go-round. Now I know there are many areas in which this is not true, but my prevailing impression is that’s what’s happened.
So, that’s just talking about you, the church, being the temple of Jesus. If any man defiles their temple God will destroy him. You need to know that God is concerned about the church. He gave His life to purchase the church. It’s not a matter of indifference to Him. The church is to be His bride. Woe to anybody who defiles the bride of Christ.
All right. Let’s go on to the theme of this talk. 1 Corinthians 6:19. And Paul starts off, “Do you not know...” And I’ve observed probably half a dozen times at least, Paul uses that phrase “Do you not know...” And I’ve come to observe in most cases people do not know what Paul says, “Do you not know...” And I think this is equally true here. Verse 19 of 1 Corinthians 6.
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? [You do not belong to yourself.]
For you were bought at a price [What was the price? The blood of Jesus. The most precious thing in the universe.] therefore glorify God in your body...
And that’s the place where that verse should end. Are you glorifying God in your body right now? And if not, why not? I just want to go back to the Old Testament for a moment in Numbers, chapter 7, the longest chapter in the Bible. Eighty-nine verses—they’re all of them good too. And the last verse, Numbers 7:89.
Now when Moses went into the tabernacle of meeting to speak with Him [that’s the Lord] he heard the voice of One speaking to him from above the mercy seat that was on the ark of the Testimony, from between the two cherubim; thus He spoke to him.
That’s become very vivid to me because of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. If my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, how will I know that the Lord is there when I hear Him speaking out of His temple? And when I speak in an unknown tongue as the Holy Spirit gives me utterance I know my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. I know that God is dwelling there. I would not say necessarily that God is not there if you have never spoken in tongues, but you don’t have the evidence that God is there. So my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit.
How do I respond to God’s saving grace? And I’d like to turn to Romans chapter 12. Now this chapter begins with the word thereforeand some of you have probably heard me say when you find a thereforein the Bible you need to find out what it’s there for.And this is really to me, it’s exciting because I believe this thereforein Romans 12:1 is there because of all that Paul has said in the previous eleven chapters. He has given the most complete thorough logical exposition of our redemption; the need for it and how it was achieved and what it will produce in us. And then he applies it to those to whom he is speaking.
Therefore [because of that, in the light of what God has done,] I beseech you [and he’s very humble. He doesn’t say, “I command you,”] I beseech you therefore, brethren by the mercies of God,
What is the response that God is asking for? This is so characteristic of God and so uncharacteristic of most philosophers of whom I used to be one. We would expect some elaborate theological response. No, no, no. Paul says, “God just asked one thing. That you give him what? your body.” That’s right. Isn’t that uncharacteristic of human thinking? Very Jewish. I’m not Jewish but I’ve mixed with them long enough to know. The Jews are very down-to-earth people. The Greeks were philosophically minded. They exalted the mind. Aristotle thought that God was the perfect mind contemplating Himself. That always left me wondering why God bothered to create anything else. But that’s typical Greek thinking.
But Jewish thinking, Hebraic thinking is the body. Isn’t that true? That’s right. And I’ll tell you amongst Jewish people, and we live amongst them, they want to know one thing, does it work? And when you tell them that is works, they listen.
We have a number of Jewish friends who are not believers in Jesus, but they come for various reasons to visit us. And we will offer them a cup of tea or coffee or something. They sit around. And we say to ourselves, “Well what are they waiting for?” I’ll tell you what they’re waiting for. They’re waiting for us to tell them what God has done for us. And when...and that satisfies them. Then they haven’t come to the place where they’ll make a personal commitment.
I must tell you this story. It was comical. We had a... when we were building our house we had a very high-classed Jewish architect. And for some reason he agreed to supervise the building of our potty little house. One day he came, it was the middle of summer, very hot, and he said, “I’m very busy. I can only stay ten minutes. Oh, I’ve got such a pain in my back.” And Ruth said, “Well, my husband has something for back pain.”
So he said to me, “You do?” I said, “Yes. It’s a little unusual but it works.” “Well” he said, “What’s that?” I said, “Well you sit down in a chair and I hold your legs and if one is shorter than the other it grows out.” So, I mean you see, they want something that works. So I did and his leg grew out and he stayed half an hour. He told us he could only stay ten minutes.
Back again about, I don’t know, a week later I think and Ruth said, “How’s your back?” He said, “My back is find, but my neck... Does your husband have anything for necks?” So I said, “As a matter of fact I do.” So I said, “If you’ll stand like this with your arms outstretched and then bring them together in front of your nose, if one arm is shorter than the other it will grow out.” Well it grew out. Now he has told Lance Lambert that he believes that Jesus is the Messiah. He is not by any means born again, but he is intellectually convinced.
So where were we going? Your body is the temple. God asks you to present your body and when you do that you’re renewed in mind. You see that’s the opposite way to which we would think. We would start with the mind. God says, “Give me your body and I’ll deal with your mind.” You said, “Well I thought that the contents were more important than the vessel.” God says, “Well, maybe that’s right, but I want everything. I want the vessel and its contents.” And when that happens we are renewed in our minds. We begin to think differently. And this is one major difference; our thinking is no longer self-centered. The natural man and he enters the situation says, “What can I get out of this? What does this mean for me?” And when people enter into marriage who are not believers that’s often the way they enter into marriage, and the marriage usually crashes because that’s not the key to a successful marriage. But when your mind is renewed you’re no longer concerned about what you can get. Your question is how can I glorify God in this situation? You’re in a different sphere altogether.
Once we have presented our bodies to the Lord we do not own them, but we still occupy them. But we occupy them as stewards, not owner, and as stewards we are accountable to the Lord for what we do with them. I really believe everyone of us, myself included, will one day have to answer to the Lord for what we’ve done with out bodies, with the way we’ve treated it, for the use we’ve made of it.
Now let me just ask you this question? Paul says, “Your body is a temple for God.” If it were a material temple and you knew it was God’s temple, how would you treat it? I suggest that nearly all of us would put a good deal of time into keeping the temple in good condition. We would aim to keep it clean and well maintained. We wouldn’t tolerate leaky roofs, or dirty windows or broken windows. We’d get them fixed. We wouldn’t tolerate plugged up toilets. We’d have them flushed out. But when it comes to our bodies very many times we’re much less careful with this glorious unique temple than we are with the material.
I had a very elaborate education. I started going to boarding school at the age of nine and I completed my education at Cambridge at the age of twenty-four. So I was in high class educational institutions for sixteen years. And you know one thing? I never had one lesson on how to treat my body. That was considered unimportant. Your mind, yes. Your body, well you just take it for granted. Well the problem is if we take our bodies for granted one day they say, “Enough! You haven’t been treating me right and now I’m going to show you the consequences.”
Let me point out something. 1 Corinthians chapter 10 verse 31. And there’s another therefore.
Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
So how do you eat to the glory of God? One thing I’d ask you is can you overeat to the glory of God? I think that’s impossible. It was interesting, after the Day of Pentecost what impressed the unbelievers was the way the believers took their meals. They had great favor with the people eating their food from house to house and praising the Lord. When you eat in a restaurant, would you impress the unbelievers? Many Christians today are ashamed to even to say a prayer over their food. You see this where, as they say in America, the rubber meets the road. This is where we cease to be spiritual and become practical.
Let me tell you, in my opinion if a thing is not practical, it is not spiritual. The Holy Spirit is the most practical person in the universe. If it doesn’t work, it’s not from God. And we are accountable to God for what we do with our bodies.
Now this is very, very little preached as far as I know in the Charismatic movement. The result is we have millions of overweight Charismatics who are headed for heart attacks. Now we’re not pointing the fingers at others because Ruth has just survived, not a heart attack, thank God, but angioplasty. Marvelous thing. The skill of doctors impresses me. They can get a little tube in your groin and get up to your heart and repair your heart from inside, I mean it is wonderful. And the doctor that performed on Ruth gave her two X-ray photographs—one before and the other after. It was dramatic. The difference in her main artery was, I mean I have to hand it to the doctors, they pay a lot of attention to their practice.
You know why, I think doctors are often more earnest than preachers. They take themselves more seriously. They pay more attention to their trade. You know why? Because I think they believe they have the answers. And frankly many preachers today don’t believe they’ve got the answers. If we don’t have the answer, let’s stop talking.
So I want to ask. Are you eating and drinking to the glory of God, or are you just eating and drinking? “Whatever you do,” Paul says, “do it to the glory of God.” Somebody said, somebody, oh I know it was a young Jewish man I led to the Lord years ago in Hyde Park. And later he said, “If a person does not live to the glory of God he has no right to exist.” And I’ve never forgotten that. If you don’t live to the glory of God you’ve got no right to exist, because you’re existing in God’s universe. God made you. God has a purpose for you.
Let me point out something else in Galatians chapter 5 verse 17. Before I read that let me just say this. It’s a strange silence in the church about misusing our body. If people come in who are alcoholics we don’t hesitate to say you’ve got to give it up. If people who come in who are on drugs we don’t hesitate to say you’ve got to give it up. But if people who come in who are over eating and overweight we don’t say anything to them. Some of us can’t say it anyhow. I’m really, I love you, I’m not trying to upset you. I just want to stimulate your thinking, because it’s like a certain part of the church’s brain is not functioning, and you’re regarded as strange if you tell people how to eat. Why? Does it have no importance? Does it not affect your life? Surely it does. So let’s look in Galatians 5:17.
For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.
How true that is. You don’t do the things you want to. Why? Because there are two opposing forces within you—the Spirit of God and the flesh of our carnal nature. And they’re in opposition. They are against one another. It doesn’t mean God is against your body. He’s totally for your body. But He’s against anything that’s against Him. And so listen please carefully, whenever you indulge your flesh you are inhibiting the Holy Spirit. And whenever you yield to the Holy Spirit you are inhibiting your flesh. But you cannot please both at the same time.
If you go on a little further in Galatians 5 you come to the list of the fruit of the Spirit, beginning in verse 22.
But the fruit of the Spirit [capital “S” Holy Spirit] is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness,
faithfulness, gentleness, self-control,...
So without self-control we have an imperfect representation of the fruit of the Spirit and God doesn’t say He’ll control us. He says, “You control yourself. I’ll give you the grace. I’ll come to your help. But you have to do it.”
And then in 2 Timothy chapter 1 verse 7, and this is the translation of the NIV which I think is more precise, not in all respects, but in this.
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of self-discipline.
So the Holy Spirit is a Spirit of self-discipline. He will enable you to discipline yourself if you cooperate with Him. But if you doesn’t He will just leave you on your own.
Now I just want to speak one more thing. 1 Corinthians chapter 9. I was reading a book published by a dietician who is also a Christian and a follower of mine at a distance, because she quotes me in the book. She said, “Sixty-two percent of Americans are overweight, and sixty-two percent are sick.” America is the sickest nation on earth today. The richest, has the most hospitals, the most doctors, and the sickest because they are systematically killing themselves by their lifestyle. It’s estimated that two out of every five Americans will have cancer. Two out of every five. But nobody really gets...I mean if it was cholera the whole nation would be mobilized. And there is ever increasing evidence that one of the main causes of cancer and of heart attack is over eating or wrong eating. And one reason why little is said about it is because there are a lot of businesses that make a lot of money out of killing people.
You see, the Bible says in the last days people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, lovers of pleasure. So when you go against love of money and love of pleasure you’re attacking a major force. But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Anyhow, let’s come to Paul’s personal testimony which to me is amazing. 1Corinthians 9. You know, some of us think about Paul as though he never had any problems or temptations or never had any sins. But the truth is he was a human being like the rest of us. He was a wonderful man of God, but he was not perfect. So at the end of 1Corinthians chapter 9 he says,
Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.
Now he’s not talking about a physical race, but he is using athletes as a standard by which to judge our own conduct. I think the most self-controlled people in some respects in the world today are professional athletes. They have to be. Why? I spoke yesterday about where there is no vision the people cast off restraints. They have a vision and they go through tremendous personal discipline to achieve their vision, to run faster, jump higher, whatever it may be, swim further. And Paul uses them as a challenge to us. He's saying, “These people have a vision and they make sacrifices for it.” They devote all their time and energy to achieving their vision. What about you? You’re running in a race but are you running so that you can win, or are you just running? Then he says,
And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate [or self-controlled] in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, [or a gold medal] but we for an imperishable crown.
So Paul says, “If they’re self-controlled, how much more should we be?” He’s challenging us by the example of athletes which he does in other places also. Paul goes on,
Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty.
I know where I’m headed for, I know where the finishing tape is and I mean to get there. I want to point out that we are not competing with one another. We’re competing with the forces that contend with us.
Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air.
You know an unskilled boxer will launch out with his fists, but he hardly ever lands on his opponent. He’s just beating the air. Paul says, “I’m not beating like that. I know what I’m fighting. I know what I am dealing with.” And then he says,
But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.
That word disciplineis not adequate. It’s a slang Greek word which means to give something a black eye. So what he’s saying is, I’m giving my body a black eye. I am really pounding my body.” The Old King James used to say, “I buffet my body” which was better. Some people say now days we buffetour body. I mean, I give my body a pounding. It’s an amazing word for Paul to use about his own body. But we don’t get an accurate picture of Paul unless we see this. Let’s use discipline,
I discipline my body and bring it into subjection lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.
That’s Paul speaking. If he had not met the conditions he could have become disqualified. Disqualified means you haven’t met the conditions you don’t qualify for the prize. Now I told you, I think yesterday, about my own, God’s dealings with me when I became extremely ill. And when I asked the Lord why, all He did was show me a series of scenes in my life, most of them in restaurants. And I want to say I was a respected Charismatic preacher. I was close to quite a number of well-known Charismatic preachers who are much the same as I was. I could get away with it with everybody expect one person, that is the Lord. God was so gracious and so merciful, but He didn’t bludgeon me. He didn’t give me a lecture. He just showed me a certain number of scenes. And he left me to form my own conclusions. Thank God I learned, because otherwise I wouldn’t be here today.
If I had died then, which I easily could have done, I would not have been a lost soul. But I tell you what I would have been, a disqualified preacher.
I want to come down to very basics before I close. I don’t want to end on too high a spiritual note. You may say, “Well, do I need to change?” I would say you probably do. I grew up in this country on the standard British diet. Meat and potatoes and vegetables and pudding, and most of it left me constipated. But I survived. Then I married a Dane, a wonderful servant of the Lord. But Danes live on - ___________ which is whipped cream. And thy make the most wonderful deserts. And I enjoyed them all. Interestingly enough, my first wife was in Palestine or Israel for twenty years and during that time she basically lived like the Arabs, which is a very simple diet—bread and oil and tomatoes and fruit. And that kept her going much longer than she would have done had she been living in Denmark.
When she went back to Denmark after twenty years away, the people who were of her same age said, “You look much younger than we do.” It was her diet. But it’s, we’re so slow to put two and two together and we usually make them mean five when we get there.
I want to say, it matters what you eat. A lot of other things matter too. It’s not the only thing that matters, but it does matter. And why should you eat yourself to an untimely death when you don’t have to? How much do you value your own life? How much do you value your own body? Let me put it this way, are you a live fish or a dead fish? Because all a dead fish can do is be carried with the current. A live fish can swim against the stream. And to be a Christian in the world today you have to be a live fish. You cannot go the way of the world.
So I want to come down to very simple basics. I think my involvement with the Jewish people has made me more interested in basics than I was. As a philosopher you don’t bother about unimportant things like your body. I mean, you’re living in this high ethereal realm of concepts and ideas and long terms. Well you say is there any way I can get information on how I could live a more healthy life? There’s lots of it available. There’s a best-selling book which has sold well over a million copies worldwide by two Jewish people. And I want to tell you when it comes to experimenting and finding things; the Jews are usually in the forefront. It’s called Fit For Lifeand it’s by Harvey and Marilyn Diamond. They won’t tell you everything but it will set you on a new course. It will awaken you to what food does in you. Actually any bookstore should carry it, because it’s a best seller. Praise God for health food stores. You can buy some things there that you can’t buy elsewhere. I don’t want to get involved about diet, but...it happens to be important, you know. I mean you’re very silly if you think it isn’t important what you eat. Isn’t that right? Because it’s really going to determine much of what you’ll become.
Then I want to point out an interesting verse or verses in Leviticus chapter 7 verses 22-27. Now this is given to Israel under the Law of Moses. I’m not saying that it applies to us. But it’s interesting.
And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,
“Speak to the children of Israel saying: ‘You shall not eat any fat, of ox or sheep of goat.
And the fat of a beast that dies naturally and the fat of what is torn by wild animals, may be used in any other way; but you shall by no means eat it.
For whoever eats the fat of the beast of which men offer an offering made by fire to the LORD, the persons who eats it shall be cut off from his people.
Moreover you shall not eat any blood in any of your dwellings, whether of bird or beast.
Whoever eats any blood, that person shall be cut off from his people.’”
Most of us are familiar of the prohibition against eating blood and it is renewed in the New Testament which the other is. But it’s an interesting fact that God did not permit His people to eat any animal fat. And I have discovered, I mean I’ve made a certain amount of discoveries for my own sake, probably let me say, one of the greatest contributing factors to heart attacks is animal fat. And it impresses me that God did not permit His people to eat it.
Now Israel lived a pretty free sort of life. But on the other hand you’ve got to bear in mind they had no labor saving devices, they had no mechanical transport, wherever they went they had to go either on foot or donkey or a camel. When Paul went around Asia Minor he didn’t travel in an air-conditioned coach. He probably traveled on a donkey. They had no means of preserving food. They ate their food fresh. They didn’t have any preservatives, and antibiotics, any of the other things that are thrust into our food to make it unnatural and less beneficial.
So most of you are aware that Ruth recently had a heart angioplasty. Now we have been for several years trying to avoid things like that. If we hadn’t I believe she would have had a heart attack. She did not have a heart attack which is wonderful, because your heart is not damaged. If you have a heart attack your heart is damaged. But if it’s merely that your arteries are clogged, that can be dealt with in most marvelous ways. I mean, I just hand it to the doctors. In their own field they’re so diligent, so faithful, so hard working, in many cases more so than preachers. But between us, Ruth and I have worked out the main sources of problems that cause heart attacks. And I mean heart attacks are on the increase everywhere in the quote “civilized world.” I think they’re the number one cause of death in the United States today.
Anyhow let me give you, and I’m going to come to a close pretty soon, but let me give you our combined list of the things that contribute to heart attacks. I have I think six things.
No. 1 Smoking. Probably nobody here has a problem with that thank God. That is probably the number one cause of heart attack.
No. 2Heredity. Somebody has asked an expert on longevity once how can I be sure of a long life. He said, “Choose the right parents.” Your parents have a lot to do and you haven’t much choice about that. Now Ruth has three brothers all of whom have had similar heart problems. One died as a young man. The other two had them almost the same time that Ruth was having hers. So undoubtedly in Ruth’s case, heredity played a significant role. And that’s something you just can’t change. But the other things you can deal with.
No. 3The next is obesity. It is now an established medical fact that obesity is a major cause of heart attaches. And then close to that...
No. 4Diet. And I do not have time to go into, and I’m not qualified to give you a lecture on diet. But it matters what you eat. Somebody has often said man is what he eats. And that very often is true. It’s an interesting fact that the underprivileged people quote “underprivileged” basically have no heart attacks. No diabetes. The United States Senate a good many years ago conducted an examination, a very technical examination into the effects of introducing refined white sugar into the diet. And they discovered in any nation where refined white sugar was introduced, within twenty-five years there was an outbreak of diabetes. That’s been well-known for probably thirty or forty years.
No. 5And then exercise. We had an interesting experience in our previous apartment. We were away for several months, and when we came back you know what the disposal is? The thing that grinds up the stuff that you put in it and pushes it down the... I wouldn’t work. So we went for the man who had a contract on it. And we said what’s the problem. He said, “You haven’t used it.” That’s true of our muscles. They’re made to be used. If we don’t use them they get clamed up. And finally,
No. 6Stress. It’s generally agreed that stress today is a major cause of heart attacks.
Now the purpose of my talk is not just to give you a little warning about heart attack. But it’s just to press home to you that it matters how you treat your body. It’s the most expensive piece of equipment you’ll ever be asked to handle. If it was a computer you’d take some trouble to learn the rules of computers. Or if it was anything else. So why not take a little while to ask God to show you how He wants you to treat your body. And the answer is, “Treat it as My temple.” Treat it with respect. Treat it with reverence. Keep it clean. Keep the drains from getting blocked. Keep the windows from getting dirty. Keep the furniture arranged in good order. All of us I think here without exception, if we were made responsible for God’s physical temple, we would give a lot of time and attention to doing it right. We are made responsible for the temple which is our body, we need to give it at least as much time and attention. Amen.
So that’s that. Now you can do whatever you like about it. At any rate, I’ve delivered my soul. I would not have felt clear if I walked away from these meetings without telling you what I’ve learned. And some of it I’ve learned the hard way. I did not need to have that heart condition. I had it because I was foolish in what I did. I don’t want to go into the details. But you find anywhere in the Bible that God favors foolishness and show it to me. I think He’s much less strict on the drunkard than He is on the fool. Isn’t that right? And we wouldn’t tolerate drunkenness but how much foolishness do we tolerate?
So in other words what I am saying is let’s take God seriously. I, from time to time I come up with a definition of faith. And one of the ones I came up with is “Faith is taking God seriously.”