The Appetites and Passions
from fleshy lusts, which war against the soul," is the language of the
apostle Peter (1 Peter 2:11). Many regard this text as a warning against
licentiousness only, but it has a broader meaning. It forbids every
injurious gratification of appetite or passion. Let none who profess
godliness regard with indifference the health of the body, and flatter
themselves that intemperance is no sin, and will not affect their
spirituality. A close sympathy exists between the physical and the moral
nature. Any habit which does not promote health degrades the higher and
nobler faculties. Wrong habits of eating and drinking lead to errors in
thought and action. Indulgence of appetite strengthens the animal
propensities, giving them the ascendancy over the mental and spiritual
It is impossible for any to enjoy the blessing of sanctification while
they are selfish and gluttonous. Many groan under a burden of
infirmities because of wrong habits of eating and drinking, which do
violence to the laws of life and health. They are enfeebling their
digestive organs by indulging perverted appetite. The power
of the human constitution to resist the abuses put upon it is wonderful,
but persistent wrong habits in excessive eating and drinking will
enfeeble every function of the body. In the gratification of perverted
appetite and passion even professed Christians cripple nature in her
work and lessen physical, mental, and moral power. Let these feeble ones
consider what they might have been had they lived temperately and
promoted health instead of abusing it.
Not an Impossible Standard
When Paul wrote, "The very God of peace sanctify you wholly" (1
Thessalonians 5:23), he did not exhort his brethren to aim at a standard
which it was impossible for them to reach; he did not pray that they
might have blessings which it was not the will of God to give. He knew
that all who would be fitted to meet Christ in peace must possess a pure
and holy character. "Every man that striveth for the mastery is
temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown;
but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so
fight I, not as one that beateth the air: but I keep under my body, and
bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached
to others, I myself should be a castaway" (1 Corinthians 9:25-27).
"What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which
is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are
bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your
spirit, which are God's" (1 Corinthians 6:19, 20).
An Unblemished Offering
Again, the apostle writes to the believers, "I beseech you therefore,
brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living
sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service"
(Romans 12:1). Specific directions were given to ancient Israel that no
defective or diseased animal should be presented as an offering to God.
Only the most perfect were to be selected for this purpose. The Lord,
though the prophet Malachi, most severely reproved His people for
departing from these instructions.
"A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a
father, where is mine honour? and if I be a master, where is my fear?
saith the Lord of hosts unto you, O priests, that despise my name. And
ye say, Wherein have we despised thy name? Ye offer polluted bread upon
mine altar; and ye say, Wherein have we polluted thee? In that ye say,
The table of the Lord is contemptible. And if ye offer the blind for
sacrifice, is it not evil? and if ye offer the lame and sick, is it not
evil? offer it now unto thy governor; will he be pleased with thee, or
accept thy person? saith the Lord of hosts. . . . Ye brought that which
was torn, and the lame, and the sick; thus ye brought an offering:
should I accept this of your hand? saith the Lord" (Malachi 1:6-13).
Though addressed to ancient Israel, these words contain a lesson for the
people of God today. When the apostle appeals to his brethren to present
their bodies "a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God," he sets
forth the principles of true sanctification. It is not merely a theory,
an emotion, or a form of words, but a living, active principle, entering
into the everyday life. It requires that our habits of eating, drinking,
and dressing be such as to secure the preservation of physical, mental,
and moral health, that we may present to the Lord our bodies, not an
offering corrupted by wrong habits, but "a living sacrifice, holy,
acceptable unto God."
Stimulants and Narcotics
Peter's admonition to abstain from fleshly lusts is a most direct and
forcible warning against the use of all such stimulants and narcotics as
tea, coffee, tobacco, alcohol, and morphine. These indulgences may well
be classed among the lusts that exert a pernicious influence upon moral
character. The earlier these hurtful habits are formed, the more firmly
will they hold their victim in slavery to lust, and the more certainly
will they lower the standard of spirituality.
Bible teaching will make but a feeble impression upon those whose
faculties are benumbed by self-gratification. Thousands will sacrifice
not only health and life but their hope of heaven before they will wage
war against their own perverted appetites. One lady who for many years
claimed to be sanctified, made the statement that if she must give up
her pipe or heaven she would say, "Farewell, heaven; I cannot overcome
my love for my pipe." This idol had been enshrined in the soul, leaving
to Jesus a subordinate place. Yet this woman claimed to be wholly the
Lusts That War Against the Soul
Wherever they may be, those who are truly sanctified will elevate the
moral standard by preserving correct physical habits, and, like Daniel,
presenting to others an example of temperance and self-denial. Every
depraved appetite becomes a warring lust. Everything that conflicts with
natural law creates a diseased condition of the soul. The indulgence of
appetite produces a dyspeptic stomach, a torpid liver, a clouded brain,
and thus perverts the temper and spirit of the man. And these enfeebled
powers are offered to God, who refused to accept the victims for
sacrifice unless they were without a blemish! It is our duty to bring
our appetites and our habits of life into conformity to natural law. If
the bodies offered upon Christ's altar were examined with the close
scrutiny to which the Jewish sacrifices were subjected, who would be
With what care should Christians regulate their habits, that they may
preserve the full vigor of every faculty to give to the service of
Christ. If we would be sanctified, in soul, body, and spirit, we must
live in conformity to the divine law. The heart cannot preserve
consecration to God while the appetites and passions are indulged at the
expense of health and life. Those who violate the laws upon which health
depends, must suffer the penalty. They have so limited their abilities
in every sense that they cannot properly discharge their duties to their
fellow men, and they utterly fail to answer the claims of God.
When Lord Palmerston, premier of England, was petitioned by the Scotch
clergy to appoint a day of fasting and prayer to avert the cholera, he
replied, in effect, "Cleanse and disinfect your streets and houses,
promote cleanliness and health among the poor, and see that they are
plentifully supplied with good food and raiment, and employ right
sanitary measures generally, and you will have no occasion to fast and
pray. Nor will the Lord hear your prayers while these, His preventives,
Says Paul, "Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh
and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God" (2 Corinthians 7:1).
He presents for our encouragement the freedom enjoyed by the truly
sanctified: "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in
Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit"
(Romans 8:1). He charges the Galatians, "Walk in the Spirit, and ye
shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh" (Galatians 5:16). He names some
of the forms of fleshly lust --"idolatry, . . . drunkenness, . . . and
such like" (verses 20, 21). And after mentioning the fruits of the
Spirit, among which is temperance, he adds, "And they that are Christ's
have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts" (verse 24).
James says that the wisdom which is from above is "first pure" (James
3:17). If he had seen his brethren using tobacco, would he not have
denounced the practice as "earthly, sensual, devilish" (verse 15)? In
age of Christian light, how often the lips that take the precious name
of Christ are defiled by tobacco spittle and the breath is polluted with
the stench. Surely, the soul that can enjoy such uncleanness must also
be defiled. As I have seen men who claimed to enjoy the blessing of
entire sanctification, while they were slaves to tobacco, polluting
everything around them, I have thought, How would heaven appear with
tobacco users in it? God's word has plainly declared that "there shall
in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth" (Revelation 21:27).
How, then, can those who indulge this filthy habit hope to find
Men professing godliness offer their bodies upon Satan's altar and burn
the incense of tobacco to his satanic majesty. Does this statement seem
severe? Certainly, the offering is presented to some deity. As God is
pure and holy, and will accept nothing defiling in its character, He
must refuse this expensive, filthy, and unholy sacrifice; therefore we
conclude that Satan is the one who claims the honor.
Jesus died to rescue man from the grasp of Satan. He came to set us free
by the blood of His atoning sacrifice. The man who has become the
property of Jesus Christ, and whose body is the temple of the Holy
Ghost, will not be enslaved by the pernicious habit of tobacco using.
His powers belong to Christ, who has bought him with the price of blood.
His property is the Lord's. How, then, can he be guiltless in expending
every day the Lord's entrusted capital to gratify an appetite which has
no foundation in nature?
An enormous sum is yearly squandered for this indulgence, while souls
are perishing for the word of life. Professed Christians rob God in
tithes and offerings, while they offer on the altar of destroying lust,
in the use of tobacco, more than they give to relieve the poor or to
supply the wants of God's cause. Those who are truly sanctified will
overcome every hurtful lust. Then all these channels of needless expense
will be turned to the Lord's treasury, and Christians will take the lead
in self-denial, in self-sacrifice, and in temperance. Then they will be
the light of the world.
Tea and Coffee
Tea and coffee, as well as tobacco, have an injurious effect upon the
system. Tea is intoxicating. Though less in degree, its effect is the
same in character as that of spirituous liquors. Coffee has a greater
tendency to becloud the intellect and benumb the energies. It is not so
powerful as tobacco, but is similar in its effect. The arguments brought
against tobacco may also be urged against the use of tea and coffee.
When those who are in the habit of using tea, coffee, tobacco, opium, or
spirituous liquors are deprived of the accustomed indulgence, they find
it impossible to engage with interest and zeal in the worship of God.
Divine grace seems powerless to enliven or spiritualize their prayers or
their testimonies. These professed Christians should consider the source
of their enjoyment. Is it from above, or from beneath?
To a user of stimulants, everything seems insipid
without the darling indulgence. This deadens the natural sensibilities
of both body and mind and renders him less susceptible to the influence
of the Holy Spirit. In the absence of the usual stimulant he has a
hungering of body and soul, not for righteousness, not for holiness, not
for God's presence, but for his cherished idol. In the indulgence of
hurtful lusts, professed Christians are daily enfeebling their powers,
making it impossible to glorify God.