Health From the Biblical Viewpoint
How does the Bible view health, and what principles does it contain for healthy living? It is certainly the Eternalís purpose for us to be healthy, III John 2. But many today, even those who claim to be true believers, abuse their bodies. Others become "health food fanatics," existing on a profuse amount of vitamin pills and organic supplements. What is the true Biblical approach to health? This article is written for those who truly want to obey the Eternalís laws.
Surprisingly, the Bible gives a few remedies for sickness. Primarily, it lays out a way of life, which, if followed, will prevent diseases.
Strong drink is prescribed for those ready to perish: "Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts. Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more," Proverbs 31:6-7. "Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomachís sake and thine often infirmities," I Timothy 5:23. Isaiah made a fig poultice to alleviate a deadly boil on King Hezekiah, II Kings 20:1-7.
A Healing Ministry
Healing definitely belongs to the Almighty God our Healer, Exodus 15:26, Jeremiah 30:17, 33:6. He promises freedom from disease for those who diligently obey all His statutes. His servants who are sent to teach the word, also have a healing ministry to perform. The Levites were guardians of the general health of the Israelites, Leviticus 13. The Levites had to be without blemish and in good health, Leviticus 21:9-11, 16-24. The people knew that priests and prophets, not doctors, were to be consulted when illness did occur, I Kings 14:1-5 (Ahijah), I Kings 17:17-24 (Elijah), and II Kings 4:18-35 (Elisha).
Our Savior performed many works of healing in His public ministry, even using natural substances as Isaiah did, John 9:1-7. Healing and teaching the laws of health are a vital part of the Great Commission to the disciples in every age, Mark 16:15-18. Luke was called the "beloved physician," Colossians 4:14, indicating that he was noted for a healing ministry.
Obedience is the Key to Health
Some people believe health foods and/or vitamins are the key to health. Others would say herbs; still others a special exercise, or even foot massaging. These, of themselves may indeed have much value, but the real key to health is often overlooked: obedience to the Eternal.
We are promised good health for obedience to all of Godís laws, Exodus 15:26, Deuteronomy 28:1-14. The cursing for disobedience is bad health and sickness, Deuteronomy 28:15-62. Obeying all the laws of the Almighty is the only way to health and happiness.
Biblical Laws of Health
There are many direct Bible laws of health. Plus, there are many clear principles relating to our health. We should follow them all.
Here are some of the direct Biblical Laws of Health:
(1) The primary Biblical law of health is ignored or neglected by many professed believers. It lays the foundation for every other Biblical principle relating to the care of the human body. Simply stated, our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, given to us by the Almighty, and is not our own to do with as we please. Our Savior paid a great price to buy us as His own. Therefore, we ought to glorify the Almighty in our body and spirit, I Corinthians 6:19-20. Every part of our body should be used for the glory of the Eternal!
(2) The law of clean and unclean flesh foods is another major Biblical health law. Certain animals, birds, fish and other creatures were never created to be eaten. Noah knew about clean and unclean animals, Genesis 7:1-3. The laws of clean and unclean in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14:1-20 were not just laws for Israel, but have been in effect for all mankind at all times. We are not to eat unclean foods, but are to be a Holy people.
(3) Other things not to be eaten include: (a) anything that dies of itself, Deuteronomy 14:21, (b) a kid in his motherís milk, Deuteronomy 14:21, Exodus 23:19, (c) blood or improperly bled animals, Leviticus 17:10-16, (d) fat, Leviticus 3:17.
(4) Moderation in food and drink. We are not to be drunkards and gluttons; Proverbs 23:20-21, 25:16. Most people in affluent societies eat and drink too much. Scientific evidence has proven that overweight increases mortality from diabetes, digestive diseases, and coronary disease. Most authorities agree that overeating and underactivity cause 95% of obesity.
(5) Ask the Lord to heal you if you become sick, James 5:14-15. Your faith in the power of the Almighty, and His promises to heal you, makes you whole, Matthew 9:20-22.
(6) Maintain a truly joyful spirit. This can only be done by producing the fruits of the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:22-23, living by every word of the Eternal, Matthew 4:4. See also Proverbs 17:22, 14:30, 4:20-22.
(7) Be an active person. This means a lot of physical work, which may include exercise and sports. Proverbs 6:6-11, 10:4-5, 12:11, 20:13, 19:15, 14:23, and I Timothy 4:7-8.
(8) Obtain proper sleep and rest. Exodus 20:8-11 is a health law as well as a spiritual law. He gives His beloved sleep, Psalms 4:8, 127:1-2, Ecclesiastes 5:12.
(9) Eat food grown in good soil organically. Try to obtain or grow your own high-quality food. Luke 13:6-9, Proverbs 28:19, Deuteronomy 14:22-23, and many other statutes of the Eternal show that Biblical laws are based on Godís ideal, agricultural, society. In todayís industrial age, it is difficult to get into harmony with the Eternalís ways, but we ought to do the best we can, with His help.
(10) Keep your body clean, and fast occasionally, for both spiritual and physical health. Isaiah 52:11, II Corinthians 7:1, and I John 3:3 refer both to physical and spiritual cleanliness. Cleanliness is indeed next to godliness. Fasting is a way to cleanse your body internally, Isaiah 58:6-8. Balm of Gilead (which can be obtained today) is a digestive cleanser, Jeremiah 8:22. Bathing in running water is a Biblical prescription for cleanliness, Leviticus 15:13, II Kings 5:10.
Proper Perspective on Food
Reading I Corinthians 6:9-20 from the Living Bible translation, we see that we should not do anything that isnít good for us, whether or not the Bible expressly forbids it. Even if allowed to eat something, we should not do so if we cannot control how much we eat. The Almighty has given us an appetite for food, and stomachs to digest it. That doesnít mean we should eat too much, or something that is harmful.
An example is smoking. The Bible doesnít say, "Thou shalt not smoke." However, scientific evidence has proven the harmful effects of smoking. It is a sin to ingest things harmful to the body, the temple of the Holy Spirit. Smoking is something that brings us into bondage, and many find it almost impossible to quit. Smoking is a sin and those in bondage to it need the Almightyís help to be released from its addictive power.
Other examples are coffee, tea, and soda pop. Americaís annual consumption of soft drinks is 37.5 gallons per person, up 175% over 1960. There is no direct Bible prohibition here. However, coffee, tea and many soft drinks contain habit-forming caffeine, a poison used by African pygmies on the tips of their spears to kill animals. Carbonated beverages tend to destroy kidney cells and allow the leakage of blood through them, destroying the bodyís natural cleansing method. Decaffeinated coffee is not entirely free of poisons either. Tea is worse than coffee, containing tannic acid, used for dying leather. Chocolate and cocoa contain caffeine and theobromine, and have been linked to intestinal cancer. Carob is a good substitute for cocoa.
If we really grasp the meaning of I Corinthians 6:19-20, then these statistics will move us to action, instead of neglect. Some will say, "Oh, well! Everything is bad for us to some extent, so why get so picky?" They may even use Mark 7:14-23 or Romans 14:17 to justify a casual disregard for what they eat.
The proper perspective on food and drink is expressly stated in I Corinthians 10:31, "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." Everything we do will be judged by the Eternal. Let us wholeheartedly serve Him in all things. Food and drink are not as important as love and mercy, but they are important.
Two-thirds of our body is water. Nothing is more vital to oneís health than good pure water. Natural spring or well water is a blessing from the Eternal. So much of the world is sick due to impure water. Waterborne diseases plague the poorer nations. Man-made pollutants added or dumped into water systems are responsible for untold death and misery. If at all possible, avoid impure water. Chlorine and fluoride additives to water destroy pipes, making plumbers rich. Think what they do to your body!
The Bible says to drink waters out of your own cistern, Proverbs 5:15-18. It is best to make sure your water is pure. Get it from your own well, spring, distill it, or at least put a filter on your tap if your water has a lot of pollutants. Safeguard your water supply, drink plenty of living waters, Song of Solomon 4:15.
Avoid Unclean Foods ó Read the Label!
It is amazing the casual attitude that some professed believers have about eating unclean meat products. One person was told that the vitamin supplement she was giving her child had "fish oil" on the label of ingredients, and that the odds were great that this meant "shark oil" rather than "cod liver oil." She did not seem at all concerned.
If we profess to live by every word of the Eternal, and believe Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14 apply to us, then let us be honest. Otherwise, why bother? It takes diligence to obey the Eternal. Letís not play "Russian roulette" with our food intake. Read the label, know what you are eating. When it says "made from animal shortening and/or vegetable shortening (lard or soya oil)," donít eat it. Otherwise, you will not only be breaking one health law, but two, that of not eating pork and fat, Leviticus 11, Deuteronomy 14:1-20, and Leviticus 3:17.
Does all of this mean that when we are at someoneís house or in a restaurant that we should make a spectacle of ourselves? Of course not! There is a way of being very discreet and finding out quietly what to avoid. Mexican or Chinese foods often contain unclean products, so one must be careful with these items. At a friendís home, simply avoid anything questionable, or in the case of close friends, tell them very politely about your beliefs when you are invited. That way, you wonít feel apprehensive and unable to enjoy yourself. If you find it has something unclean in it, simply avoid it and donít make an issue out of it.
Some may point to I Timothy 4:1-5, "every creature . . . is sanctified by the word of God and prayer," and I Corinthians 10:23-31, ". . . whatsoever is sold in the shambles, that eat, asking no question for conscience sake. . ." to try to prove that we should not carefully examine what we ingest. After all, in public it may be a little embarrassing. Please read Romans 1:16. It is easy to do this in quiet good taste without causing a scene, if a person really wants to obey the Eternal.
When we pray for the blessing of food, we do not sanctify something that is impure or unclean. We come before the Eternal giving thanks for the good food He has given us. We must have done our part to insure that it is healthy and nutritious or our prayer is meaningless. We ask the Almighty to do what we cannot do: to bestow His blessing and remove impurities that we are unaware of or cannot do anything about.
The topic of I Corinthians 10:23-33 and 8:1-13, is not clean and unclean meats, but meat offered to idols.
So it will take diligence for a true believer to insure that his diet is free of unclean foods. In all cases, we must not offend others who do not have the same knowledge that we do, I Corinthians 8:7, 13.
Peter was able to say, "I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean," Acts 10:14. Daniel refused to defile himself with the Kingís meat and drink, Daniel 1:8. Ezekiel said that from his youth he had not polluted his soul with anything that died of itself, or was torn in pieces, or abominable flesh, Ezekiel 4:14. How about us? Can we say this?
Those who eat swineís flesh and abominable things pretend to be holy, but are headed to destruction, Isaiah 65:1-5, 66:16-18. This scripture points out the fact that a physical law can certainly have spiritual consequences. We need to be careful how we conduct ourselves!
The Bread of Life
Bread is the staff of life, Leviticus 26:26, Ezekiel 4:16-17. Yet so many Sabbath-keepers have not even grasped the fact that wholesome bread is the basic part of our diet, the foundation of good health. Bread strengthens manís heart, Psalms 104:15. Todayís white bread, with its chemicals and preservatives, is robbing people of life-giving strength and polluting their bodies.
Eating 100% whole wheat bread is not a fad for "health food nuts." It is a return to the Biblical laws of health. However, to do anything right doesnít come easy! It takes work to produce a quality product. It costs more to buy wholesome bread (and less to buy white bread). The best way is to make your own. Make sure that your flour is freshly ground, for it loses nutrition unless made into bread fairly soon. Dough must be kneaded well to bring out the gluten so the bread will have the proper consistency and not crumble.
A flour mill is a basic tool one should have, whether an inexpensive hand stone mill (which takes a lot of work), or an electric stone grinder or an electronic crusher type such as the Magic Mill. An electric bread kneader such as the Bosch (also made by the Magic Mill Corporation) helps one to make professional quality breads, gluten, noodles, peanut butter, ground beef and much more, with its many attachments. It is sad that professing believers will think nothing of buying a nice car, a TV set, and yet refuse to buy basic kitchen tools for making wholesome products in the home. Ask your local Health Food Store for information on a good unit. We recommend the Magic Mill grinder and Bosch bread kneader. Write to: Magic Mill Corporation, 1911 South 3850 West, Salt Lake City, Utah 84104 USA. Wheat, rye, millet, and other grains can be milled and combined to produce nutritious, delicious products.
Some people say that they donít like the taste of wholesome food. Our very taste buds have in many cases become perverted. If you have the will to obey the Eternal, it is amazing how He can change our tastes, our thoughts, our every action.
Sugar or Honey?
The evils of sugar have been publicized so widely that there is no need to elaborate on this fact here. Refined white, or even raw sugar, is not a food but a harmful substance to the body. It is a drug that temporarily gives a person a boost because it stimulates the adrenal glands, which causes the pancreas to secrete insulin. Then the blood sugar drops too low so the liver has to convert its stored glycerine into glucose. When this is used up, there is a let down (called by doctors the "sugar blues") and another shot of sugar is needed.
The Bible shows us the proper sweetener to use: honey. We are even told to eat it; especially the honeycomb, Proverbs 24:13, but only in moderation, Proverbs 25:16, 27. When one uses honey instead of sugar, he will need less sweetener
So, let us obey the Bible. Eat honey. Make sure it is raw honey, if possible, which has not been refined or heated. Some other natural sweeteners such as maple syrup are also very good. Dates can also be used as a sweetener instead of sugar or honey.
Herbs For Manís Service
Green growing things have been created for manís health. We do not have instructions from the Almighty telling us which plants to avoid and which to eat. Some herbs are poisonous. We must learn the uses of plants, and which of them to avoid. The Creator placed Adam and Eve in a garden and told them to dress it and keep it. He said that He has given us every herb bearing seed and every tree with fruit bearing seed to be our food, Genesis 1:29-31. Further instruction must have come at that time, but it is not recorded in the Bible. At the time of Noah, the Almighty specified that clean animals were also for our food, Genesis 9:1-4 compared with Genesis 7:2.
"Herbs" are the foundation of manís diet. Meat, milk and honey are often accessories. Cereal grains are a good basic herb (plant bearing seed). Just as grass was made for cattle, so herbs were made for the service of man, Psalms 104:14, 15. Oils, such as those made from olives, sunflowers and corn, make our faces shine in health. The life-giving herbs mentioned in the Bible are not the quick fed, artificially fertilized, sprayed, processed and packaged vegetables that are eaten by our modern "civilization." They are the crops grown on healthy soil, eaten raw or lightly steamed, properly processed, if at all. Biblical herbs are also the plants that one gathers from the mountains, Proverbs 27:25. Most people today are either too busy or too lazy to gather crops from the countryside, or plant their own, Proverbs 10:5. Consumption of commercially processed fruit and vegetables has gone up in the United States while the consumption of fresh vegetables and fruit has gone down. The unconcerned person pays to let someone else make a profit off an inferior product, rather than gather his own food. As we sow in our bodies, so shall we reap.
Milk and Cheese
When our Savior described the land of promise, He called it a land flowing with milk and honey. The Bible uses this phrase seventeen times to describe a land of plenty and good things. Our society has an aversion for these good foods. The way most people eat, our country could be described as a land of soda pop and candy. Milk has been replaced with carbonated drinks as the chief beverage for children. An adult is sometimes considered strange if he drinks milk. Dairy farmers continue to go out of business because of lack of demand for their products.
The milk that is available is mostly pasteurized and/or homogenized, which robs it of vital nutrients and has been linked with heart trouble. Most milk sold comes from Holstein cows, which is of inferior quality.
What does the Bible say about milk and milk products? It mentions butter made from cows' milk, milk of sheep, Deuteronomy 32:14. Goatís milk is especially prized, Proverbs 27:26-27. Milk is a very mild substance, as opposed to meat, I Peter 2:2, I Corinthians 3:2, Hebrews 5:12-13. This brings us to a controversial subject, that of eating milk and meat together. Exodus 23:19, 34:26, and Deuteronomy 14:21 tell us not to seethe a kid in his motherís milk. This could mean not to eat a kid (of a goat) that is still nursing its mother. This is probably the true meaning, for in Genesis 18:8 we find that Abraham took butter and milk and a calf to feed the Eternal.
The Bible shows that cows' milk is made into butter, Isaiah 7:21-22, or cheese, II Samuel 17:29, I Samuel 17:18. Goatsí milk has unusual properties, making it easy to digest, even curing some stomach ulcers. Cheese from cowsí milk is quite often made from pork rennet, so be sure of what you are getting.
Is milk only for children? Not according to the Bible, which is written from the Middle Eastern point of view. As Peloubetís Bible Dictionary (article "milk") says, "as an article of diet, milk holds a more important position in eastern countries than with us. It is not a mere adjunct in cookery, or restricted to the use of the young . . . but beyond this it is regarded as a substantial food adapted alike to all ages and classes."
Drink the Pure Blood of the Grape
A great number of medical and religious authorities decry the use of alcohol. Some, however, point out the benefits of drinking wine with meals, as a healthful digestive aid and nutritional food. The Bible is not silent on this topic. Drunkenness is condemned, but right use of wine and even strong drink is not only recommended ó it is commanded! See our article on "Drink the Pure Blood of the Grape," which shows that wine, not grape juice, is to be used for the annual Christian Passover.
Our Savior lived a pure, clean and sinless life. He would not destroy His own brain cells, or anyone elseís. He drank wine, and even changed water into wine. The Apostle Paul, who taught us in I Corinthians 6:19-20, to glorify the Almighty with our bodies, prescribed wine to Timothy for a stomach ailment, I Timothy 5:23. Notice, he said a little wine. There is a right use of wine. Wine is a blessing from the Eternal for keeping His laws, Deuteronomy 14:22-26.
Again as is so often the case, man perverts what the Eternal gives as a blessing. Instead of naturally fermented wine, most alcohol is made artificially with the aid of chemicals, such as formaldehyde. The quantity consumed is often excessive.
Wine as a health-giving beverage is especially important for the elderly. It has a blessing associated with it, if used properly. Scientific research has shown that 1-2 drinks of the proper kind per day are beneficial to health and will lengthen life, whereas 3-4 or more drinks per day are detrimental to health. (One drink = 1.5 ounces. of liquor, or 8 ounces beer, or 6 ounces wine. Source: Center for Consumer Health Education.) Wine helps us to be joyful, Psalms 104:14-15. Use it properly.
Fasting to Loose the Bonds of Sin
There is certainly a tie between the physical and the spiritual. Nowhere is this tie more clearly seen than with fasting, a physical (and spiritual) act that should produce a spiritual (and physical) benefit.
At times, we drift away from the Eternal and His ways. Unrepented sins and poisonous thoughts get the upper hand and lead us to spiritual sickness. The Almighty doesnít hear our prayers because of our sins, Isaiah 59:1-2. Body poisons, from sinful eating habits or wrong thoughts, can build up and make us physically sick. A Biblical prescription in both cases is fasting. Primarily, fasting has a spiritual purpose. It should loose the bands of wickedness and draw us closer to the Eternal; undoing the heavy burdens of sin, and making us aware of the needs of the poor, Isaiah 58:1-7. It has both a spiritual and physical blessing. Done the right way, the Eternal says, "Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily . . . . Then shalt thou call, and the LORD shall answer . . .", Isaiah 58:8-12.
Keeping the Sabbath Holy
The above passage continues (verses 13-14) to give another key to health: keeping the Sabbath holy. In this world of turmoil, nervous tension, and striving to make a living, we need a haven of rest. The Sabbath can be a time of spiritual and physical rejuvenation so we can be recharged and ready to tackle the responsibility of life for the next week. Properly kept, the Sabbath is essential to your spiritual and physical health.
Other Biblical Health Principles
This article is not intended to be medical textbook, nor a health food book of doís and doníts. We hope that all who seek to obey the Eternal will look to the Bible as the foundation of all knowledge, and follow its guiding principles. The Bible is a way of life, that affects what we do, say, think, wear, and eat.
In religion, as well as in health, we have seen some who exhibit initial enthusiasm but soon lapse into their old ways. Like the seed that fell on stony ground, they joyfully begin to follow Biblical laws of health, but when difficulty or other adverse conditions come, they give it all up. Living by the Bible, including its laws of health, is not a game, but a lifetime vocation. Everyone of us needs improvement in our physical and spiritual life. Diligence and continual effort are required.
Look to the Bible for guidelines. The Bible discusses foods such as cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic (Numbers 11:5), ingredients such as myrrh, aloe, and spices, and so much more. Use these Bible foods and substances. Learn more about your body, the Temple of the Holy Spirit. Treat it with respect. Teach others to do the same.
The Almighty Yahweh, our Healer, is, and always has been, concerned about our health. Read Revelation 22:1-5 and prepare now for the time when the Messiah arises (returns to rule the earth) with healing in His wings, Malachi 4:2. Follow the Biblical laws of health now, and for all eternity, verses 3-6.
None of These Diseases, by Dr. S.I. McMillen. Proof of Biblical health principles.
Vaccination Condemned, by E. McBean. Protect your children from dangerous vaccines.
Back to Eden, Jethro Kloss. Americaís best-known health book, describing the proper use of natureís herbs.
The Natural Childbirth Book, by Milburn & Smith. Have your baby Godís way.
Feasting Naturally, by Mary Pickard. Over 300 excellent natural recipes.
Wheat for Man Cookbook, by V. Rosenvall. For 35 years a classic!
Confessions of a Medical Heretic, Dr. Robert Mendelsohn. How to guard against harmful effects of doctors, drugs, hospitals.
Your Keys to Radiant Health, by William Dankenbring.
Wonderful World of Honey by Joe Parkhill.
Return to Health Resources.
Return to Biblical Health and Healing Table of Contents.
Go to Anointing the Sick.