Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4


Chapter 4—Indulgence of Appetite

Dear Brethren and Sisters,

I have been shown some things in reference to the church in -----. Individual cases were presented to me which in many respects represent the cases of many others. Among them was that of Sister A and her husband. The Lord convicted him of the truth. He was charmed with the harmony and spirit of the truth, and was blessed in confessing it. But Satan came to him with his temptations upon the point of appetite. 4T 28.1

Brother A had long indulged his appetite for stimulants, which had had an influence to becloud the mind, weaken the intellect, and lessen the moral powers. Reason and judgment were brought into bondage to depraved, unnatural appetite, and his birthright, his God-given manhood, was sacrificed to intemperate habits. Had Brother A made the word of God his study and his guide, had he trusted in God and prayed for grace to overcome, he would have had strength in the name of Jesus to baffle the tempter. 4T 28.2

But Brother A had never felt the high claims that God has upon him. His moral faculties had been enfeebled by his habits of eating and drinking, and by his dissipation. When he embraced the truth he had a character to form for heaven. God would test and prove him. He had a work to do for himself that no one could do for him. By his course of life he had lost many years of precious probationary time, when he might have been gaining an experience in matters of religion, and a knowledge of the life of Christ, and of the infinite sacrifice made in man's behalf to free him from the fetters that Satan had bound upon him, and enable him to glorify His name. 4T 28.3

Christ paid a dear price for man's redemption. In the wilderness of temptation He suffered the keenest pangs of hunger; and while He was emaciated with fasting, Satan was at hand with his manifold temptations to assail the Son of God, to take advantage of His weakness and overcome Him, and thus thwart the plan of salvation. But Christ was steadfast. He overcame in behalf of the race, that He might rescue them from the degradation of the Fall. Christ's experience is for our benefit. His example in overcoming appetite points out the way for those who would be His followers and finally sit with Him on His throne. 4T 29.1

Christ suffered hunger in the fullest sense. Mankind generally have all that is needful to sustain life. And yet, like our first parents, they desire that which God would withhold because it is not best for them. Christ suffered hunger for necessary food and resisted the temptation of Satan upon the point of appetite. Indulgence of intemperate appetite creates in fallen man unnatural desires for the things which will eventually prove his ruin. 4T 29.2

Man came from the hand of God perfect in every faculty of mind and body; in perfect soundness, therefore in perfect health. It took more than two thousand years of indulgence of appetite and lustful passions to create such a state of things in the human organism as would lessen vital force. Through successive generations the tendency was more swiftly downward. Indulgence of appetite and passion combined led to excess and violence; debauchery and abominations of every kind weakened the energies and brought upon the race diseases of every type, until the vigor and glory of the first generations passed away, and, in the third generation from Adam, man began to show signs of decay. Successive generations after the Flood degenerated more rapidly. 4T 29.3

All this weight of woe and accumulated suffering can be traced to the indulgence of appetite and passion. Luxurious living and the use of wine corrupt the blood, inflame the passions, and produce diseases of every kind. But the evil does not end here. Parents leave maladies as a legacy to their children. As a rule, every intemperate man who rears children transmits his inclinations and evil tendencies to his offspring; he gives them disease from his own inflamed and corrupted blood. Licentiousness, disease, and imbecility are transmitted as an inheritance of woe from father to son and from generation to generation, and this brings anguish and suffering into the world, and is no less than a repetition of the fall of man. 4T 30.1

A continual transgression of nature's laws is a continual transgression of the law of God. The present weight of suffering and anguish which we see everywhere, the present deformity, decrepitude, disease, and imbecility now flooding the world, make it, in comparison to what it might be and what God designed it should be, a lazar house; and the present generation are feeble in mental, moral, and physical power. All this misery has accumulated from generation to generation because fallen man will break the law of God. Sins of the greatest magnitude are committed through the indulgence of perverted appetite. 4T 30.2

The taste created for the disgusting, filthy poison, tobacco, leads to the desire for stronger stimulants; as liquor, which is taken on one plea or another for some imaginary infirmity or to prevent some possible disease. Thus an unnatural appetite is created for these hurtful and exciting stimulants; and this appetite has strengthened until the increase of intemperance in this generation is alarming. Beverage-loving, liquor-drinking men may be seen everywhere. Their intellect is enfeebled, their moral powers are weakened, their sensibilities are benumbed, and the claims of God and heaven are not realized, eternal things are not appreciated. The Bible declares that no drunkard shall inherit the kingdom of God. 4T 30.3

Tobacco and liquor stupefy and defile the user. But the evil does not stop here. He transmits irritable tempers, polluted blood, enfeebled intellects, and weak morals to his children, and renders himself accountable for all the evil results that his wrong and dissipated course of life brings upon his family and the community. The race is groaning under a weight of accumulated woe, because of the sins of former generations. And yet with scarcely a thought or care, men and women of the present generation indulge intemperance by surfeiting and drunkenness, and thereby leave, as a legacy for the next generation, disease, enfeebled intellects, and polluted morals. 4T 30.4

Intemperance of any kind is the worst sort of selfishness. Those who truly fear God and keep His commandments look upon these things in the light of reason and religion. How can any man or woman keep the law of God, which requires man to love his neighbor as himself, and indulge intemperate appetite, which benumbs the brain, weakens the intellect, and fills the body with disease? Intemperance inflames the passions and gives loose rein to lust. And reason and conscience are blinded by the lower passions. 4T 31.1

We inquire: What will the husband of Sister A do? Will he, like Esau, sell his birthright for a mess of pottage? Will he sell his godlike manhood to indulge a perverted taste which only brings unhappiness and degradation? “The wages of sin is death.” Has not this brother the moral courage to deny appetite? His habits have not been in harmony with the truth and with the Testimonies of reproof which God has seen fit to give His people. His conscience was not altogether dead. He knew that he could not serve God and indulge his appetite; therefore he yielded to the temptation of Satan, which was too strong for him to resist in his own strength. He was overcome. He has assigned his want of interest in the truth to other causes than the true one in order to cover his own weak purpose and the real cause of his backsliding from God, which was uncontrolled appetite. 4T 31.2

This is where many stumble; they waver between denial of appetite and its indulgence, and finally are overcome by the enemy and yield the truth. Many who have backslidden from the truth assign as a reason for their course that they do not have faith in the Testimonies. Investigation reveals the fact that they had some sinful habit that God has condemned through the Testimonies. The question now is: Will they yield their idol which God condemns, or will they continue in their wrong course of indulgence and reject the light God has given them reproving the very things in which they delight? The question to be settled with them is: Shall I deny myself and receive as of God the Testimonies which reprove my sins, or shall I reject the Testimonies because they reprove my sins? 4T 31.3

In many cases the Testimonies are fully received, the sin and indulgence broken off, and reformation at once commences in harmony with the light God has given. In other instances sinful indulgences are cherished, the Testimonies are rejected, and many excuses which are untrue are offered to others as the reason for refusing to receive them. The true reason is not given. It is a lack of moral courage—a will, strengthened and controlled by the Spirit of God, to renounce hurtful habits. 4T 32.1

It is not an easy matter to overcome an established taste for narcotics and stimulants. In the name of Christ alone can this great victory be gained. He overcame in behalf of man in the long fast of nearly six weeks in the wilderness of temptation. He sympathizes with the weakness of man. His love for fallen man was so great that He made an infinite sacrifice that He might reach him in his degradation and through His divine power finally elevate him to His throne. But it rests with man whether Christ shall accomplish for him that which He is fully able to do. 4T 32.2

Will man take hold of divine power, and with determination and perseverance resist Satan, as Christ has given him example in His conflict with the foe in the wilderness of temptation? God cannot save man against his will from the power of Satan's artifices. Man must work with his human power, aided by the divine power of Christ, to resist and to conquer at any cost to himself. In short, man must overcome as Christ overcame. And then, through the victory that it is his privilege to gain by the all-powerful name of Jesus, he may become an heir of God and joint heir with Jesus Christ. This could not be the case if Christ alone did all the overcoming. Man must do his part; he must be victor on his own account, through the strength and grace that Christ gives him. Man must be a co-worker with Christ in the labor of overcoming, and then he will be partaker with Christ of His glory. 4T 32.3

It is a sacred work in which we are engaged. The apostle Paul exhorts his brethren: “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” It is a sacred duty that we owe to God to keep the spirit pure, as a temple for the Holy Ghost. If the heart and mind are devoted to the service of God, obeying all His commandments, loving Him with all the heart, might, mind, and strength, and our neighbor as ourselves, we shall be found loyal and true to the requirements of heaven. 4T 33.1

Again the apostle says: “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.” He also urges his brethren to earnest diligence and steady perseverance in their efforts for purity and holiness of life, in these words: “And 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.” 4T 33.2