The Review and Herald

220/1902

November 21, 1882

Temperance a Christian Duty

EGW

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 man began to show signs of decay in the third generation from Adam. Successive generations after the flood degenerated more rapidly. RH November 21, 1882, par. 1

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. 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, and the evil does not end here; he gives to 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, bringing anguish and suffering into the world, which is no less than a repetition of the fall of man. RH November 21, 1882, par. 2

The 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. The present generation are feeble in mental, moral, and physical power. RH November 21, 1882, par. 3

All this accumulated misery from generation to generation is because fallen man will break the law of God. Sins of the greatest magnitude are committed through the indulgence of perverted appetite. RH November 21, 1882, par. 4

The effort made to create a taste 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. The increase of intemperance in this generation is alarming. Beverage-loving, liquor-drinking men may be seen everywhere. Their intellect is enfeebled, the moral powers are weakened, the sensibilities are benumbed; the claims of God and Heaven are not realized, and eternal things are not appreciated. The Bible declares that no drunkard shall inherit the kingdom of God. Every intemperate person renders himself accountable, not only for the sins which he commits in his own person, but for the evil results that his dissipated course of life has brought upon his family and upon the community. RH November 21, 1882, par. 5

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. RH November 21, 1882, par. 6

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. Reason and conscience are blinded by the lower passions. RH November 21, 1882, par. 7

It is not an easy matter to overcome established habits, to deny the appetite for narcotics and stimulants. In the name of Christ alone can this great victory be gained. Our Saviour paid a dear price for man's redemption. In the wilderness of temptation he suffered the keenest pangs of hunger; and while 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. The Son of God sympathizes with the weaknesses of man. His love for the fallen race was so great that he made an infinite sacrifice to reach man in his degradation, and through his divine power elevate him finally to his throne. But it rests with man whether Christ shall accomplish for him that which he is fully able to do. RH November 21, 1882, par. 8

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 which it is his privilege to gain by the all-powerful name of Jesus, he may become an heir of God and joint-heir with Christ. RH November 21, 1882, par. 9

This could not be the case if Christ alone did all the overcoming. Man must do his part. Man must be victor on his own account, through the strength and grace that Jesus 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. 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.” RH November 21, 1882, par. 10

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, if we love 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. RH November 21, 1882, par. 11

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.” RH November 21, 1882, par. 12

He presents before us the spiritual warfare and its reward, in contrast with the various games instituted among the heathen in honor of their gods. For these games, young men were trained by the most severe discipline. Every indulgence which would have a tendency to weaken the powers of the body was forbidden. Those who submitted to the training process were not allowed luxurious food or wine; for this would lessen personal vigor, healthful activity, fortitude, and firmness. It was considered the highest honor to gain a simple chaplet which would fade in a few short hours. RH November 21, 1882, par. 13

Many witnesses, kings and nobles, were present on these occasions. The competitors for this perishable crown, after they had exercised strict self-denial, and submitted to rigid discipline in order to obtain personal vigor and activity with the hope of becoming victors, were even then not sure of the prize. The prize could be awarded to but one. Some might labor fully as hard as others, and put forth their utmost efforts to gain the crowning honor, but, as they reached forth the hand to secure the prize, another, an instant before them, might secure the coveted treasure. RH November 21, 1882, par. 14

This is not the case in the Christian warfare. All may run this race, and may be sure of victory and immortal honor, if they submit to the conditions. Says Paul, “So run that ye may obtain.” He then explains the conditions which are necessary for them to observe in order to be successful: “And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things.” RH November 21, 1882, par. 15

If heathen men, who are not controlled by enlightened conscience, who have not the fear of God before them, would deny themselves of every weakening indulgence merely for a wreath of perishable substance and the applause of the multitude, how much more should they who are running the Christian race in the hope of immortality and the approval of Heaven, be willing to deny themselves unhealthy stimulants and indulgences which degrade the morals, enfeeble the intellect, and bring the higher powers in subjection to the animal appetites and passions. RH November 21, 1882, par. 16

Multitudes in the world are witnessing this game of life, the Christian warfare. And this is not all. The Monarch of the universe, and the myriads of heavenly angels are spectators of this race—anxiously watching to see who will be successful overcomers, and win the crown of glory that fadeth not away. With intense interest, God and heavenly angels mark the self-denying, agonizing efforts of those who engage to run the Christian race. The reward given to every man will be in accordance with the persevering energy and faithful earnestness with which he has performed his part in the great contest. RH November 21, 1882, par. 17

In the games referred to, but one was sure of the prize. In the Christian race, says the apostle, I run “not as uncertainly.” We are not to be disappointed at the end of the race. To all those who fully comply with the conditions in God's word, with a sense of their responsibility to preserve physical vigor and activity of body, that they may have well-balanced minds and sound morals, the race is not uncertain. They all may gain the prize, and win and wear the crown of immortal glory. RH November 21, 1882, par. 18

The apostle Paul tells us that “we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.” A cloud of witnesses are observing our Christian course. “Wherefore, seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who, for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” RH November 21, 1882, par. 19

The world should be no criterion for us. It is fashionable to indulge the appetite with luxurious food and unnatural stimulants, strengthening by indulgence the animal propensities, and crippling the growth and development of the moral faculties. RH November 21, 1882, par. 20

There is no encouragement given to the sons and daughters of Adam that they may become victorious overcomers in the Christian warfare unless they decide to practice temperance in all things. If they do this, they will not fight as one that beateth the air. RH November 21, 1882, par. 21

If Christians will keep the body in subjection and bring all their appetites and passions under the control of enlightened conscience, feeling it a duty that they owe to God and to their neighbor to obey the laws which govern health and life, they will have the blessing of physical and mental vigor. They will have moral power to engage in the warfare against Satan; and in the name of Him who conquered appetite in their behalf, they may be more than conquerors on their own account. RH November 21, 1882, par. 22