"Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul." 1 Pet.2:11. "This I say then, walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye can not do the things that ye would." Gal.5:16, 17. "For if ye live after the flesh ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live." Rom.8:13.
By these tests we plainly understand the "flesh" to be antagonistical to the Spirit. God has created us with a fleshly nature, or made us a fleshly being. He has also created things for the sustenance of this fleshly life. He has created food and drink for man's use. A proper use of these is not a lust of the flesh. An improper use may be considered lust. Our eating and drinking should be to the glory of God. The primary object in our eating should be to sustain life and promote health and strength, that we may be able to labor for and glorify God.
If we have a pure and undefiled conscience and are conscientious before God, and fully comprehend that we are not our own, but that we are God's property and that we should glorify him in our body and our spirit, we then most certainly would eat and drink such things to the extent of our knowledge as are most conducive to development of physical energy, and mental activity. It is not a lust of the flesh if we eat and drink to the glory of God. Temperance in natural God-given food and drink is the law of Heaven. It is of surfeiting that the Son of God warns us to beware. Luke 21:34. There are a great many things in creation which God never designed for the use of man as food and drink. Temperance does not mean a moderate use of these things. Their use is wholly forbidden.
Again man may by certain processes change the natural into an unnatural and make it in opposition to God's law. Because man has not always had the glory of God as his object in eating, drinking, and clothing, but became intemperate in the things which he allows, many have through the lust of the flesh been led to indulge in things from which the Word of God and the laws of health demand total abstinence. The injurious indulgences are so many and various as to furnish subject enough for volumes. We can only mention briefly the ones that are most generally indulged in, and which are destroying soul and body.
All whiskies, rums, brandies, and fermented wines contain a certain amount of alcohol. It consists of hydrogen, carbon, and oxygen, and is a powerful antiseptic. It is the intoxicating ingredient found in distilled liquors. An appetite for spirituous liquors is unnatural. It is true this appetite may be inherited, but because the child apparently takes naturally to these strong drinks is no proof they are a natural drink.
The word alcohol is not used by any of the writers of the New Testament. Paul speaks of wine and says that the bishop must be a man "not given to wine" (1 Tim.3:3; Titus 1:7), and of the deacon, "not given to much wine." Ver.8. To the church at Ephesus he says, "Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess: but be filled with the Spirit." Eph.5:18.
He recommends wine to Timothy: "Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities." 1 Tim.5:23. There is nothing in this text for the consolation of the wine-bibber. The professed follower of Christ who loves to sip the wine-cup, and by this text persuades himself to believe he is not violating God's law, wrests it to his own hurt. That Timothy had some stomach trouble is very evident from this text. We are not ready to admit that it was fermented wine Paul advised him to use. It often happens that water, especially if it is not pure, will distress a diseased stomach. This wine was recommended as a hygienic law. When an individual is troubled with constipation he will find bread made from unbolted wheat flour to be much more healthful for him than bread made from fine white flour. We would not advise the use of this merely as a luxury, nor as a medicine, but as a common-sense law of health. The juice of the grape contains a considerable portion of water, so much that one can get all the water the system requires and not drink the sweet juice to an excess. From the text it is natural to conclude that water was hurtful to Timothy, since he is advised to drink no longer water.
In cities and certain countries travelers often find the water disagreeable and unhealthful to them. It would be wisdom to use unfermented wine, or boil the water and add the juice of a lemon or some fruit to make it palatable. It would be very unwise for us on such an occasion to justify ourselves in the use of narcotic and fermented drinks. They are as injurious to the stomach as impure water, and were we compelled to drink either, we would feel more in God's order to trust him to counteract the poison in the water rather than the poison of fermented wines and narcotic teas and coffees.
The drinking in moderation or "not to excess" of unfermented wine is healthful, and in harmony with divine laws: but total abstinence from spirituous liquors is the command of God. While alcohol, whisky, and brandy are words not used in the New Testament their use is none the less objectionable and sinful. These ardent spirits produce an effect called drunkenness, and the Scriptures class drunkenness with the works of the flesh, and declare that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. Gal.5:19-21. The reader will only have to refer to any authentic medical or hygienic work to learn of the injurious effects of alcohol upon the human system.
"Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise." Prov.20:1. "Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine: they that go to seek mixed wine. Look not thou on the wine when it is red, when it giveth his color in the cup, when it moveth itself aright [is fermented]. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder." Prov.23:29-32.
We would say again that in all things God has given us to sustain life and make us healthful, comfortable and happy he would have us to be temperate and "keep our body in subjection." But there are some things which he would have us "touch not, taste not; handle not." Col.2:21.
Very few people especially among the religious class, are not willing to admit that drunken debauchery and carousal is altogether outside the realms of Christianity, and can only be engaged in by those wholly devoid of the love and grace of God. It is however a source of astonishment to the pure-hearted child of God to find so many professing Christ, yet unwilling to admit that tobacco using is a lust of the flesh. Oftentimes when speaking to a man concerning the tobacco habit, he will say, The word tobacco is not mentioned in the Bible. This is true. As we have before said, the word alcohol is not found in the Scriptures, but its effects upon the human system are mentioned, and no one can thus affect his body without placing his soul in great danger.
Tobacco is not mentioned in the Scripture, but its effects are, and we are positively commanded to remedy such effects. Paul says, "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." 2 Cor.7:1. One effect of tobacco using is "filthiness," from which we are commanded to cleanse ourselves. But few people are not ready to admit that using tobacco is a filthy habit. Then since the Word of God condemns filthiness, the tobacco habit stands condemned. It is indeed a sin-seared and tobacco-stunned conscience that denies the use of tobacco being a lust of the flesh. It can be nothing else but a fleshly lust. How frequently the lust of the flesh is condemned in the Holy Scriptures. It wars against the soul. It is enmity against God. It lusteth against the Spirit.
Dear reader, will you listen to reason and truth? We are aware how difficult it is for man to see and acknowledge the truth when some cherished idol stands between him and the truth. It is not a difficult thing to help him to comprehend the sinfulness of some evil thing which his heart is not set upon, but he is blinded to any sin in the cherished object of his affections.
Recently there were in a meeting two middle aged ladies. One of them was fashionably dressed, while the other was uncommonly plain in her apparel. The lady in the plain dress was addicted to the habit of using snuff. The lady in the fashionable dress abhorred such a filthy practise. When the Word of God was read on the comeliness and plainness of female attire, the lady in the plain dress smiled and nodded assent. The lady whose heart was set on costly apparel, expressed a rejection of God's Word in her countenance and manner. In the discourse the subject was changed from the wearing of gay clothing to the practise of tobacco using. When the habit of using snuff was mentioned the plain lady's smile was turned to a sneer, and the fashionable lady's sneer was turned to a smile. Afterwards in conversation the fashionable lady said she believed it was a sin to use snuff, but she could not see any evil in wearing gay and fine clothing. The plain lady said she thought it was a sin to wear such plumed hats and beaded dresses, but she could see no harm in using snuff. This proved to us what we have before mentioned, that it is difficult for man to see any sin in his idol.
If you are not very careful you will be seeking to justify yourself in your indulgences, though they be wrong. So if you, dear reader, will lay down all prejudice, with a heart open to reason and truth, we will consider with you the use of tobacco. We claim, first, that tobacco is injurious to health. The Bible tells us that we are not our own, but are bought with a price; therefore we should glorify God in our body and spirit which are his.1 Cor.6:19, 20. Also that whether we eat or drink, or whatsoever we do, we should do all to the glory of God.1 Cor.10:31. We can not indulge in anything injurious to the health of the body without incurring the displeasure of God. Now we frequently meet strong looking, and apparently healthy men, who have used tobacco for several years. Such are often ready to say, "Tobacco does not hurt me." They are honest in this. Being strongly constituted the poison of tobacco has not as yet succeeded in affecting them to a noticeable extent. Sooner or later, however, it will make its awful sting to be felt. Some men may expose themselves to the most inclement weather for years and experience no visible injurious effects; however, slowly, but surely, such negligence is undermining the general health, and the pains of his old days will repay him for the fool-hardiness of his youth.
We have read may works on hygiene, and never a one but what has without hesitancy pronounced tobacco and alcohol very injurious poisons. We have a few by us and will give you some short quotations.
"It tends to debilitate the organs, it weakens the memory. By the use of tobacco we entail upon ourselves a whole train of nervous maladies. It will bow down to the earth an intellect of giant strength and make it grind in bondage like Samson shorn of his strength." -- Hitchcock.
"It impairs the functions of the brain, clouds the understanding, and enfeebles the memory." -- Dr. Stevens.
"In whatever way it is used, tobacco is a narcotic and a poison. Its injurious effects are due to its active principle called 'nicotine,' which is of itself a narcotic poison. The extent to which the body may be injured by tobacco depends upon its moderate or excessive use. Even in moderate use it is hurtful to young persons, and by no means free from harm to adults. It produces an artificial exhaustion, as it were, of the nerve-centers. It certainly does no good, even when used in moderation. Tobacco produces functional derangement of the nervous system, palpitation of the heart, certain forms of dyspepsia, and more or less irritation of the throat and lungs. Sometimes after long smoking, a sudden sensation of dizziness, with a momentary loss of consciousness is experienced. At other times, if walking, there is a sudden sensation of falling forward, or as if the feet were touching cotton-wool. While the stomach is empty, protracted smoking will often produce a feeling of nausea, accompanied with a headache. The external application of tobacco to chafed surfaces, and even to the healthy skin, will occasion severe, and sometimes fatal results. A tea made of tobacco and applied to the skin has caused death in three hours. A tobacco enema has resulted fatally within a few minutes. The excessive smoking of tobacco has been known to produce violent and fatal effects. Nicotine is one of the most rapidly fatal poisons known. It rivals prussic acid in this respect. It takes about one minute for a single drop of nicotine to kill a fullgrown cat. A single drop has killed a rabbit in three minutes. The old tobacco-user is often cross, irritable and liable to outbursts of passion. The memory is also quite often impaired for the same reason. The narcotic principle, the deadly nicotine, has become soaked into the delicate nerve-pulp, retarding its nutrition. The nerve-centers are no longer able to hoard up their usual amount of vital energy." -- Young Folk's Physiology.
Thus we could go on and quote volumes, if need be, but we will close our quotations with the words of Dr. Fowler, as quoted by W. J. Henry in "Tobacco and Its Effects." "The actual loss of intellectual power which tobacco has hitherto occasioned, and is still causing in this Christian nation, is immense. How much so, it is impossible to calculate. Many a man who might have been respectable and useful has sunk into obscurity and buried his talent in the earth. This commands a consideration of deepest interest to every philanthropist, patriot and Christian in the land, and especially to all our youth. We live in a time and under circumstances which call for the exertion of all our intellectual strength, cultivated, improved and sanctified to the highest measure of possibility. Error, ignorance and sin must be met and vanquished by light and love. The eyes of the angels are upon us. The eye of God is upon us. Shall we fetter and paralyze our intellectual capabilities for the sake of enjoying the paltry pleasure of tasting the most loathsome and destructive weed in the whole vegetable kingdom?" Oh, for shame!
Tobacco is not a natural food. No one ever thinks of giving it to their children as a food. It is a habit, something to be acquired. Whatever God has given us as food for the sustenance of the body is natural with us and we do not have to become habituated to its use. Where is the individual that will deny that it is a habit? It must be, since it has to be acquired or learned. Who will say it is a good habit? Who will deny that it is a bad habit? Do you not think it much better that we as moral citizens, and much more as professed Christians, leave off our bad habits?
Who dare hope of going to heaven who will not forsake his bad habits? Reader, I appeal to your reason. You must answer me. Is it not a habit? Is it good or bad? What shall your answer be in the judgment-day? God will hold us responsible for the use we are making of the money he has permitted us to acquire in this world. He says, "Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread?" Isa.55:2. Does it not savor more of the principle and spirit of Christianity to use our money in feeding and clothing the poor, than in consuming it in this unhealthful, unsightly, unclean, and ungodly lust? Do you not believe that when you shall have come to that bright land beyond the grave, that you would have more treasures there if all the money you have spent for tobacco had been used to help the poor along the weary way of life? O fellow mortal, how can you chew and smoke and snuff and spit your money away, while thousands are starving for bread, and millions are going to an eternal wretchedness for the want of gospel light? Do not think that God will not punish you for your selfishness.
God will hold us responsible for the example we set before the youth of the land and the children of our home. Jesus says to the Christian, "Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven." Mat.5:16. What kind of a light is the tobacco-user letting shine to this world? Can he say to all, "Follow me in this habit"? Would he advise the pure, innocent prattler upon his knee to chew or smoke the filthy thing? No man can indulge in one thing that he can not with clear conscience say to the whole world, "Follow me in," and stand clear and uncondemned before God in judgment. The Bible tells us, "In everything give thanks." Who feels like thanking God they have acquired the tobacco habit? The Bible tells us that "whatsoever you do in word or deed, do all to the glory of God." But very few have become so depraved as to say they can glorify God in tobacco using. Here we behold the sublime wonders of redeeming grace. This world lost in sin, mankind was bound by passions, appetites, desires and dispositions with which they could not glorify God, Jesus, full of grace and truth, came from heaven to cleanse man, to save him from everything with which he could not show forth his Maker's praise. Halleluiah!
We feel like giving you a bit of our experience before closing this subject. For several years we were bound hand and foot by the hideous monster -- Tobacco. We repeatedly tried to extricate ourselves from his iron grasp, but tried in vain. Resolution upon resolution was made. The plug was frequently thrown away only to be shortly afterward searched for or replaced by another one. How the devil's power ground me beneath his hoof of steel. Awful slavery, terrible bondage! We often express our thankfulness for a free country, but who is free? Of all the many sins that lay upon my soul, none seemed so heavy as the tobacco sin. In a time of danger or fright our first thought would be of tobacco, and we feared and trembled before God. In a time of storm when the lightning would flash and the thunder roll we would vow to the Lord that if he would keep us through the storm we would use tobacco no more. But when the clouds had rolled away and the sun shone out so peacefully, our tyrannical master would scourge us beneath his heavy yoke, and we would yield to his demands. For several months we thus fought against this monster only to be conquered, until early one October morning when all alone we earnestly besought the God of heaven to come to our rescue. We confessed our sins to him and plead for mercy. He heard our prayer and blotted out all our transgressions. He filled our soul with such a wondrous glory that full two weeks had passed before we thought of tobacco, and when we did we loathed it more than we had ever loved it. Eight years have passed and still we are free. Since the day we were saved we have no more desired it than if we never had used it. "If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed." John 8:36.
The habit of eating opium is fast increasing. We are told that thousands of tons are used annually in smoking and chewing in different parts of the world. Over half a million pounds are consumed by the opium eaters of our own country. It is a lust of the flesh and classed among the things which if we do we can never enter heaven. It is because it is a sin that will bar you forever from the land of eternal rest, that prompts us to add a few words of warning.
Like alcohol and tobacco, the word opium does not appear in the Scriptures, but that it is a sinful lust but very few will deny. Opium is the dried juice of the white poppy. Morphine is a powder made from opium. Laudanum is made by soaking opium in alcohol. The custom of drugging infants and children with "Soothing Cordials" is shameful and sinful. The "soothing" effect is produced by the opium the drug contains. It is exceedingly dangerous. One writer has said that it is very certain that many infants annually perish from this single cause. Any work on hygiene or common school physiology will describe the effect of opium upon the human system.
But the injurious effects of these stimulants and poisons upon the physical health is not the primary cause for speaking against their use in this little work. It is because such is not a gospel light. No one can indulge in such practises and be a light in the world in this shining gospel day. Such sinful deeds of the flesh are but the works of darkness and denounced by the writers of the New Testament.
Tea And Coffee.
Like the other stimulants that bring the user into bondage, tea and coffee are not mentioned in the Word of God. That they are classed among the narcotic poisons is acknowledged by all medical authorities. "Tea and coffee," says an authentic writer, "weakens the action of the heart. They produce headache, heartburn, indigestion, constipation, and wakefulness at night. The peculiar beating of the heart or palpitation after much exertion is often due to tea and coffee, and produces what is known as the 'tea-drinker's heart.' "(1)
The greatest desire of the true, devoted Christian is to glorify God in all that he does. No one who is careless and unobservant about his manner of life can prosper in the things of God. He who is desirous of being a shining light for Jesus in this world is careful that all about him is to the glory of God. He will so govern or rule his life, by God's grace, he will so subject his appetites and passions, that his whole conduct in every respect will be an adornment of the doctrine of God his Savior. His or her dress will be in perfect accord with the Bible, no worldly air will linger in his behavior; even his eating and drinking will be such as is glorifying to God. You show me an individual that is careless about his diet, led by an unrestrained appetite in eating food highly seasoned and flavored with spices, cinnamons, peppers, and mustards, or freely eating of rich cakes, pastries and puddings, or in drinking of teas and coffees, and I will show you one in whom the ebb of spiritual life is very weak and low. It is true, to leave off eating condiments and drinking stimulants alone will not make you spiritual, but it is a certain fact that if you attain to any great degree of spiritual life you will abandon the use of these things. It is well known among the true children of God that the most spiritual, and those of the greatest faith do not use tea nor coffee.
Those who walk in close communion with God are careful to preserve their physical health. When one continues using a certain article of food and drink because it is pleasing to the taste, and yet hurtful to the body, he will soon by such selfishness destroy his spiritual life. "Whether therefore ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." 1 Cor.10:31. "But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection." 1 Cor.9:27. "For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live." Rom.8:13. "Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul." 1 Pet.2:11. "This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lusts of the flesh," Gal.5:16. "But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof." Rom.13:14. The lust of the flesh as used in these and many other texts includes the use of alcohol, opium, tobacco, tea and coffee. So we have not departed from the Word of God, which is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path, when writing on these subjects. Those who most perfectly manifest the life of Christ, those who are the most brilliant spiritual reflectors, do not indulge in such narcotics. If you value your spiritual prosperity make these sayings subjects of earnest prayer before rejecting them.
When we speak of secret sins many are ready to charge us with immodesty. It is those who indulge in those secret evils that blush the deepest when they are publicly mentioned. There are many habits and indulgences of man that the pure-hearted Christian feels it is a shame to speak of publicly, yet his love for fettered, perishing souls moves him to look up to God for a modesty and delicacy of speech that will not in any sense corrupt the mind of the pure, who may read, and yet in terms sufficiently plain to reveal these sins and bring deliverance to many. As we have before said, temperance is a law of heaven. For the propagation of the race, God has implanted in his creatures, male and female, a passion for sexual connection. This desire in the nature of mankind is really the highest and most sacred. By it this world is being populated with souls bound on toward an eternity. This passion legitimately indulged to the glory of God is one of the most sacred, holy and pure. Since it is the highest and noblest of all the faculties of our being, its abuse must be the very lowest and unclean in the depravity of man.
That this sacred passion has been most degradingly abused is witnessed to upon almost every hand. If man could behold in one scene the awful consequences of this abuse it would be the most beastly and hellish that could possibly be pictured. The misery, wretchedness and woe entailed upon mortals by these secret indulgences is untold. It is a lust of the flesh that brings disease upon the body, destroys the vitality of human life and sows the seeds of death in the soul, which shall be harvested in the eternal fires of torment. These sins of the dark have gone far to obscure the pure light of a Christian life. "Ye are the light of the world," can never be spoken of those who yield to the temptations of this monster vice. The Moon in her clear reflection of the Sun is unspotted by such evils. Young reader, have you any admiration for a pure life? Does there not slumber in the better faculties of your nature a love and esteem for the virtuous walks of life? What is nobler or more heavenly here upon the earth than a pure, untarnished soul? Oh, the sublimity of a Christian life! A youth or maiden with pure affections and holy desires, seeking after the character of God, is the admiration of angels. As God at one time said in the delight of his heart to Satan, "Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God and escheweth evil?" so the lovely queen Virtue can say to the hideous monster Vice, "Hast thou beheld my admiring youth and maiden? There is none like them in all the earth, ones that love chastity and escheweth evil indulgences."