Sanctification and Health Reform

The monthly medical ministry column

DUNBAR W. SMITH, M.D., Medical Secretary, Greater New York Conferenc

SANCTIFICATION is that state of holiness "with­out which no one will see the Lord" (Heb. 12:14, R.S.V.). This holi­ness is inspired and em­powered by the Holy Spirit but is not granted us without sustained and effective warfare on our part against the lusts of the flesh. The same Scripture which says, "Work out your own salvation," says, "It is God who worketh in you both to will and to work, for His good pleasure" (Phil. 2:12, 13, A.R.V.).

In commenting on this text Ellen G. White states:

"Far more than we do, we need to un­derstand the issues at stake in the conflict in which we are engaged. We need to un­derstand more fully the value of the truths that God has given for this time and the danger of allowing our minds to be diverted from them by the great deceiver.

"The infinite value of the sacrifice re­quired for our redemption reveals the fact that sin is a tremendous evil. Through sin the whole human organism is deranged, the mind is perverted, the imagination corrupted. Sin has degraded the faculties of the soul. Temptations from without find an answering chord within the heart, and the feet turn imperceptibly toward evil. . . .

"Paul's sanctification was the result of a constant conflict with self. He said: 'I die daily.' 1 Corinthians 15:31. His will and his desires every day conflicted with duty and the will of God. Instead of following incli­nation, he did God's will, however crucify­ing to his own nature.

"God leads His people on step by step. The Christian life is a battle and a march. In this warfare there is no release; the effort must be continuous and persevering. It is by unceasing endeavor that we main­tain the victory over the temptations of Satan. Christian integrity must be sought with resistless energy and maintained with a resolute fixedness of purpose.

"No one will be borne upward without stern, persevering effort in his own behalf. All must engage in this warfare for them­selves. Individually we are responsible for the issue of the struggle; though Noah, Job, and Daniel were in the land, they could deliver neither son nor daughter by their righteousness."—Testimonies, vol. 8, pp. 312-314.

Sanctification is too often confused with justification. Justification is one's right to heaven—sanctification one's fitness for heaven. justification is an instantaneous act of God's mercy; sanctification is progres­sive and is the work of a lifetime. The first comes in response to surrendering the will to God; the second by "working out," by God's grace, one's "own salvation." It is character development, a growing up or maturing spiritually. Sanctification is the process of refashioning a person so that he can be safely trusted in a renovated uni­verse throughout eternity.

Sanctification has to do with the entire being. "And the very God of peace," says Paul, "sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be pre­served blameless" (1 Thess. 5:23). "Paul is not giving a study on the nature of man, but is making sure that no part of his con­vert's lives is left untouched by God's sanc­tifying power."—The SDA Bible Commen­tary, on 1 Thess. 5:23.

Sanctification cannot but include the physical, for the psyche does not exist apart from the soma. Consciousness, reason, and all thought are functions of a physical, ma­terial brain. There can be no soul or spirit or mind as a conscious entity independent of the body. And there can be no sanctifica­tion merely as a mental discipline or spirit­ual attainment. Sanctification without health reform is therefore impossible be­cause thought, except as a physical process, is impossible.

Many Seventh-day Adventists will be eternally lost because of failure to recog­nize the function of health reform and to practice its principles. Their minds, stupe­fied by the end products of an insulted physiological chemistry, are unable to com­prehend or appreciate essential spiritual truths. They won't believe they are lost un­til they hear the Master say, "I never knew you: depart from me" (Matt. 7:23).

Understanding Needed

The doctrine of health reform rests upon an understanding and appreciation of the nature of man which is most clearly re­vealed in the Genesis record. "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul" (Gen. 2:7).

This text does not state that God made a body but that He made "man." And this man, composed of an estimated ten trillion marvelous, infinitely complex, supernatu­rally created, differentiated cells, formed tis­sues which in turn formed organ structures which, integrated, became the total organ­ism. As man lay there, the blood, with its myriad cells and vast array of other com­ponents, filled the cardiovascular system. The brain within the skull, that amazingly complicated human computer, was there but could not think. Every cell, tissue, or­gan, and fluid was perfect but there was no life.

To animate man the record does not say that the Creator put a divine part of Himself; nor did He put life, the life principle or the so-called spark of life in man, al­though all life is absolutely and continuously dependent on Him. He did not insert an alleged real man or a hitherto disembodied, intelligent spirit, ghost, or soul. He added only one thing—nothing more, the record states—and introduced that one thing through the nose. The Bible calls it breath. It is the "breath of life." God had created such a perfect "fearfully and wonderfully made" (Ps. 139:14) physical be­ing, that to bring it to life required only an inflation of the lungs with oxygen-laden air. As the lungs expanded the thoracic vessels compressed and the oxygenated blood, forced into the heart, triggered the sensi­tized pacemaker and the heart began beat­ing. As the blood, which "is the life of all flesh" (Lev. 17:14), was pumped through­out, the awakened brain began to cerebrate and man became a living, breathing, sen­tient being. Total man, body, breath, rea­son, judgment, will, heart, conscience, per­sonality, character—these constitute the living soul. God did not put a soul into man—man is a soul. We hear a good deal of discussion about man being a trichot­omy or a dichotomy. In a sense he is neither; he is a monism. Body, soul, and spirit are man.

Spirituality is thought or a heavenly ori­ented mental attitude—a product of the mind. As man "thinketh . . . , so is he" (Prov. 23:7). Thought is a physiological function of the anatomical brain as the production of bile is a function of the liver. It is synthetized from the impressions and information of a lifetime, deposited by an arrangement of protein within the millions of brain cells and connected one to another by association neurons. Thought is biochemical, electronic reaction, absolutely dependent on material cells, oxygen, and glucose and is governed by the laws of physiology which are as verily the laws of God as are the Ten Commandments.

Sanctification and the Emotions

Sanctification therefore includes disci­plinary control, by the power of God, of the brain centers where those emotions reside which uncontrolled will cause the loss of eternal life; and the cultivation and strengthening of the brain centers where the emotions or Christian graces reside which prepare for heaven.

The emotions are not ethereal, existing on a spiritual, elevated plane but are demonstrated physiologic products of brain function. They are and can be con­trolled by the higher cortical centers—the kingly power of reason and judgment and the will.

"T. W. Papey suggests that the hypothal­amus, the anterior thalamic nuclei, the cin­gulate nuclei, the hippocampus and their interconnections serve as the structural and functional unit for emotion."—Correlative Neztroanatomy and Functional Neurology (Chusid and MacDonald, 1958, 9th edi­tion), p. 29.

Here are located the fear, rage, and hate centers. Stimulation of the amygdaloid nuclei and certain other hypothalamic areas may produce rage in hitherto docile ani­mals or individuals while ablation (re­moval) of the amygdala results in placid­ity, or perfect meekness. (It does not follow, however, that sanctification can be achieved by the neurosurgeon's knife!)

Removal of the cerebral hemispheres also produces rage. This result is believed due to the release of the emotional centers from cortical or cerebral control and ex­plains the unreasoning rage of drunkenness.

Damage to the physical brain may pro­duce a change in behavior or what appears to be a change of character.

Dandy excised the frontal lobes of a sub­ject who thereafter appeared of normal in­telligence. For an hour he toured the hos­pital with two visiting neurologists who failed to notice in him any mental ab­normality. A more intimate knowledge of the patient, however, revealed very definite defects of character and mentality.

Among the main features were boasting, self-aggrandizement, hostility, aggressive­ness, fantasies, emotional instability, and facetiousness. There was an impairment of moral and social sense with a loss of love for his family, and a failure to realize the seriousness of his condition. (Physiological Basis of Medical Practice, Best and Taylor, 4th edition, p. 891.)

"Inflammation and tumors in or about the hypothalamus have led to . . . maniacal outbursts with destructiveness. . . . Anxiety, states or periods of apathy may be seen. Loss of inhibitions with indecent behavior is not uncommon."—Ibid., p. 388.

Electrical stimulation of different discrete brain areas will result in a profound feel­ing of pleasure or an uncontrollable desire to eat or an overpowering sexual urge or to other reactions and emotions.

A small stroke, destroying a portion of the brain. may cause a marked personality change. A polished gentleman may over­night become slovenly and irascible. Did he mentally choose to be different? No. physical brain damage resulted in partial destruction with a deterioration of his per­sonality. This happens also with the progressive cerebral arteriosclerotic degenera­tion of the aged as they regress into a second childhood, and may occur following brain injury due to an accident.

Lack of thiamin (Vitamin B), or a slight hypoxia (oxygen deficiency) as ex­perienced by mountain climbers and avi­ators at high altitudes, or low blood sugar may cause impaired judgment, irritability, and mood changes. These same effects may be produced in a more subtle way by over­eating, by too much sugar, flesh foods, con­diments, tea, coffee, and other hurtful in­dulgences. These stupefy the cerebrum so that it is almost impossible to think straight or to control the undesirable emotions.

One Affects the Other

Character, then, is a reflection of the development and state of the brain and the brain in turn is influenced by the physical condition or function of the body. In fact, "the body is the only medium through which the mind and the soul are devel­oped."—The Ministry of Healing, p. 130.

Whatever, therefore, affects the physical is reflected in the mental, the emotional, and the spiritual nature.

As these are demonstrable scientific facts how significant is the instruction from the pen of Ellen G. White that every health-promoting principle be practiced and that all health-injuring practices be eliminated.

"The human being who is careless and reckless of the habits and practices that concern his physical life and health, sins against God."—Counsels on Diet and Foods, p. 43.

"Excessive indulgence in eating, drink­ing, sleeping, or seeing, is sin."—Testimo­nies, vol. 4, p. 417.

"Wrong habits of eating and drinking lead to errors in thought and action."—Counsels on Diet and Foods, p. 62.

"The diet has much to do with the dispo­sition to enter into temptation and com­mit sin."—Ibid., p. 52.

"The brain nerve energy is benumbed and almost paralyzed by overeating."—Testimonies, vol. 2, p. 414.

"We need to learn that indulged appe­tite is the greatest hindrance to mental improvement and soul sanctification."­Ibid., vol. 9, p. 156.

"It is impossible for those who indulge the appetite to attain to Christian perfec­tion."—Ibid., vol. 2, p. 400.

"It is not possible for us to glorify God while living in violation of the laws of life. The heart cannot possibly maintain conse­cration to God while lustful appetite is in­dulged. A diseased body and disordered in­tellect, because of continual indulgence in hurtful lust, make sanctification of the body and spirit impossible."—Counsels on Diet and Foods, p. 44.

"It is impossible for you to increase in spiritual strength while your appetite and passions are not under perfect control."—Testimonies, vol. 2, p. 413.

"All are bound by the most sacred obliga­tions to God to heed the sound philosophy and genuine experience which He is now giving them in reference to health reform. He designs that the great subject of health reform shall be agitated and the public mind deeply stirred to investigate; for it is impossible for men and women, with all their sinful, health-destroying, brain-ener­vating habits, to discern sacred truth, through which they are to be sanctified, re­fined, elevated, and made fit for the society of heavenly angels in the kingdom of glory." —Ibid., vol. 3, p. 162.

Links in the Chain

While diet is probably the most impor­tant single health reform factor involved in sanctification, exercise, cleanliness, pure water, proper clothing, adequate rest, fresh air, temperance, sunshine, and trust in di­vine power are also very important. These, with diet and sexual control, are links in a chain, the absence of any one of which might so becloud the mind that spiritual values are not appreciated and the great­est of personal disasters result.

Health reform is not primarily a form of penance or a character-building exercise. It is not the gospel but it is an integral part of the gospel. You cannot be saved by it but you can be lost without it. It is not an end in itself; it is rather a means to an end. One of its purposes is to aid the kingly power of reason and the will to subdue the hypothalamic centers of anger, fear, ap­petite, and lust and to develop and rein­force the desirable Christian characteristics of courage, concern for others, patience, and meekness. Health reform is bringing the body under control (1 Cor. 9:27). It facilitates crucifying the flesh with the lusts thereof (Gal. 5:24). It is laying aside every weight (Heb. 12:1). It enables the elect of God to run successfully the race of life and to obtain the crown (2 Tim. 4:7, 8). It is glorifying God in the body. It is keep­ing the body temple holy (1 Cor. 3:16, 17). It makes possible the presentation of the body as a living sacrifice (Rom. 12:1). It is recognition of man's stewardship and God's ownership of the whole man. It is in part to "cleanse ourselves from all filthi­ness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holi­ness in the fear of God" (2 Cor. 7:1). It is an indispensable aid in the pilgrim's prog­ress to the city of God.

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DUNBAR W. SMITH, M.D., Medical Secretary, Greater New York Conferenc

July 1966

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