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Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 37 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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Lesson 9: The Bible and Health *
Introduction: Everyone wants to be healthy. At the same time, it is a
lot easier (and more enjoyable) to eat and drink whatever you want.
It is a pain (sometimes literally) to exercise. If wearing your
seatbelt is not a habit, then it is intrusive. We have more time to
ourselves (and maybe Bible study) if we cut back on sleep, or so it
seems. God spent a lot of time in the Old Testament giving what are
obviously "health" messages to His people through Moses. God spent a
lot of time in the New Testament seeming to downplay the importance
of what goes in our body as opposed to what goes out. (See Mark 7:18-23) Obviously, if we have clear minds and strong bodies we can better
serve God. But, is this a moral matter? Or, is it just a matter of
common sense? Are Christians who focus on avoiding certain foods
rather than avoiding certain evil thoughts playing into the hands of
Satan? Let's dive into our lesson and see what the Bible has to say
about health and the Christian walk!
- Mind versus Body
- Read Romans 12:1. What comes to mind when you read the
words "living sacrifice?" (First, Jesus' sacrifice of His
life on our behalf. Second, the sanctuary service with its
- What principle of Christian living comes to mind when
we read these words? (The idea of self-sacrifice. The
principle of unselfishness. Our life should be a
tribute to God.)
- In the introduction, I mentioned that health diet and
exercise can be a "pain." Are they subjects that
should be considered as part of our self-sacrificing
- The Bible has this theme that giving results in
getting( Luke 6:38). Does "self-sacrifice" in what we
eat, whether we exercise, how much we sleep, how much
we weigh, end up giving us more in life?
- Read Romans 12:2. Although Paul writes about our "bodies,"
what is he really talking about? (He is speaking first
about our mind. We renew our minds with spiritual things
and our bodies follow the path of our minds.)
- Read Romans 14:1-3. What is the subject matter which
follows? (Disputable matters.)
- What is the relative importance of food in these
- Read Romans 14:5-8. What does this suggest about the
importance of the debate over what we eat?
- What do you think was the "disputable" issue over
diet? (The New Bible Commentary points to verse 6
which refers to giving thanks to God while eating
meat and suggests the issue is eating meat offered to
idols. The "weak" Christian would be so concerned
about eating meat offered to idols that he would
refrain from eating any meat because he could not be
sure of its origin.)
- This text, of course, is of great interest to those
who think God commands a weekly day of worship. Do
you understand from this text that God eliminated a
special day for worship during the week? Did He
eliminate the importance of one day of worship over
another? (A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory on
the Old and New Testaments, like other commentaries,
says "no" to those questions. It points out that
Jesus announced He was "Lord of the Sabbath Day"
( Mark 2:28) and thus the Sabbath of the Decalogue
could not have been part of the "disputable" issues.
Rather, Romans 14 refers to the "vanquished Jewish
festival days, which only 'weakness' could imagine to
still be in force.")
- Let's continue with this line of argument. Read Romans
14:13-17. What is Paul's primary concern in these verses?
(What you eat may create a spiritual problem for someone
else. Be careful not to injure someone else because of
your convictions on diet.)
- Read Romans 14:19-21. What relative ranking does Paul make
between mind and body? Between diet and spiritual matters?
(Diet comes second.)
- God's Priority
- Read Mark 7:1-5. How important is cleanliness to health?
- What do you think was God's purpose in the "washing"
regulations given through Moses? (To help them to be
- Read Mark 7:6-8. What two competing claims does Jesus see?
(The commands of God and the traditions of men.)
- Which bothered Jesus most - letting go the
commandments of God or holding on to the traditions
- Read Mark 7:14-15. When considering issues of diet, health
and fitness, are these matters of common sense or matters
- Read Mark 7:17-23. Will food affect your spirituality?
(Common sense tells you that a healthy body makes it
easier to think clearly. But, Jesus is saying something
very important about diet issues. He teaches that food
goes into our stomach and then out of our body. Food, does
not cause sin. On the other hand, the evil thoughts of our
hearts form the basis for our evil actions. Thus, what is
produced by our minds and our hands should be the main
focus of spiritual health - and not diet, fitness, health
- Read Romans 14:22-23. Should we even be discussing these
issues in our lesson? (Paul devotes a whole chapter to it.
I think it is in the specifics of diet that God advises us
not to create problems in the church by sharing
controversial views with "weak" fellow church members.)
- Which Temple?
- Whenever issues of health, diet and fitness arise, someone
shouts out "Your body is a temple." Is this a correct
statement of Scripture?
- Read 1 Corinthians 3:16-17. Is this "temple" reference to
our body or our local church? (If you are uncertain, read
the entire chapter (1 Corinthians 3). The Wycliffe Bible
Commentary says "the temple is the local church." Quite
clearly, the context shows that Paul is not speaking about
health, diet and fitness, he is speaking about the
spiritual progress of the local church.)
- Read 1 Corinthians 6:18-20. Is this "temple" reference to
health, diet and fitness? (No. This is dealing with sexual
sins. If you doubt this, read the context: 1 Corinthians
- Notice that Paul sets sexual sins apart and says that
they are different. How are they different? (Read 1
Corinthians 6:16-17. Paul refers to God's original
plan for marriage in which two become one. This
spiritual/physical unity in marriage is unique. Thus,
sexual sins are also unique and especially harmful.)
- Health and Healing
- Read Matthew 4:23-25. Why did Jesus take time to heal
people when He could have spent the time warning them
about the sin in their lives? (God wants us to have health
- What, if anything, does that teach us about our
ministry? (If Jesus was concerned about health, so
should we be concerned about it. If Jesus made health
part of His ministry, we should make it a part of
ours. Health, diet and fitness, in their proper
place, should be a part of our witness.)
- Are there any other reasons why Jesus might have
healed the people? (No doubt that helped to attract
strangers to hear His message. People who might not
otherwise have come, wanted to be healed or see
- Is there a lesson in that for us? (The health,
diet and fitness message may be the way some are
attracted to God's spiritual message.)
- Read 1 Timothy 3:2-4. Are all of these requirements
spiritual necessities for all believers?
- If you say, "no," why does God set these requirements
for the "overseer" of the church? (This is the
picture of a temperate and holy person. God is not
only interested in all aspects of our life, He
believes that His followers will be attracted to
those who are temperate. The "total package" is a
witness to others.)
- Friend, what about you? Will you make diet, health and
fitness part of your Christian walk? Will you understand
its proper place in your life? Will you avoid getting
into disputes with those who see things differently?
- Next week: The Bible and Happiness.
* Copr. 2007, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.