October 21 - 27
An Ounce of Prevention
CHRIST'S POWER IS THE SOURCE OF SPIRITUAL HEALTH. Even as righteousness involves more than refraining from evil, so health is more than the absence of disease. It includes the well-being of all our capabilities.
By enticing us with many acts of intemperance, Satan seeks to destroy our mental, moral, and physical powers. He used many temptations to entrap Jesus but failed every time because Jesus relied fully on His Father's strength. Tragically, the rest of humanity has been all too responsive to evil. Noah sought refuge in alcohol. Abraham bowed to dishonesty and self-dependence. David fell prey to immorality. Moses lost his temper, and Peter contradicted his faith. The Corinthian Christians gave loyalty to men instead of Christ, and the Galatians substituted a gospel of human invention for the gospel of Jesus.
As you study this week's lesson, remember the bright side of the pictureSatan is a defeated foe. When we unite our weakness to God's might, we are more than a match for the devil's clever illusions. The choice is ours, but the power is of God.
THE WEEK AT A GLANCE:
I. Health and Temperance (Prov. 17:22; 1 Cor. 6:19, 20).
II. A Brawling Mocker (Prov. 20:1).
III. Temptation to Sexual Lust (Prov. 5:1-9).
IV. Treasure the Word (Prov. 7:1-5).
V. Sure Defenses (Prov. 14:7; Prov. 23:17).
MEMORY TEXT: "The highway of the upright avoids evil; those who guard their way preserve their lives" (Prov. 16:17, NRSV).
Temperance is to life, health, and character as mortar is to a brick building. Without temperance, one can neither build nor maintain health. The word temperance is an old English word used to indicate abstinence and moderation. The word's basic root meaning refers to an act of separation. The Latin root is tempus, meaning time, the thought of separating the past and the future. The word temple, also based on the root tempus, gives the idea of a place of separation.
Temperance then, as it relates to wisdom, is through Christ's power and our choice to separate the good from the bad. Thus, intemperance results from mingling good with evil. (See Gal. 5:23.) Temperance is exercising self-control and separating ourselves from evil, through the power of the Holy Spirit. Intemperance is the loss of self-control and joining with evil.
1 Corinthians 6:19, 20 is a good prescription for preventive medicine. What does prevention imply? How does prevention apply to spiritual health?
What close relationship between the mind and body is revealed in the following verses? Prov. 17:22; Prov. 18:14.
Modern science is discovering that the bonds between the mind and the body are much closer than previously thought. What affects the body affects the mind and vice versa. Mental power is dependent on physical health, and physical well-being is fostered by a mind at peace. Spiritual power is related to both mental and physical health. As we realize that the brain is the only medium of communication between God and a person and that the mind is affected by the body, the importance of temperance comes into proper focus. (See Temperance, p. 13.)
"Dr. William Fry, Jr., of the Department of Psychiatry at Stanford Medical School, likens laughter to a form of physical exercise. It causes huffing and puffing, speeds up the heart rate, raises blood pressure, accelerates breathing, increases oxygen consumption, gives the muscles of the face and stomach a workout, and relaxes muscles not involved in laughing. Twenty seconds of laughter, he has contended, can double the heart rate for three to five minutes. That is the equivalent of three minutes of strenuous rowing."Norman Cousins, Head First, The Biology of Hope (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1989), p. 132. (For a further account, see also pp. 132-134.)
|Examine your life carefully. How can you add more cheer and laughter to your day?|
What warnings regarding intemperance do the following verses emphasize? Prov. 20:1; Prov. 23:20, 21, 29-35.
It is a well-documented fact that alcohol impairs the mental, physical, and social well-being, thus, impairing the spiritual life. It seems to drinkers that alcohol lifts them above the cares of reality into a world of happiness, strength, and intelligence. In truth, the opposite takes place. Just one ounce of alcohol retards muscular reaction by 17.4 percent, increases the time required to make a decision by 9.7 percent, causes an increase in errors due to a lack of attention by 35.3 percent, and accelerates errors due to a lack of muscle coordination by 59.7 percent. , especially warns leaders that alcohol will destroy their capacity to make good judgments and administer wisely.
"Satan gathered the fallen angels together to devise some way of doing the most possible evil to the human family. One proposition after another was made, till finally Satan himself thought of a plan. He would take the fruit of the vine, also wheat, and other things given by God as food, and would convert them into poisons, which would ruin man's physical, mental, and moral powers, and so overcome the senses that Satan should have full control."Temperance, p. 12.
Some studies seem to indicate that a little fermented wine with a meal is good for the heart. Is alcohol ever an acceptable medicine, though? According to Ellen White, the answer is No. "Physicians are responsible for making many drunkards. Knowing what drink will do for its lovers, they have taken upon themselves the responsibility of prescribing it for their patients. Did they reason from cause to effect, they would know that stimulants would have the same effect on every organ of the body as they have on the whole man."Temperance, p. 42.
*"Drunkenness has killed more men than all of history's wars."General John J. Pershing.
*"The sight of a drunkard is a better sermon against that vice than the best sermon that was ever preached on that subject."Sarah E. Saville.
*"Whisky is a good thing in its place. There is nothing like it for preserving a man when he is dead. If you want to keep a dead man, put him in whisky; if you want to kill a live [man], put whisky in him."Thomas Guthrie.
|Intemperance occurs to a large extent at the social level. What solutions can we suggest and personally implement to alleviate this problem?|
"Much of the book of Proverbs is devoted to warnings against illicit sex experience. Sexual sins are considered especially deadly. More space is given to the warnings against this kind of sin than against any other.
"These warnings are addressed entirely to men. Here women are the seducers. Men are tempted either by a prostitute or by an adulteress. More often it is a married woman who is using her wiles in involving another married man. One reason why women were not warned against the approaches of men is that the social conventions of the time were believed to protect and guard the woman who wanted to live a chaste life. A stronger reason why these warnings were addressed to men only was that it was an age of male supremacy, and only the men were given the benefit of the instruction of the sages. Today a modern parent would be as eager to warn his daughter against the dangers of illicit sex expression as he would be to instruct his son in the evils of promiscuity....
"Illicit sex experience was considered foolish since it led to some very undesirable consequences. Instead of pointing out moral factors and the wrong that is done to others, Proverbs here [5:1-23] appeals to self-interest."The Interpreter's Bible, vol. 4, pp. 812-814.
How can we protect ourselves from temptation to sexual immorality? Prov. 5:3-9.
In the cities of the world today, sexual indulgence is brazenly advertised as a normal aspect of human existence. Television programs, films, magazines, newspapers, theatrical performances, and billboard ads capitalize on the human fascination with physical beauty and sexual satisfaction. For the masses of humanity, long gone is the biblical principle that sex is a gift of God to be exercised only within a happy marriage. Long gone is the principle taught by Jesus that covetous thought regarding the opposite sex is sin.
How do you as a Christian cope with the sexual bombardment of the modern world? Do you find yourself unconsciously tolerating attitudes and practices that you cannot change? Do you give in to sexual indulgence or do you resist it? How would you suggest that a sexually motivated person control his or her natural appetites?
|What would you say to a young person who comes to you for counsel on today's topic?|
Based on the following texts, explain what can keep us from sinning.
|Texts||What Keeps Us From Falling Into Sin?|
Our imaginations, our physical, emotional, and psychological impulses, urge us to nourish desires that are impure and contrary to God's will. Not all the power of brain or brawn can enable us to resist the lure that leads to death. Only God can heal us.
Fear is sometimes justified. A healthy respect for the danger ahead will lead a wise person to avoid it if at all possible. In the final analysis, however, victory over temptation is found only in honest fellowship with Christ. "This is the victory that has overcome the world-our faith" (1 John 5:4, NKJV). When confronted by temptation, we must ask Jesus for the victory. (See Matt. 7:7, 8.) He is always willing to empower those who are tempted. Having asked, we must next praise Him for hearing and answering our prayer (see ), for praise demonstrates faith!
"Sir Matthew Hale told his children, 'If I omit reading a portion of Scripture in the morning, it never goes well with me through the day.' Treasure it up carefully, not on our shelves, but in our hearts. Let the whole Word of God be our precious treasure. Receive the promises from His grace with simple trust and the commandments from His holiness with ready obedience. Stand with your eye in the land of promise; but with your feet 'on level ground.' . . . If wisdom is not loved, lust will be indulged. The Bible thereforenot merely read, but the cherished object of familiar conversationproves a sacred exorcist to expel the power of evil."Charles Bridges, A Modern Study in the Book of Proverbs (Milford, Mich.: Mott Media, 1978), pp. 82, 83.
|Psalm 119 is labeled in many Bibles as "meditations on the excellencies of the Word of God." In verse 11, David exclaims, "Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against you" (NKJV). In what different ways can we hide God's Word in our hearts? How is His Word a lamp to our feet and a light to our path? (v. 105).|
In yesterday's lesson, we studied how treasuring God's Word is a sure defense against temptation. What else guards against evil? Prov. 14:7; Prov. 16:29, 30; Prov. 22:24, 25.
The British poet John Donne wrote that "no man is an island." This is certainly true when it comes to the influence we all have on one another, for we are all influenced negatively or positively by our associates. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the German poet and philosopher, stated, "We are shaped and fashioned by the things we love," and most assuredly that is true regarding the people we love. While we are not to be exclusive in our social lives, we should form our closest friendships with those who will be a help on our journey, rather than a hindrance. (See 2 Cor. 6:14.)
It is not always possible to avoid situations to which we would rather not be exposed. However, with the Lord in our hearts, we can be on guard and inaccessible to wrong influences.
How does Proverbs 23:17 portray the constant communion between the true believers and their Lord?
The Lord promises to deliver us when Satan tempts us (1 Cor. 10:13). "When the soul surrenders itself to Christ, a new power takes possession of the new heart. . . . It is a supernatural work, bringing a supernatural element into human nature. The soul that is yielded to Christ becomes His own fortress, which He holds in a revolted world, and He intends that no authority shall be known in it but His own But unless we do yield ourselves to the control of Christ, we shall be dominated by the wicked one. . . . We may leave off many bad habits, for the time we may part company with Satan; but without a vital connection with God, through the surrender of ourselves to Him moment by moment, we shall be overcome."The Desire of Ages, p. 324.
How do you maintain your Christian principles when you cannot avoid those who do not accept Christ?
|What approaches would you suggest in relating to the following people: (1) a spouse who is not a believer; (2) an employer who does not respect your religious convictions; (3) a close friend who feels your religion is unimportant to daily life?|
FURTHER STUDY: Psalm 44:5-8; Romans 6:1-14; Rom. 8:37; Jude 24, 25. Read Fundamentals of Christian Education, pp. 77-81, and Counsels on Health. p. 42.
"Through intemperance, Satan works to destroy the mental and moral powers that God gave to man as a priceless endowment. Thus it becomes impossible for men to appreciate things of eternal worth. Through sensual indulgence, Satan seeks to blot from the soul every likeness to God."The Desire of Ages, p. 122.
SUMMARIZE why temperance is such an important part of the gospel. Include ways we can break and remain free from bad habits.
Sachu believed that salvation came from total devotion to Muruga, the Hindu god he worshiped. He had made 16 pilgrimages to Muruga's distant shrine, determined to earn salvation through total obedience to Muruga.
Then one day Sachu's neighbor told him, "Muruga is not the true god; Jesus is." The neighbor told him many stories about Jesus from the Bible. Sachu noticed parallels between the Hindu sacred writings and the stories his neighbor told him about Jesus.
One day Sachu's neighbor invited him to attend the Adventist church. "I will come if your Jesus will relieve me from my bus duty on Saturday," Sachu told his neighbor. He was certain that this would never happen, for he always worked on Saturday.
But when he reported for work on Saturday morning, he found that he had not been assigned to work that day. Stunned, Sachu returned home to keep his promise to his neighbor and go to church. He was impressed with the Christians' worship service and began attending regularly.
Abraham, a blind church member, spent time talking with Sachu about spiritual matters. Sachu was surprised to find that the Bible contained so many answers to his questions and taught many of the same principles that Hindus teach, such as ceremonial uncleanness, tithing, and Saturday worship. Before long Sachu committed his heart to Christ and followed His command to be baptized.
Friends, family members, and his supervisors at work persecuted Sachu until he thought he would break under the pressure. But his friend Abraham helped him realize that his life and all he had belonged to God and that he must trust God.
Sachu dedicated his talents and his time to God. He began spending his time caring for the sick, visiting the lonely, and encouraging the discouraged. As his ministry grew, he cut back his work hours to make time to serve God. Many months he receives only half his normal salary, for he spends the rest of his time meeting the needs of the suffering ones in his community. People have begun calling Sachu their "elder brother."
Sachu testifies, "I have never been happier than when I am serving Jesus. I do not work for God to earn salvation; I serve God because He has made my salvation certain."
J. H. Zachary is coordinator of international evangelism for The Quiet Hour and a special consultant for the General Conference Ministerial Association.
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