Category: What does the Bible say about health?

Chronic negative thinking, depression, anxiety, and similar disorders are on the rise all over the world. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 40 million adults in the U.S. are affected, which is nearly 20 percent of the population. Of that number, many are professing Christians.

Fear seems to be a root cause of many of these problems. It’s no wonder people are fearful in a world where it appears nothing is reliable. It can be quite disturbing for a person to realize almost everything in life is ultimately out of his control—from the weather to his bank account balance. All the things people rely on for their security will sooner or later fail them. But the Christian who confesses the sovereignty of an Almighty God who works all things for his good (Romans 8:28) has the antidote to negative thinking.

When a Christian’s thinking is primarily negative, anxious, or doubtful, it’s a sign of a serious lack of faith. The author of Hebrews states, “Without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6), and, according to Proverbs 29:25, fear is a trap but trust in the Lord keeps a man safe. Jesus, when boating with His disciples during a terrible storm, asked them, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” (Matthew 8:26). Those who struggle with negative thinking should do the same thing they would do with any other sin—confess it (agree with God that negative thinking is wrong because it reveals a lack of trust) and make every effort to change the behavior.

Prayer is a key part of overcoming negativity. Jesus taught that prayer should include praise to the Father and a focus on His holiness (Matthew 6:9; see also Psalm 95:2). As we pray “with thanksgiving” (Philippians 4:6), we focus on the blessings we have received and leave no room for negative thoughts. The Holy Spirit will be faithful to help the repentant believer overcome negative thinking (Matthew 7:7–11).

Daily Bible reading, particularly studies which focus on the promises of God, are of great help in overcoming negative thinking. It’s helpful to remember that, no matter how dismal the present circumstances, Christians have been promised God’s love and victory in Christ (Romans 8:37–39; 2 Corinthians 2:14).

The Scriptures are bursting with admonitions from God to His people to overcome fear and doubt—over 350 commands to “fear not.” As a matter of fact, the one verbal encouragement Jesus gives more than any other is a call to fearless living (e.g., Matthew 6:25; 9:2; 10:28; 10:31).

The struggle against negative thinking is a battle for the mind. The apostle Paul tells believers what to think about: things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8). Besides defining what thoughts should fill our minds, this text implicitly teaches that we can control what we think about. When a negative thought comes, the thinker who has the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16) has the ability to push it out of the mind and replace it with godly thoughts. This takes practice, but with persistence, it gets easier. Christians must think about what they’re thinking about and not allow their minds to have free reign. In our spiritual warfare, we’ve been given the helmet of salvation—spiritual armor for the mind.

As long as Christians live in a fearful, stressful world, negative thoughts will come. We have the option of either stamping out those thoughts or nurturing them. The good news is, negative thoughts can be replaced with positive ones, and the more that godly substitution takes place, the more peace and joy we can experience.

The value of counseling by a pastor is many faceted. Pastoral counseling can be  defined as counseling by a church pastor directed to an individual or couple in  his own flock. There are instances where a church pastor counsels those outside  his congregation, but generally speaking, the benefits of pastoral counseling  are much greater when exercised inside the church.

Pastoral counseling  is unique and differs from other types of counseling. First, counseling is part  of a pastor’s job description. As a shepherd, his duties include feeding,  protecting, and caring for those in his congregation. Just as a shepherd must  bind up the wounds of the sheep that are sick or injured, so does the church  pastor bind and soothe the emotional wounds suffered by those in his flock.  First and foremost, pastoral counseling must be biblical counseling, as opposed  to psychological counseling. Secular psychology or psychotherapy, based  primarily on the teachings of Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, and Carl Rogers, has no  place in biblical counseling.

Biblical pastoral counseling uses the  truths of Scripture, explaining and applying them to the individual’s  life—exhorting, rebuking, correcting, and training—so that practical help is  gained through the understanding and application of God’s Word (2 Timothy 3:16). The Word  of God has a power not gained from textbooks or taking courses in psychology,  the power to “penetrate even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it  judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews  4:12). The Word is the pastor’s primary tool in counseling and because of  his years of study, he is in a unique position to wield the sword of truth.

While biblical counseling can be obtained outside the church, pastoral  counseling has unique benefits not to be gained elsewhere. The pastor has a  relationship with his counselee that continues outside the counseling sessions.  He is in a position to observe and follow the progress of the church members he  counsels. He can also solicit the prayers and advice of others in the church  such as elders, always keeping in mind whatever confidentiality agreement he has  with the counselee. There is also the accountability factor which the pastor can  bring to bear during counseling sessions.

The downside of pastoral  counseling is two-fold. First, the average modern day pastor is overwhelmed with  many tasks and must be careful not to take on more than he can handle. Many  churches spread counseling out among associate pastors or elders who are equally  equipped to counsel from the Word of God. Some churches hire counseling pastors  whose primary role is to counsel those in need in the congregation, freeing the  preaching pastor for sermon preparation and teaching responsibilities. Second,  care must be taken to avoid counseling situations that can lead to sin. Pastors  should not counsel women individually without another person present, preferably  another woman, perhaps the pastor’s wife. Discernment should also be exercised  to be certain a dependent relationship doesn’t occur between the pastor and his  counselees. Dependence upon God and His Word should be sought and stressed in  each session, not dependence on the pastor to meet every emotional and spiritual  need, an impossible task for any pastor.

Psychology and Christianity often find themselves at odds. Some have  promoted psychology as a complete answer to the human condition and the key to  living a better life. Some psychologies consider faith in God as an illusion  created as a sort of coping mechanism. In reaction to these unbiblical ideas,  some Christians discount all psychology. Some fear using a soft science to help  people with emotional or psychological disturbances, believing psychology to be  too subjective and that man’s problems are better addressed spiritually. Some  Christians, especially those involved in biblical counseling, believe the Bible  contains all that is necessary to overcome any issue, psychological or  otherwise; psychology is unnecessary because the Bible alone is our life manual.  On the one hand, we have Christians believing that a person’s struggles are  primarily spiritual and that God alone can heal, and on the other hand, secular  psychologists claiming biological or developmental disruptions that man can fix  himself. Despite this polarization, psychology and biblical counseling need not  be at war.

It is important to recognize that psychology is not  monolithic; there are many different theories of psychology, some of them even  contradicting the others. The concepts of human nature, life struggles, health,  and treatment modality in psychology span a broad spectrum. The majority of  counselors and psychologists today practice somewhat eclectically; they are not  strictly Freudian or Jungian but are versed in several theories and employ  different parts of the theories for different presenting issues. For instance, a  counselor may gravitate toward existential theory when counseling for grief, but  bring in cognitive behavioral theory when counseling for behavioral issues. In  other words, a counselor may cherry-pick what he thinks will help the most. A  psychologist is free to use certain person-centered techniques without accepting theories concerning self-actualization. It is common to work out of  one or two primary theories and use a variety of techniques from myriad  theories.

Christian counselors often adopt certain psychological  theories in part, but they do not embrace any underlying philosophies  that deny God or biblical truths. In essence, Christian counselors use  psychology as a tool, but they do not view it as absolute truth. Psychology is  not a competing religion, but a field of study that could actually lead to a  deeper understanding of humanity and, therefore, of God as Creator, Savior, and  Healer.

Nouthetic counseling, or  biblical counseling, is a form of counseling that relies solely on Scripture and  the power of the Holy Spirit to achieve results. Rather than promote any  psychological theory, nouthetic counselors state that Scripture is sufficient  for all human difficulties. Certainly, the Bible speaks of the power of the Holy  Spirit to transform our lives. The Word is powerful (2 Timothy 3:16-17; Hebrews 4:12; Isaiah 55:11) and allows  the godly person to be “thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:17). Plus,  God is our ultimate healer (Exodus  15:26; Matthew  8:17). However, it is interesting to note that those who ascribe to  Bible-only counseling do not necessarily ascribe to Bible-only medical treatment  or Bible-only education. The question becomes what parts of life are to be led  only by Scripture and what aspects can be informed by secular  learning.

Paul spoke of becoming all things to all men for the sake of  evangelism (1  Corinthians 9:19-23). When people are seeking psychological treatment, it  may be helpful for a Christian to use psychological theories as corrected by  biblical truth. A Christian counselor can use the tools of psychology to  reveal to people their need for a deeper healing than what psychology can  provide. Spiritual discussions are not rare in counseling rooms. A counselor is  expected not to impose his or her values or beliefs upon a client, but often  just opening the topic leads a client to search. And we know that when people  search for God, they find Him (Jeremiah  29:13; Proverbs  8:17; Matthew  7:7).

More practically speaking, many instructions or concepts in  the Bible do not seem easily applicable. For instance, we know that we should  abstain from immorality, but other than through prayer and “fleeing” it (1  Corinthians 6:18), we do not know how. Psychology might provide practical  techniques to overcome the struggle with lust. Knowledge gleaned from psychology  may provide insight into what is encouraging a person to remain in sin, and if  we can identify internal proclivities to sin, we can strip those things of their  power.

Psychology may also help people become aware of the importance of  expressing their emotions and bringing them to God, much like we see happening  in the Psalms. Ultimately, psychology may help open the door to an understanding  of our deepest needs. We will not experience full satisfaction or fullness of  life through therapy, but we will increase our hunger for fullness of life. In  turn, we can take our hunger to God, for life comes from Him alone (John 14:6).

Nouthetic counseling is opposed to  psychology. However, there can be genuine Christian counseling that is biblical  and also uses psychological theories. If well-trained Christian counselors are  able to integrate their faith with their education, they can remain faithful to  biblical standards but also avail themselves of the science of  psychology.

Solid counseling should recognize that neither the counselor  nor the client is the healer. Only God can truly heal. Counseling is one tool  that can help us come to an understanding of who we are in Christ and find  meaning in our lives. However, it is not a quest to find worth in and of  ourselves or to find healing apart from God. Nouthetic counseling is correct in  stating that the deepest problem is in the soul, and only the Holy Spirit can  truly transform that.

Quite simply, “nouthetic” counseling is biblical counseling—it gets its name  from the Greek work noutheteo which is usually translated “admonish” (Romans 15:14, NKJV). It  means “to confront as a friend” and was the normal method of counseling before  modernists invented secular psychology in the early 1900s. A study of older  dictionaries shows that it took until 1973 for the word “counseling” to change  from “giving advice” to “psychology” with its modern testing, processes, and  therapies. That change gradually came about as the secular psychology influence  changed our idea of counseling from that given by a pastor to that given by a  secular psychologist.

During the mid-20th century, many Christians  thought they could integrate secular theory into their counseling programs,  mixing the Bible with psychology. That practice (called “Christian” counseling)  was based on the false assumption that man can discover God’s truth apart from  the Bible. In the late 1960s, a number of godly pastors saw the need to reject  such damaging influences, and one man (Dr. Jay Adams) led the way in bringing  biblical counseling back into pastoral ministry. While psychology is based on  evolution and secular philosophy, biblical counseling is based strictly on  biblical principles. For counseling to be biblical, it must be Bible-based,  Christ-centered, and local church-oriented. Nouthetic counseling accepts the  premise that the Bible is God’s Word (2 Timothy  3:16-17) and that it is totally sufficient for meeting all our needs (2 Peter 1:3-4).

Nouthetic counseling is a refreshing return to a strictly biblical method of  problem-solving. Instead of focusing on the problem and expecting years of  therapy, nouthetic counseling focuses on the biblical solution and expects the  counselee to change—by the power of the Holy Spirit—conforming to the biblical  model presented (Romans  8:28-29). Nouthetic counseling is effective for believers and begins with  the evangelism of those who are not believers because biblical counselors  understand that only believers can understand the deep truths of God (1 Corinthians 2:14).  Since all believers have the Holy Spirit and God’s Word to change them (1  Corinthians 6:9-11; Galatians  5:16), biblical (nouthetic) counseling depends on the Holy Spirit to change  the believer, using God’s Word as it was intended—to teach, rebuke, correct and  train in righteousness (2 Timothy  3:16).

There are few colleges and seminaries that teach nouthetic  counseling today, but the list is growing, as more and more Christians are  seeing the weakness and error in trying to integrate secular thought with the  Bible. Colossians  2:8 says, “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit,  according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the  world, and not according to Christ” (NKJV). That is the reason for the dividing  line between biblical (nouthetic) counseling, Christian counseling, and secular  psychology.

Panic attacks, anxiety disorders, phobias, and depression affect millions of  people. Panic attacks can be particularly debilitating as they can strike a  person with no warning. For most sufferers, what they experience is rooted in  fear: fear of rejection, fear of acceptance, fear of responsibility, fear of the  unknown. Something will trigger fear which drives the person to feel like he or  she is losing control. Panic attacks are often both physically and  psychologically intense.

Although medical experts believe that many  times the above-mentioned ailments originate within a person’s psyche, there are  times when a chemical imbalance is the cause. If this is the case, medication is  often prescribed to help counter the imbalance, which in turn treats the  symptoms of the psychological ailment. Is this a sin? No. God has allowed man to  grow in his knowledge of medicine, which God often uses in the healing process.  Does God need man-made medicine in order to heal? Of course not! But God has  chosen to allow the practice of medicine to progress, and there is no biblical  reason not to avail ourselves of it.

However, there is a fine line  between using medicine for healing purposes and continual reliance upon medicine  for daily living. We need to recognize God as the Great Physician, and know that  He alone holds the power to truly heal (John 4:14). We  need to look to God first and foremost for our healing. Medicine used to treat a  case of panic attack should only be used to the extent that it allows the  sufferer to deal with the root cause of fear. It should be used to give back  control to the sufferer. However, many sufferers take medicine in order to avoid  dealing with the true cause of their ailment; this would be denying  responsibility, denying God’s healing, and possibly denying others the freedom  of forgiveness or closure to some past event that could be contributing to the  ailment. This, then, does become sin, as it is based on selfishness.

By  taking medicine on a limited basis in order to treat the symptoms, then relying  upon the Word of God and wise counsel to enact transformation in one’s heart and  mind, gradually the need for the medicine will diminish. The believer’s position  in Christ is affirmed, and God brings healing into those troubled areas of the  heart and mind which are causing the ailment. God’s Word has much to say about  fear and its place in a believer’s life. Reading through the following  Scriptures and meditating on them is the universal cure. The following verses  give confidence, and illuminate the truth behind what being a child of God  entails: Proverbs  29:25; Matthew  6:34; John 8:32; Romans 8:28-39; 12:1-2; 1 Corinthians 10:132  Corinthians 10:5; Philippians 4:4-9; Colossians  3:1-2; 2 Timothy  1:6-8; Hebrews  13:5-6; James 1:2-41 Peter 5:72 Peter  1:3-4; 1 John 1:94:18-19.

God can heal supernaturally and  miraculously. We should pray to that end. God also heals through medicine and  doctors. We should pray to that end as well. Regardless of which direction God  takes, our ultimate trust must be in Him alone (Matthew  9:22).

Secular psychology is based on the teachings of psychoanalysts such as Sigmund  Freud, Carl Jung, and Carl Rogers. Biblical, or nouthetic,  counseling, on the other hand, is based squarely on the revealed Word of God.  Biblical counseling sees Scripture as sufficient to equip the child of God for  every good work (2 Timothy  3:17). Biblical counselors teach that man’s basic problem is spiritual in  nature; therefore, atheistic psychologists, who are spiritually dead themselves,  have no real insight into the human condition.

On a related note, what  is usually called “Christian counseling” is different from “biblical counseling”  in that Christian counseling often uses secular psychology in addition to the  Bible. This is not to say that a Christian counselor is not also a biblical  counselor, but often Christian counselors are Christians who integrate secular  psychology into their counseling. Biblical or nouthetic counselors reject  secular psychology wholesale.

Most psychology is humanistic in nature.  Secular humanism promotes mankind as the  highest standard of truth and morality and rejects faith, the supernatural, and  the Bible. Therefore, secular psychology is man’s attempt to understand and  repair the spiritual side of man without reference to or recognition of the  spiritual.

The Bible declares that mankind is a unique creation of God,  made in the image of God (Genesis  1:26, 2:7). The  Bible expressly deals with man’s spirituality, including his fall into sin,  sin’s consequences, and man’s current relationship with God.

Secular  psychology is based on the ideas that man is basically good and that the answer  to his problems lies within himself. The Bible paints a very different picture  of man’s condition. Man is not “basically good”; he is “dead in trespasses and  sins” (Ephesians  2:1), and the unregenerate heart is “deceitful and beyond all cure” (Jeremiah 17:9). Therefore,  the biblical counselor takes a drastically different approach: rather than  seeking solutions to spiritual problems within one’s own mind, he seeks to  confront sin, obtain wisdom from above (James 3:17),  and apply the Word of God to the situation.

Biblical counselors, as  opposed to psychotherapists and some Christian counselors, see the Bible alone  as the source of a comprehensive and detailed approach to counseling (2 Timothy 3:15-17; 2 Peter 1:4). Biblical  counseling is committed to letting God speak for Himself through His Word.  Biblical counseling seeks to minister the love of the true and living God, a love that deals with sin and produces obedience.

Psychotherapy is needs-based. The needs for  self-esteem, love and acceptance, and significance tend to dominate. If these  needs are met, it is believed, people will be happy, kind, and moral; if these  needs are unmet, people will be miserable, hateful, and immoral. Biblical  counseling teaches that true satisfaction and happiness can only be found in a  relationship with God and a pursuit of godliness. No amount of psychotherapy can  make a selfish person unselfish, for example, but the obedient servant of God  will be satisfied in his joyful, unselfish giving (2  Corinthians 9:7).

So, how does psychology work with biblical  counseling? In fine, it doesn’t. Secular psychology starts and ends with man and  his ideas. True biblical counseling points clients to Christ and the Word of  God. Biblical counseling is a pastoral activity, a product of the spiritual  gift of exhortation, and its goal is not self-esteem but sanctification.

Psychologists and psychiatrists are professionals who work in the field of  mental health. People often confuse their roles or mix them up with other mental  health professionals such as psychotherapists, psychoanalysts, or mental health  counselors. There are many variations of mental health professionals that  require several different educational paths and use many treatment methods.  Psychologists must attain a Ph.D. in psychology and focus primarily on doing  research, teaching on a college level, and maintaining private counseling  practices. They can administer testing for many cognitive and emotional  assessments as well. Prescription privileges were made available to  psychologists in New Mexico in 2002, and various psychologist groups are working  to gain such privileges in other states. A psychiatrist is actually a medical  doctor who specializes in mental disorders. Psychiatrists are highly trained in  pharmacological treatments for mental health and are the primary mental health  professionals to prescribe medications. General practitioners (medical doctors)  and nurse practitioners are also able to prescribe psychological  medications.

When people feel the need for services such as testing for  dyslexia or counseling, they may consider going to a psychologist. Typically,  people see a psychologist or other counseling professional before they are  referred to a psychiatrist. Some psychiatrists practice counseling, but others  only administer and monitor medications while partnering with other  professionals who perform the therapy. As in any vocation, some  psychologists/psychiatrists will be Christians, and others will not.

Christians usually want to know how the Bible relates to these professions. The  truth is that neither psychology nor psychiatry is wrong in a sinful sense. They  both serve valid and helpful purposes. None of the mental health professionals  have the ability to fully understand how God made man, how the mind works, why  we feel and act the way we do. While there is an abundance of worldly,  man-centered theory about mental and emotional issues, there are also many godly  people involved in these professions seeking to understand the human mind from a  biblical perspective. For Christians, it is best to seek a professional who  professes to be a believer, can express knowledge of Scripture, and exhibits  godly character. Any counsel we receive must be filtered through Scripture so  that, as with everything in the world, we can discern what is true and what is  false.

Seeing a psychologist or psychiatrist is not wrong. However,  mental health professionals come from many different beliefs and backgrounds.  Even Christian psychologists and psychiatrists will be unable to give perfect  answers, or they may be weak in some area of their biblical knowledge. Remember  that the Word of God is our first answer to all that ails us. Arming ourselves  with the truth is essential to discerning what is helpful and what is leading us  astray (Ephesians  6:11-17; 1  Corinthians 2:15-16). Every believer is personally responsible for studying  the Bible for his own personal growth and discernment. The Holy Spirit will use  the Word to transform us into the image of Jesus Christ, which is the ultimate  goal for all Christians (Ephesians  5:1-2; Colossians  3:3).

Leviticus chapter 11 lists the dietary restrictions God gave to the nation of  Israel. The dietary laws included prohibitions against eating pork, shrimp,  shellfish and many types of seafood, most insects, scavenger birds, and various  other animals. The dietary rules were never intended to apply to anyone other  than the Israelites. The purpose of the food laws was to make the Israelites  distinct from all other nations. After this purpose had ended, Jesus declared  all foods clean (Mark 7:19).  God gave the apostle Peter a vision in which He declared that formerly unclean  animals could be eaten: “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean”  (Acts 10:15). When Jesus died  on the cross, He fulfilled the Old Testament law (Romans 10:4Galatians  3:24-26; Ephesians  2:15). This includes the laws regarding clean and unclean foods.

Romans 14:1-23 teaches us  that not everyone is mature enough in the faith to accept the fact that all  foods are clean. As a result, if we are with someone who would be offended by  our eating “unclean” food, we should give up our right to do so as to not offend  the other person. We have the right to eat whatever we want, but we do not have  the right to offend other people, even if they are wrong. For the Christian in  this age, though, we have freedom to eat whatever we wish as long as it does not  cause someone else to stumble in his/her faith.

In the New Covenant of  grace, the Bible is far more concerned with how much we eat than what we eat.  Physical appetites are an analogy of our ability to control ourselves. If we are  unable to control our eating habits, we are probably also unable to control  other habits such as those of the mind (lust, covetousness, unrighteous  hatred/anger) and unable to keep our mouths from gossip or strife. We are not to  let our appetites control us; rather, we are to control them (Deuteronomy 21:20; Proverbs 23:2; 2 Peter 1:5-7; 2 Timothy 3:1-9; 2  Corinthians 10:5).

Gluttony seems to be a sin that Christians like to ignore. We are often quick  to label smoking and drinking as sins, but for some reason gluttony is accepted  or at least tolerated. Many of the arguments used against smoking and drinking,  such as health and addiction, apply equally to overeating. Many believers would  not even consider having a glass of wine or smoking a cigarette but have no  qualms about gorging themselves at the dinner table. This should not  be!

Proverbs  23:20-21 warns us, “Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge  themselves on meat, for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness  clothes them in rags.” Proverbs  28:7 declares, “He who keeps the law is a discerning son, but a companion of  gluttons disgraces his father.” Proverbs  23:2 proclaims, “Put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony.”

Physical appetites are an analogy of our ability to control ourselves.  If we are unable to control our eating habits, we are probably also unable to  control other habits, such as those of the mind (lust, covetousness, anger) and  unable to keep our mouths from gossip or strife. We are not to let our appetites  control us, but we are to have control over our appetites. (See Deuteronomy 21:20, Proverbs 23:2, 2 Peter 1:5-7, 2 Timothy 3:1-9, and 2  Corinthians 10:5.) The ability to say “no” to anything in  excess—self-control—is one of the fruits of the Spirit common to all believers  (Galatians  5:22).

God has blessed us by filling the earth with foods that are  delicious, nutritious, and pleasurable. We should honor God’s creation by  enjoying these foods and by eating them in appropriate quantities. God calls us  to control our appetites, rather than allowing them to control us.

Good health is something we take for granted—until we start to lose it. When our  health takes a downturn, we quickly begin to question our habits and diet. God  has designed the human body so that it is a finely tuned instrument that is the  most resilient on earth. It can endure fractures and adhesions, constant pain  and great stretches of tedium.

However, it is a fragile instrument  because it is not built to handle excess, whether in the form of nourishment,  fuel or additives. Unlike machines, it chokes on poisons when ingested in  unending doses and mistaken for fuel. Though it has moving, feeling and thinking  parts, they can be misused. God has provided us with an “owner’s manual” that  tells us how to operate the human body. That manual is the Bible, a book that  contains instructions for proper maintenance. Although it isn’t a medical text,  it is God’s Word, and in its pages He reveals many basic principles for good  physical, mental, and spiritual health.

A major part of the Bible’s  health instruction dates back to the time of Moses. Yet in our day, many  researchers and medical doctors are stunned at the accuracy and effectiveness of  its many provisions. The Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia tells us that the laws  given by God to Moses contain remarkable rules pertaining to public health which  concerns us even today: water and food contamination, sewage disposal,  infectious diseases and health education. These issues were all dealt with in  the Mosaic health laws.

The Bible gives us the foundational key to  physical and mental health. That key is simply this: “My son, do not forget my  teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life  many years and bring you prosperity . . . This will bring health to your body  and nourishment to your bones” (Proverbs  3:1-2, 8). It  should not surprise us that obedience to God’s commandments and other laws would  promote health. When we obey them, we operate in accordance with His  instructions. As our Creator, He knows what’s best for us: “Now all has been  heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments,  for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13).

Some biblical statements  about health are specific, such as: “If you listen carefully to the voice of the  LORD your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his  commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I  brought on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, who heals you” (Exodus 15:26). The ancient  Egyptians suffered from the kinds of diseases that have ravaged mankind  throughout history. Autopsies on Egyptian mummies have revealed evidence of  cancer, arteriosclerosis, arthritis, tuberculosis, gallstones, bladder stones,  parasitic diseases and smallpox. They suffered many diseases because they did  not understand the health principles God gave to Moses.

The biblical  instructions regarding health, maintenance, and recovery from illness involve  application of cause-and-effect principles—based on true science—that were given  thousands of years before scientists developed the technology that enabled them  to discover germs, bacteria, viruses, genes and the like. Modern medical science  has discovered many principles of good health, but they originated with God who  designed and created the miracle that is the human body.

What the Bible  says about health is that those who follow God will generally be healthy. That  does not necessarily mean that those who don’t follow God will always be sick.  Nor does it mean that God’s people will be absolutely free of disease. The Bible  says, “I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you,  even as your soul is getting along well” (3 John 1:2).  Obviously, God is more interested in our spiritual health than our physical  well-being, but He does want us to be physically healthy as well. On the other  hand, disease is a result of Adam’s sin, and even the most righteous may suffer.  After all, Job was righteous, but God allowed him to suffer disease and  hardship.

It was not until the modern era that men obtained detailed  knowledge of human physiology and medicine. Yet the Creator God, who is  sometimes called the Great Physician, knows everything about us, and He’s  provided the necessary keys to good health. The choice to obey the Lord and reap  the resulting benefits is ours to make.