Appetite and Passion
Introduction – Perfect Character
“The knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ, expressed in character, is an exaltation above everything that is esteemed in earth or in heaven. It is the very highest education. It is the key that opens the portals of the heavenly city.” 6T 97.1
The character of Christ, the knowledge of this character is the key that opens the portals of the heavenly city. To have this key we need to study the character of Christ.
“Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.” Hebrews 5:7-9
Christ in human flesh, in the days of His flesh, suffered. When we suffer we don’t always like it. We don’t appreciate suffering nevertheless it is character building. The same was with Christ He suffered and it was character building. Through suffering Christ developed a perfect character, ‘being made perfect.’ Christ was the author, He wrote the book. He showed us how to attain a perfect character and thus open the portals of the heavenly city.
Propensities to be Removed
But to start with we do not have a perfect character. We all have character defects. We have things in our character that need to be removed. How did they get there in our character?
“But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” James 1:14,15
When we give in to the lusts of our own flesh we give in more readily the next time. Once we’ve given in many times over, there develops in us an inclination to go and do sins. We want to go and do sins because we’ve made it a habit. It becomes part of our character. Having this inclination or corruption inclines us to sin. To remove this from our character requires something else outside of ourselves.
“Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” 2 Peter 1:4
To escape the corruptions and inclinations of sin in our character we need to become partakers of the divine nature.
“We must realize that through belief in Him [Christ] it is our privilege to be partakers of the divine nature, and so escape the corruption that is in the world through lust. Then we are cleansed from all sin, all defects of character. We need not retain one sinful propensity.” 7BC 943.1
It says, “We need not retain one sinful propensity” Where? In our character. A propensity is an inclination or tendency. An inclination to go and do sins. We need not retain one of these inclinations or tendencies in our character.
“As we partake of the divine nature, hereditary and cultivated tendencies to wrong are cut away from the character, and we are made a living power for good.” 7BC 943.2
Each one of us has these sinful tendencies. Sinful inclinations which belong to our character where we’re inclined to go and do sins because we like them. These inclinations need to be removed or as it says, ‘cut away from our character.’ This is what the religion of Christ is all about – removing character defects, removing those sinful propensities where we’re inclined to go and do sins. When these inclinations to go and do sins are removed from our character, then we would have a perfect character like Christ, wouldn’t we? We would have no more evil propensities right? We would be sanctified with no inclination to go and do sins?
Propensities to be Controlled
When we reach that stage. Does that mean we have no more inclinations at all? Is that what it means? When we are sanctified does it mean we have no more propensities at all anywhere in us?
“The greatest triumph given us by the religion of Christ is control over ourselves. Our natural propensities must be controlled [not removed, controlled], or we can never overcome as Christ overcame.” 4T 235.1
Here’s some propensities–natural propensities. It says our natural propensities must be controlled. There are propensities to be controlled and there are propensities to be removed. Inclinations to be controlled and inclinations to be removed. We need to realise the difference between the two. There is a distinction to be made. Propensities to be removed are character defects. They are inclinations which belong to our character. They have appeared in our character. Propensities to be controlled are in our flesh. These are inclinations, which belong to our flesh. We have them which you will begin to see that as we go along.
Passions and Appetites
Propensities to be controlled, what are they like? What do they do to us? We want to know so we can overcome them like Christ overcame them.
“It is the grace of God that you need in order that your thoughts may be disciplined to flow in the right channel, that the words you utter may be right words, and that your passions and appetites may be subject to the control of reason, and the tongue be bridled [or controlled] against levity and unhallowed censure and faultfinding. “If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle [or control] the whole body.” The greatest triumph given us by the religion of Christ is control over ourselves. Our natural propensities must be controlled, or we can never overcome as Christ overcame.” 4T 235.1
Did you see what the natural propensities to be controlled were? It says your tongue, your thoughts, your passions and your appetites that these may be subject to control, the control of sanctified reason. Passions and appetites are natural propensities that need to be controlled. If we are going to overcome as Christ overcame we need to control our passions and appetites. This is what Christ did. He controlled the passions and appetites of the flesh. But some say you are wrong, Christ did not possess passions like us.
“He [Christ] was a mighty petitioner [with strong crying and tears], not possessing the passions of our human, fallen natures, but compassed with like infirmities, tempted in all points even as we are.” 2T 509.0
Sure enough it says that Christ did not possess the passions of our human, fallen natures. But wait a minute there is another statement saying that Christ did have all the passion of humanity.
“Though He [Christ] had all the strength of passion of humanity, never did He yield to temptation to do one single act which was not pure and elevating and ennobling.” HP 155.7
These two statements seem to be totally contradictory. One is saying that Christ did not possess the passions of humanity the other says He did have all the passion of humanity. How can we explain this? One says one thing while the other appears to say the opposite. Is one wrong? Can we throw out one and uphold the other? No, we can’t. There must be harmony found between them and it can be found in this way. Christ had all the strength of passion of humanity in His flesh. Yet He did not allow any one of these passions ever to appear in His character or mind. Therefore He did not possess the passions of our fallen natures. They were not His. They were only in His flesh. Though He had them they never appeared. Christ controlled the passions of the flesh so they never became His. They were not part of Him. Not part of His character. If we have a temper, an inclination to get angry and lose control, this is a passion that has appeared in our character. It’s one of those that need to be removed from our character but when it’s removed that doesn’t mean that it’s not still in your flesh. You are just controlling it by the power and grace of God. It is no longer yours. It’s only in the flesh. Christ had the same in His flesh but by the power of God He never allowed it to surface. This is how Christ could be tempted in all points as we are yet without sin. He never let any of those passions appear. They never became His. They were in fact agony to His soul. He suffered being tempted and in so doing He developed a perfect character, being made perfect.
“For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.” James 3:2
The same is a perfect man that is he has a perfect character and was able to bridle or control the whole body. Christ wrote the book on how to do this. He is the author. He showed us how to have perfect control of the passions and appetites of our body. Christ was that perfect man able to bridle the whole body. In that text in James that’s what Christ was, He was that perfect man. The question we asked before can now be answered. If all the inclinations to sin are removed from our character thus, giving us a perfect character, does that then mean we have no inclinations at all? No it doesn’t. Because the perfect man has inclinations which he must control in his body. That is what this text in James says. This is what we are called upon to do – to control the passions and appetites of our own body so they do not become part of our character.
“Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
Here Paul is talking about athletes who are temperate. They are very careful about what they eat and drink because they want to have perfect physical endurance. They want to win the race, obtain a corruptible crown, and win the gold medal. But the race we are running is the race of eternal life. It’s a much higher race with a prize that will never diminish for all of eternity. How much more temperate should we be? The race of eternal life requires temperance to keep the body under control. That’s what Apostle Paul did, he says “I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection,” least I should be a castaway. Paul kept his body under control. He brought it into subjection. He controlled the natural propensities — the inclinations of the flesh. See how he did it. Paul gained the mastery over his body by being temperate. Being temperate means having self-restraint in all things. Including self-restraint in eating and drinking. If we want salvation this is required of us also.
“As our first parents lost Eden through the indulgence of appetite, our only hope of regaining Eden is through the firm denial of appetite and passion. Abstemiousness in diet, and control of all the passions, will preserve the intellect and give mental and moral vigor, enabling men to bring all their propensities under the control of the higher powers, and to discern between right and wrong, the sacred and the common.” CD 59.1
This is a key statement. It tells us how we are to gain control of our propensities; that is, through the firm denial of appetite and passion.
Eating of Flesh
Before we go on any further I want to bring an example into our study
“By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise.” Hebrews 11: 8,9
Where was the land of promise in which Abraham sojourned? It was the land of Canaan.
“For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. . . These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. . . But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.” Hebrews 11:10,13,14,16
The Promised Land was the land of Canaan but here it speaks of a heavenly land. It speaks of a heavenly Canaan. Earthly Canaan was in fact a type. It is a type of the final Promised Land, the heavenly Canaan. Also the deliverance of Israel from Egypt and their entrance into the earthly Promised Land is a type of the final deliverance of God’s people and their entrance into heavenly Canaan. That’s where we are going, to heavenly Canaan. God’s people in the last days are also Israel. They are called “Israel” in Revelation.
“And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.” Revelation 7:4
For modern Israel in these last days the Bible sets before us an example of the Israel of old and what happened to them prior to entering the Promised Land.
“But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.” 1 Corinthians 10:5,6
The children of Israel lusted. They gave in to their appetites and passions in the wilderness. They gave in to their sensual desires.
“Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.” 1 Corinthians 10:11
The ends of the world are come upon us so this is written for our admonition. It’s written for us. The example of Israel of old is for modern Israel in the last days. Israel of old lusted and gave in to their passions.
“And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger. Then said the LORD unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no.” Exodus 16: 3,4
The Israelites said, “we’re going to starve here in the wilderness.” They said, “we need the flesh pots of Egypt to live.” But God had something else in mind to give them. He gave them something else to bring them off the diet of animal flesh. He gave them manna to eat there in the wilderness. For modern Israel God did something similar. He didn’t give us manna to eat but he gave us the light of the health message. The manna represents the health message. This is what God had in mind for us to bring us off the diet of animal flesh. He gave us the health message but as we know Israel of old rebelled. They craved after flesh. They desired to eat the flesh of animals. They said, “who’s going to give us animal flesh to eat”
“And the mixt multitude that was among them fell a lusting: and the children of Israel also wept again, and said, Who shall give us flesh to eat? We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlick: But now our soul is dried away: there is nothing at all, beside this manna, before our eyes.” Numbers 11:4-6
The children of Israel were sick of the diet that God had given them. God had withdrawn the diet of animal flesh from them because he knew it was not best for them. He gave them manna instead but they lusted after animal flesh. They said, ‘Give us flesh to eat. We want to fulfil our passions. Has modern Israel done the same as this? Has it been said, ‘Our souls are dried away because there is nothing at all, besides this health message? All we have to eat in the health message is this bland food. We want animal flesh to satisfy our cravings. We want to fulfil our passions. Give us fish and chicken.’
“And they sinned yet more against him by provoking the most High in the wilderness. And they tempted God in their heart by asking meat for their lust.” Psalms 78:17,18
They asked meat for their lusts. They wanted to satisfy their appetites and fulfil those lusts but it was a sin. They sinned in doing this.
“Because they believed not in God, and trusted not in his salvation: Though he had commanded the clouds from above, and opened the doors of heaven, And had rained down manna upon them to eat, and had given them of the corn of heaven. Man did eat angels’ food: he sent them meat to the full. He caused an east wind to blow in the heaven: and by his power he brought in the south wind. He rained flesh also upon them as dust, and feathered fowls like as the sand of the sea: And he let it fall in the midst of their camp, round about their habitations. So they did eat, and were well filled: for he gave them their own desire; They were not estranged from their lust. But while their meat was yet in their mouths, The wrath of God came upon them, and slew the fattest of them, and smote down the chosen men of Israel. For all this they sinned still, and believed not for his wondrous works.” Psalm 78:22-32
It was a sin to go back to flesh eating. Since they knew better and God had provided something better. They had Manna to the full. It was God’s intention to bring them off the diet of animal flesh. God’s intention is the same for us. To get us off the diet of animal flesh. That’s why He has rained down upon us the health message. He has given us light to the full and food to the full. There are plenty of substitute foods in the health message.
“The same God who gave the children of Israel manna from heaven lives and reigns. He will give skill and understanding in the preparation of health foods. He will guide His people in the preparation of wholesome food.” CD 268.1
If we go back to the diet of animal flesh after God has provided something better and having all the light of heaven blazing upon us, don’t we repeat the sin of Israel and provoke God? The following statement was written more than 100 ago years. We should have learnt it by now.
1890 – “Again and again I have been shown that God is trying to lead us back, step by step, to His original design–that man should subsist upon the natural products of the earth. Among those who are waiting for the coming of the Lord, meat eating will eventually be done away; flesh will cease to form a part of their diet. We should ever keep this end in view, and endeavor to work steadily toward it.” CH 450.1
Have we reached that goal yet? For those new to the message there is some room for growth. But for long established Sabbath keepers who are eating more and more flesh we begin to wonder when they propose to arrive at this goal. Are they waiting for the coming of the Lord? Or are they saying in their hearts, ‘My lord delayeth his coming so I can eat some more flesh?; How do we propose to enter heavenly Canaan if we do what Israel of old did? They never entered Canaan. They were overthrown in the wilderness. They never overcame their appetites. Despite the fact of having the health message – manna – they refused to practice temperance. They turned back to meat eating. They had the very food to overcome — angel food. What more did they want?
Back to our main subject. How to gain control of our propensities, our inclinations. Remember it requires the firm denial of appetite and passion to do this.
“Flesh food . . . is harmful. Its naturally stimulating effect should be a sufficient argument against its use; and the almost universally diseased condition of animals makes it doubly objectionable. It tends to irritate the nerves and to excite the passions, thus giving the balance of power to the lower propensities.” CD 397.1
Here is something that actually increases the passions. The eating of animal flesh actually gives strength to the lower propensities. Meanwhile in the religion of Christ we’re trying to gain control of our propensities. So why would we want to partake of something which actually increases the lower propensities? Do we want to make it harder to control ourselves than it already is? Do we want to defeat ourselves in the religion of Christ? Obviously not therefore animal flesh is not the food for God’s people in these last days for we are preparing a character for heaven.
1905 – “Is it not time that all should aim to dispense with flesh foods? How can those who are seeking to become pure, refined and holy, that they may have the companionship of heavenly angels, continue to use as food anything that has so harmful an effect on soul and body? How can they take the life of God’s creatures that they may consume the flesh as a luxury?” TSDF 73 .7
When Sabbath keepers have all the light and continue eating flesh food it makes us wonder if they know what it means to control the propensities. Do they really know the nature of Christ and what it means to control the propensities?
Conclusion – Jesus in the Wilderness
Remember what Jesus did for us. Think of it. Think of that long fast that Jesus endured in the wilderness of temptation. He endured it to break the power of appetite and passion over us. He did it for our sakes.
“Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred. And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.” Matthew 4: 1-3
Jesus was in the wilderness for forty days and forty nights without food. He was fainting with hunger, craving for food and suffering the gnawing pangs of hunger. On top of that Satan came tempting Him saying to Him, ‘If you are the Son of God work a miracle to feed yourself.’ In all of this suffering Christ denied His appetite. He controlled the appetite. He suffered for our sakes.
“For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.” Hebrews 2:18
Jesus knows exactly how our flesh feels when we are tempted by appetite and passion. He is able to succour us when we are tempted because He knows exactly the struggles we have with ourselves in trying to control the inclinations of our own flesh. When we think of the terrible sufferings of Christ in the wilderness and how tormented He was in the wilderness, we are aghast at those who profess Christ and yet indulge perverted appetites.
“The great end for which Christ endured that long fast in the wilderness was to teach us the necessity of self-denial and temperance.” 3T 488.2
Christ endured this to teach us self-denial. It’s through the firm denial of appetite we gain control of our propensities. Christ taught us this in the wilderness. What a contrast between Christ and the children of Israel who were overthrown in the wilderness.
“This work should commence at our tables and should be strictly carried out in all the concerns of life. The Redeemer of the world came from heaven to help man in his weakness, that, in the power which Jesus came to bring him, he might become strong to overcome appetite and passion, and might be victor on every point.” 3T 488.2
On how many points? On every point of appetite and passion. Jesus came to give us strength on every point. Out there in the world they have no hope of controlling their appetites and passions. No hope at all. None whatsoever. Neither can we control ourselves without Christ strengthening us. Therefore if we are failing to overcome our hasty tempers and our sharp words let us be driven to Christ all the more. Christ came from heaven to help man in his weakness.
“Every one of us may know that there is a power working with our efforts to overcome. Why will not men lay hold upon the help that has been provided, that they may become elevated and ennobled? Why do they degrade themselves by the indulgence of perverted appetite? Why do they not rise in the strength of Jesus, and be victorious in his name? The very feeblest prayer that we can offer, Jesus will hear. He pities the weakness of every soul. Help for every one has been laid upon Him who is mighty to save. I point you to Jesus Christ, the sinner’s Saviour, who alone can give you power to overcome on every point.” CTBH 148.4