Biblical history records that during the long span of time the Children of Israel were under the authority of the Law of Moses, as prescribed by the Lord God of Israel, there were commandments from God regulating every aspect of Hebrew life, what to eat, what to drink, how to act, how not to act, how long to work, how long to sleep and rest, and how to strictly observe the Sabbath day. Women were even instructed exactly how to behave while on their periods These laws were described in the Pentateuch as a school-master, in order to ensure that the rebellious Jews conducted their lives strictly in accordance with God’s holy law, as revealed by the prophets. Over many hundreds of years, these laws governing day-to-day Hebrew behavior, activities, and the worship of God became, however, trivialized and rote to the Pharisee and Sadducee sects of the Jews, and when Jesus, the Messiah, began his earthly ministry among his people, the Jews were still stubbornly obsessing over the letter of the Law of Moses, not understanding the changes in the Law brought by the Savior to the world and consummated through the shedding of his precious blood on the cross, and his death. Jesus had said that “… until heaven and earth pass, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished (or fulfilled)… ” The Jews, who demanded that the Romans crucify Jesus, could not comprehend the freedom that Jesus offered to them, and to all mankind, as they also could not grasp the new commandment that Jesus had given them, to love one another.
Shortly after Jesus’ death, the Day of Pentecost saw the great outpouring the Holy Spirit upon the earth, and especially upon thousands of people, from all nations of the earth, who, on that special day in Jerusalem, had faith in Christ and were baptized by the Holy Spirit to become Christians. As this, the advent of the Holy Spirit, had been promised by Jesus before his death, this wonderful event occurred approximately 30-to-50 days after the Savior’s ascension into heaven, in 33 A.D. Shortly after Pentecost, while thousands of newly converted Christians were living communally together in Jerusalem, under the direction of the chief Apostles, Peter, James, and John, seven men were chosen by the apostles to ensure that the poorest Christians, especially the widows, received a regular distribution of food for their physical well-being. At this particular time, there was a young Jewish teenager, named Saul, who was to later become a member of the ruling Jewish council in Jerusalem, the Sanhedrin. Saul was, at that time, studying to become a Pharisee, and was vigorously involved in persecuting, and helping to kill, Christians. One of those seven Christian men chosen to minister to the people was a disciple named Stephen, who, according to Acts 6:5, was a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit. Stephen, while subsequently preaching openly about Jesus, was falsely accused of blasphemy and seized by the Pharisees of the Sanhedrin to be tried for his alleged crimes. Stephen was later cruelly stoned, and during the stoning, the false witnesses who accused him of blasphemy and threw the stones laid their clothes at the feet of the young boy Saul.
This man Saul, who eventually became a member of the Sanhedrin, a Jewish overseer, and Pharisee was later converted to Christianity on the Road to Damascus, Syria, when the resurrected and ascended Lord Jesus blinded him by a great light, spoke to him, and directed him to a Christian man named Ananias, in Damascus, who healed him of his blindness and assisted him in being baptized by the Holy Spirit to wash away his sins. This same Saul was later renamed Paul the Apostle, succeeded in writing most of the New Testament, and died in Rome, a martyr, around 62 A.D, after establishing the seven Christian Churches of Asia among the Gentile people through his three missionary journeys. When the biblical doctrinal history of the first Christian church (the combined body of believers) is studied, the composite writings of Paul the Apostle are the basis for most, or 95 percent, of the doctrines and practices ordained by Jesus Christ through his chosen Apostles. For this reason, Paul’s statements in the New Testament were clearly identified by him when they were his own opinion, as opposed to those inspired statements he stated as commandments from God. While Paul regarded himself a prisoner of Jesus Christ, in the sense that he knew with certainty that Jesus Christ was the Son of God and the Savior of the world (and that there was no way he could deny it), Jesus gave him permission to state his own opinion about various things; and he always stated that he was speaking by permission, and not of commandment, when he did. For this reason, Paul’s writings and statements of doctrine agreed perfectly with the teachings of Jesus during his personal ministry before his crucifixion. I mean, if Jesus personally appointed Paul to be one of his Apostles, out of due season, the Savior would have only directed him to say what he wanted him to say, and to do what he wanted him to do. Jesus had already intervened physically in Paul’s life, blinding him and revealing himself to him as the Lord God of the universe. So I truly doubt that Paul would have later taught anything as Christian doctrine that was opposed to the mind and will of Jesus Christ.
So now that the doctrinal statements of Paul the Apostle, in the New Testament, have been established as the mind, will, and voice of Jesus Christ, let’s examine how Jesus viewed health codes rendered by organized religion as doctrines of God. I think that Paul listened very closely to the Lord about ceremonial practices and prohibitions placed upon the Jews, the Greeks, and Christians about what they were permitted, and not permitted, to eat and drink. Just think about what Peter must have thought when he received the vision of the great sheet covered with all manner of four-footed beasts, and the command from God to kill and eat. Peter had probably never eaten pork because the Jews had regarded swine as unclean, and Peter lived by the ceremonial Jewish health code. Peter had been very stubborn when the Lord God had caused the vision to appear three times and had replied, “Not so, Lord: for nothing common or unclean hath at any time entered into my mouth.” Yet, the scripture, in Acts 11:5-9 KJV, states, “But the voice answered me again from heaven, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.”
Now, there are some who read this particular scripture and regard the beasts on the great sheet only in symbolism as human beings, in noting that this great vision received by Peter directly preceded the first Gentile Christian conversion, the Roman centurion Cornelius. Nonetheless, Jesus had already stated, during his ministry, as recorded in Matthew 15:17 and in Mark 7:19, that it’s not what goes into a person’s mouth, or what a person eats, or drinks, that defiles that person. It is the poison that is emitted from the mouth, in the form of words produced by the tongue, that defiles a human being. Peter might not have understood the doctrinal concept that Jesus was endeavoring to convey at that time in his life, but Paul made it very clear when he wrote the commandments of God to the Colossian Christians, in Colossians 2:13-23 NIV. He said:
“When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcism of your sinful nature, God made you alive in Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
Therefore, do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize. Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen, and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions. He has lost connection with the Head, from whom the whole body, supported and held by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow.
Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of the world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!” These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.”
Had I understood this particular scripture in the nineteenth year of my life, I probably would have seen, and understood, the Mormon Church for what it actually was, a man-made religion created by a blasphemous man, Joseph Smith (who called himself a prophet), who was properly described by Paul in verse 23; that is, “as a man who created regulations that had an appearance of wisdom with their self-imposed worship, false humility, and harsh treatment of the body called the Word of Wisdom. I was first confronted with the Word of Wisdom, otherwise known as the “89th Section of the Doctrine and Covenants,” when the young full-time Mormon missionaries, Craig Burgess and Barry Erickson, told me, in Tyler, Texas, that I had to accept the Mormon prohibitions, not to drink coffee, tea, or alcoholic beverages, and not to use tobacco, in order to accepted, or baptized, into the LDS Church. At that time I had not understood that such imposed rules restricting people from handling, tasting, and touching were, and are, destined to perish with use. Why? The Apostle Paul very clearly told us that they are based upon human commands and teachings, not upon the teachings and commandments of God. Yet there is a bit more to the Mormon Word of Wisdom than most people, including quite a few Mormons, know.
You see, Joseph Smith was a walking contradiction in his ability to practice what he pompously preached. While he preached moral purity and chastity, he was actually an adulterer and womanizer, who, before he was lynched in 1844, had bedded over 40 polygamous wives (at least 10 of which were wives of Mormon missionaries Smith had sent away to other states and countries), having had his first affair with a sixteen year old girl, named Fanny Alger, in 1833. And while he had concocted what he called a revelation from God in 1833, the Word of Wisdom, calling all hot drinks (coffee and tea) and strong drinks (alcoholic beverages) unapproved by God for human consumption, he was, himself, very fond of beer, liquor, tea, and coffee, and, according to his own journal, “enjoyed beer and regular drinks with the boys,” on numerous occasions. Just before he was lynched, in 1844, Smith ordered a bottle of wine to drink in order to refresh himself; so that it may be said that Joseph Smith went to his death with alcohol in his bloodstream and smell of wine on his breath, while he had regularly criticized others in his church who had frequently imbibed.
Joseph Smith’s immediate successor, Brigham Young, also called himself a prophet and took the Word of Wisdom and turned it into a pragmatic means to a very judgmental end. While Joseph Smith had established the Word of Wisdom as a revelation that was, supposedly, only the advice of God, but not a commandment to be strictly imposed on the Mormon people, Brigham Young, in 1850, began using the Word of Wisdom as a means of gauging the temple-worthiness of Mormons. He began imposing the prohibitions of the Word of Wisdom on the Utah Mormon people as, both, a revelation and a commandment from God. Only Mormons who abstained from coffee, tea, beer and liquor (all alcoholic beverages), and tobacco were allowed to partake of the most sacred ordinances of Mormonism in the Mormon temple. And, thus, began the rigorously enforced Mormon law of carnal commandments, which was in total opposition to the doctrine of Christ laid down in the New Testament Book of Colossians.
Any type of regulatory health code established by a church in the name of Jesus, as the word of God, for the purpose of controlling the behaviors of Christians is not in accordance with the law of Christ. If such churches were as concerned with what comes out of the mouths of their members, as what goes into their mouths, there would be considerably less gossip, vanity, and abusive language spoken by those members in violation of the Christian law of love. If a person abstains from alcoholic beverages and boasts about doing it, but allows cursing and vituperative and demeaning words to regularly escape his, or her, tongue to afflict the minds and spirits of other people, what good has he, or she, done in the world? Yet, if a person drinks wine or liquor for refreshment, and faithfully constrains his mouth and tongue only to emit kind words and expressions onto the minds and spirits of others, the good of that person is readily seen and appreciated, and approved by God. And, moreover, if a person refuses to drink, at any time, wine, beer, or liquor and offers as a reason that he, or she, does not want his, or her, tongue to be subject to sin, would such not be tantamount to a refusal to associate with other people for fear of conformity to evil doing? The perfect law of liberty, as defined by the Apostle Paul, is a means to the fulfillment of self-regulation, not regulation by man made commandment, and the only way that we can begin to regulate ourselves is by a godly partaking of all the wonderful and healthy things that the Creator has placed upon the earth for human consumption. Why is it that grape juice will naturally ferment and turn into wine over time? Why is it that beer and liquor, in moderation, have been proven to be much better for human health than sugary sodas and juices? Isn’t it much more a matter of personal moderation than of total deliberate abstinence from alcoholic beverages? Children throughout Europe have, for centuries, began drinking wine and beer when very young, as a way of life. That’s because their parents have set good examples of moderation before them. That is why alcoholism in Europe is almost non-existent. As far as tea and coffee are concerned, they have been used as stimulating and invigorating drinks since before the advent of the Sumerian civilization, and there is nothing, at all, wrong with them. Jesus was rudely called a wine-bibber (or a person who drank to excess) by the accusing Pharisees because he drank and enjoyed “real” wine (not grape juice) with the publicans and sinners; and he, Christ, no doubt, drank the strong Turkish coffee that came into the possession of the Hebrews from the ancient trading caravans of the Middle-East. Yes, the 1st Century Hebrews, like the 21st Century Americans, Europeans, and Israelis, had their morning brews to stimulate them, and to get them going in order to seize their day; and God didn’t frown on what his Son, Jesus, was taught to do by his mother and surrogate father as viable Hebrew customs.
Hence, I encourage every struggling Christian, who is being courted by Mormon missionary friends, or by full-time Mormon missionaries, as investigators to Mormonism, to summon the Holy Spirit into their lives when presented with the regulatory Word of Wisdom as a commandment of God, in order to discern the truth of the words of the Apostle Paul, as recorded in the New Testament of the Holy Bible. The human mind is the tool used by the Holy Spirit to bring epiphanies into the lives of the children of God. The Mormons will tell you that a mindless emotional burning in the bosom will inform you of truth, and that its God’s way of delivering truth and wisdom to you through the Holy Spirit. But be more noble, as were the Bereans, as described by Luke in Acts 17:11 NIV. “Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” These Christians used their minds and discerned the truth of the Gospel of Christ, which was revealed to them through the Holy Spirit, which is intended by God to lead a Christian into the truth of all things.