We can describe the American diet in one brief phrase: "too much and too little." It is comprised of too much of things known to be destructive and too little of the things known to be constructive. We eat too much food and absorb too little vital nutrition. The critical aspect of this for us is not the availability of helpful knowledge but a combination of a failure to take advantage of readily known principles of good health and allowing our appetites to persuade us to gloss over what we already know.
Hardly a person alive does not know that drinking Coke and Pepsi is absolutely no good for one's health. Soft drinks may indeed be refreshing to the taste, but they fail even to quench one's thirst! In the end, they actually make one thirstier than before—and they are diuretics besides!
Twelve ounces of Coke contain the equivalent of twelve teaspoons of white granulated sugar and comes loaded with caffeine. A dash of phosphoric acid gives it fizz. Phosphoric acid, known to corrode a steel nail in short order, is the ingredient that makes Coke a good polish for the chrome on one's car. Does anybody deliberately eat twelve teaspoons of sugar at one sitting? Yet we will if we get it in a Coke because human nature convinces us it is acceptable presented this way. It tastes so good!
The so-called diet drinks sweetened by aspartame are even worse. In the body, aspartame first converts to formaldehyde then to formic acid, which in turn moves the body toward metabolic acidosis. Aspartame (sold under the brand names Nutrasweet, Equal, etc.) has been found to be disorientating to nerve impulses in the brain, and it is potentially dangerous for people with blood-sugar problems, epilepsy, and Parkinson's disease. It causes dizziness, headaches, slurred speech, blurred vision, memory loss, depression, joint pain, muscle spasms, and feelings of aggression, cramps, and vertigo. It even mimics multiple sclerosis and lupus. "But that's okay," human nature says, "because, after all, I am getting such a tiny amount that it can't possibly hurt. Besides that, I still get the kick from the caffeine and far fewer calories, so I can stay on my diet and lose weight."
Benjamin Franklin remarked, "You will observe with concern how long a useful truth is known and exists, before it is generally received and practiced on." Some things are physically far worse for us to consume than the meats forbidden in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14. These are things men have concocted to make money, provide convenience, and extend shelf life so processed foods will not spoil before they are sold.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Eating: How Good It Is! (Part Six)
One level of this concept of responsibility to the body is, of course, taking care of our physical bodies. Because we belong to God and are therefore holy and are integral parts of the body of Christ, this responsibility weighs upon us with greater intensity than upon those who are not. In John 14:23, Jesus introduces the basis for this concept to illustrate the closeness of our relationship with God: "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him." Under the Old Covenant, God is mysterious and distant and dwelling in the Temple. Under the New Covenant, we become the Temple, and God becomes knowable and personal.
In I Corinthians 6:15-20, Paul clearly confirms these concepts:
Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For "The two," He says, "shall become one flesh." But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him. Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in you body and in your spirit, which are God's.
It is difficult to imagine how much more clearly he could express our responsibility to maintain good health! It is actually a fourfold responsibility:
1. To God because He bought us at a price;
2. To Jesus Christ because we are part of His body;
3. To ourselves to come out of sin; and
4. To our loved ones to serve them.
Meeting all of these glorifies God. Paul's concern is that debauching the body by involving it in sin threatens the continuation of the relationships. We normally think of sin as breaking a law. This is not a wrong understanding, but the Bible's usage is much broader. Biblically, sin is falling short of the glory of God, or turning aside from the path of what is right. It is also missing the mark. Sin is the Bible's term to indicate a failure to do things right, and right is the way God would do it. Of course, some failures to do what is right are far more serious than others are.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Eating: How Good It Is! (Part One)
Suppose you lived during the time that the Temple in Jerusalem was in operation. As a faithful Levite, you were given stewardship to maintain the Temple and its grounds. How would you take care of that responsibility, knowing it was God's earthly dwelling place? Would you approach it in an irreverent, slap-dash, careless, lackadaisical, "I am too busy with other things" manner? Or would you be highly respectful and orderly and do whatever your hand found to do with all your might?
Spiritually, God has already given us this responsibility. In fact, it is a double-edged responsibility, both personal and corporate. In I Corinthians 3:16-17, Paul uses "temple" as a synonym for "church," referring to the whole body of believers. This is clearly an extension of his earlier use of the building metaphor. By it, he illustrates that each person, as part of the building, has some effect on the quality of the whole building by how he conducts his life. This metaphor ties all of us together as a team with the specific responsibility of doing all we can to build up and strengthen the church. Undoubtedly, the ministry bears the greater burden, but every member is involved.
Paul begins in verse 6 by giving himself and Apollos as examples. The King James Version makes the first part of verse 8 unclear: "Now he who plants [Paul] and he who waters [Apollos] are one." The Revised Standard Version clarifies this: "He who plants and he who waters are equal." They are not one as if they are identical or bound together like a set of Siamese twins. He means that they are equally important to the result.
Paul frequently emphasizes the team aspect. He writes in verse 9, "We are God's fellow workers." In verses 10-15, 17, he refers to "each one" and "anyone" frequently. No one has any room to think that it does not matter what he or she does or fails to do to make the body spiritually healthy. A great, dominant theme of Paul's teaching is the individual's personal responsibility for his life and that—somehow, somewhere, sometime—each will have to give account to God for what he has done.
How can Paul say the various parts of the body bear equal responsibility? This thought hearkens back to the Parable of the Talents. The master does not expect his three servants to produce the same quantity, but he expects each to be equally faithful in what he entrusted to their stewardship.
In verse 17, Paul uses "destroy" twice (see margin). It is a strong warning to those committing the sins named in other parts of the epistle—advocating false doctrine, strife, jealousy, sexual immorality, and other permissive compromises—that God would hold them responsible despite how matters appeared at the time. He would destroy them because the church is holy because it belongs to God, and He has separated it from the world. Through their false doctrines or sinful conduct, whether they were aware or not, they were seeking or being used to destroy the spiritual health of the church. Each member bears responsibility for keeping himself holy and therefore spiritually healthy.
To understand this, perhaps we need nothing more than a deeper awareness that, despite the way things may presently look on the surface, our worldview—how we look at life and all its jumble of events—is quite narrow compared to God's. Once we see things from His perspective, we can see we bear a major responsibility to the body of Christ because God has included us in His great purpose.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Eating: How Good It Is! (Part One)
This passage begins by seeming to say that God sends only the ministry to labor in His behalf. However, as Paul proceeds, the context reaches out to embrace all the called of God by admonishing us to take heed how we build the Temple, the church of God. I Corinthians 12 leaves no doubt that we are all members of the Body of Christ, and it is the Body of Christ that is sent forth to witness for God in the world. The Body of Jesus Christ is the Israel of God in this New Testament period (Galatians 6:16).
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Elements of Motivation (Part Five): Who We Are
Breaking the laws of physical health, such as lack of exercise and rest, injuring and abusing the body, unhygienic practices and poor nutrition, may also produce spiritual effects. Neglecting one's body, Paul says, is a sin of defiling what is holy, and God will punish for it. With an important addition, he repeats this three chapters later in I Corinthians 6:19-20, where he also ties in Christ's redemptive sacrifice for us. These types of sins are also forgiven. Our Savior's gift of His life covers it all!
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Sin Is Spiritual!
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing 1 Corinthians 3:17:
1 Corinthians 3:16-17
1 Peter 2:4-5