Physical health is a wonderful blessing, but health of soul and spirit is far more to be desired, not only for its own sake, but also because it is a mighty contributing factor to robust, physical well-being.
None of us were at one time spiritually healthy; in fact, with the rest of mankind, are afflicted with the terrible disease of sin, with its myriads of symptoms of every description. As Isaiah tells us: "The whole head was sick and the whole heart faint; from the sole of the foot even unto the head there was no soundness in us" - Isaiah 1:5-6. Sin is a dread disease which ends in death, and after death, the judgment of God - Heb. 9:27.
But, praise God, there is a sure remedy for this disease, and there is a great Physician ever ready to administer this remedy. I Timothy 1: 11 tells us the cure is found in the "gospel of the glory of the happy God" The remedy for the desperately sin-sick soul is found in the fact that Christ, the Son of God, bore our sins in His body on the Cross and now He brings the glorious good news that sin has been conquered and that the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin. Just take the medicine the great Physician has PROVIDED and instantly a mighty transformation takes place. You receive a new, sinless, eternal life; you start out with perfect health of soul and spirit.
What often leads to mental and physical illness is a guilty conscience; what is known as a guilt-complex. But the believer in Jesus gets rid of that when he is saved. The heart is sprinkled from an evil conscience - Heb. 10:22; the believer now has a "good" conscience - I Tim. 1:5 and I Tim 3:9. All his sins are put away forever; he is born again and we know when a babe is born it has no guilty conscience, simply because it has no past, and the believer's past is blotted out when he is born from above. So ... no guilt complex.
Another thing which often troubles the sinner is thoughts of the future, especially of death. But that too is gone for the Christian because he has already passed out of death into life - John 5:24; death is behind him and only glory lies before.
So, you see, the Christian starts out with perfect spiritual health. He is a new creature in Christ Jesus. Not only has he a pure, spotless soul but also he receives a new, vitalized mind or spirit. Rom. 12:2 shows that the mind is renewed, as also says Eph. 4:23. So also in Titus 3:5 we read that the believer has been saved by the washing of regeneration (new birth) which, as we saw, clears away all guilt of the past, and by the renewing of the Holy Ghost the believer mentally and spiritually becomes a new creature; he is a new being altogether, with a clear, enlightened mind. He has a "sound" mind - 2 Tim. 1: 7. This is the very word used of the at-one-time-madman of Mark 5:15, who, when cured, sat at the feet of Jesus in his "right" mind. Thus the Christian is an entirely new person, with moral, mental and spiritual health.
But we all know it is one thing to "have" good health and another to "maintain" it, and so it is in the believer's spiritual life. To keep the body in good condition calls for the proper food and also a certain measure of exercise; and this is Also necessary for spiritual health. The believer needs food for his soul and spirit. The newborn babe needs to drink the sincere milk of the Word - I Peter 2:2, that he may grow thereby. A more mature believer feeds on the deeper truths of God's Word, as we read in Heb. 5:12-14. We should not remain ' babies, but grow up so we can teach others. Do you want good spiritual health? Then don't neglect at least three good meals a day. Feed on His Word, for man cannot live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.
And don't eat just dainties alone; not all sweets and desserts, as some believers want. Such like to hear only the pleasant, sweet comforting truths telling of our blessings now, and glories bye and bye; but they are not so ready to feed on the staples of the Word, much less to taste some of the bitter heartsearching things it has got to say to us. Don't dodge the rebukes, the exhortations, the challenges to greater faithfulness and more earnest service; the chastening from His hand. All are needed to keep the believer in good health. And of course, don't fail to feed daily on the "staple food" of the Word, which the Scriptures calls "Doctrine"; that alone can establish you and can enable you to stand firm in this world where Satan is ever peddling his many falsehoods.
And then there is need for exercise, if one would be a healthy Christian. "Bodily exercise profiteth for a little (while), but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come -" I Tim. 4:8. Paul urged Timothy to read (to feed on the Word) and then to go to work (to neglect not the gift that was in him) - I Tim. 4:13-14. The believer must be steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord; Jesus told His disciples to "occupy till I come"; we are to serve, while we wait for the Lord to come. What are you and I doing? One great way to be healthy is to be busy.
Apart from his body, the believer has soul and spirit; the first suggesting the emotional and moral; the second the mental spiritual part of his being. Both these need food. The emotional feeds on the great truths of the Word which make God's love more real and precious and which warm the heart; the spiritual intellect needs the knowledge of the vital truths of Scripture to be conveyed and taught to others- it enlightens the mind. We do not separate these two parts of man's spiritual make-up, but we do distinguish between them. Mere knowledge without the balance of emotional depth of soul is apt to lead to pride (knowledge puffs up), and for this reason the believer is admonished to grow in grace (mentioned first) and so in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. And note, not merely the knowledge of things, but the knowledge of Him. To know Him is a great safeguard against the ever-possible exaltation of self. And also emotional feeling with out the corresponding knowledge of God's truth may lead to lack of wisdom and judgment, and some times goes on to unbalanced fanaticism; the believer needs both a warm heart and a clear mind.
Now we do not forget that in this world there are thousands of evils that can impair physical health, just as there are many things that can affect the spiritual health of the believer. There are lots of viruses ever on the warpath, and we need to be on our guard against them.
A prominent one that will hurt the soul is "doubt" harbored; doubt of the love of God. Satan did that very thing to Eve - see 2 Cor. 11: 3. Many a believer is never sure of his or her salvation, and believes he may be lost in the end. Give that virus houseroom and you'll soon lose your good health. There is a perfect antidote for this poison in God's Word. Here's one: "Nothing shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our 'Lord" - Rom. 8:38-39; here's another: "I give unto My sheep eternal life, and they shall never perish" - John 10:28. And there are hundreds more in the Bible, so read, take and inwardly digest, and you'll keep healthy.
Another common virus that will make you sick is worry about financial needs. Read this prescription: "Cast all your care upon Him, for He careth for you" - 1 Peter 5:7. Or this one: "If God spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not also with Him freely give us all things?" - Rom. 8:32. And ever so many more!
You are downcast because you are lonely and no one seems to care. Read this: "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee" Heb. 13:5; or this one: "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me" - Psalm 23:4. If you feel alone, don't neglect to meet with the people of God; there is a good cure for loneliness in that.
And there are viruses which more directly afflict the mind, as these above affect the soul. Here is one: "Fear". How to prevent it from upsetting your spiritual health? Hear Him say to you: "The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life, of Whom shall I be afraid?" - Psalm 27:1. Hear Him say oh so many times: "Fear not!" As in Isa. 43: 1: "Fear not, for I have redeemed thee; I have called thee by name; thou art mine."
There is another virus and a very dangerous one- the poison of "pride". Read this: "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus . . . and being found in fashion as a Man, He humbled Himself" Phil. 2:5-8. Or: "God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble" - Jas. 4:6. Or: "pride goeth before destruction" Prov. 16:18 etc. etc.
And oh, what a common and destructive virus is that of "worry"! Read this and then get down on your knees and practice it: "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God and the peace of God shall keep (garrison) your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" - Phil. 4:6-7. Prayer is the perfect remedy for that which threatens the health of heart (or soul) and mind (or spirit). There is a safety-valve for the overburdened soul -, it is prayer, as we are told in I Cor, 10: 13: "with the temptation God will make a way to escape (and that escape-valve is prayer) that ye may be able to bear the trial. The very word for "prayer" means a "pouring out". Don't bother too much to tell your woes to others (though that may help some) but tell it to the Lord in prayer. The peace of God, like a garrison, will keep the enemy out, and fill your soul with joy.
But oh, what's the use of my saying anything more! It's all in the Book! For perfect health read the Word (listen to Him) and pray (and He'll listen to you). Every remedy for ills that would rob you of perfect spiritual health is found in the Bible; and those remedies work in one or two ways- Bible reading and study on the one hand; prayer on the other. God speaking to you and you speaking to Him. Practice these two and you'll maintain robust health of soul. You'll be happy, and as any doctor can tell you, happiness is health. A merry heart doeth good like medicine. So rejoice in the Lord, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.
Here's wishing you the best of health. Your body may be wracked with pain; yet you yourself can daily rejoice in the Lord; be gloriously healthy. May it be so, for His name's sake!
-August Van Ryn