Obedience to the Word of Wisdom provides spiritual blessings as well as good health. All people, even those with little or no knowledge of modern revelation, can become healthier by observing the principles of the Word of Wisdom. Obedience to the Word of Wisdom develops and strengthens the body and the mind, and its principles apply to everyone. But the Word of Wisdom is much more than a health plan. Those who are obedient to it are promised "treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures" (Doctrine and Covenants 89:19). The "treasures" spoken of in the Word of Wisdom are blessings.
The Word of Wisdom is Heavenly Father's plan to protect our bodies. When we purchase new vehicles or appliances,
the manufacturer provides instructions on the care and maintenance of the machine. We can expect better performance and longer use of the vehicle or appliance when we follow the recommended instructions.
The human body is a wonderful machine. It can repair itself when it has minor breakdowns, it has automatic "windshield wipers" and an automatic cooling system, and it usually works more efficiently the more it is used. The "owner's manual" for this wonderful "machine" is called the Word of Wisdom. The Creator of our bodies gave us instructions on how to care for our bodies.
If we follow these instructions, many of which are included in the Word of Wisdom, we can expect better performance from our bodies and minds. This does not mean that we will never get sick or that our bodies will never need repairs, but the Lord will bless us as we try to keep our bodies in good condition.
Satan seeks to destroy us and our happiness, and he sets spiritual traps for us, many of which involve the Word of Wisdom. He lies to entice us into these traps, but he has no intention of keeping his promises. To get us to disobey the Word of Wisdom, Satan promises us that doing so will bring us desirable things. For example, he tells us that drinking or using drugs will make us beautiful or popular or make us feel good. But disobeying the Word of Wisdom will never bring lasting beauty, popularity, or happiness. It is a trap that will ultimately cause pain and unhappiness.
The heading of Doctrine and Covenants 89 states: "Revelation given through Joseph Smith the Prophet, at
February 27, 1833. HC [History of the
Church] 1:327-329. As a consequence of
the early brethren using tobacco in their meetings, the Prophet was led to
ponder upon the matter; consequently he inquired of the Lord concerning
it. This revelation, known as the Word
of Wisdom, was the result. The first
three verses were originally written as an inspired introduction and
description by the Prophet." Kirtland, Ohio
This section is summarized as follows: "1-9, Use of wine, strong drinks, tobacco, and hot drinks proscribed; 10-17, Herbs, fruits, flesh, and grain are ordained for the use of man and of animals; 18-21, Obedience to gospel law, including the Word of Wisdom, brings temporal and spiritual blessings."
In other words, the section is divided into three groups: 1) Do use: grains, herbs (plants, especially vegetables), and meat (sparingly); 2) Do not use: wine, strong drinks (alcohol), tobacco, and hot drinks (tea and coffee); 3) Blessings of living righteously.
The Word of Wisdom does not mention everything that is harmful. For example, there is no mention of drugs, either legal or illegal; however, prophets and medical experts have taught us that drugs are harmful when used outside of specific medicinal purposes. The message of the Word of Wisdom is to avoid all substances that are harmful to our bodies.
The Lord has given other revelations in modern times concerning how to care for our bodies. Doctrine and Covenants 88:124 states: "Cease to be idle; cease to be unclean; cease to find fault one with another; cease to sleep longer than is needful; retire to thy bed early, that ye may not be weary; arise early, that your bodies and your minds may be invigorated."
Doctrine and Covenants 10:4 states: "Do not run faster or labor more than you have strength and means…."
Doctrine and Covenants 89:4 warns us against "conspiring men" or dishonest people who would attempt to lure others into harmful or evil practices in the last days. I believe that companies and corporations advertise in such a way as to tempt us to smoke, use alcohol, and other substances that are harmful to us. Consider the average beer commercial. Many advertisements for beer show glamorous people and places, suggesting acceptance and popularity to all who use their products; other advertisements show good-looking people having lots of fun, suggesting that people have more fun because they drink beer. You may notice that the advertisements ignore the harmful effects of the products they sell; beer advertisements never show people getting drunk, vomiting all over their friends, or causing automobile accidents.
The Word of Wisdom was given more than 150 years ago, but it applies directly to our time. In 1833, the advertising methods we see today were unknown. There were no computers, Internet, radios or televisions and printed material was limited. Since that time, advertising has become commonplace. People who are concerned only with making money often use sophisticated advertising to sell bad products as well as good ones. Much advertising is aimed directly at young people, trying to convince them that harmful substances and products are commonplace and acceptable.
When the Lord revealed the Word of Wisdom in 1833, he knew what practices would develop in our time. He gave us this revelation to help us know the truth about what things are and what things are not good for our bodies and spirits.
Who hasn't heard of the discovery of a "hidden treasure," such as a valuable book or work of art that had been stored in an attic, a sunken ship carrying gold, or an ancient tomb filled with rare artifacts and precious gems? I remember as a child following "maps" to find "hidden treasures."
Our Heavenly Father has given us a plan of how we can find hidden treasures of physical health as well as spiritual wealth. The Word of Wisdom contains promises of great treasures or blessings available to those who live its principles. At the time the Word of Wisdom was revealed, most people did not know about the unhealthful effects of products such as tobacco and alcohol. Today, scientists have confirmed what the Lord told Joseph Smith over 150 years ago, and many people avoid such products in order to live more healthfully. The physical advantages of obeying the Word of Wisdom are the same for those who believe in the revelation and those who do not. However, those who obey the Word of Wisdom because it is a commandment of God receive additional spiritual blessings.
Some of the blessings that come as a result of obeying the Word of Wisdom are as follows: 1) Physical health: Your body will be more resistant to disease and weakness; 2) Emotional health: You will have less stress and guilt and more peace of mind;
3) Health for your descendants: Your children will be free from inherited deformities and weaknesses caused by drug abuse, smoking, and drinking; 4) Faith: Your faith will be strengthened as you see that the Lord blesses those who obey; 5) Spiritual sensitivity: You will be better able to receive and follow inspiration from the Holy Ghost; 6) Freedom: You will not be a slave to drug abuse or other addictive habits; 7) Wisdom and knowledge: You will have a clear mind, the desire to learn, and the ability to distinguish truth from falsehood; you will perform better in school and employment; 8) Self-discipline: You will be in control of yourself and will strengthen your ability to say no to people or things that would harm you; 9) Financial advantage: You will not spend money on cigarettes, liquor, or other harmful substances; you will not need to pay medical expenses caused by use of these substances; 10) Ability to serve: You will not cause harm to others (by driving drunk, smoking around them, and so on); you will have the health and strength necessary to serve others.)
I received a great testimony of the value of the Word of Wisdom recently. My husband and I were in a doctor's office for help with a health problem my husband is currently having. One of the first questions the doctor asked us was, "Are you LDS?" We confirmed that we are LDS and asked why he would pose the question and what difference did it make. He answered, "Because you are LDS and live the Word of Wisdom, we can rule out several problems that would be caused by tobacco or alcohol use." Since my husband was in pain and had blood drawn several different times for testing, it was helpful to be able to rule out as many problems as possible.
I know that living the principles found in the Word of Wisdom is important if we want physical health and spiritual wealth. I know that when we obey the Word of Wisdom we can receive the physical and spiritual blessings promised.