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Maxson Letter On Overcoming Meat Diet Letter (Lt73-1896)

Ellen G. White

This is an excerpt of the letter.

"Circumstances cannot work reforms. Christianity proposes a reformation in the heart. What Christ works within will be worked out under the dictation of a converted intellect. The plan of beginning outside and trying to work inward has always failed, and always will fail.

Letter 73, 1896

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Lt 73, 1896

Maxson, Brother and Sister

Adelaide, Australia

October 12, 1896

This letter is published in entirety in 20MR 104-118. +Note

Dear Brother and Sister Maxson:

Your letter is not that which I wish it was. When you went to the Health Retreat, your appetite was fully educated to demand a meat diet, and therefore you seem to think no blame should be ascribed to you, because you have made no change in this respect. But this is an error. {Lt73-1896.1}

Because you have not changed, do not entertain the idea that you have no changes to make, that your practices were entirely as they should be. If your habits and opinions are stereotyped, then the Lord cannot lead you to advanced, purifying reforms. You, my brother and sister, have a serious question to ask daily, “What must I do to be saved?” [Acts 16:30.] The Lord Jesus says, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” [John 10:27.] We are to follow on step by step to know the Lord, that we may know His goings forth are prepared as the morning. “Follow thou me.” [John 21:22.] “He that will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” [Luke 9:23.] {Lt73-1896.2}

What constitutes the cross? The requirements of Jesus that cut directly across human devisings, human indulgence of appetite, human calculations, human practices and habits. The child of God is to come into perfect relationship with Jesus Christ. We are to be in constant communion, not with our own minds, but with the mind and will of Jesus. To be a practical Christian accepting duties that involve self-denial, cuts across human inclinations and human habits. Instead of seeking to hold our own position upon a subject on which the Lord has spoken decidedly, we are to follow His counsel. But you vindicate your own position. {Lt73-1896.3}

The Lord Jesus connected Judas with Himself, not because Judas was correct in all his principles, for he cherished selfishness, which is an attribute of the devil; but notwithstanding this, the Lord Jesus consented to <unite> Judas with the other disciples, and give him opportunity to improve in character building through the education and training He would give all His followers. But Judas did not correct his course of action. The painstaking efforts, the many lessons, of the divine Teacher were lost upon him. {Lt73-1896.4}

The grace of Christ, if received into his heart, would have converted him from his selfishness, working wonderful changes in him, as in John and Peter. I mention Judas, because this was an extreme case. But as he did not receive the words of Christ and improve; there arose in his heart an opposition to the light. He treasured his defects, and held them as if he considered them a precious treasure. The defects poisoned the whole man, in principle, in spirit, in life, in character, until he sold his Lord for a trifling sum of money. This history has a warning for us. {Lt73-1896.5}

There are many things that need to be refined, changed, overcome in you, my dear friends. Indulgence only feeds the appetite and strengthens the passions. I have no hesitancy in speaking on this question. You have the light in the testimonies; are these testimonies of God or are they from beneath? You do not choose to receive the light. The Lord has spoken plainly in regard to the deleterious effects of a meat diet and its influence upon children. Whenever I have seen children feeding upon flesh meats, since the light was given me from heaven, I have felt that if the parents only knew what they were doing, they would fast and pray for moral courage, and God-given wisdom and grace to do right. All who feel their need of His Spirit to educate and discipline self, and to properly train their children, will deny self, and take up the cross and follow Jesus. {Lt73-1896.6}

For certain things, fasting and prayer are recommended and appropriate. In the hand of God they are a means of cleansing the heart and promoting a receptive frame of mind. We obtain answers to our prayers because we humble our souls before God. If our appetites clamor for the flesh of dead animals, it is a necessity to fast and pray for the Lord to give His grace to deny fleshly lusts which war against the soul. {Lt73-1896.7}

There should be far less anxiety as to what we shall eat and what we shall drink to gratify our fleshly appetites; but we may well encourage the appetite of the soul, and pray for especial enlightenment upon the Word of God, and eat and drink that Word. Jesus says, “I am that bread of life.” [John 6:48.] “I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any man eat this bread, he shall live forever: and the bread that I will give him is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? {Lt73-1896.8}

“Then said Jesus unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hat eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.” Our Saviour explains His lesson, “It is the spirit that quickeneth: the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” [Verses 51-57, 63.] {Lt73-1896.9}

We must be constantly meditating upon the Word, eating it, digesting it, and by practice, assimilating it, so that it is taken into the life current. He who feeds on Christ daily will by his example teach others to think less of that which they eat, and to feel much greater anxiety for the food they give to the soul. The true fasting which should be recommended to all is abstinence from every kind of stimulating food, and the proper use of wholesome, simple food, which God has provided in abundance. Men need to think less about what they shall eat and drink, of temporal food, and much more in regard to the food from heaven that will give tone and vitality to the whole religious experience. {Lt73-1896.10}

Overcoming Addictions

Let us hear the words of Paul, “I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your minds, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God. For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” [Romans 12:1-3.] “But let him that glorieth, glory in the Lord. For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth.” [2 Corinthians 10:17, 18.] This lesson means you; will you heed it? {Lt73-1896.13}

I would call your attention to the following Scriptures. Study them; practice them. 1 Peter 2:2-4; 1:22-25; 2:7-12; Galatians 5:22-26; 1 Corinthians 9:24-27; 6:19, 20; 3:16-23; 1 Corinthians 2. {Lt73-1896.14}


Those who would work in God’s service must not be seeking worldly gratification and selfish indulgence. The physicians in our institutions must be imbued with the living principles of health reform. Men will never be truly temperate until the grace of Christ is an abiding principle is the heart. All the pledges in the world will not make you or your wife health reformers. No mere restriction of your diet will cure your diseased appetite. Brother and Sister Maxson will not practice temperance in all things until their hearts are transformed by the grace of God <and they shall wear Christ’s yoke and have Christ’s meekness and lowliness of heart.> {Lt73-1896.34}

Circumstances cannot work reforms. Christianity proposes a reformation in the heart. What Christ works within will be worked out under the dictation of a converted intellect. The plan of beginning outside and trying to work inward has always failed, and always will fail. {Lt73-1896.35}

Standing as you do, my brother and sister, God’s plan with you is to begin at the very seat of all difficulties, the heart, and then from out of the heart will issue the principles of righteousness; the reformation will be outward as well as inward. {Lt73-1896.36}

God’s way is to give man something he has not. But you have said, I want it not. God’s way is to make man something he is not. Man’s way is to get an easy place, and indulge appetite and selfish ambition. God’s plan is to set man to work in reformatory lines, then he will learn by experiences how long he has pampered fleshly appetites, and ministered to his own temperament, bringing weakness upon himself. God’s way is to work in power. He gives the grace if the sick man realizes that he needs it. Man is too often satisfied to treat himself according to the methods of quackery, and he vindicates his manner of working as right. God proposes to purify and refine the defiled soul; then He will implant in the heart His own righteousness and peace and health, and man becomes complete in Him. Then the issues of life, proceeding from the heart, are represented as a well of water, springing up into everlasting life. {Lt73-1896.37}

This is the kingdom of God within you. Day by day men are revealing whether the kingdom of God is within them. If Christ rules in their hearts, they are gaining strength of principle, power, ability to stand as faithful sentinels, true reformers, for there can be no reform unless there is a thorough co-operation with Jesus Christ. Through the grace of Christ men are to use their God-given faculties to reform themselves; by this self-denying action, which the Lord of heaven looks upon with approval, they gain victories over their own hereditary and cultivated tendencies. Then like Daniel they make impressions upon other hearts that will never be effaced. The influence will be carried to all parts of the world. {Lt73-1896.38}

Men are taking sides, according to their choice. These that are feeding on the Word of God will show this by their practice; they are on the Lord’s side, seeking by precept and example to reform the world. All that have refused to be taught of God hold the traditions of men. They at last pass over on the side of the enemy, against God, and are written, Antichrist. The people of God, who understand our position in this world’s history, are with ears open and hearts softened and subdued, pressing together in unity, one with Jesus Christ. Those who will not practice the lessons of Christ, but keep themselves in hand, to mold themselves, find in Antichrist the center of their union. While the two parties stand in collision, the Lord will appear, and shine before His ancients gloriously. He will set up a kingdom that shall stand forever. {Lt73-1896.39}

The question for us to consider is, Have we the attributes of Christ? Excuses are valueless. All circumstances, all appetites and passions, are to be servants to the God-fearing man, not rulers over him. {Lt73-1896.40}

The Christian is not to be enslaved by any hereditary or cultivated habits or tendencies. He is to rule the animal passions, rather than to be held in the bondage of habit. We are not to be the servants of circumstances, but to control circumstances by an inwrought principle learned of the greatest Teacher the world ever knew. The solemn position in which we stand today toward the world, the solemn responsibilities and duties enjoined upon us by our Lord, are not to be ignored until our will and our circumstances are adjusted. The principle of self-denial and self-sacrifice, as revealed in the example of Christ, of John the Baptist, of Daniel and the three worthies, is to pass like a plowshare through hereditary and cultivated habits, through all circumstances and surroundings. {Lt73-1896.41}

I ask you, Is the kingdom of God within you? God’s people are to be minutemen, always ready, always composed in Jesus Christ. The time is come now when one moment we may be on solid earth, the next the earth may be heaving beneath our feet. Earthquakes will take place when least expected. {Lt73-1896.42}

Christianity has a much broader meaning than many have hitherto given it. It is not a creed. It is the word of Him who liveth and abideth forever. It is a living, animating principle that takes possession of mind, heart, motives, and the entire man. Christianity—O that all might experience its operations! It is a vital, personal experience that elevates, purifies, ennobles the whole man. Every man is responsible to God, who has made provision for all to receive this blessing. But many do not receive it, although Christ has purchased it for them at infinite cost. They have not grasped the blessing with in reach, and therefore they have retained their objectionable traits of character, and sin lieth at the door. While they profess piety, Satan had made them his agents to pull down and confuse where he thought best. They exert an influence deleterious to the souls of many who need an example that would help them heavenward. {Lt73-1896.43}

Who are the subjects of the kingdom of God? All these who do His will. They have righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. The members of Christ’s kingdom are the sons of God, partners in His great firm. The elect of god are a chosen generation, a peculiar people, a holy nation, to show forth the praises of Him who hath called them out of darkness into His marvelous light. They are the salt of the earth, the light of the world. They are living stones, a royal priesthood. They are in co-partnership with Jesus Christ. These are they that follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth. {Lt73-1896.44}

How shall we follow Him to learn of Him who is our teacher? We can search His Word, and become acquainted with His life and His works. His words we are to receive as bread for our souls. In every sphere where man shall be placed, the Lord Jesus has left us His footprints. We do well to follow Him. The Spirit by which He spake we must cherish; we are to present the truth as it is in Jesus. We are to follow Him especially in heart-purity, in love. Self must be hid with Christ in God; then when Christ who is our life shall appear, we also shall appear with Him in glory. {Lt73-1896.45}

What can I say more than I have said? The Old Testament should be studied most diligently. The New Testament does not present a lower standard than the Old. In His sermon on the mount Jesus set forth the very principles that same from His lips to Moses, to be given to the children of Israel. Christ delineated the duties of man to God and to his fellow men is much stronger lines, because through disobedient men had been confused in regard to God’s claims. Read carefully the sermon on the mount. {Lt73-1896.46}

By the inspiration of the Spirit of God, Paul the apostle wrote that “Whatsoever ye do,” even the natural set of eating or drinking, should be done, not to gratify a perverted appetite, but under a sense of responsibility. “Do all to the glory of God.” [1 Corinthians 10:31.] Every part of the man is to be guarded; we are to beware lest that which is taken into the stomach shall banish from the mind high and holy thoughts. {Lt73-1896.47}

“May I not do as I please with myself?” ask some, as if we were seeking to deprive them of a great good when we present before them the necessity of eating intelligently and conforming all their habits to the laws God has established. There are rights which belong to every individual. We have an individuality and an identity that is our own. He [No] one can submerge his identity in that of any other. All must act for themselves, according to the dictates of their own conscience. As regards our responsibility and influence, we are amenable to God as deriving our life from Him. This we do not obtain from humanity, but from God only. We are His by creation and by redemption. Our very bodies are not our own, to treat as we please, to cripple by habits that lead to decay, making it impossible to render to God perfect services. Our lives and all our faculties belong to Him. He is caring for us every moment; He keeps the living machinery in action; if we were left to run it for one moment, we should die. We are absolutely dependent upon God. {Lt73-1896.48}

A great lesson is learned when we understand our relation to God, and His relation to us. The words, “Ye are not your own; ye are bought with a price,” should be hung in memory’s hall, that we may ever recognize God’s right to our talents, our property, our influence, our individual selves. [1 Corinthians 6:19, 20.] We are to learn how to treat this gift of God, in mind, in soul, in body, that as Christ’s purchased possession, we may do Him healthful, savory service. {Lt73-1896.49}

Why did Daniel and his companions refuse to eat at the king’s table? Why did they refuse his meats and wines? Because they had been taught that this class of food would keep the mind or the physical structure in the very best condition of health to do God’s service. These youth urged most earnestly that the one who had charge of their food should not compel them to partake the king’s luxuries set before [them]. They begged him to try them ten days only, and then examine them, and decide by their physical appearance whether their abstemious diet would be to their disadvantage. When they came in for examination, the result was decidedly in their favor. It was otherwise with the youth who had eaten of the luxuries of the king’s table, and drank of his wine. The clear sparkle of the eye was gone, the ruddy healthful glow had disappeared from the countenance. {Lt73-1896.50}

The four Hebrew captives were thereafter permitted to have the diet they had chosen. What effect did it have upon mind and character? They had conscientiously refused the stimulus of flesh and of wine. They obeyed God’s will in self-denial, and He showed His approval. He desired His servants to honor Him by their adherence to steadfast principle in all their habits of life. Their countenances would be a certificate of physical soundness and moral purity. {Lt73-1896.51}

“And as for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all earning and wisdom; and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.” [Daniel 1:17.] These youth had the Lord as their educator. The golden links of the chain of heaven connected the finite with the infinite. They were partakers of the divine nature. They were very careful to keep themselves in touch with God. They prayed and studied and brought into their practical life strictly conscientious, humble minds. They walked with God as did Enoch. The Word of the Lord was their meat and their drink. “And in all matters of wisdom and understanding that the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better then all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm.” [Verse 20.] {Lt73-1896.52}

In the light of this scripture history, all the testimony of man as to the advantages of a meat diet, or of a great variety of food, should not have the least weight with any human being. When the children of faith shall with earnest prayer dedicate themselves to God without reserve, the Lord will honor their faith, and will bless them with a clear mind. These who at every step are murmuring and complaining, ambitious for more power and greater responsibility, show that they cannot carry responsibilities; and the Lord has been pleased to tell them this. They have thought it all a mistake, and have been determined to show the Lord that they could be managers of the first class. But God’s Word never returns to Him void, and when He reveals the deep and secret things, He makes no mistake. He knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with Him. The Lord has said, Those that honor Me, I will honor. {Lt73-1896.53}

The very flesh in which the soul tabernacles, and through which it works is the Lord’s. We have no right to neglect any [p]art of the living machinery. Every portion of the living organism is the Lord’s. The knowledge of our own physical organism should teach us that every member is to do God’s services, as an instrument of righteousness. {Lt73-1896.54}

None but God can subdue the pride of man’s heart. We cannot save ourselves. We cannot regenerate ourselves. In the heavenly courts there will be no song sung, “To me that loved myself, and washed myself, and redeemed myself, unto me by glory and honor, blessing and praise.” But this is the keynote of the song that is sung by many here in this world. They do not know what it means to be meek and lowly in heart, and they do not mean to know this if they can avoid it. The whole Gospel is comprised in learning of Christ His meekness and lowliness. {Lt73-1896.55}

What is justification by faith? It is the work of God in laying the glory of man in the dust, and doing for man that which it is not in his power to do for himself. When men see their own nothingness, they are prepared to be clothed with the righteousness of Christ. When they begin to praise and exalt God all the day long, then by beholding, they are becoming changed into the same image. What is regeneration? It is revealing to man what is his own real nature, that in himself he is worthless. These lessons you have never learned. O, that you could realize the value of the human soul. {Lt73-1896.56}


Men may understand this if they will study deeply. Pray for the Holy Spirit to melt and subdue the proud, self-sufficient heart. If you ever shed tears, weep now, for Christ’s sake weep over your self-sufficient estimate of your own capabilities. When you come to God in lowliness of mind, with heart renewed and cleansed, you will bless and glorify Him that you have learned of Jesus His mercy, the truth, which so many have had to learn through His judgments. These who walk in pride and self-sufficiency God is able to abase. Man will learn that the heavens do rule, and how mighty is our wonderworking God. He will surely control matters after His order and will, if you will only place yourselves under His rule. {Lt73-1896.58}

I might say much more, but I forbear. You are not prepared to receive even this. The Lord will indite plans and methods for all who will seek Him with the whole heart. I ask you to pray to God with humble hearts, seek Him without delay, make a business of seeking Him, and do not let go until you know yourselves much better than you new do, and have a knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ whom He has sent. {Lt73-1896.59