Monday, January 20, 2014


Please notice that this post is not entitled, "How to lose 10 pounds."  In fact, this is not a post about weight loss at all.  It's a post about fighting sin.  So if you want to talk about diet and exercise, send me an email; I have opinions like everybody else.  If you want to experience the fruit of the Spirit in your life, read on. 

In the book The Screwtape Letters C.S. Lewis makes a disturbing point.  All vices are twisted virtues, the fun-house mirror image of something good that God intended. Just think of all the gifts of energy, organization, intelligence, and persuasion - the very things that make amazing evangelists - corrupted in the terrible dictators of our past.  Or for another example, God created the intimate life of husband and wife, and Satan gave us lust, pornography, adultery, divorce, homosexuality, and fornication.

When we bring up illicit sex or Hitler, we have little trouble identifying sin. However our words, "fornication" for instance, can still conceal sin.  We need to be prepared to use plainer language like "friends with benefits," "hooking up" and "living together."  Formal language suitable for Sunday morning can help Satan to mask our sin.  Sometimes Satan is even bolder;  he makes our sin altogether invisible to us.  When he's especially crafty he not only hides our own personal sin from us in plank and speck fashion, he deceives an entire nation, an entire culture by relabeling a sin as something else.  

Don't believe me?  

Take another good thing that God created to be received with thanksgiving - food.  Paul tells the  Philippians that the there are people, he calls them "enemies of the cross," who are so focused on their bodies, bellies or appetites that they have become their gods. These people are walking in darkness. They are obsessed with food; their minds are set on things of this earth.  (Philippians 3:17-21)

Solomon called this focus on and obsession with food "gluttony" and condemned it in the same breath as drunkenness (Proverbs 23:19-21). Deuteronomy 21:20-21 pairs drunkenness and gluttony together with stubbornness and disobedience.  These four sins comprise the complaint that parents could make against a rebellious son so that he was stoned to death by the community. 

What would we call it now? In Satan's trickery our culture doesn't seem to have a good word.  It's not the same as being overweight or as obesity.  That might (or might not) be a symptom of the sin.  It's not the same as being a "foodie" or a "gourmand."  That tells us that someone enjoys food not that they abuse it.  Other words that clearly are related to abusing food such as "binge and purge," "bulimia" or "anorexia" are closer to medical science than theology. And despite all evidence to the contrary we are still hesitant to put disease and sin together in the same sentence.

It's so easy to use deceitful language.  We say, "Those brownies are irresistible."  Or with a self-depreciating smile we say, "I'm a total chocolate addict."  We might mean that those are super-yummy brownies or that chocolate is our favorite.  But we might actually mean, "I am mastered by my desire for food. It leads me to sin."  We might talk endlessly about how we are going to go on a diet next week, start working out next month or how desperately we hate our bodies.  Yet if the problem is primarily sin, all that talk is just self-deception. I hurt for women enslaved. Lusting for food in a culture where we never miss a meal is perverse, and spending hours obsessing about what we do or don't put in our mouths is the definition of having your appetite be your god.

So for argument's sake let's call all these things - the obsession with food, body image, appetite and all of the excesses at table that go with them - gluttony.  So what does Paul say about it exactly? 

Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us. For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things.  For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ;  who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself. (Philippians 3:17-21)
Paul has in mind our immortal and incorruptible resurrection body.  He says that now we are all waiting for our Savior to come and transform us.  That's why we walk in a pattern of self-control, because we are citizens of heaven.  Imagine a world where instead of being ruled by our appetites we were free to praise God and enjoy the food we have without the shame and guilt associated with gluttony. 

Wait. We are free.  No Christian has any master except the one we freely chose - Jesus Christ.  We are not slaves to any sin; we are free to follow righteousness. (Romans 6:12-23, John 8:34). Self-control is one of the ways we become useful and fruitful in the kingdom of God (2 Peter 1:4-8).

Having identified the sin, what's next?  Confession and repentance. I'd like to take one more post and offer practical suggestions.  Let's think together about ways that we can tell the truth, stop the complaining, draw back the curtain behind which Satan's hiding sin and be free.  Join us tomorrow for our beat gluttony guide. 


Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE(R), Copyright(c) 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. 

No comments:

Post a Comment