So writes David Mathis on Sovereign Grace's "Desiring God" blog. In context, he is speaking to those struggling with sexual sin, but the principle still holds for those Christians caught in the addictive cycle of eating disorders.
We fall prey to addictions because they seem to offer reward. There is some payback; some promise of instant gratification. Moreover, the specific addiction satisfies some particular lust in a way nothing else will. In "Deceptive Diagnosis: When Sin is Called Sickness", David Tyler and Kurt Grady note:
"The hook...is that the behavior gives people a gratifying sensation they are not able to get any other way. The sensation is the payoff that keeps people coming back. It helps them forget their pain and discomfort. It distracts them from the overwhelming problems and difficulties of life and helps them to feel better."
Of course, those of us who have spent any time in the pit of food addictions know how fleeting that "high" is. The Bible calls the insatiable cravings "lusts of the flesh" and repeatedly warns of their dangers. In succinct terms, the solution is summed up by Paul in Romans 8:5: "Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires."
Repeatedly both he and Peter admonish Christ-followers to stop pursuing carnal lifestyles and uncontrollable desires and to live lives worthy of their calling. To have the mind of Christ. To be alert and self-controlled.
How can we do that when it's difficult to see past the next binge we are already planning in the back of our minds? When we can't even keep up our end of a conversation without thinking about food, let alone meditate on Scripture?
First, the bad news: anorexia and bulimia are sins. At some point, we willfully chose this behavior, and we put ourselves in bondage by "offering the members of our bodies to sin" (Romans 6:13). Which leads us to the good news: God's already offered us the solution. Christ died for this sin, too. Many who have received secular counsel have been taught that they cannot "recover" from eating disorders without intensive therapy, but this is a logical fallacy. Why would God offer us solution to the sin problem - repentance - if we were unable to implement it? Would He hold us responsible for a condition we were hopeless to change?
The fact is, in ourselves we are hopeless to change our sin condition. Christ has already done it for us - if you have been born again by His Spirit, you are positionally justified before God. However, that's only half the story. By dying for you on the Cross and being raised again, He secured your victory over bulimia and every other addiction. The key is in your identity - as a child of God, sin holds no power over you. If you are in Christ, you are a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17). This is a present reality.
It may not seem like a concrete reality when your next craving hits. When you can't see past the vending machine, remember Whose you are. The instant gratification of a binge is a counterfeit of Satan. No "lust of the flesh" can truly satisfy as a vital relationship with the Living God can. It is on this unalterable truth that your hope stands. The first step in turning away from this sin in learning to hate it. Do you truly desire to be done with bulimia, and learn to use food in an appropriate, God-honoring way? He will help you and keep you from falling.
In the next post, we will discuss what it means to humble yourself before God and the difference between regret, remorse and biblical repentance.