My Worst Enemy, Bulimia...My Best Friend, Jesus Christ

This is a wonderful little table I got from an online community for bulimics I used to moderate (before I got kicked out for being a biblical counselor, ironically enough). As you consider and "count the cost" of leaving bulimia behind, contemplate the riches of His grace and joy of His fellowship.

My Worst Enemy,


My Best Friend, Jesus Christ

1. Temporarily

numbs pain, but

never satisfies

1. He comforts and soothes me

with His love

Psalm 7:9: For he satisfieth the

longing soul and filleth the hungry

soul with goodness.

Isaiah 53:4: Surely he hath borne

our griefs, and carried our sorrows:

yet we did esteem him stricken,

smitten of God, and afflicted.

2. Makes promises

it can’t keep

2. Jesus is faithful and never changes

Mal. 3:6: For I am the Lord, I change


Psalm 37:5: Commit thy way unto the

Lord; trust in Him; and he shall bring it

to pass.

3. Gives me guilt

and shame for all

my efforts

3. The Lord justifies=declared

righteous=not guilty

2 Cor. 5:17 if any man be in

Christ he is a new creature: old

things are passed away; behold

all things are become new.

Romans 8:1 There is therefore now

no condemnation to them which are

in Christ Jesus, who walk not after

the flesh, but after the spirit

4. Lies to keep

me chained

a. tells me I’m fat;


b. dirty, shameful,

no good

4. Jesus wants us to walk in freedom

and calls me His child; loves me

(Psalm 139)

John 8:32: And ye shall know the

truth and the truth shall make you


Luke 4:18: He hath sent me to

heal the broken-hearted, to preach

deliverance to the captives, and

recovering of sight to the blind,

to set at liberty them that are


5. Wants to claim

my life

5. Jesus wants to change my life

and use me for His glory

1 John 4:10: Herein is love, not

that we loved God, but that He loved

us and sent His son to be

the propitiation for our sins.

1 John 4:4b: Greater is He that is

in you, than he that is in the world.


Food Addiction: Symptom, Not Disease

Ladies, I was just reading a message of John Piper's from the Desiring God resource library, and came across an excellent point I would like to share with you to encourage you.

In Piper's 2008 sermon, "A Broken and Contrite Heart God Will Not Despise", he discusses the godly sorrow and repentance that should typify a Christian as we see it in Psalm 51. King David recognized and sorrowed over his sin, and went through the steps of genuine repentance. He knew God was gracious and would forgive him, but that did not prompt him to presume on God's grace (which was, in fact, evident even under the Old Covenant). David turns to God, he prays for cleansing, he confesses the seriousness of his sin, and finally he pleads for renewal. As Piper succinctly states, "Forgiven people are committed to being changed by God." I encourage you to read the whole message, and pray through Psalm 51 yourself as you allow God to cleanse and renew you from your bulimia and other personal sin.

However, Piper made an excellent point towards the conclusion, which I would like to point out to you. If you are still in the throes of an eating disorder, there is a direct application, so bear with me.

Psalm 51 was David's penitential heart cry after his adultery with Bathsheba was found out, and the prophet Nathan confronted him. Yet, as Piper points out, not once does the psalm mention sexual sin.

Read the following, and substitute "bulimia" or "food addiction" for "sexual sin", and you will see where I'm going with this:

Is it not astonishing that nowhere in this Psalm does he pray directly about sex? It all started with sex, leading to deceit, leading to murder. Or did it? I don’t think so. Sigmund Freud may think that all our hang-ups start with sex. But David (speaking for God) does not see things that way.

Sexual Sin: Symptom, Not Disease

Why isn’t he crying out for sexual restraint? Why isn’t he praying for men to hold him accountable? Why isn’t he praying for protected eyes and sex-free thoughts? The reason is that he knows that sexual sin is a symptom, not the disease. People give way to sexual sin because they don’t have the fullness of joy and gladness in Christ. Their spirits are not steadfast and firm and established. They waver. They are enticed, and they give way because God does not have the place in our feelings and thoughts that he should.

David knew this about himself. It’s true about us too. David is showing us, by the way he prays, what the real need is for those who sin sexually. Not a word in this psalm about sex. Instead: “Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice. . . . Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing, firm, established spirit.” This is profound wisdom for us.

(John Piper, "A Broken and Contrite Heart God Will Not Despise", emphasis mine.)

Last night, I received an e-mail from a young Christian lady to whom I had sent my book manuscript in order to help her learn how to fully repent of her bulimia and allow God to renew her mind. She wrote, "I am scared because the more I read the more I seem to want to eat." This makes perfect sense, given where she currently is spiritually: when we've given in to a counterfeit "lust of the flesh" and gotten used to it (and food can clearlybe a "lust of the flesh", as surely as sexual lust is), our brains need re-programming. The spirit may indeed be willing, but the flesh is still so weak.

That is exactly why we need Christ.

To quote Piper elsewhere in the sermon: "We know more of the mystery of this redemption than David did. We know Christ. But we lay hold of the mercy in the same way he did. The first thing he does is turn helpless to the mercy and love of God. Today that means turning helpless to Christ."

You cannot simply "clean up your act" and turn from your unhealthy relationship with food, in your own strength, so that God will accept and be pleased with you. You cannot redeem yourself to the Redeemer. That would defeat the whole purpose of repentance, and negate the ongoing reality of a Christian's "brokenhearted joy". It is only by throwing yourself upon the mercy of Jesus, your all-loving, merciful and understanding Savior, that you may begin to replace the counterfeit and fleeting satisfaction of "lusts of the flesh" with deep and abiding joy in His Person.

All addictions have the same root. All are spiritual sicknesses, pointing up man's greatest need: salvation and forgiveness. When our joy and satisfaction is not found in Christ, we will seek it elsewhere. And inevitably, like David, we will fall. Praise God for His unfathomable mercy and limitless grace! May we never presume upon it, or lose our sense of awe and joy in His power to set us free.

Remember, it is not about the food. It was never about the food. It is about seeing and savoring God for Who He really is, and clinging to the hem of His garnment moment by moment. "Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." (Hebrews 4:16)


Free of Bulimia and Giving God the Glory! (Video testimony)

This is a 2-part testimony a young Christian lady, Bethany, posted on Youtube. Bulimic for 5-6 years, she courageously tells her story and unabashedly credits Christ for breaking the chains of that addiction. Please listen to her story (and give grace - she's nervous).

Interesting point of note: at about the halfway mark, she mentions the first time she broke her diet to purge - she got the idea from a TV show calling attention to bulimia. I "got the idea" from an article in Young Miss Magazine, an autobiography written by a former runner entitled "Alive Again". This was in 1982, long before bulimia became a household word - and I was 11 years old.

I have often wondered what would have happened if I had never seen that article.

Lately I have been thinking that the media attention focused on bulimia, cutting, and similar behaviors actually exacerbates the problem - it plants ideas in young people's heads that they might otherwise never have conceived. (Cutting has become quite trendy among the middle school crowd...I doubt that without the media's "help", that fashion would exist). This may be the topic of a future blog post, but for now, rejoice with Bethany in her Savior!

Part 2:


When Eating Becomes Sin (Conclusion)

This is Part V of Jack Hughes' excellent biblical series, "When Eating Becomes Sin, Part 5". Again, the original links to the entire series at Calvary Bible Church's site are found here. (Scroll down to the bottom).

Spend some time reading these insights and as always, be a Berean - hold it up to the light of Scripture. You will find, as I did, that what Pastor Hughes is saying is true, and it is convicting. Examine your own heart in the light of God's revelation about sin in this area, and remember that every day is a new beginning and opportunity to repent and start anew!

It just so happens we are addressing one of the sacred cows of the modern day church – eating (pun kind of intended). There is so much being said about eating, exercise, and dieting today, but very little is being said about these things from a biblical perspective. Our plan has been to first examine the wide range of Scriptures to determine the instances when eating becomes a sin.

At this point you may be feeling a bit overwhelmed if you struggle with exercising self control in your eating. And you may be thinking to yourself, What is my “godly weight?” Or “How much can I eat and not sin?” or “Is dieting biblical?” Or “Is exercise a proper solution for obesity?” Or “If someone has practiced indulgence and has become obese, would true repentance require them to lose weight?” Or “If I have gained weight slowly over many years am I in sin and should I lose weight? Or “Can you be skinny as a rail and still be a glutton?” These are just the kinds of questions that need to be asked because they force us to apply the text of Scripture to real life situations, which is what studying the Bible is all about. Let’s start off with some encouragement.

God’s grace is sufficient for you!

The Apostle Paul in Rom. 6:14, speaking about how salvation frees us from sin said, “For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.” Salvation releases you from the grip of sin so that you do not have to obey its lusts. You now have a choice. You can say “Yes” to God and “No” to sin.

In I Cor. 10:13 Paul explains this when he says, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” In the preceding context Paul lists several instances when Israel fell into sin. His point is clear, God always provides a way of escape for believers so they don’t ever have to sin.

Speaking to the Galatians, Paul said in Gal. 5:16, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.” Every believer has the Holy Spirit dwelling within him (Rom 8:9) and because the Holy Spirit abides in us we do not need to carry out the desires of the flesh, in other words we can say “No” to temptation through the power of the indwelling Spirit.

James reminds us that when a believer sins, it is the believer’s fault. James 1:14-16 reads, “But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.” James reminds us that no one makes you sin, you choose to sin. Others may tempt you to sin, but whenever you do sin, its your fault. Sin always begins within your heart and when your heart lusts, it often gives birth to sinful actions. James even says, “do not be deceived” because many are quick to blame their sin on someone or something else. Our sin is always our fault.

Finally, we come to a very encouraging Scripture, II Pet. 1:3. Peter is speaking about our resources in Christ and says, “seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.” What this means is that a believer has everything he needs to live a life of godliness and self control. Christians have the answers to living a godly life in the Word of God.

Before we start into the practical aspects of the Christian and eating, I think it would be helpful to think through some of the worldly ways people try to deal with their sinful eating habits. This will help us, by contrast, apply biblical principles to sinful eating habits.

Worldly Methods for Dealing with a Spiritual Problem

The Apostle Paul speaking to the Roman’s in Rom. 13:14 said, “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.” Do you know why Paul gives this exhortation? Because he knew every Christian has every resource to “make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lust.” Christians don’t have to accommodate their fleshly desires.

Yet there are always those who don’t recognize their sin for what it is and end up trying to address a spiritual problem by dealing with its symptom. The Colossians were being tempted to do this very thing and in Col. 2:20-23 Paul told them this, “If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, ‘Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!’ (which all refer to things destined to perish with use)—in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men? These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence.” Here Paul condemns man made religion that attempts to produce holiness in the believer. Paul’s point is that man made religion does not sanctify us or make us more godly. It has no power against fleshly indulgence. Worldly solutions are at best temporary fixes of symptoms but do not touch a sinful heart. Let’s say a Christian struggles with eating too much. They are not exercising self control. They are living an undisciplined life. They are being gluttonous. They are being mastered by their fleshly desires. They are failing to take care of their body which is the temple of the Holy Spirit. They are practicing fleshly indulgence. We have examined all of these sins in previous Calvary Review issues. As a consequence of their sin, they become obese. Others can tell that they are out of control in their eating.

Many Christians may not realize that their obesity is actually the symptom of various sins of the heart. They know others know they are out of control and so their primary desire is to lose weight. So you see the folly of this? Their primary desire should be to glorify God. They should desire not to look good on the outside but to glorify God in their body, exercise self control, master their fleshly desires, and be disciplined. Instead, the fear and approval of man motivates them to address their appearance rather than the spiritual problems of their heart. And the world is more than willing to distract them from glorifying God. Let’s look at how the world often distracts Christians from dealing with sins related to eating.

Some people have their stomach stapled. Is this a cure? Well it may make it so they can’t eat as much, cause them to feel the sensation of fulness sooner, and may even cause them to lose weight. And if weight loss is the primary goal, then having your stomach stapled might be an option. But if your main goal is to glorify God in your body, exercise self control, be disciplined, have mastery over your fleshly desires, then having your stomach stapled does nothing to address the problem of sin. Stomach stapling has no power over fleshly indulgence. It doesn’t sanctify you. It is like locking up a criminal in prison. The prison may confine the criminal so that he cannot do the crimes he lusts to do, but it doesn’t change his heart. The heart problem, the attitudes and lusts that give birth to sin are not dealt with. Hence stomach stapling fails to address the problem. Instead, it attempts to address an outward symptom of the problem, obesity.

Others have opted for plastic surgery techniques like lypo-suction. Fat cells are removed from the body by suction and hence are gone forever. But the suction doesn’t remove the sin of the heart. The person may even feel a new found freedom to indulge like never before because they fear knowing their fat cells are gone. Hence they might increase, rather than decrease their sinful behavior. Their weight may stay down and their appearance remain constant but lypo-suction hasn’t dealt with the sins of the heart. Plastic surgery has no power against fleshly indulgence. It is merely cosmetic.

Diet pills are another approach to curbing our fleshly appetites. This is an attempt at sanctification through pharmaceuticals. The problem is that chemicals don’t solve spiritual problems. Instead, they make them worse. Those who take drugs to deal with their sin end up relying more and more on the drug and exercising less and less self control. When the drug is removed, they go gastronomically postal and eat everything in sight. The drugs allow people to be lazy and not exercise self control. In the end, the person either becomes dependent on drugs or quits taking them and is worse off than ever before.

Others have tried hypnosis or acupuncture to curb their appetites. Hypnosis is wrong all together. God does not want us to give someone else control of our minds and bodies. This is what happens in demon possession. The Scriptures never condone letting someone else take control of our mind. Acupuncture is another technique which cannot deal with spiritual issues of the heart. Both hypnosis and acupuncture may curb the appetite and cause a loss of weight (the symptom of the sin) but they cannot change the heart. Hence they are of no use against fleshly indulgence.

Another very popular means Christians often get drawn into is going on special diets which train people to eat certain foods and to avoid others. For instance, there are low carbohydrate diets that allow you to “eat all the meat and vegetables you want.” There are the juice diets, vegetarian diets and most allow you to “eat all you want” of certain kinds of food. These kinds of diets, instead of teaching self control, self discipline and mastery over one’s fleshly desires, encourage or allow gluttony which is the very sin that needs to be dealt with. Most who try these kinds of diets end up cheating, eating what they want and also being gluttonous in “approved areas.” Even if the person sticks to the diet faithfully, when they get tired of eating a limited food group and go off the diet, they usually gain back the weight they tried so hard to lose. This leads to frustration and exasperation. The real problem is that they have not learned to be self controlled. They have tried to deal with the symptom of the sin, obesity, but have not dealt with the sin that is causing the symptom.

Others try to deal with sins related to eating by buying special foods that are sold by companies wanting to make money off of people who want to lose weight. Of course losing weight is not a bad thing, but it isn’t the problem, it is the symptom of the problem. Eating certain kinds of prepared foods might allow you to lose weight, but they are no cure against fleshly indulgence. Of course the companies that prepare those specialty diet foods and provide training which encourages you to rely on them, hope you never go off their diet. But if you do go off their diet, you will most likely gain the weight back because you haven’t learned to practiced self control. You haven’t learned to say no to the flesh and have mastery over your fleshly desires.

Excessive exercise is another path that some have taken. There is nothing wrong with exercise, in fact, it is good for us. But if you are out of control in your eating habits, exercise is not the solution to your heart problem. It may keep you from gaining weight and may make you look and feel good on the outside, but it doesn’t address the sins of your heart. It merely allows you to continue to indulge yourself, without others realizing you are out of control.

As Christians we must not get swept along in the flood of dieting and weight loss gimmicks in an attempt to deal with our sin. Losing weight is not the solution to our lack of self control and sinful indulgence. Looking good on the outside is a fine goal, but let us be clear, it doesn’t sanctify the heart.

For our next Calvary Review we will discuss how to practically deal with the sins of the heart related to sinful eating habits and the lasting consequences of learning to say no to the flesh and living a disciplined, self controlled, spirit empowered life. Until then, look at your life and consider if you’re trying to deal with the sin in your life with worldly techniques that have no power against fleshly indulgence.


When Eating Becomes Sin, Part IV

Ready for another hard-hitting message from Jack Hughes of Calvary Bible Church? Remember, there is grace when we fail, so do not despair if you recognize yourself in any of these pointed sermons. Just get back up, repent, and ask God for more grace to conquer this weakness. It's all done in His strength anyway; so learn to see conviction as loving and constructive criticism. When we heed the Holy Spirit's promptings and change our harmful habits, we are conformed more and more to the image of Christ...and thus grow in holiness. With that said....

We return to our series “When Eating Becomes Sin.” I have had many people comment on the series. Some refuse to read the series scared of what they might discover and fearful of being accountable to God. Others have been encouraged, some convicted, still others have questions about things I haven’t addressed yet. Well, be encouraged, I only have a limited amount of space and can only address a little at a time. If I run to the end of the series to the application part, there would be no biblical support, no authority from God about what I am saying. When dealing with a complex issue such as eating, especially an issue that has been for the most part ignored by the church, you need to go slow and examine a wide variety of theological topics and texts which either explicitly or implicitly apply to our eating habits. This will give us a well rounded view of the truths which apply to the Christian view of eating and should keep us from jumping to false conclusions or extremes.

For this Calvary Review we are coming to some of the more explicit texts addressing eating in the Bible. But before we start, let’s do a quick review. First, we have talked about eating as an American medical problem which endangers the lives of millions and is a leading contributor to serious health problems. Secondly, we learned that eating is a blessing from God. Food is given for pleasure and to sustain us. Thirdly, we learned that lack of self control is a sin. Fourthly, we learned that fleshly indulgence is sin and those who practice fleshly indulgence are described as those who “shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” Fifthly, we looked at the sin of not being self controlled. Finally, we looked at the sin of living an undisciplined life. All of these doctrines contain principles which can be and should be applied to our eating habits.

Now we come to a doctrine that specifically relates to eating – gluttony. Webster defines gluttony as, “habitual greed or excess in eating.” One of the tongue-in-cheek comments I use with my wife before sitting down to a feast is, “I am going to try and stop one bite short of gluttony.” There is a time when acceptable eating becomes eating in excess, this is gluttony. Gluttony is one of the sins of eating mentioned in the Bible.

The Sin of Gluttony

In Deut. 21:18-21 the death penalty is prescribed for a son who is described as “stubborn and rebellious, . . . a glutton and a drunkard.”Prov. 23:20-21 uses the same terminology saying, “Do not be with heavy drinkers of wine, or with gluttonous eaters of meat; for the heavy drinker and the glutton will come to poverty, and drowsiness will clothe one with rags.” Here we see both excessive drinking and overeating listed together. In one instance the death penalty is prescribed for the wicked son who is characterized by gluttony, among other things. Proverbs also associates gluttony with drunkenness for both are sins of indulgence, and God’s wisdom is to “not be with” gluttons. The reason is obvious, a glutton refuses to use self control, he indulges the flesh, he is a bad example and corrupting influence on those who are trying to maintain self-control and discipline.

The same word translated “glutton” in the two texts above is also used in Prov. 28:7, “He who keeps the law is a discerning son, But he who is a companion of gluttons humiliates his father.” The Hebrew word used in these verses describes someone who squanders or wastes their food by overeating. The word literally means “to pour or shake out.” The glutton pours out or shakes out all onto his plate and then consumes it. He fails to exercise self-control and hence the discerning will not be a close friend or companion of the glutton.

In Mt. 11:19 Jesus said the scribes and pharisees accused him of being “a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!” The word “gluttonous” used here describes “an intemperate eater, one who does not use self-control in eating, or one who consumes an excess amount of food.” Of course Jesus wasn’t a glutton or drunkard, though he was a friend of tax collectors and sinners.

Paul, when referencing the reputation of those on the Island of Crete that Titus was ministering to said in Tit. 1:12, “One of themselves, a prophet of their own, said, ‘Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.’” Here Paul uses a different word which the New American Standard translates “gluttony.” It is a word usually used to describe pregnant women who are great with child. But Paul uses the word to describe a person who has a great belly, like a pregnant woman, who has a voracious appetite for food.

All of the verses above tell us that gluttony is one of the instances when eating becomes sin. It is sinful because it is excessive eating or eating without exercising self-control. It reveals that a person is not in control of their fleshly appetites but instead is enslaved to fleshly indulgence. Having an ice cream cone might be fine, but eating a half gallon of ice cream in most, if not all, cases would be gluttonous.

Don’t Forget Who Owns Your Body When Eating

As Christians, we continually remind ourselves when eating that our bodies are not our own. Paul, addressing reasons to abstain from immorality, says in I Cor. 6:19-20, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.” This truth is taught in Acts 20:28; I Cor. 7:23; I Pet. 1:18-19. Many Christians live like they own themselves, like their body is theirs to do with as they please. But the biblical perspective is that God owns us. He purchased us and our bodies with the precious blood of Christ. Because God owns us He has the right to tell us what to do with our bodies. He wants us to use our bodies for His glory.

So we can be assured that if we are gluttonous eaters or our eating habits in any way fail to give God glory, our eating would be sin. So as you eat, remember, your body is not your own, it is the property of another and the owner of your body has the right to tell you how to take care of it. Paul in Rom. 12:1 describes God’s will for our bodies in these words, “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” Our eating habits must reflect holiness and complete submission to God who purchased and owns us.

The Sin of Causing a Weaker Brother to Stumble

The final category of sinful behavior we want to consider which relates to eating is the sin of causing a weaker brother to stumble. In I Cor. 8:13 Paul says, “Therefore, if food causes my brother to stumble, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause my brother to stumble.” Here, Paul is talking about eating meat sacrificed to idols. His point is that if his eating meat sacrificed to idols is going to cause someone else to stumble in his/her Christian walk, he is not going to eat meats sacrificed to idols. Pagan temples would often sell the meat sacrificed to idols in the local markets. The proceeds would go to support the pagan temple. Paul knew idols were nothing and he knew that meat sacrificed to an idol didn’t have any spiritual cooties on it. But he also knew that some Christians didn’t have that knowledge. Some had been saved out of pagan idolatry and their conscience would be defiled if they, or others they knew, ate meat sacrificed to idols. So Paul abstained if he knew that his eating meat sacrificed to idols might hinder someone else’s walk with the Lord.

A similar text, with a similar context, is found in I Cor. 10:31-33. Paul goes through the same basic reasoning as in chapter 8 and then concludes saying, “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense either to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God; just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit but the profit of the many, so that they may be saved.” Here Paul exhorts us in several ways. First he tells us to make sure we eat and drink for the glory of God. Second, he tells us not to offend people in the way we eat. Third, he explains that his motive is not selfish. Fourth and finally, he explains that his motive is the salvation of the lost. All of us need to ask ourselves if our eating accomplishes these same goals.

Let’s consider one final text which addresses an instance when eating may cause others to stumble and hence be sinful. The text is Rom. 14:15-23 where Paul is addressing our liberties in Christ and how to use them. He specifically addresses eating and says this in vss. 15-23, “For if because of food your brother is hurt, you are no longer walking according to love. Do not destroy with your food him for whom Christ died. Therefore do not let what is for you a good thing be spoken of as evil; for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he who in this way serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another. Do not tear down the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are clean, but they are evil for the man who eats and gives offense. It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother stumbles. The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin.”

We all have a right to eat, it is a “good thing” Paul says, but there are certain times when this “good thing” becomes a sinful practice. If our eating harms others, if it is not according to love, if it does not promote peace, if it does not build others up, if it causes others to stumble, if it defiles our conscience, or if we can’t eat in faith, then our eating, a “good thing,” becomes sin. What we learn from the three texts above is that there is a kind of eating that might be perfectly fine in some contexts and yet sinful in others.

One word of caution. Some people interpret the texts above to mean that we should never do anything at any time that somebody, some place might take offence at. This is not what Paul is saying. Paul is saying that if you know someone will be offended or are pretty sure your eating might cause someone to stumble, then don’t eat. He is not saying, don’t do anything, anytime, that somebody, some place might take offence at. If that were the case we couldn’t use electricity or any modern technology because the Amish might take offence or be caused to stumble.

What we have learned is that gluttony is a sin, we need to remind ourselves when eating that our body is not our own, and if our eating hurts or causes others to stumble, our eating becomes sin. Well we made it through most of the relevant texts related to eating and now its time to start applying these truths to the many questions people often ask, 1) Is there a godly weight for a Christian? 2) Is there a godly diet for a Christian? 3) What does it mean to please God in our eating? 4) Are diets biblical? 5) Is exercise a proper solution for those who struggle with overeating? 6) If someone has practiced indulgence and become obese, should they try to lose the weight? 7) If someone has slowly gained weight over many years and become obese, should they lose weight? 8) Can you be skinny as a rail and be a glutton? We will try to answer questions like these in the future. Until then, remember your body is not your own, therefore glorify God in your body!


When Eating Becomes Sin, Part 3

From Calvary Bible Church's series by Jack Hughes, Part III in a series on biblical self-control and how eating can become a "lust of the flesh":

We are presently exploring what the Bible says about eating and particularly sinful eating habits. Billions of dollars are spent every year to get people to eat certain foods or dine out at certain restaurants. Billions of dollars are spent every year trying to keep people from suffering the consequences of eating too much. We are constantly being bombarded with advertisements for food, dieting, and exercise.

While the world is doing a fantastic job at promoting worldly views concerning eating, God’s views on eating, and specifically sinful eating habits, are being ignored, even in the church. Obviously the world does not have the answers to sinful indulgence, overeating, obesity, anorexia, bulimia, and just plain slavery to food. While most people don’t mind being accosted about their poor eating habits or their need to get some exercise in the privacy of their own home while watching television or reading the paper, they don’t really want to know what God says about these things. The reason is that once God gets brought into the picture, then the believer is responsible to obey and if he does not, he dishonors God by sinning.

Contrary to what Satan would want us to believe, ignorance is not bliss. As God proclaimed through Hosea, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hos. 4:6). We must have God’s knowledge in order to flee from sin, and pursue righteousness in every area of our lives. This is why we are doing this series “When Eating Becomes Sin.” So far we have looked at some extra-biblical reasons to have self-control in our eating. Obesity is one of the great killers in the world today. People who are overweight have a lower quality of life and are more likely to suffer from a host of debilitating and or lethal diseases.

Then we looked at some of the Biblical reasons to have self control in our eating: 1) improper eating habits are harmful to our bodies, 2) the Bible says we are not to be mastered by anything, 3) the Bible says we are not to show partiality and ignore certain sins in the church while condemning others, and 4) we are told to avoid hypocritical judgment by condemning sins in others when we too practice the same thing.

In our second Calvary Review we looked at Scriptures that told us food and being able to eat and enjoy food is a blessing of God. We learned that food is a gift that brings us pleasure and sustains us. The danger is when we enjoy a blessing outside of the bounds of Scripture. When we do that, eating becomes a sin.

In our last Calvary Review we specifically focused on Scriptures that address sinful indulgence. We learned that indulgence is often mentioned in the same context with other sins like murder and immorality. When you hear that, your first reaction might be, “Jack, are you trying to say that eating too much ice cream is the same as murdering someone or committing immorality?” I am merely pointing out that they are mentioned together as they are all sins of indulgence. They all appear in the same contexts because they are the same kind of sins. They are sins of the flesh or sins that bring pleasure to our bodies. And it is clear from the Scriptures that anyone who is a slave to any sin, regardless of kind or degree, “shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (I Cor. 6:9-10; Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 5:3-4). This is why any sin is a very serious matter. People are not condemned to hell for “big sins,” but because they commit any sin! If the only sin you ever committed was eating too much ice cream just one time on a hot summer night, that one sin would be enough to send you to hell for all eternity! This may seem petty to us, but we must remember that to an infinitely holy God, every sin is an infinite offence. As we shall continue to see, there are many Scriptures which both implicitly and explicitly speak to our eating habits. Any sin that put Christ on the cross is really bad!

We also learned that false teachers and godless people are often characterized in the Scriptures as those given over to fleshly indulgence. (See Mt. 23:25; I Cor. 6:12-13; Phil. 3:18-19; Gal. 5:19 & 21; Heb. 12:16; II Pet. 2:9-10; I Jn. 2:15-17). Now we will add two more categories of Scriptures which give us principles that address how we must eat in order to give glory to God.

Scriptures which address the sin of not exercising self-control

You may be wondering if practicing self-control or preaching and teaching on the topic of self-control is all that important. Acts 24:24-25 describes for us a historical event concerning the preaching of Paul. This is what the text says, “But some days later Felix arrived with Drusilla, his wife who was a Jewess, and sent for Paul and heard him speak about faith in Christ Jesus. But as he was discussing righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix became frightened and said, ‘Go away for the present, and when I find time I will summon you.’” Here we learn that Paul’s Gospel included exhortation on God’s view of self-control. Paul wanted Felix to know that being a Christian meant exercising self-control.

In Gal. 5:22-23 Paul is discussing the fruit of the Holy Spirit. He has just finished describing the deeds of the flesh that characterize all those who will not inherit the kingdom of God. He then describes the opposite of the deeds of the flesh saying, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Notice that the last quality of the fruit of the spirit mentioned is “self-control.” It is also important to realize that Paul uses what is called a composite singular here. The word “fruit” is singular in the Greek, and yet contains many parts, kind of like an orange that is a single fruit, but it is composed of many sections. What this means is that you must have all the pieces in order to have the singular fruit. A Christian who does not exercise self-control in their eating is not obeying the command to walk in the Spirit.

In II Pet. 1:5-8 Peter, exhorting his readers to holy conduct, says, “Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Notice that Paul puts a condition on spiritual growth and godliness “if these qualities are yours and are increasing,” and one of the qualities he says is necessary for spiritual growth and being useful and fruitful to God is “self-control.” What this means is if you are not self-controlled, then you will not be useful or fruitful as a Christian.

In all three of the verses above the same Greek word is translated “self-control.” The word describes mastery or control over your desires, passions, lust and appetites. It describes the process of bringing your fleshly desires under the control of the Holy Spirit. The basic components of the word describe power or lordship over someone or some thing. Hence the person who has self-control has power or lordship over his own desires and lusts.

Paul in II Tim. 3:1-5, describing the godlessness of the last days, uses a negative form of the same word translated self control above. Paul says, “But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.” Notice that the godless are described, among other things, as “without self-control.” Not exercising self-control is a godless activity and hence is sinful behavior.

In Titus 1:7-8 Paul addresses the qualification of leaders and says, “For the overseer must be above reproach as God’s steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain, but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled.” Here Paul explains that the overseer must not be characterized as “self-willed” but “self-controlled.” Again, this is a slightly different form of the same word defined above.

It is easy to see how the Scriptures above apply to our eating habits. Christians must be self-controlled in what they eat. It also means that it is sin for a Christian not to exercise self-control in his or her eating habits. This leads us to our next group of Scriptures that address the sin of living an undisciplined life.

The sin of living an undisciplined life

In I Cor. 9:24-27 Paul explains his reason for being above reproach in order to win people to Christ. He says, “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.” Notice that Paul uses the analogy of athletes who must be “disciplined” and “exercise self-control in all things.” In the same way, the Christian must exercise self-control and be disciplined in his eating as lack of self-control in any area of our lives shows slavery to sin, not submission to Christ and actually hinders our ability to witness to others.

Notice how Paul describes his life style to the Thessalonians in II Thess. 3:7, 11 where he says, “For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example, because we did not act in an undisciplined manner among you.” Then he goes on to say in vs. 11 “For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies.” Obviously, living a life of self-control and discipline is hard work, but it is necessary work if we are going to be faithful followers of Jesus Christ. It is also encouraging to realize that every Christian has the God given ability to be self-controlled and disciplined. Paul in II Tim. 1:7 reminds Timothy of this saying, “For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.”

The conclusion to what we have studied so far might be summed up in several statements: 1) obesity is dangerous to your health; 2) the Bible tells us to take care of our bodies; 3) the Bible teaches we are not to show partiality in the sins we condemn; 4) the Bible teaches we are to avoid hypocritically condemning sins in others when we are slaves to the same kinds of sin; 5) fleshly indulgence is a serious sin that Christians are to avoid; 6) false teachers and godless people are often characterized by slavery to their appetite and fleshly indulgence; 7) the Bible teaches that not exercising self-control is a sin; and 8) the Bible teaches that living an undisciplined life is sin. There is more to come, but for now, meditate on the Scriptures above and ask God to help you evaluate your eating habits in light of what the Scriptures teach.

Linkback: http://www.calvarybiblechurch.org/articles.aspx/2005/05/1


Kudos to Tekeme Studios

A few of you on Facebook have commented on the nice, new blog "makeover" - I have George and Ashley Weis to thank for all the creative work (from concept to finishing html code touches) for the amazing work they've done.

Tekeme Studios is their graphic design company, based in Pennsylvania. This dynamic duo works together to design and create webpages, logos, blogs, book covers and other publications and has an impressive portfolio, which you can view here. (There are four categories of their projects - be sure and check out the creative blog templates they've designed)!

Ashley is also a talented Christian writer, who has been published in Brio, Susie Mag, and has completed a Christian novel dealing with the porn industry. While she credits George with all the creative concepts of their work, Ashley is a very thorough "market researcher" in figuring out what will catch the target audience's eye. You can read her blog here.

The Weis' creative work speaks for itself - spend five minutes perusing Tekeme's site, and you'll see the creative and professional level of their design work. In addition, their prices are extremely low for the quality of work they deliver, and these folks are constantly running discounts and give-aways on Twitter and Facebook. If you look up "generous" in the dictionary, you'll see Ashley and George's mugs staring back at you.

Generosity and commitment to their clients seems to come with the territory - these two are devout Christ-followers. Not only does their faith show up in their business practices (and as you can see, many of the blogs they've designed have been for Christ-centered ministries), Ashley and George are passionately commited to social justice. Some of the worthy causes they support are listed on Tekeme's homepage, and Ashley writes blogs frequently about ways to help.

If you write, blog, sell online, or are considering any graphic design work at all, I would highly recommend Tekeme Studios to you. The painstaking attention to detail in all of the projects they complete combined with their inate talent and natural goodness makes this couple's business a gem. I can honestly say that if I end up self-publishing my book, "Redeemed from the Pit", having these two design the cover will take some of the sting out of it! Great job, y'all.


When Eating Becomes Sin, Part 2

Continuing the series by Jack Hughes from earlier this week, here is Part II of his message:

In our last Calvary Review we discussed eating and the times when eating becomes sin. Not all eating is sin, but when food masters or controls us so that we are unwilling to say no to our desire for food or if our eating harms our bodies or if it causes a stumbling block to others because we are being hypocritical, showing partiality, or being insensitive to their convictions, then eating becomes a sin. We also learned that obesity is a serious problem in America being the second leading killer of Americans. Overeating is also a major contributor to other deadly diseases like cancer and heart disease.

Finally, we discussed why sins of indulgence, and overeating in particular, need to be addressed. Some of the reasons are as follows: 1) overeating is harmful to our bodies and the Scriptures tell us to take care of our bodies, 2) the Bible says we are not to be mastered by anything, 3) the Bible says we are not to show partiality, condemning some sins and ignoring others, and 4) we are to avoid hypocrisy in condemning sins of indulgence in others when we ourselves are engaging in those same kinds of sins.

For this Calvary Review we want to examine more closely what the Word of God says about eating in general and indulgence and lack of self control in particular. Once we understand what the Scriptures say in these areas, then we can begin to apply the biblical principles to our own eating habits.

Scriptures Addressing the Purpose of Food

In Gen. 1:29-30 God said Adam and Eve could eat “every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you.” Later in Gen. 9:3 God said, “Every moving thing that is alive shall be food for you; I give all to you, as I gave the green plant.” These texts tell us that God created all edible plants and animals for us to eat. When the law of Moses was given, later in Israel’s history, God declared some foods to be unclean. God did this for some reasons we are not sure of, but part of the reason is that He wanted Israel to be separate or distinct from the pagan nations around them. Later, after the church was started, God again declared all foods to be clean (Acts 10:8-15). In fact God desires us to enjoy all foods again and describes those who teach abstinence from certain foods as teaching the “doctrines of demons” (I Tim. 4:1-4).

The next question we might seek to answer from the Scriptures is “why” God has given us food to eat. Psa. 104:14-15 says God, “causes the grass to grow for the cattle, and vegetation for the labor of man, so that he may bring forth food from the earth, and wine which makes man’s heart glad, so that he may make his face glisten with oil, and food which sustains man’s heart.” Here we learn that God has given us food as a blessing to enjoy, to make the heart glad, and to allow us to survive. In Eccl. 9:7 Solomon says the same thing, “Go then, eat your bread in happiness and drink your wine with a cheerful heart; for God has already approved your works.” These verses teach us that food and eating is a blessing from God that we are to enjoy and give thanks for.

Though eating is a blessing from God, we must also realize that if we ever had to choose between obeying God or eating, we would have to obey God. In Job 23:12 Job says, “I have not departed from the command of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.” Jesus said in Jn. 4:34, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work.” Daniel, when taken captive as a young man, refused to eat the king’s choice food, knowing it was first offered to idols (Dan. 1:8). He was forced to choose between eating the best food of the land or obeying God. So while eating may be a blessing and necessary for physical sustenance, we must never make eating a priority above obeying God, for when we do that, eating becomes a sin.

Scriptures Which Address the Sins of Indulgence

Now that we have looked at some of the Scriptures which speak to the blessing and the priority of eating, let’s focus our attention on Scriptures that tell us how we are to regulate our eating. First let’s consider Scriptures which address fleshly indulgence and being mastered by things that appeal to the flesh. In Rom. 16:17-18 the Apostle Paul tells his readers to “keep your eye on … and … turn away from” false teachers who “are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites.” In Phil. 3:18-19 Paul, speaking of false teachers again, says, “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.”

A distinguishing characteristic of false teachers is that they are enslaved by their appetites or fleshly desires. What that means is that they are mastered by their flesh and cater to their fleshly cravings rather than submitting their fleshly desires to the will of God. In reality, their slavery to their lusts is a form of idolatry as they choose to satisfy their flesh rather than God. Obviously, our lives should not follow or exemplify the lives of false teachers.

In I Cor. 6:12-13 Paul speaking of his liberties in Christ, that is his freedom to do things not specifically forbidden by God, says, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything. Food is for the stomach and the stomach is for food, but God will do away with both of them. Yet the body is not for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body.” Here Paul says that though he could eat food, he was not free to be “mastered” by it or anything else. The two sins of the flesh Paul mentions in the text are being mastered by the pleasures associated with food and the pleasures of immorality. Both eating indulgence and immorality are sins which cater to our fleshly desires. Both food and sex, when engaged in outside of God’s will, become sins. It is Satan’s desire to enslave us to blessings God has given us so that we place them before God.

Surely out of control or indulgent eating is forbidden by the texts above. Godly people should never be characterized as being mastered by anything, including food. Of course it is difficult sometimes to determine if someone is eating for pleasure within the acceptable limits of God’s Word or not. We will discuss this in another Calvary Review in more detail, but what we must not escape is that indulgence and over eating are serious sins as they are a form of idiolatry. Placing our appetites before obedience to God is sin. Because of the indulgent nature of the culture we live in, every Christian needs to prayerfully consider their eating habits in light of what the Scriptures teach.

Though we might be tempted to move on to other issues, we need to look at some more specific Scriptures which address indulgence. In Mt. 23:25 we find Jesus condemning the self righteous Pharisees saying, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence.” Notice that the Pharisees tried to look one way on the outside but Jesus, knowing their hearts, said they were “full of … self indulgence.” The Greek word translated “self-indulgence” comes from a word that means “to have power, lordship, or dominion over.” In the case of sinful eating habits, our desire to please ourselves with food dominates or lords it over us, so that we submit to our flesh rather than God.

In Gal. 5:19 & 21 the apostle Paul lists some of the deeds of the flesh “i“mmorality, impurity, sensuality, … envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these.” All of these sins are sins of the flesh and one of the sins covered in the phrase, “like these” are sinful eating habits. The scary part is that Paul goes on to say he has warned them before, “that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (see also I Cor. 6:9-10; Eph. 5:4-5; Rev. 21:8).

Gal. 5:19-20 is not saying we are saved by our good works or eating habits, but what it is saying is that those who are characterized by a life of fleshly indulgence reveal that they are not saved. Those who consistently display slavery to their fleshly desires declare by their slavery to sin that they are not the children of God. Think of the implications this has to the local church in the area of eating! There are some people who call themselves Christians who think, talk, and live for food. They are consumed, mastered, enslaved with the pleasures of eating. Paul makes it clear that these kinds of people “do not inherit the kingdom of God.”

Now if you think this verse is a fluke and maybe it doesn’t mean what is says, consider Eph. 2:1-3. In this section of Ephesians Paul is discussing the unsaved, spiritually dead state of those he describes as “sons of disobedience.” In vs. 3 he includes his pre-conversion self in this category and says, “Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.” Paul says that before he repented and placed his faith in Jesus Christ he was characterized by fleshly indulgence and describes all who are as “children of wrath.”

The author of Hebrews reminds us in Heb. 12:16 of Esau, who was more concerned about his stomach than the blessing of God. He exhorts his readers to make sure, “that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal.” Peter, in II Pet. 2:9-10, describes the “unrighteous” who are “under punishment for the day of judgment” as “those who indulge the flesh.”

John, in I Jn. 2:15-17 says, “Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh…, is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17 The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.” All of these texts warn against fleshly indulgence and slavery to our lusts.

Food is a blessing and is good. God wants us to enjoy and receive pleasure from eating as long as it doesn’t cause us to sin. The Scriptures tell us much more, but for now, ask yourself this, “Am I in control of my eating for the glory of God or is my desire for food in control of me for the pleasure of self?” May we strive to be holy even in our eating.