Rick Thomas, a NANC fellow with an online biblical counseling ministry called Counseling Solutions recently posted this very relevent piece on the life-dominating sin of gluttony, and how the Gospel needs to affect those who struggle with it. I have found Rick's webinars on how to help a counselee remember the Person and work of Christ in context to her specific problem extremely helpful.
Check out his blog for more gems like these.
Rick's full article is below:
An attendee at our very popular seminar “How to Connect the Gospel to Everyday Life” asked the following question:
Mailbag: How would you link the Gospel to addictions? The one I’m especially interested in is gluttony.
If the Gospel is the launching point and the sustaining power as it pertains to our sanctification, which I believe it is, then it is essential that we are able to connect the Gospel to all areas of our sanctification. Therefore, my friend’s question is an important one.While some believe and teach that the Gospel is for our salvation and obedience is necessary for our sanctification, I would say that the Gospel is definitely for our salvation AND absolutely essential to our sanctification.
What Does the Gospel Have to Do with My Gluttony?
There are two ways to think about and apply the Gospel to the problem of gluttony:
1.Gluttony is not the real problem, but a symptom of a deeper problem.
2.Our bodies are not ours, but were bought by the power of the Gospel.
Symptom vs. Core Problem
One of the advantages of Christian counseling, over secular models, is that the Christian counselor is not satisfied with merely behavioral modification. While we want to change our behaviors (gluttony), we also understand the necessity of resolving our problems at their root or origin in order for lasting change to happen. As the Savior said, “…out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” – Luke 6:45 (ESV)
Jesus was tying the tongue (symptom) to the heart (core problem). Our words are not disconnected from who we are as people. Similarly, being overweight is usually not merely an external, problematic manifestation which has no relationship to the deeper reality of who the obese person is. Without going into a lot of detail, here is a short list of some of the potential core problems a Christian counselor would want to explore with a person who is overweight:
Anxiety Fear Self-sufficiency Arrogance Lack of Self-Control Unbelief Comfort Anger Slothfulness Performance-Driven Self-Righteousness Etc.
As you can see, this is a bigger issue than merely gluttony. Also it is rare that this kind of obesity can truly be an organic problem over which the person has no ability to control. From the sin list above you can see how the Gospel could speak specifically to a person who is struggling with some of these core issues, while bringing rest, hope, and help for such a person.
The Power of the Gospel Bought Me
Secondly, God the Father executed His Son on the cross in order to redeem a helpless and hopeless people to Himself. This was the most expensive purchase that has ever been made. After God regenerated me, He not only began to abide in me, but I also began abiding in Him. I am no longer my own and, because of the Gospel, I no longer have the right to do whatever I want to do to my body.
I am to love the Lord God and love my neighbor with all of my heart, soul, and mind. (Matthew 22:36-40) Because of the Gospel I want to make His name great in this world. I also want to manifest the transformative Gospel to all those who are desperate for the hope the Gospel reveals. If I am not rightly affected by the realities of the cross and the resurrection (the core elements of the Gospel) and the sin list above is what controls me, then I am essentially mocking the Gospel.
If the Gospel does anything to us, it is transformation. But if we are not living in the good of the transformative Gospel then our role in glorifying Him and/or modeling the power of the Gospel to others becomes vain.