In Part 1 of this blog series, we talked about the idea of how we should honor God by honoring our bodies. Each of us make up the body of Christ with our own individual bodies. If you did not get a chance to read it, you can read Part 1 here.
In Part 2 of this blog series, we talked about the idea of seeing food in a new light. Instead of choosing food based on what is best for your body, we should figure out what kind of food is best for our souls. If you did not get a chance to read it, you can read Part 2 here.
Once we engage in a battle against excessive eating, all hell will break loose, literally. It’s not until we confront the subtle temptation of excessive and indulgent eating that we will even recognize her. She will show her evil head. She is a temptress. When we go along with her, she doesn’t gloat. She just accepts her victories quietly as our weight increases, our waist expands, our cholesterol elevates, and our blood pressure builds. While all of this is happening, our souls are slowly contracting.
If we do get the courage to tell her “no” even one time, it’s like waking up a sleeping guard dog. If we enter into a long-term campaign to kill her, you will have a sworn enemy for life.
In spite of the ferocity of this battle, it can produce many benefits. On of the first benefits is healthy humiliation. After the first month of denying yourself, watching your food intake, and trying to keep your exercise at a good level, you could find that you have not lost as much weight as you had hoped to. This can really be frustrating. There is something soul scouring about facing a struggle that you know you can’t win on your own, at least not in an absolute sense. This type of tough battle can create a dependence on God inside you, which can bring you closer to God than if you had not gone through the struggle.
I like the way British clergyman, Puritan, and writer, John Flavel puts it. “It is easier to cry against 1,000 sins of others than to kill on of your own.
Paul reminds us in Ephesians that God will always be with us to help us in all our struggles. We just have to be willing to let Him help us.
Ephesians 6:10-13 (NIV)
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
What things have you learned through your own experiences of battling habitual sins?
The struggle against habitual sin may humiliate us, but if we are really honest with each other, couldn’t most of us use agood dose of humiliation every now and then? I sure know that I need it from time to time. Being humble does not come very natural to me. Defeat can make us rely more on God. The imperfect nature of our struggle will at times discourage us, but discouragement can point us toward having more hope in Christ. It will chasten us, but chastening can make us gentler towards those who sin against us. When we are actively fighting our own sin, we will have more patience, understanding, and mercy toward others who struggle with sin. It will lead us to a deeper level of empathy.
This increased sensitivity, sense of humiliation, and dependence on the grace of God can make us more useful to God and allow us to follow His will even better.
Paul gives us a great picture of what this looks like when he talks about a vision he had that he talks about in 2 Corinthians.
2 Corinthians 12:1-10 (NIV)
12 I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. 2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. 3 And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— 4 was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell. 5 I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. 6 Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, 7 or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Peter gives us some words of encouragement in 1 Peter.
1 Peter 5:6 (NIV)
6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.
J.I. Packer, a British theologian and author states, “The focus of health in the soul is humility, while the root of inward corruption is pride.”
In the end, physical fitness offered to God, surrendered to God, and pursued in cooperation with God has enormous spiritual, emotional, and physical benefits. It is not an easy battle, but it can be one that is well worth fighting. Even if it is a battle we will fight with varying degrees of success for the rest of our lives.