UPDATE January 5, 2015: All the talk about goals and resolutions for 2015 provides a sobering reminder of my post from six months back. I know I will experience zero change in my life if I don’t keep in mind the three reasons listed below why I consistently fall short in my battle with sin. If I am going to grow in my relationship with Jesus, lose weight/live healthier, write a book or spend more quality time with my wife and kids, I need these reminders. If you are going to experience any lasting change in your life, remind yourself of three reasons why we consistently lose our battle with sin.
This is the blog post I have needed to write for a while, but really didn’t want to write. Moreover, it’s the post I don’t want you to read.
I need to confess something. I am an addict.My addiction may look different from some of yours, and my addiction is something that many may not consider to be a true addiction.
I am addicted… To food.
You may look at the photo of the ice cream above and think nothing about it. But when I see it, it makes me obsessed with food or makes me feel ticked-off because I can’t eat that right now without feeling guilt and shame.
Food is an idol to me. I think about it all day long, I dream about it, I obsess about what I eat, and food largely determines my mood, my joy and my satisfaction (or lack thereof) in life.
I know food is required for us to live. However, food becomes a problem when you obsess about it and think it can deliver something to you that it is not intended to provide.
For my entire life, as long as I can remember, I have struggled with food obsession and obesity. I’d go through seasons of doing well, but those were often short. The issue is heightened by the fact that my dad died of heart disease when he was 39 years old. By the grace of God I turned 40 last year, but my health is probably worse than my dad’s when he passed away.
This has been my issue. There have been others, such as lust and pornography, anger, and low self-esteem/self-worth; but, I have seen God do great things with those struggles. This struggle, however, has been, as Paul calls it in 2 Corinthians 12, my “thorn in the flesh.”
From May – December of 2013, I had a great eight months of taking care of my body and eating well. Once January, 2014 rolled around, I resorted back to all of my old behaviors and patterns.
In this post, you will find three things that pulled me off track. I don’t know many of you, but believe it or not, I care about you and don’t want you to commit the same sins or poor choices that I have made. Whatever your issue or struggle might be, these three things will, if you’re not careful, cause you to lose your battle to sin.
1. I isolated and hid my sin from my community
Even though I have great family and friends around me who care for me, I chose to not let them into my struggle. For the eight months I did well, my community knew all of my eating and exercise habits. I tracked my eating and exercise and gave them permission to both challenge and encourage me.
In January, this changed as I hid and managed my sin with those who helped me the most. Consequently, my weight went up, my health declined, and my sin grew in isolation. After hearing some friends confess sin in their lives, I was gently reminded that managing my sin dishonors God, dishonors my wife and dishonors my community.
Proverbs 28:13 says, “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.”
Be open and honest with your community about your wellness struggles, your challenges in marriage and whatever else causes you to stumble in life.
2. I didn’t see my addiction/struggle as sin
As mentioned above, I know we all need food/nutrition to live. Consequently, I justified my sinful habits, because I thought I could eat much worse or commit ‘worse’ sins. I rationalized my overeating by saying that I needed the calories. And, no verse in the Bible calls eating a sin.
A few weeks ago I read Philippians 1 in the Journey and I came across Philippians 1:20b: “with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.”
I realized Christ was not being honored in my body and that if my life course continued on the same trajectory, I would experience the death part too soon.
Don’t rationalize or excuse your sin.
3. I bought the lie that a program or crash course could “fix me.”
Let’s face it… most of us want the quick fix that comes from a specific plan, program or regiment. If you can think of an eating or exercise plan, I’ve probably done it: South Beach, P90X, Daniel Fast, the Shred, even watching The Biggest Loser (while eating a bowl of ice cream).
Every day I look down at the scale or up in the mirror, I want immediate, noticeable results. Or, I think that since I worked out for 3 days in a row that I deserve a smaller waistline.
Hebrews 12:1-2 says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Hebrews 12:1-2 points to the fact that this is a race that requires endurance! Run the race set before you with endurance and perseverance. Be faithful, take it one day at a time, and choose lifestyle change over a brief season of repentance.
What happens when you get it right?
Today, I celebrate the fact that I am not living in isolation, I rightly call my food idolatry and obsession what it really is (SIN), and I know that this is a marathon, not a sprint.
1 Corinthians 6.19-20 says: “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”
For those of you who struggle with eating, weight, and passivity – you’re not alone. I have fought this battle for decades. It is a real challenge, a real issue and a real sin. You can’t thrive in your walk with Christ while neglecting your body at the same time. The Lord desires for you to be useful to the Master (see 2 Timothy 2:20-21).
Whatever your struggle is, choose not to battle in isolation, don’t justify or rationalize your sin, and choose to run the (long) race before you with endurance and perseverance.
Please pray for me and know I’d be honored to do the same for you.
I wrote a follow-up to this post on a fourth reason why I Lost My Battle With Sin – check it out here: Becoming the Hero Your Spouse Needs you to be.
Some questions to think through:
- How are you involving your community? Are you asking them to pray for you? Are you being honest and open with them? Are you specifically confessing where you are falling short or just being general? Are you transparent and authentic, or only when it makes you look good?
- Are you hiding, justifying, or excusing your sin? Are you deceiving your spouse and others about your sin, knowing it is not God’s best, but justifying it?
- Honestly ask yourself – are you in for the quick fix, or the long haul? What quick fixes have you attempted in the past? Do they ever work? Are you really making an effort?
Get Your Free Date Night Guide
Sign up today to get your Date Night Guide (124 Killer Date Night Ideas) and to be notified of new updates!