“[M]any live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things.” Philippians 3:18b-19
Philippians 3:18 points out that many “live as enemies of the Cross of Christ” even though the bible clearly states we should not do so. Although Philippians 3 is most commonly discussed in reference to those who are false teachers in the church, Philippians 3:18-19 also pertains to hypocritical Christians who are actively practicing one sin or another instead of denying their fleshly desires in obedience to Christ. One frequently picked-on group of Christians who fall into this category are those who live together like husband and wife, but who are not married to one another. To understand how Christians are living as "enemies of the Cross of Christ" in terms of their eating habits, we must meditate further on Philippians 3:18b-19.
First, the passage of scripture warns the "end is destruction," for all of those who live as enemies of the Cross of Christ. However, "their end is destruction” has a different meaning for believers than it does for non-believers. For non-Believers, destruction means you suffer the consequences of your sin here on earth, gaining weight, declining health, and an untimely death, to name a few. Then you spend eternity in hell if you die committing the sins of gluttony and idolatry as with any other sin, instead of gaining eternal life by submitting to the Lord's discipline and confessing your sin.
On the other hand, for believers, destruction means you are subject to God’s discipline in this life, but you do not suffer the consequences of hell in the next life. For example, Haggai 1:6-11 describes Israel suffering the consequences of her sin of failing to repair and maintain the temple as commanded by God. Accordingly, the scriptures illustrate God’s discipline of the nation individually and collectively. That same discipline applies to modern-day Christians who fail to maintain the temple of the Holy Spirit, which is their bodies. However, discipline from the Lord is actually a good thing.
“My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline and do not resent His rebuke because the Lord disciplines those He loves as a father the son he delights in.” Proverbs 3:11
“Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent.” Revelations 3:19
How does God discipline us?
1. Permissive Will
This means a person is outside of the will of God, and he is subject to the consequences of his sin. For example:
A) Gaining weight
B) Declining Health: Hypertension, diabetes, stroke, etc.
D) Poor self-image
E) Early death
2. Divine Will
This means a person is submitting to the will of God. When a person submits to the will of God, he has automatically entered into God’s favor and blessings because God performs what He promises in His word. Accordingly, those abiding in God’s Divine Will may claim His promises when things do not seem to be working in accordance to what He promised. Since God never fails, He will bless, protect, provide for, and otherwise, lovingly care for all of those who put their trust in Him and obey His will.
In other words, one way God disciplines us is to rebuke or admonish a person who has sinned by disobeying His commands. He does this through His word which teaches us to live lives of holiness. Consequently, obeying God’s word is submission to God’s discipline and its end result is a blessed and favored life.
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17 
Or to put it even more plainly, the New Living Translation states the same passage of scripture in this way:
“All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip His people to do every good work.” 
However, God also utilizes other methods of discipline as exemplified in Chapter 1 of the Book of Haggai. For example, God used a drought in Haggai as He did at other times according to scripture. (Deuteronomy 11:16-17; 2 Chronicles 7:13-15; Isaiah 5:6; Haggai 1:11) Likewise, God has employed famines, plagues, fire, and even locust to impart discipline on both believers and unbelievers. (Exodus 7:14 – 12:32; 2 Samuel 24:10-16; Jeremiah 21:1-7 & 44:12-14; Amos 7:1-3 & 8:11-12, Joel 1:3-4 & 2:3; Ezekiel 30:8-16; Revelation 6:6-8; 8:6, 9:3; 11:4-6, 15:1; 16:1-21)
In terms of eating to worship God, God employs both methods of discipline. He convicts us of our sin, and then provides instructions to correct our errant behavior through His word. Because of our intentional or unintentional disobedience, God imposes the same discipline exacted on Israel in Haggai upon us, both individually and collectively.
Second, we must understand what "their god is their stomach" means. There is a scripture which is similar to Philippians 3:18-19. It is found at Romans 16:18, and there are 3 schools of thought regarding these two passages of scripture. Romans 16:18 states:
“For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple.” New King James Version 
1. In the first school of thought, it is believed that Philippians 3:18-19 only refers to gluttons giving in to their excessive physical desires for food, while Romans 16:18 refers to individuals putting their selfish lusts in general before Christ. For example, a minister who tells a congregation what it wants to hear in order to maintain his position as pastor.  This school of thought can be seen in the following translation of Romans 16:18:
“For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naïve. Romans 16:18
2. The 2nd school of thought states Philippians 3:18-19 has a broader meaning than that of an excessive, physical desire for food. Instead, they believe it refers to lust and self-indulgence of all kinds. 
3. The final commentary states the individuals referred to in Philippians 3:18-19 and in Romans 16:18 are one and the same, and that both passages of scripture refer to gluttons who regard eating and drinking above devotion to God.  This opinion is based in part on Romans 14:17 declaring earlier in scripture that the “kingdom of God is not eating and drinking” alone.
The third commentary is the correct interpretation of the scriptures. God’s metaphorical descriptions of what occurs spiritually can often literally be observed taking place in the natural, so it stands to reason the same thing is happening in regard to Philippians 3:18-19 and Romans 16:18. Although Philippians best emphasizes making an idol of the stomach due to gluttony, Romans best emphasizes making an idol of one’s stomach due to selfish concerns about one’s own welfare, which corresponds to, paying a mortgage, utilities, car note, and/or having enough to eat, as well as indulging in one’s overall sinful desires. Nevertheless, the result is the same, the excessive eating habits of one and sinful desire to gratify the overall lusts of the flesh in general of the other take precedence over God in their lives. Therefore, both have literally and metaphorically made an idol of their stomachs.
Commentaries aside, we have already studied that the lust of the flesh led to the sin of gluttony which in turn led to idolatry. We also learned that gluttony is a symptom of a society’s downward spiral into being primarily focused on the satisfaction of all its fleshly desires instead of denying itself in obedience to God. In short, the sin of gluttony is not just excessive eating. It is a pattern of excessive eating which encompasses other self-gratifying behavior, and that behavior, if left unchecked, leads to making an idol of one's stomach.
Our focus in this lesson, the book of Philippians, clearly points out those who practice the sin of gluttony may also inadvertently practice the sin of idolatry as evidenced by the scripture teaching gluttons have made their god their stomachs. This occurs in two ways, and sometimes individuals do both without realizing it. The first method occurs when individuals look to food to provide a need only God can fulfill instead of turning to God the Provider. The second method takes place when individuals obey their bodies’ cravings without restraint instead of obeying God’s commands regarding eating and maintaining the temple of the Holy Spirit they are responsible for, meaning their own bodies.
The purpose of food is to provide sustenance and nutrition to our bodies. The problem is that we have increasingly come to require and expect food to do more than it is able or intended to do. For instance, you should not run to food if you feel angry, depressed, lonely, disappointed, stressed, or hurt. Whatever hole is left in your heart by life will never be filled by a tub of ice cream, a pizza, burgers with fries, or any other earthly thing you could eat. In other words, food was never meant to be your comforter, the source of your joy and happiness, a crutch to make life bearable, or a shield against pain and disappointment. That’s the Lord’s job, and only He is uniquely qualified to do it.
1. God the Comforter
“And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter that He may abide with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him, but ye know Him, for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” John 14:16-18 NKJ
“Nevertheless, I tell you the truth; it is expedient for you that I go away; for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you.” John 16:7
2. God the Source of Joy
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”
“The joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10
3. God the Crutch to Endure Life
“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.“
4. God the Shield Against Pain and Disappointment
“Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; Though the flock be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls – Yet will I rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.” Habakkuk 3:17-18
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28
In case you haven’t figured it out yet, your stomach is the equivalent of a bottomless pit. It will continue to require more and more as it probably already has been with each passing year. It only takes in what your body craves, and it never gives you what you truly desire. That’s because it cannot. It’s a false god that neither sees, hears, nor speaks, yet you run to its altar with peach cobbler and ice cream as your offering in times of trouble. The so-called comfort food only earns you a temporary reprieve from your cares. You recognize too late that your crutch is crippling you, and you are increasingly growing more disgusted with your eating habits instead of happily indulging in what once was purely a source of pleasure. Furthermore, instead of shielding you from your pain and disappointment, you realize your stomach and its cravings are slowly becoming, or have already become, a major source of pain and disappointment in your life.
Next, we must understand what "their glory is in their shame" means. Usually when the bible speaks of glory, it refers to the word in terms of the Lord. However, in this instance, the word refers to human beings who are living lives that are adverse to God. Accordingly, although the word “glory” often indicates the presence of God when utilized in a sentence, since this reference concerns human beings, the word is descriptive of a person’s honor or renown. It signifies a person’s reputation or what they are known for. Simply put, your honor and renown are currently found in something that is actually shameful, a sin, when it should be found in Christ Himself.
“[W]e all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 3:18
That’s what you should be known for by those who know you best: becoming more like Jesus each day. Instead of being honored and renowned for your mind constantly being on the things of Christ, are you known for constantly worrying about your next meal or something to do with your weight and your eating habits or other sinful activities?
Finally, the scripture teaches us that those who are enemies of the Cross of Christ have "their minds on earthly things." Romans Chapter 8 explains it best:
“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” Romans 8:5-8
In other words, those who set their minds on the things of the flesh are one and the same as those who set their minds on earthly things. As it relates to food, the glutton’s mind is always on his next meal or “fix” (earthly things) because his stomach, addiction, or rather, his god is whatever his belly craves next.
“But He said to them, ‘I have food to eat that you know nothing about.’ Then His disciples said to each other, ‘Could someone have brought Him food?’ ‘My food,’ said Jesus, ‘is to do the will of Him Who sent Me and to finish His work.’”
Jesus was so focused on His purpose that He was not concerned about food. Pleasing the Father was sustenance (food) for Jesus. When we stop obsessing over food and renew our minds to the Will of God and His purpose for our lives as exemplified by Jesus, then our thoughts won’t be centered around food anymore either. Instead, you too, will find it easier to focus on the things of God instead of setting your mind on earthly things.
Please visit our blog next week for Part 2 of this study. The topic: How to Stop Living as an Enemy of the Cross of Christ. Looking forward to seeing you in the Promised Land of Healthy and Fit for LIfe! God bless you!
 King James 2000 Bible (©2003)
 New Living Translation (©2007)
 The New Open Bible Study Edition, Copyright 1990.
 For the Elect Alone internet article “The Belly Problem: Philippians 3” by Mark McCulley(?). http://markmcculley.wordpress.com/2011/05/23/the-belly-problem-philippians-3/
 Enduring Word Internet Article “Philippians 3 – Leaving Law and Pressing on to Jesus” by David Guzik, Page 13, Copyright 2006 (Printed 08/20/12). http://www.enduringword.com/commentaries/5003.htm
 Internet article “Enemies of the Cross of Christ Philippians 3:18-19, printed 08/20/12 (no website information printed at the bottom of the page).
“If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and who, when they have chastened him, will not heed them, then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city, to the gate of his city. And they shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.’ Then all the men of his city shall stone him to death with stones; so you shall put away the evil person from among you, and all Israel shall hear and fear.” Deuteronomy 21:18-21
First of all, what is gluttony? The bible provides a clear definition which deals with excessive eating in Proverbs 23:20-21. Specifically, we are warned:
“Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat, for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags. “
Another definition encompasses not only excessive eating, or” gorging themselves on meat,” but also loose morals and gratifying the flesh in many other ways. Titus 1:12-13 illustrates this point.
One of them, a prophet of their own said, ‘Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.’ This testimony is true.”
Gluttony, then, can be summed up as an excessive appetite for whatever your flesh desires or craves whether it is giving in to your appetite or desire for unhealthy foods and beverages with little to no restraint or lacking self-control in other areas of your life.
Moreover, Titus 1:12 exemplifies how gluttony is often accompanied by other self-gratifying sins in terms of an entire society, whereas Deuteronomy 21:18-21 demonstrates how that scenario is also true in the life of an individual. In Titus 1:12-13 above, Paul was teaching that false teachers should be rebuked, but he stopped to point out that on one point a false prophet’s testimony was correct regarding the Cretan society, which was known for following the lusts of its flesh.
Specifically, the Cretans revered a man named, Epimenides, as one of the country’s prophets. According to myth, Epimendes was a Cretan who fell asleep in a cave for 57 years. When he awoke, he had the gift of prophecy and longevity. Indeed, Epimenides was believed to have lived for 300 years. In addition to being considered a philosopher and a poet, the people eventually elevated him to the status of a god. Nevertheless, he is credited with making the statement which Paul quoted in Titus: “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.”
This statement has sparked debate in the Christian and secular world, so much so that it has become known as the “Epimenides Paradox.” Basically, the paradox sheds light on the obvious. Specifically, if it is true that all Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, and lazy gluttons, then that means Epimenides himself was a liar, an evil beast, and a lazy glutton because he, too, was a Cretan. Consequently, it follows the statement that all Cretans are liars, etc. must be false because a lying Cretan made it.
However, upon reading the passage of scripture, you’ll find the speaker referred to the Cretan society in general and not each individual residing on the Isle of Crete. At least one commentator agrees with that assessment and surmised that Epimenides, writing as a poet, employed a writing technique called hyperbole to describe the condition of his country and its citizens.
Since the technique is used frequently by many poets, the author shared the viewpoint that Epimenides exaggerated when speaking about the Cretan society as a whole in order to emphasize his point that the Cretan society was immoral. Indeed, it’s not much different from citizens of this and other countries characterizing Americans, in general, as fat. While we know that not everyone one in America is overweight, none of us can deny that a very high percentage of Americans is overweight. Consequently, the generalization, while over-simplified, is not entirely false.
Likewise, it’s from that viewpoint that we must consider our own nation and its citizens’ condition in light of the epidemic of obesity and overall immoral and self-gratifying behaviors. For instance:
a) Would you say it’s a fair assessment that just as gluttony has gripped our nation, so have other self-gratifying sins such as fornication, homosexuality, monetary greed, and materialistic tendencies significantly increased?
b) Has our society become more interested in satisfying the lusts of its flesh than pleasing the God in Whom we say we trust?
c) Are we becoming more like the Cretan society with each passing day?
The truth is that gluttony is a symptom of a society’s moral and spiritual decay. As our society gets fatter each year, there is no doubt that it also grows more sinful with the passage of time. Consequently, we see direct, overwhelming evidence that there is a correlation between the lusts of the flesh running unchecked in one area of life leading to instances of self-gratifying behavior leaking into other areas of your life. Why? Because sin begets sin. This is especially true when sin is revealed and a person deliberately continues to sin.
The further you stray or refuse to return to the Father in repentance, whether due to shame and guilt or outright rebellion, the more likely you are to begin committing other sins as you increasingly put God and His word on the back burner, if not push Him out of your life altogether. One glaring and heartbreaking example of this is the current state of our nation’s school system. Since our country no longer desires to “train up a child in the way he should go” in the very place where we collectively send our children to receive training, the “anything goes” behavior of our society has bled into our schools, and our nation’s children are using drugs, having sex, and even committing murder at a place that used to be a safe haven, our schools.
As our society/generation increasingly turns away from the Lord, we, like Israel, are ushering in and raising a successive generation who neither knows the Lord personally nor experienced His miracles and blessings for themselves (Judges 2:8-15). In essence, the world is progressively forgetting about the One True God, and the negative effects of that unfaithfulness can be seen in the degenerate behavior of today’s children and the corruption invading the moral fabric of our society.
In Deuteronomy 21:18-21, a child, initially described as stubborn and rebellious, is depicted. However, the scriptures teach that despite his parents’ loving discipline, the child continues in his disobedient conduct towards them in order to satisfy his own desires. Consequently, his sin of disobedience eventually causes him to become entangled with the sins of gluttony and drunkenness.
Since the “wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23), the stubborn and rebellious child eventually pays the ultimate price for his sin. He is “put away,” i.e. stoned to death, for being an “evil person” as an example to others. God would not have commanded Israel to stone or kill the stubborn and rebellious son if disobedience to his parents (Exodus 20:12 & Ephesians 6:1), gluttony, and drunkenness were not sins. Just as sin begets sin in terms of society in general, Deuteronomy 21:18-21 proves the same is true in the life of an individual.
Proverbs 23:20-21 reinforces the teaching of Deuteronomy 21:18-21 by outright commanding, “Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat.” Since the Lord specifically prohibits both gluttony and drunkenness in Proverbs 23, both actions are undoubtedly sinful. Accordingly, human beings today are subject to the same consequences as the stubborn and rebellious son for committing those sins, physical and spiritual death. Indeed, both Believers and Unbelievers alike stand in the shoes of the “stubborn and rebellious son,” actively disobeying God’s word, particularly as it relates to the sins of gluttony and idolatry. And like the “stubborn and rebellious son,” both Believers and Unbelievers are paying the ultimate price for their disobedience by dying untimely and unnecessary deaths due to their gluttonous lifestyles. However, although a Believer may physically die due to a heart attack or stroke, for instance, as a result of his gluttonous lifestyle, his soul won’t experience the spiritual death of going to hell due to the Lord’s sacrifice on the cross. Nevertheless, as Paul teaches in Romans 6:1-2, that does not give Believers a license to continue to sin.
Perhaps the most compelling evidence that gluttony is a real sin is the fact that Jesus, Himself, said He was accused of committing the sin.
“The Son of Man came eating and drinking and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’” Matthew 11:19
When He made the comment, Jesus was reflecting on accusations of the Scribes and Pharisees. The vast majority of those individuals were definitely not a part of Jesus’ fan club, so reason dictates they were not paying Him a compliment when they referred to him as “a glutton and a drunkard” and a friend of tax collectors and sinners.
While it’s true that being a tax collector, in and of itself, is not a sin, the profession of tax collecting was associated with sinful individuals due to the prevalence of greedy individuals over-taxing in order to skim money for themselves. An already economically depressed household or region would be further strained by such oppressive tactics. Consequently, the profession as a whole was given a negative connotation which persists to this day.
On the other hand, the glutton and the drunkard are not being labeled as sinners based on their professions. As stated previously, the Lord says in His word that gluttony and drunkenness are sins. Therefore, the Scribes and Pharisees directly attacked Jesus’ character when they accused Him of committing those sins and being an overall friend of “sinners.”
“He who keeps the law is a discerning son, but a companion of gluttons disgraces his father.” Proverbs 28:7
This proverb should strike a chord within many people who struggle with their weight. Parents and many other relatives always seem to have negative comments about a loved one's weight as if it bothers them more than it bothers the overweight individual. Well, the sad truth is that members of your family, especially your parents, can feel a sense of disappointment or even shame, about a loved one's overweight condition although they may never specifically say so. Their words and actions, however, often betray their thoughts.
And because they love you so, they take steps to correct the problem such as sharing their thoughts and feelings on the subject in an effort to motivate you and help you lose weight. Family members are always the ones who seem to hurt you the most when it comes to your weight. This is because they often have little to no regard for your feelings, no tact, and no sense that they are contributing to the cycle that drives most comfort eaters to eat. They don’t understand that right after your feelings get hurt, a big plate or bowl or something is just what many overweight people run to in order to bite back (No pun intended) the words they know better than to say to their elders who only meant well.
In sum, scripture is replete with instruction from the Lord in both the Old and New Testament regarding gluttony and its devastating effects on both individuals and society if left unchecked. Thankfully, the solution for our generation is not stoning to death all who are ensnared by the sin. On the contrary, God has graciously provided the blood of His Son, Jesus, to set us free from the bondage of gluttony and every other sin. If we truly want to be free from the ravages of gluttony both individually and collectively, then repentance is the answer. If we do this, God promises:
If My people, who are called by My Name, will humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:13-14
 “Epimenides: Biography from Answers.com” http://www.answers.com/topic/epimenides March 17, 2013.
 Id. and Apologietics Press - “Epimenides’ Paradox: A Logical Discrepancy in Titus 1:12?” http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category =6&article=809 March 17, 2013.
 Apologetics Press supra.
“Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses while this house remains a ruin? Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Give careful thought to your ways.
“You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages only to put them in a purse with holes in it.’
“This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Give careful thought to your ways. Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build the house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,’ says the Lord.
’You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?’ declares the Lord Almighty. ‘Because of my house which remains a ruin while each of you is busy with his own house. Therefore, because of you the heavens have withheld their dew and the earth its crops.
‘I called for a drought on the fields and the mountains, on the grain, the new wine, the oil and whatever the ground produces, on men and cattle, and on the labor of your hands.”
As we learned in Concept 1A, the Old Testament temple points to the New Testament temple, our bodies. The New Testament teaches us about God’s perspective or viewpoint of our bodies. In contrast, the Old Testament provides a descriptive illustration of how God blesses the temple and those responsible for it when He is pleased with their actions concerning the temple and how He punishes those responsible for the temple when they fail to honor Him by maintaining it.
King Solomon originally built the temple to house the Ark of the Covenant, which represented God’s throne. (2 Samuel 7:1-2 and 1 Chronicles 17:1 & 28:2-3, 6, & 2 Chronicles 6:1-11). Placing the Ark of the Covenant in the completed temple signified that Israel knew God was her true King and Jerusalem was His earthly royal city. (NIV Study Bible). Consequently, God was so pleased that His glory (presence) filled the temple, and the priests were unable to complete their duties as the congregation worshiped the Lord (2 Chronicles 7:1-3). When we honor God with our bodies, including in terms of how we eat, we declare by our actions, instead of using mere words, that God reigns in us and through us as King in every facet of our lives.
Here, in New Testament times, our bodies are meant to house God’s presence in the Person of His Holy Spirit. This union with the Holy Spirit is permanent. But unlike the stationary, Old Testament temple, which was a place for the Israelites to offer their sacrifices to God in addition to worshipping Him, the temples of our bodies work in the opposite way. Specifically, we are not only places of worship of the One True God and houses or places for His Spirit to dwell in, but we are also vehicles the Holy Spirit uses to demonstrate to the world acts of obedience to God’s word as well as sacrificial worship and praise as Christians go about their daily lives in the world. In other words, those who may not otherwise set foot in a church should be able to see Jesus in the living epistles of our lives as we endeavor to fulfill the Lord's commandment to make disciples of all nations by sharing His word and living His word.
For this reason, you should think of yourself as a car or other motor vehicle which the Holy Spirit utilizes to travel throughout the earth to spread the Good News of Christ to the world. However, just as your personal vehicle must remain in good repair in order to work as designed and fulfill its purpose of getting you from Point A to Point B safely, you, too, must keep the Temple of the Holy Spirit in good repair in order to have optimal performance as you serve the Lord by functioning as designed. Think of it this way:
Your Body: Car
Holy Spirit: Driving Force & the gas that fills the car so it operates
Great Commission: Destination A - God’s Purpose for our lives
Other Ministry Work: Destination B - God’s assignments for our lives
If your personal car is not in good repair, then you would consider it unreliable because you could not depend on it to take you where you need to go or otherwise perform as you need it to. To put it plainly, if it cannot take you across town without breaking down on a regular basis, you certainly won’t trust it to travel across the state or take you on a cross-country road trip. Consequently, you want your car in its best possible condition at all times. The Holy Spirit expects the same of you as He works through you on earth.
Why is this so important? Well, repairs to a car are costly. First of all, they cost the owner time. For example, if the car breaks down on your way to work or to a special event, you could be late arriving. Moreover, there is usually a significant wait for emergency roadside assistance, a friend, or a family member to come to your aide. Second, repairs cost the owner money. Specifically, you must pay for roadside assistance to tow your vehicle. You also have to pay the mechanic who repairs your car if it’s not covered under a warranty. If your insurance won’t cover the cost of a rental car, you will also have to pay out-of-pocket for repairs that take a few days unless you have an extra car.
In the same way, there are costs associated with failure to maintain the Temple of the Holy Spirit. God blesses the overwhelming majority of people in this country with perfect health when they are born, and a very high percentage of those who are born with or who acquire some sort of sickness after birth are healed once they receive medical care. Nevertheless, as we grow up, we often take this blessing for granted, and we treat our bodies in ways that can compromise our health, for example, abusing drugs or alcohol, having unprotected pre-marital sex, having extramarital affairs, and even eating unhealthy foods excessively as we commit the sin of gluttony.
Over time, our bodies become less and less reliable as the long-term effects of our behavior are increasingly evident. For example, one of the first signs of gluttony or excessive eating will be a noticeable weight gain. At that point, the cost related to living contrary to God’s will can become enormous! As we do with other sins, we spend our time and money trying to dig our way out of the mess we’ve made. For example, entering treatment centers and attending drug rehabilitation meetings upon release to combat drug habits; raising children alone instead of in marriages or visiting a physician to cure a sexually transmitted disease as a result of pre-marital sex; visiting a therapist for marriage counseling while trying to reconnect with a spouse and reestablish the love and trust that was broken due to an adulterous affair; and purchasing gym memberships, trying diet pills, hypnotism, ear stapling, or dangerous surgeries in order to lose weight after we’ve been ensnared by the sin of gluttony.
On the other hand, our bodies are similar to the Old Testament Temple in one regard. Just as the temple at Jerusalem had a fixed location, a human body has a finite or fixed period of time on earth, meaning a person’s lifetime, which varies from person-to-person as the Father decrees. Believers are expected to fulfill the Great Commission to make new disciples for Christ and complete the other ministry work assigned to them during that fixed period. To be blunt, the most expensive, or rather, important cost of failing to maintain God’s Holy Temple is failing to reach lost souls.
In terms of the car analogy, that is much more difficult to do if your body is the equivalent of a clunker in the repair shop every other week. Unfortunately, trying to get the weight off by paying for the latest fad diet isn’t the only costly expense. In many cases, those ensnared by the sin of gluttony must also bear the expense of medical costs as a result of illnesses caused, in large part, by being overweight. Health insurance, office visits with the physician, filling prescriptions, and having procedures to prolong life all cost money and time. Yes, modern technology makes things a lot easier for us, but it’s still harder to maintain the stamina and ability needed to effectively preach the gospel around the world (“make disciples of all nations”) as every Believer is mandated by Christ to do, if you can barely make it out of your front yard or if medications have your mental faculties in a perpetual fog (Matthew 28:16-20).
The Holy Spirit is the Person of the Holy Trinity who convicts lost souls of their sins and brings about their belief and acceptance of Christ as Savior. As the bible teaches, Unbelievers cannot hear the word of God unless they have a preacher, that is, a Believer to tell them about Christ (Romans 10:14 and 1 Peter 2:5). Consequently, the Holy Spirit expects the same thing from you as He works through you on earth that you expect from your vehicle when you drive to work: that you are able to travel the distance required so that He can do his work. That may be next door to your unbelieving neighbor’s home, across town to work or school, or delivering bibles to believers in China in order to help them spread the gospel.
The very first thing we teach in an EAW weight loss class is perspective. You cannot change your body image until you learn to change the way you view yourself, dieting, exercising, and maintaining a healthy body weight. So far, your outlook on these concepts has been based on your personal desires and the world’s viewpoint. The EAW weight loss classes are designed to help you see things from God’s point of view. When you do that, it’s like putting on glasses for the first time. You’ll finally be able to see clearly. It’s easier to fight when you can see the enemy in front of you.
As we learned in class last week, there are 3 Body Image Viewpoints. They are:
1. God’s Viewpoint
2. World’s Viewpoint
3. Personal Body Image Viewpoint
God’s Viewpoint of Our Bodies:
1. Temples of the Holy Spirit: 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
· In the word of God, temple also means house. That means that your body is the place where the Holy Spirit lives.
2. Sacred & worth fighting for: 1 Corinthians 3:16-17
· God promises to go to war with anything or anyone which attacks His temple. Collectively, this scripture refers to the church or body of Christ as a whole, but as the scripture below points out, each believer is a spiritual brick or living stone in the Lord’s spiritual house or temple. That means we are worth fighting for individually as well as collectively as
3. Living stones making up a spiritual house: 1 Peter 2:4-5
4. Your Body is Holy Ground & You are its Groundskeeper:
· According to 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 maintaining God’s Holy Temple is a command.
· Likewise, 1 Corinthians 10:31 teaches that all things, including eating, must be done for God’s glory.
The world’s viewpoint of body image is based on lies, and you must recognize the lies for what they are when you are confronted with them. They generally fall into two categories: implicit lies and explicit lies.
1. Explicit Lies: There are usually no overweight people in the food advertisements. In other words, the message is that you are free to eat what you want when you want without gaining weight.
2. Implicit Lies: These lies usually relate to significant others and socioeconomic status.
Often an attractive person is in the ad with another equally attractive person of the opposite sex, and it is either overtly or implicitly implied that they are a couple. Even if there is only one person in the advertisement, he or she is usually presented in an alluring fashion in order to attract the opposite sex while eating the advertised food. Moreover, these same individuals in the ads are often portrayed as living in upscale neighborhoods, pictured driving nice cars, wearing very trendy clothing, and having a lot of friends.
When it comes to our personal viewpoint of our body image, people tend to have two points of view. We vacillate between the reflection we see in the mirror and the one we see in our heads.
1. Actual Body Image vs. Perceived Body Image
Satan always makes us feel like we look worse than we actually do. This puts us on a cycle of losing weight and gaining back more than we lost when we fall off the wagon. Eventually, you actually begin to look like the negative picture in your mind.
2. Actual Body Image vs. Desired Body Image
The Desired Body Image usually corresponds to the lies the enemy is selling. It is based on our selfish desires to “conform to the pattern of this world.” Romans 12:2
1. To look like models or other celebrities
2. Attract significant others who look like models or celebrities
3. Live in wealthy neighborhoods
4. Drive fancy cars.
5. Dress well.
6. Have a lot of friends.
What really happens? The lies actually work in reverse. Why don’t we get what we want when we conform to the world’s way of doing things? The answer is two-fold, and the first reason is found in the Book of James:
“You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever, therefore, wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”
Basically, this means you either have not gone to God in prayer about this matter, or if you did, you asked with the wrong intentions or motives. Remember God knows the true desires of each individual’s hearts, so if your motives for losing weight were akin to the selfish and carnal motivations listed above that is why your prayers in this area of your life were unanswered.
However, once you begin to change your focus and stop trying to lose weight solely to look good, to attract a spouse, or for any and all of the other wrong reasons and dedicate this area of your life to the Lord, then you enter Matthew 6:33 territory.
“Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,
and all these things shall be added to you.”
When you put God first by honoring Him with your body, then God will bless your efforts to lose weight.
As we’ve pointed out, the world’s viewpoint of body image is based on lies. Those lies come from Satan. Jesus said Satan was “a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him” (John 8:44). The bible also describes Satan as “a liar, and the father of lies” (John 8:44). Consequently, he cannot be trusted, and nothing he promises will come to pass. Each person who has ever suffered from overweight and obesity can attest that God’s word on this subject is true because they believed the lies regarding food and eating habits to their detriment. Unfortunately, every one of us has had to learn the hard way that:
Explicit Lies: Eating what you want when you want does not make you look better. Overtime you start to look worse, and your health eventually declines, too.
1. People often report that their relationships with family, friends, and significant others are strained or they have trouble making new attachments.
2. In severe cases, individuals refuse to leave their homes due to fear of perceived or actual ridicule and mistreatment.
3. In the worst cases, individuals can’t leave their homes anymore.
4. Many of us learn that eating out actually costs more than preparing our meals at home, making it less likely to attain and maintain the lifestyle implied in the ads, meaning the neighborhoods, cars, and clothing.
In sum, God’s viewpoint of your body is the firm foundation on which your weight loss goals should stand. Once you shift your focus to His perspective, then you can see all things clearly. Commercials, print ads, and radio advertisements will never be the same again when you allow God to pull back the curtains of deceit to reveal the trickery of the devil. Although you must face the reality of your current weight and body condition, God will give you a vision of what you will become when you eat to worship Him. The bible says that without a vision the people perish. This is true even in the area of weight loss as evidenced by the thousands of people who die from diseases related to obesity each year. Don’t be in that number. “Be ye changed by the renewing of your mind,” starting today (Romans 12:2).
Ann Wooten Taylor
Ann is an attorney who has been licensed to practice law in the State of Arkansas since 2004, practicing in the areas of child abuse and neglect, special education, and unemployment insurance law. Mrs. Taylor is also the C.E.O. of Eating as an Act of Worship Ministries and a Christian author. Her first non-fiction, Christian book entitled, "Eating as an Act of Worship Workbook" was published and released by Life to Legacy Publishing in 2015. Her second book, the "Eating as an Act of Worship Teacher's Edition" was published and released in December 2016.