I am sure many of you are wondering when are we going to get around to talking about relevant weight issues as mentioned in the description. However, it is important for us to set out the principles to consider, these will form the foundation for us to work from and to return to as we share this journey together.
These foundational, but not always straight forward, principles will become clearer as we apply them to our daily situations.
Satan has one plan and that is to destroy all that God created. This includes God’s relationships with his children and with one another. He has one tactic to achieve this, convince God’s children that they can live without Him. This tactic comes in many guises; you’re not sinful; you can be your own God; you can make up your own rules; no-one can tell you what to do; you are entitled to your freedom; you don’t need anyone, etc., etc.
Satan misrepresents God and his word at every turn. What God planned for good, Satan attempts to destroy. The greatest ally that Satan has is us and our sinful hearts. Don’t believe me?
Why is it that we don’t trust the God who created us and provide us with all we have? Why is it that we are more willing to believe the proven deceiver who only has himself as his soul priority?
The bible once again gives us the answer
1 John 1:5-10 Light and Darkness, Sin and Forgiveness
5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all[b] sin.
8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us’ (NIV).
As we saw previously Adam and Eve had a choice not to sin; they chose to believe the lies of the deceiver instead of the truth of the Father. Because of their decision to sin we have now inherited their sinful fallen nature; our hearts are born corrupt and bent towards sin which means we are born without the choice not to sin. All our attitudes and behaviour are for the benefit of self, promoted by pride and resulting in damaged relationships. I know the devil is persuading you that this just isn’t true but bear with me.
Jesus alone offers us an alternative
1 John 1:5-10 explains that the only way we can live in the light is to offer our hearts back to God, agreeing with him that we live in darkness and have a desire to walk with him in the light through Jesus Christ.
This seems straightforward however, what we must factor into the equation is Satan, his plan is to ensure we stay separated from God, to convince us that we are fine just as we are. The work he did in the garden is something he wants to defend; his sole purpose is bent on destroying God’s creation; he will always be a liar and a deceiver he has no capacity to change because this is his identity and character.
Jesus tells us that all those who live in the darkness belong to Satan. In John 8:42 Jesus is talking to the Jewish leaders who are challenging his authority to preach.
42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me.43 Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. 44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! 46 Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? 47 Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.”
This is true for all who refuse to turn their hearts fully over to God. Jesus tells us that we all have a Father it is either the Our Father in Heaven or the Father of lies.
Satan, might be predictable but is subtle in how he deceives. He persuades us that God is against us, is trapping us, doesn’t want us to be happy, whatever lie appeals to our prideful nature he will tell the tale and we will happily agree with him.
We see the subtlety of Satan’s lies from Eve’s encounter with him. He lulls Eve into a seemingly innocent conversation, Eve might have even thought that Satan was interested in knowing more about her relationship with God. His questioning appears to be a light hearted general conversation but quickly turns into something wicked and before Eve knows it she is trapped into sin.
We see how Satan sugar-coats sin, he makes it appear harmless and inviting, before we know it we have bought into it without having any idea of what the consequences could be. Even in those times we think we know the consequences, as with Adam and Eve, we are unaware of what the eternal consequences will be.
As someone who has been tempted by the lure of food for much of my life these truths are something that have both worried, challenged and in the end brought me hope.
I have a memory from when I was younger of dropping some sweets in the park when some girls tried taking them from me, I was so upset but too scared of picking them up again even though they had wrappers. I remember well the feeling of loss and dreamt of those sweets for many days and even weeks later. This was one of many instances with food where I was anxious because I was separated from it or where I craved a certain treat that I wasn’t allowed. I vividly remember promising myself that when I became an adult no-one would separate me from my food and I spent many a night fantasying of all the lovely foods I would treat myself to when I was older.
As an adult, I can see how Satan had subtly subdued me into thinking that food was my everything, I was being programmed to depend on food so that I would never depend on God’s provision.
Over the years it has been sweet, sugary foods that I have craved and hungered for. Foods that have no nutritional content but appeal to my sinful craving heart. Why do we crave food that results in obesity, why do we feel the need to overeat on foods that cause ill health such as heart disease or diabetes? Because we believe the lie that we cannot live without them, that life wouldn’t be worth living if I couldn’t have………!
So, where’s the hope, how can we escape this endless trap of entitlement?
Jesus is King over all things
The bible tells us that there is only one who has withstood the devil’s schemes and lies, we are told that there is one who defeated the devil and broke the hold of sin and death in our lives, we are told that only one has condemned Satan to an eternal life of torment and eventually eternal extinction.
In Genesis 3 we see God promising that one would come, in the future, to crush Satan’s head. Jesus was the one who achieved this on the cross when he paid the debt of our sin, when he willingly gave his life in place of ours. It is at the cross, where Satan thought he had separated the Son from the Father, that he was defeated.
The cross paid for our sin debt once and for all, Jesus went into the darkness of death and in his resurrection proved that death no longer had any power, Jesus alone can and will give us new life, a new birth. This is the power of Christ Jesus, this is the power only the true King has.
The gift is ours to receive
This is the hope we have access too; the very place of sin that the devil tempts us is the very place of rescue, the place that we can offer over to Jesus to redeem us.
I have found this with my weight issues, rather than running away in guilt and shame after another bingeing session, I turn it over to Jesus. I come to Jesus, sorrowful at my weakness to have, once again, given in. I offer over my feelings of shame at the foot of the cross, I ask Jesus to teach me the areas in which I need to change, in the ways I need to change them.
Over the years, I came to recognise that I have no power in or of myself to overcome my eating disorder; I have no control over my inability to make the right choices; I have no control over the temptations the devil brings my way. I always felt powerless to change.
However, my hope lies in the fact that I have given my life over to Jesus, that he alone has the power to guide me through the devils lies.
Jesus enables us to be aware of the devil’s deceptive ways. As we grow in our relationship with Jesus he teaches us how to overcome, how to move forward in our lives instead of allowing the devil to limit our ability; limit our effectiveness; limit our love. Without Jesus we have no power, we only have will-power, as Adam and Eve demonstrated, that is no power at all.
Jesus keeps on giving
Jesus redeems us from the power of sin, he has restored us to a right place with God, restoring our relationship with our Heavenly Father. Jesus gives us a new heart, a heart that desires to follow him, he replaces our heart of stone, a heart bent on sinning to a heart seeking transformation. Jesus has given us our choice back, in Jesus we can say no to the devil and his schemes.
For those of us in Christ, who have accepted the free gift of salvation, Satan can still attempt to turn our hearts away from God however we have the gift of the Holy Spirit that acts as a protection against the darkness re-entering our lives, the Holy Spirit who will teach us how to turn away from the darkness and walk further into the light. This is a place of hope, that Jesus has overcome the darkness.
In and of ourselves we have no power to overcome the devil and his temptations. Our hearts are drawn to the darkness, our hearts delight in sin, we get a kick out of gossiping, or we desire what isn’t ours, we are jealous of those who have more, and on it goes, the seemingly never ending cycle of sin.
Jesus is our only hope
There is only one who has the power against sin, the world and the devil. There is only one God who controls all things for the good of those who love him, who has demonstrated that power, who has overcome the darkness, who has provided a way into the light. There is only one who was perfect enough to pay the debt of sin, who is perfect enough so that he can teach us the ways of holiness, who can show us the way to the Father of Heaven, who is our advocate in heaven.
Jesus; is our redeemer, he is our Saviour.
The trouble is we don’t believe we need saving, we believe the devil’s lies that we’re alright, we’re not that bad, there are others worse than us. We believe that we can keep going and eventually we will have proved ourselves. For some of us, we believe the devil’s lie, that God isn’t worth knowing, after all he allows suffering he can’t be that good!
God knew before time began that these would be our reactions, these would be our obstacles to overcome but he also knew that we would be worth it, that he would do everything in his power to protect and provide for his children.
That protection and provision is Christ himself.
There is a warning for us all, if we allow the devil to use our pride to decide our future, by refusing to come into the light of Christ, then we will follow the father of lies to eternal damnation without any hope of redemption.
Now this is the choice we have been given!
The choice is yours!