As with any good Father, God wants us to learn from our sinful behaviour. He isn’t a cruel God seeking retribution, he wants his children to learn and grow into his likeness, this is the redemption that man requires.
Hebrews 12:11 tells us ‘No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it’. (NIV). God’s good purposes are always worked out in all he does, God desires to restore his children to himself so that we can become heirs of his kingdom and in this he wants his children to become a reflection of who He is.
However, as children we not only fail to understand the consequences of our sin, we also have a desire to cover it over. We see this with our own children if we confront them or catch them in the act it is their instinct to deny it or pass the blame elsewhere.
God’s solution is for us to turn to him and confess our sin and he in turn promises to forgive us but when we try and cover over our own sin we agree with the accuser who says God hates not only our sin but us too.
No-one likes owning up to something they have done, in fact our immediate reaction is self-protection and to come up with some imaginative way of getting away with it.
The trouble with sin is that we don’t want to face up to it because we are convinced that God will reject us or punish us. In Genesis 3 we saw Adam and Eve hide away from God after they had deliberately chosen to disobey him. Even though we consider ourselves far more sophisticated and more learned than those early people, mankind hasn’t really changed over the thousands of years.
Instead of running away we need to run back to the Father because he is waiting with open arms.
Read Luke 15:11-31 This is the picture of true repentance.
In our sinful state we cannot repent, we will continually be deceived because our hearts are naturally sinful. The bible tells us that our hearts are bent on not only deceiving others it has the power to deceive ourselves.
There is no greater place than the sin of overeating, do we come face to face with this fact.
How many of us want to eat what we want regardless of how many calories it has in and hope that the scales don’t reflect the over indulgence? We blame the scales for not working or it’s the wrong time of day or any number of excuses except the fact that we ate too much.
Lies, blame and running away is how people have always dealt with sin. The devil encourages us to do this too, just as in the Garden of Eden the serpent encouraged Adam and Eve to turn away from God’s good purposes for them; Satan entices us to turn to food for our emotional satisfaction or emotional stability.
Food was never designed to provide a relationship, food does not have the ability to subdue our sinful impulses it only serves to increase our appetite for sin because we are addicted to the food. This is because we are trying to demand a relational response from food. Food was designed to provide us with the nutrition our bodies need to grow and be healthy. We choose to abuse and misuse food, we demand that food provides us with emotional stability when we know this isn’t possible.
Why is sin so tempting? Why do we find it hard to turn away from temptation?
John 3:19 tells us that ‘This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil’.(NIV)
Because we’re instinctively sinful, this is where we feel at home. It takes so much more effort to always make good choices, to always follow the diet plan, or learn new healthy choices but in our sinful state these good things become rules to follow which sets us up to fail at the first hurdle.
Following rules to achieve what only God himself can achieve is called legalism and in our sinful state we use diet plans as a form of legalism, as a means to control our actions and this is why they continually fail.
But we are bombarded with adverts and testimonies of how wonderful the diet is or we see before and after photos of body transformations that draw us further into the diet plan. ‘See it does work’ we scream at the TV, ‘so why doesn’t it work for me, what is wrong with me’?
First, we need to recognise and admit that we are addicted to food. Food has become our everything. This is what makes us different, for those of us addicted to food diets won’t work long term because it doesn’t have the power to break the relationship it only serves to draw us further in.
However there is a positive aspect to our constant failure it provides us with the opportunity for us to learn something new. This moment of failure teaches us again that we need to do something else because this just isn’t working, it also shows us where our hearts truly are. When we fail to stick to the plan we see a pattern emerge; we hide the failure by diverting the attention onto others through blame or we choose to lie.
Lies are a means to justify our behaviour, the trademark of the deceiver Satan.
As someone trying to lose weight the amount of times I’ve convinced myself that one won’t hurt, everyone else is eating them or I’ll make up for it tomorrow! At the same time knowing that my soul purpose is to eat the leftovers or finish off the whole cake. Instead of running away from the responsibility of what we are doing we need to face up to our mistakes, recognise that diets don’t have the power to change our behaviours and we are in need of rescue from our own sinful choices.
We cannot change on our own, we cannot just make the effort to change or dig into our willpower because our sinful hearts actually deceive us. We can be tempted by our own hearts, many of us are all too familiar with our ability to self-sabotage. Or we convince ourselves that we don’t need to lose weight after all God loves me as I am or overeating too many calories makes me happy which is better for everyone else. The bible gives us an alternative perspective:
Jeremiah 17:9-10 ‘The heart is more deceitful than all else. And is desperately sick; Who can understand it? I, the Lord search the heart, I test the mind. Even to give to each man according to his ways. According to the results of his deeds’.
God alone understands our hearts, he alone knows what we are capable but it is God alone that provides us with the solution.
God doesn’t need us to turn to diet plans or food guru’s to tell us what is right or wrong to eat, he wants us to turn to him in trust and obedience. God’s plan and purposes for us are far greater than anything we can imagine; his plans go way beyond our desire or need to lose weight. The problem isn’t with the food we eat, it is with our heart attitude, our ultimate desire to get what we want when we want it rather than seek God as to his plans and purposes for us.
The core problem is one with the soul, the soul will follow what the heart desires. Our souls were created only to find satisfaction from the Father, our souls continue to look for the light and will continue to be dissatisfied until the day of redemption.
As someone addicted to food this actually puts us in a really strong position because we know by experience that all the things we put our hope and trust in falls short, it leaves us dissatisfied. Our bodies are screaming at us to find the source of satisfaction, it is screaming for us to turn to the only one who has the power to restore us completely. Our soul knows that it can have redemption we’re just not listening.
This is why, when we reach the goal we were set on, there isn’t an everlasting sense of satisfaction, there still seems something that needs to be achieved. Or when we start to lose weight we are still dissatisfied, there seems to be something missing. We don’t find the satisfaction we thought we would find, we find the promise of weight loss empty. We are no happier, our lives still feel a mess, so we turn back to food because that seemed to help last time, at least we were emotionally happy. Or we find that there still seems something that we need to move towards, so we reach for another goal but that still doesn’t completely fulfil or we convince ourselves that we are now happy but deep down there is still something missing, the problem is we’re not quite sure what that something is.
Our soul desire is found in Christ alone.
Ask God to show you what is driving you, what are your heart desires and are these contradictory to his plans and purposes for your life. King David puts it this way in Psalm 139: 23-24 ‘Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting’. (NIV).
What is the solution to our sin, is there a way to turn away from sin, is there a means in which we can learn from sin and move closer to God.
The bible gives us a resounding Yes!
John 8:12 ’ When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” .(NIV). Just as God provided for the payment of sin for Adam and Eve, Jesus came to earth to make that final payment on our behalf but now it was for all people for all time.
Even though our hearts are deceitful and encourage us to live in the darkness there is hope and that hope is found in Christ alone.
When we accept Jesus as the payment of our sin we are repenting, we are recognising that our lives are empty and in fact we realise that all this time, instead of the high life, we have actually been living in the pit. Just like the ‘Lost son’ in Luke we have been eating with the pigs instead of living in the glory God provides.
In this moment of repentance God provides us with all we need, once again just like the Lost Son, God clothes us with Christ, He gives us a new identity in Christ by giving us the Holy Spirit, who will guide our every step and give us the certainty that our feet are placed on solid ground. These gifts are all symbolised in the Lost Son by the cloak, the signet ring and the sandals.
The Holy Spirit is the mark that we belong to God and no-one will be able to separate us from Him. The Holy Spirit becomes our helper to guide our conscience into making better choices, the Holy Spirit is given to us to give us a choice not to sin. How is this possible?
The bible tells us in James 4:7 that to overcome sin as a follower of Jesus all we have to do is ‘to resist the devil and he will flee from you’. WOW that sounds great but how does it work in practice. The key is found in the first half of James 4:7 ‘Submit yourselves, then, to God’. James is saying if this is who God is and if this is who God says we are then the only solution for every one of us is to submit to God. But our hope doesn’t lie in our ability to submit but our willingness to do it.
So what is the solution to getting away with it, choose to bring your sin into the light of Christ instead of running away; turn to the only one who can rescue you, turn to the only one who has made payment for your sin, turn to the only one who promises to guide you into an everlasting life.
The solution for our soul, the solution for our bodies, the solution for the darkness our sin drags us into, is turning to Christ himself because He alone is our Saviour, He alone is our Counsellor, He alone is our Comforter, He alone made the sacrifice needed to bring us back to the Father.
If we choose to put our trust in Jesus then he will teach us how to submit. This is a far healthier pursuit instead of the pursuit of weight loss because if we submit to God rather than the sinful desires of the heart we will gain both a relationship with God and a healthier body!