Jesus has clearly told us that it is not what goes into a man's mouth that makes him unclean (Matt.15:11). As such, the category of what we eat is no longer considered one of the guideposts of our spiritual walk. However, the quantity guideposts set forth in Prov.23:2 which tells us that we should "…put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony" (see also verses 20& 21), and Prov.25: 16 which states "If you find honey, eat just enough - too much of it, and you will vomit," have not been done away with. In fact, Titus 1:12 clearly indicates that these quantity guideposts are still in effect today. (see also Lk.21:34)
Old Testament rules concerning food were part of the law (Deut.14 among others), and we are not under the law (Col.2:14 & Heb.9:10). Food is for our body as opposed to our spirit, yet we know that now our body is the very temple of the Holy Spirit (I Cor.6:19). And just as our arm is a member of our body, so also is our body a member of Christ Himself (I Cor.6:15). While spirit and body are separate entities, there is a relationship between them, and that relationship is one of indwelling and co-existence. In I Cor.6:13 the Lord even states that our bodies are meant for Him and the He is meant in part for our bodies.
God's temple is sacred, and we are reminded again that we are the temple (I Cor.3:16). We are further told that our bodies were bought with a price, and that we are to honor God with them (I Cor.6:20). That's a neat thought. We can honor God by taking care of our body. But there's more! Paul says that he buffets his body and makes it a slave so that after he preaches to others, he himself will not be disqualified for the prize (I Cor.9:27). In effect he is bringing his body under submission for a purpose. (Note: The submission of our mind is also part of our service and worship, but that is the topic of another lesson)
We are told in II Cor.7:1 to purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit perfecting holiness out of reverence for God" (emphasis added). Ro.12:1 says to offer our bodies as living sacrifices holy and pleasing to God which is our spiritual worship (emphasis added) (As a side note to this study, turn for a moment to I John 3:22. There you will see that we receive from God anything we ask because, among other things we do what pleases Him, and Ro. 12:1 just told us that the offering up of our bodies is pleasing to Him. Therefore, our failure to properly take care of our body may be one of the things which could hinder our ability to receive from the Lord) Those who worship in spirit and in truth are the worshippers the Father is seeking (John 4:23). Singing and praying is tongues is one type of spiritual worship, but offering our bodies is definitely another. Look at verse 24 of John chapter 4. Therein we are clearly told that His worshippers must worship Him in spirit and truth. Finally, Ro.6:13 tells us to offer bodies not to sin, but to God as instruments of righteousness. That is what Paul is doing; making his body a slave so that he can better serve God. We know from Proverbs that gluttony would be a body contaminant, and we also know that Paul buffeted his body so as to purify it.
Now let's check the Scriptures and see if in fact satan uses food as a weapon against us. It is interesting to note that satan did use food as the instrument by which he was able to deceive Eve (Gen.3:6 & I Tim.2:14). Also, the Israelite's grumbling about food while in the desert was one of the factors which led them into trouble (Ex.16:3 and Num.14:27). Nu.11:4 clearly indicated that food was an instrument, because satan used it to stir up the rabble who then got the rest of the Israelites complaining. This concept of some evil coming in and spoiling the whole situation for everyone is found throughout Scripture, and also can be shown to relate to food.
In Deut.20:18 we find that God had the Israelites destroy everything in the nations they were to conquer and drive out from the promised land. He did so because He knew that if anything were left, it would be a contaminating influence on them. From reading Scripture we clearly see that on numerous occasions they failed to carry out God's directions - and thereby suffered the consequences. Likewise, in Rev.2:14 and 2:20 Jesus admonished the churches in Pergamos and Thyatria because, among other things, they permitted the eating of food sacrificed to idols. It was not the physical food itself, but the fact that such food is a contaminating influence, and is itself symbolic of their failure to commit totally to Him (I Cor.10:20 & 8:7-13). Food is such a powerful weapon that satan even used it as one of his instruments of temptation against Jesus (Matt.4:3). Now, by using food as a weapon, what is satan attempting to destroy or steal from us - for we know these are the reasons he has come (John 10:10).
He is attempting to steal from us the chance to be prepared to do any good work, thereby making us less useful to the Master. Paul was offering his body out of reverence. He was not doing works and thereby hoping to qualify for something; he was offering his body as a living sacrifice as part of his worship so as not to be disqualified. Through Christ we are already qualified for salvation (Eph.2:9). From what then was he seeking not to be disqualified? We are told in Eph.2:19 that we are members of God's household. In II Tim.2:20 we are told that in every household there are vessels for both noble and ignoble purposes. By cleansing ourselves of ignoble things, we will become instruments made holy and useful for the Master and prepared to do every good work. I would not want to be disqualified for that service. Yet Paul looked even further - to the prize of bodily transformation through Christ (Phil.3:12-21)
As we purify our bodies (vessels) we may be filled with the Holy Spirit so we may abound in every good work (II Cor.9:8 & Eph.2:10). I am not saying that only skinny people are Spirit filled; but I am saying that the Spirit will work to His fullest extent in vessels that have been dedicated as living sacrifices and purified from everything that contaminates them. Surely the Holy Sprit is a gift who comes to us not by our good works, or because we have earned Him (Gal.3:14). He comes because of the same love which brought Christ to us. He comes to teach us all things (John 14:26), I Cor.2:12 & Eph.3:18).
However, immediately after His baptism in the Jordan, Jesus - being led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit - lifted His body unto the Father by fasting forty days and nights (Matt.4:1-11). There is no command to fast forty days, but if we love God as we profess, and desire to serve Him, we cannot ignore His directive in II Timothy to clean our vessels so that He might use them as His instruments. The Lord clearly says that He will only use clean vessels as His instruments to do every good work. Since God cannot lie (Titus 1:2), I know He can not use me for every good work until the vessel is cleaned. Some yes, every no. And I want to make myself available to Him for everything.
Don't lose hope. As usual, God in His grace and love has provided a way. He tells us everything is permissible for us, but not everything is beneficial. There- fore, while there are no restrictions on what we eat or drink, there are guide- lines. Among others, do not allow yourself to become mastered by anything (I Cor.6:12). In Lk.12:29 Jesus told us not to set our hearts on what we eat - that is, not to worry about it, for the Lord will provide. We are not to be like pagans and run after such things. Life is more important than food (Matt.6:25). Accord- ing to Phil.3:19 the God of the enemies of the cross is their stomach, and their destiny is destruction (Gal.6:7-8)
Do we pray for strength that we may resist those extra helpings? Well, we have already been given a spirit of self-discipline (II Tim.1:7, Gal.5:22 and Titus 2:11-12). To now ask God for that which we have already received would be to tell God that we do not believe we have received that which He has already given us (Gal.3:14). Rather, praise God that He has already given us the strength. Rebuke satan in the name of Jesus when he tempts us with too much food. Buffet our body by reminding ourselves that we have been given self- discipline by our loving Father. Finally, thank God for giving us the victory. Remember, according to I Cor.10:13 and Ja.4:7, God will not allow us to be tempted beyond our ability to endure, but we must still resist satan before he will flee. With eyes that see we now know that as we present our bodies as an offering to God, His spirit will fill them.
One note of caution, as in all things with the Lord, it is why we do them, not the fact alone that we do them that is important. Do not be deceived into feeling that eating 'correctly', drinking in moderation or exercise is the way to Jesus. I Tim. 4:8 and I Cor.8:8 tell us that while physical training has some value, godliness has value for all things. There are many types of foods whose nutritional value may be questionable. We should search the Scriptures for the guidelines men- tioned earlier. One such guideline may be found in Isa.55:2. After prayer we will know what to do in each situation. We do not wish to become entangled in manmade rules and make a show of what we do (Matt.6:16), for these rules will perish (Col.2:20-23).
Whether it is excessive amounts of food, smoking, excessive
drinking or any- thing else which keeps our body impure, this lesson would
apply. We need only to remember that God wants us to present ourselves to
Him in love, for He first loved us. If we do this, God will bless us by using
us for every good work. We are born from above, Spirit filled Sons of God
with all the birthrights which pertain to that position. Heb.12:16 reminds
us that Esau traded his birthright for a meal. One of our new birthrights
is the opportunity to be available to God to be used by Him for any good work.
Let us not also sell our birthright for the sake of food.
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1999 by Unlimited Glory Ministries
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