Last week I touched on the topic of self-control and how telling ourselves “no” sometimes can be good exercise. However, if you come from a dieting past like I do, the idea of “having” to discipline your food choices may be old news and may make you want to eat ALL the food. If you can relate, this post is for you. Below we will discuss some of the similarities I see between diets and what the Bible refers to as “law” and “grace. It’s actually pretty cool and really powerful!
TIME FOR A QUICK LESSON!
If you are unfamiliar with the Bible, there are a few points I would like to familiarize you with for the purpose of this post. The Bible is broken into two parts: the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament is what would be referred to as The Law. It includes the Ten Commandments and the rules and rituals that Jewish traditions are built upon. These events occurred before Christ was born. The New Testament documents the birth, life, and death of Christ, and the spread of Christianity that followed.
When Christ came it is said that he “fulfilled” the law. This means that he lived a perfect life. He abided by all of the Old Testament laws but then was killed without reason. Because of this unjust death, those laws were no longer the way in which we found favor in God’s eyes. Now it is found through Christ. So, those who believe in Christ and live for and him and because of him are no longer obligated to meet the standards of all those Old Testament laws. BUT, we choose to live in such a way that it pleases him BECAUSE of the perfect life he lived on our behalf.
We find ourselves doing the very things that we “should” do, not because we “have” to, but because we want to. Before our actions were external. Like the kid who cleans his room just so that he can go out and play. He’s doing it but he’s not happy about it. Now, we let thankfulness and love move our hands and feet towards Godly action.
WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH FOOD?
I equate The Law to a diet. When we feel like we “have” to eat this food or we “can’t” eat that food our sheer willpower can only take us so far. We may be able to follow those rules for a while, but just like the kid who cleaned his room out of obligation- when he went away to college he chose to live in utter filth. The change of scenery revealed that his heart was never all-in. This is why you may try a variety of diets and fail repeatedly. You are trying to clean up the outside without addressing the heart.
Romans 7:7 Well then, am I suggesting that the law of God is sinful? Of course not! In fact, it was the law that showed me my sin. I would never have known that coveting is wrong if the law had not said, “You must not covet.” (NLT)
Diets do not “fix” our tendencies to eat outside of hunger or to eat to satisfy our craving or emotions but they do reveal them. In this case, diets are not all bad. If we are unable to stick with a healthy eating plan then it’s a decent clue that there are some deeper challenges living beneath the surface. Our unsuccessful attempts are not personal failures, they are simply indicators that we are trying to solve the wrong problem.
Such was the transition from the Biblical Law to the New Testament message of grace. The Law simply points out what we can not do on our own (keep those laws) and directs us to only that which can- God’s grace.
THE HEART OF THE MATTER
Addressing the heart when it comes to food is a vast topic. For the purpose of this series, we are going to look specifically at what I see as the opposite of The Law- Freedom. And even one layer deeper- Love.
2 Corinthians 5:14 Either way, Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. (NLT)
In the next installment of this series, we will see how God has given us freedom of choice to reveal our hearts of love for him, or something or someone else. It is a powerful and eye-opening lesson.
For now, take a few moments to really process how diets may have felt like the law in your life. If you have sensed any rebellion against diets then consider where there may be room for more grace in your relationship with food.
Check out part two of this article here.