Clif and I have a friend who has Celiac disease, and as a result, has to stick to a rigid gluten free diet. His life isn’t anything like the semi-serious gluten-reduced fad that’s all the rage in pop culture or a dietary fling that allows people to eat wheat when they want to and avoid it when they don’t, or when there’s no other choice. Having a confirmed diagnosis of this autoimmune disorder means that if he ingests any gluten at all, it can cause damage in his small intestine. As a result he’s very careful with his food choices and even jokes that he was gluten-free long before gluten-free was “cool”.
I asked him once if he missed eating all the flour-filled cakes, pastas and homemade breads that are the staples of just about every meal in the US, and I was surprised at his answer. Since eating something as small as a communion wafer makes him feel so bad, he said he doesn’t even crave the things that cause him so much pain. He said that where other people see pleasure and joy in those foods, he sees only discomfort and agony.
Unfortunately, when it comes to sin, many believers in Jesus haven’t discovered the same lesson in living their lives that our friend has learned about his diet. Though the unavoidable and miserable effects of disobeying God are clearly laid out in scripture, (Rom. 6:23; Ja. 1:14-15) and we have plenty of examples from history of people who’ve run their lives aground, it seems, for the most part, that people (and our culture in general) just haven’t made the connection…
Sin = pain.
Sin = suffering.
Sin = death.
All the time.
The Creator warned Adam and Eve not to eat the fruit of disobedience in the garden, and through the scriptures, God has made it abundantly clear what happens when we ingest sin and offers us a fool-proof prescription for avoiding misery (ie when it comes to sin, don’t!)… But how many of His people still find themselves drooling over the world’s buffet of delectable, but deadly, treats and even sneaking nibbles when they think no one is looking?
We can never completely rid ourselves of all the effects of sin [The world itself is groaning under its weight. (Rom 8:21-22)], but if we really want to develop a healthy soul, it takes more than cleaning up outward behavior once in a while. Of course, true spiritual health begins in the heart when a person accepts Jesus as Savior… but it doesn’t stop there. It eventually requires us to alter the way we think… to really begin to view sin as the poisonous threat to our well-being that it really is.
Remember this truth: how we think will determine how we behave.
So, the more you break contact with the attitudes and beliefs of the world, the more spiritually healthy and strong you’ll be to “fight the good fight of the faith. (and) take hold of the eternal life to which you were called” (1 Tim 6:12).