Is overeating really sin? Is that one extra bite rebellion against the Lord?
I really struggled with those questions. It was one of the things in the Thin Within material that I had a hard time grasping. To be honest, over the years, when I would get to about Day 7 in the Thin Within book, I wouldn’t be able to push through any further. I really didn’t think I needed God’s forgiveness or grace when I took that one extra bite or overate. I would think, “Come on! It’s just food! It’s just one extra bite! What’s the big deal? Doesn’t God have other things to be concerned about? Why does this have to be so spiritual?”
And then my eyes were opened.
I had been praying about this and asking the Lord what His truth was about it in my life. Then one evening, I really wanted to make popcorn to eat during a movie my husband and I were going to watch. I knew I wasn’t hungry for the popcorn, but I just kept on thinking about it. Finally, I decided I was going to make popcorn. As I poured the freshly popped popcorn into a big wooden bowl, I heard the Holy Spirit gently ask me if I would not eat the popcorn since I wasn’t hungry. And like an annoying fly buzzing around, I flicked that request off. How could I resist now? Oh, the delicious scent of hot-buttered popcorn! And then, as I scooped some popcorn into my smaller bowl, the Holy Spirit asked me again if I would refrain from eating the popcorn. Flick! No thank you, I’m going to EAT this popcorn, thank you very much! So I sat down, began the movie, and about 2/3 of the way through my bowl of popcorn the Holy Spirit asked again, gently, if I would stop eating since I wasn’t hungry. Obediently, I put the bowl down and didn’t take one more bite.
He was so gentle. I was so rebellious. I lusted after that popcorn. I hardened my heart against the Holy Spirit’s guidance. I was like that Israelite demanding my way as I puttered around in the wilderness; just give me the leeks and onions! I didn’t want God’s manna or His provision. I wanted MY way in MY time! In essence, I wanted to go back to that slavery. Instead of deliverance and freedom, I wanted the easy way out.
Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts. Hebrews 4:7b
I don’t want to harden my heart. I want to love the Lord with all of my heart, mind and soul. I don’t want to hold anything back. I have to die to myself, to my fleshly, selfish desires in order to live for Him.
But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts. Romans 13:14
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.
And it was at that moment I realized that I am not honoring the Lord when I take that extra bite knowing I don’t need it or when I overeat. I was placing food over Him.
This has been a hard truth to swallow. I would rather not digest it. I want to be in denial, but I clearly saw my rebellion that day when I hardened my heart. I chose to fall into temptation—to sin. Temptations will come, but I had a choice to make. I chose to follow my flesh instead of following after the Spirit. God provided a way out of the temptation, but I chose to take the other path.
When we are hungry, we eat. Food is fuel for our body. So what happens when we consistently go outside of God’s bounds of eating outside of hunger? We gain weight, we feel stuffed, we don’t like the way we look or feel, etc.
Why would we need food outside of hunger? What are we truly “hungry” for when we want to eat when we aren’t physically hungry?
I could replace that “hunger” with food, alcohol, sex, drugs, or any other substance or addiction, but it will never fulfill what I’m truly hungry for. As Heidi says, only God can fill that God-size hole that needs Him in our heart.
Maybe you are reading this and you might think that this doesn’t make sense for you. Maybe you feel that it’s legalistic to say one extra bite is sin. I would encourage you to ask the Lord about this in your own life. Ask Him to show you the truth about this for you. Maybe you aren’t at that place in your journey where it’s clear. Maybe the Lord is working on other areas right now.
Another thing I do is I check the motivation of my heart. Something I think about often is something that is asked in the book Intuitive Eating: would I deny a bride and groom their bites of wedding cake after the cake cutting if they weren’t truly hungry? It’s not their motive to indulge. There have been times after a meal at a friend’s house where I’m not really hungry anymore, but I will eat a little serving of dessert. I will check in with the Lord and there are times where He says that it’s ok, that my heart is in the right place. But I really think this is something personal between you and the Lord. This isn’t an excuse to eat whenever you feel like it. It’s not to justify eating another bite when you know God is saying it’s time to stop. You will know because the Holy Spirit will show you.
God is bringing me to a place of wanting to honor Him more and more with eating. I want to glorify Him in all that I do. My body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. I don’t want to follow after the flesh. I don’t want to lust after food. I don’t want to harden my heart. I want to follow the Spirit and grow closer to Him.
For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. Romans 8:5
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say no to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age. Titus 2:11-12
If we do choose to purposely overeat, we can ask the Lord to forgive us.
“The surest way to return to the path of God’s provision is by repentance. As we observe, we identify the truth about our behavior and agree with God that a correction is in order. We then confess the truth we observe, and identify the faulty thinking and fleshly behaviors. He further places with us a desire to make the godly correction. This is repentance, and it results in returning to the path of God’s provision where we are filled with peace, joy, and rest” (Thin Within page 248-249).
And knowing that God has forgiven us as we repent, we can continue on our journey of honoring Him. There’s no need to beat ourselves up with the club of condemnation. You don’t have to eat with the attitude of, “Well, I messed up, I guess I will just eat whatever I want, whenever I want the rest of the day.” This isn’t a diet we’ve gotten off track with or have eaten up all of our daily calories, points, fat grams, carbohydrates, etc. This is observing that we’ve overeaten, repenting, and then continuing on the path of God’s provision. And then you just wait until you are hungry again to eat. I find this so refreshing!
There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. Romans 8:1
There are times I find myself being tempted to eat when I’m not hungry. I’m learning to ask God for help during those times. And He is always willing. We can call upon Him!
I will love You, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised; So shall I be saved from my enemies. Psalm 18:1-2
How about you?
Where do you find your thoughts when you think about overeating or one extra bite as sin? I want to encourage you to ask the Lord what this looks like for you. Are you eating because you are trying to fulfill a hunger only God can fill? Do you find yourself lusting after food and eating with a rebellious attitude? Ask the Lord to show you: He will! And He won’t just stop there, He will show you how you can turn your eyes from lust to fixing your eyes upon Jesus!
Written by: Christina