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
Dear Christina, thank you so much for being led by the Holy Spirit and writing this message because I really needed to hear it. I woke up this morning at and after I took a shower the Lord told me to look at myself in the mirror and speak life over my body. Because I gained so much weight from overeating I hate looking at myself with out clothes, but I did just as the Lord commanded me. This all happen at 5 am this morning and i began to pray over my body and call it into being how God created it to be. So when I got to work today I felt in my spirit that the Holy Spirit was saying that God was doing a new thing in me so I googled God is doing a new thing and I saved the picture to my desk top. I then decided to look up the website that i have never looked before and that’s how i found your message. God led me to this site to let me know he heard my prayer and that he is about to do a new thing in my body. I repent of the overeating and eating out of bordome and I’m asking the Holy Spirit to help me. Thank you again and please pray for me.
Shirece, I’m praying for you! Praise God in how He led you to this blog. Would you like to join us for the Thin Within workbook study starting in January?
Shirece –I’ll be praying for you, too! I love it when God uses the internet to lead someone to a place where they can feel at home and get encouragement and prayer. (The internet does have some advantages.) God IS doing a new thing! Every day is a new day and He is in it — always working, always helping, always loving — even when we can’t see it. “I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.” (Psalm 16:8) God bless you as you move ahead in His strength and care. KK
Hi, Shirece. I am so glad God brought you to this blog. I hope you will dive in and let us know how we can encourage you. I don’t know if you are familiar with the Thin Within approach or not, but I can promise this…it is a wonderfully refreshing approach to drawing closer to the Lord and releasing extra weight (physical, emotional, and spiritual “weight!”). I hope you will keep coming around. 🙂
Great post today! I totally identify with the whole scenario. I can do a pretty good job of ignoring the Holy Spirit during times of temptation. He may be “tapping me on the shoulder,” but I’ll “brush Him off like a pesky fly.” Just think how dishonoring and disrespectful that is! I just read John 1:9-12 as part of a Christmas devotion. “He was in the World, and thought the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.” The Holy Spirit is always in my “world.” But, I can do a real good job of” not recognizing him.” Sometimes this is done on purpose, but many times its simply because I am living on “auto-pilot” and leaving him in my devotional chair while I tend to the rest of my day. It’s a wake-up call to keep my mind on the “things of the Spirit,” so I am not so quickly deceived into sinfulness.
Karen, I like your illustration of living on “auto-pilot” and leaving him in your devotional chair. He wants to be part of our every moment, every day. Today I saw this quote from Beth Moore: “One of the most critical reasons believers experience defeat is because we categorize only a few areas of our lives as Christ’s arena.” I used to be this way when it came to eating. It was so hard for me to understand how Christ would want to be involved in my eating because it’s eating…you know?
Yes, Christina. This is certainly something I need to work on. As Brother Lawrence did, I need to “practice the presence of God.” I don’t disregard God on purpose. It just seems like I get busy with my own agenda and leave Him out — basicly becoming my own “god.” What a dishonor to God and — this leaves me with weak defenses against the devil’s schemes. This is not a good plan when faced with a plate of chocolate cookies!
Karen, I think you know that I like to set a timer on my watch to go off to remind me to check in with the Lord at intervals. Doing this has trained me to be more aware of him even when the timer doesn’t go off! Maybe you could have something like that that can cue you to prayerfully say “Hi, Lord!” 🙂
What an inspiring message, Christina! I can so relate to it as I feel like most, if not all of my overeating has been with a rebellious heart. My hardest time of the day is when I get home from work. Even though I can sense the Holy Spirit telling me not to eat because I’m not hungry, I will totally ignore Him and do what “I want” –which is eating, then eating some more. I will even eat things like tortilla chips or snack crackers until I feel physically ill. Then comes the condemnation, guilt, and depression. Oh how I could save myself all that misery if I would only heed the prompting of the Lord! Thank you so much for sharing with us! I have learned so much and am so encouraged to keep on keeping on!!
You bet, Mary Anne. Hangeth Thou In There! 🙂 God IS at work…and maybe that is the very next thing that he is doing in you. 🙂 He is softening, softening, softening our hearts. 🙂 I have found renewing my mind helps SO much. Telling myself what is TRUE about my over eating…before I am tempted…each morning and again each evening at 5pm. It really helps!
This was a great reminder for me Christina,
To be praying and asking God to show me areas I may not be yielding all the way to his Spirit. I don’t want to be a stiff neck person. I want to be pliable in his hands.
Thank you for sharing with us all. God blessings to you.
Thank you so much for posting this! I needed to read this today. I have been confused as to why it seems that I have tried my hardest and it doesn’t work for very long, but now, thanks to your post, I see why! thank you so much!