Written by Jennifer Slattery
It’s a $40 billion dollar industry. Each year, a new diet pill emerges and commercial after commercial leaves us scrambling for that quick-fix solution. Our weight affects much more than our waistline. It affects our health, our self-esteem, and our spiritual life. So we try to do better, taping pictures and affirmations to the refrigerator, mirrors, and any other surface we can think of. But it doesn’t help. If only we had more self-control, more energy, spent more time at the gym ….
But what if our food struggles have a deeper root? What if our diet teeter-totter has become a spiritual stronghold?
My battle with food started at age twelve when a diet turned addictive. Fighting hunger made me feel powerful, in control. Until my food issues started to control me. Before long, I developed anorexia which soon turned to bulimia. By sixteen, I was binging and purging four, five, sometimes six times a day.
Food ballooned into a fierce addiction. An isolating, shameful addiction.
One year, I felt God calling me to a women’s retreat. The retreat was held at a monastery … with public meal times, a known stresser. I knew God was drawing me, and sensed this would be a beautiful experience. I also knew my food addiction was hindering my spiritual growth. Food had become an idol.
Wednesday before my retreat, my husband took our daughter to visit his mom, leaving me home … alone … with our fridge. Wanting to soak up every moment with God free of shame and regret, I prayed for help. I didn’t want to spend this precious time binging and purging. I wanted to spend it communing with God.
That first night was the hardest. As I nestled in the corner of the couch, I became increasingly aware of the food in the kitchen. The more I fought against it, the stronger my cravings grew.
It was then I had my breakthrough. After over a decade of bulimia, God showed me how to fight this thing, and He did so by pointing me to a passage of Scripture.
It was the passage of Jesus in the desert, and as I read the account, God showed me the spiritual battle I was in. Satan was using food to keep me in bondage and shame. But like Jesus, I could be victorious, if I would but follow Christ’s example.
Notice how Jesus fought Satan’s temptations:
Matthew 4:1-11 (NIV)
1 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6 “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:
“‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”
7 Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”
11 Then the devil left Him, and angels came and attended him.
Each time Satan tempted Jesus, Jesus spoke God’s holy Word out loud. The Bible tells us we are in a spiritual battle and that Satan prowls like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. He wants to devour our self-esteem, our resolve, and our health. But as Christians, we have the power of the Creator living inside us and have been given everything we need to gain victory.
2 Corinthians 10:4-5 (NIV)
4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
In Ephesians 6, our spiritual weapons are laid out. Notice, all but one are defensive. Only one is offensive, and that is the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. God’s Word is living and powerful, stronger than Satan and his tactics.
The next time temptation comes, try:
- Taking your thoughts captive, replacing thoughts of food with truth in Scripture
- Pray for strength and that God would break the stronghold food has over you
- Take an offensive stance by speaking God’s holy Word out loud.
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