The room was filled with chatter, smiles, and tears. A co-worker and friend was retiring. Faces displayed unfettered emotions, but I wondered if others felt the same struggle within that I did. The huge sheet cake covering half the table was calling my name. I fought a tug-of-war in my mind. The thought of sweet, creamy frosting melting over my taste buds made me drool. My self-control whimpered away like a scared puppy—I lost another struggle in my quest to eat better, and devoured a piece of cake.
Self-control. This word alone invokes in me a flurry of mental reactions both positive and negative. I’m proud of the times when I exhibited self-control, but the memories of my failures generate feelings of shame and defeat. Oh, how I long for consistent self-control in my life.
We all have struggles with something and need the power to overcome. Eating is one area where constraint is my most difficult battle. If you live in America, you most likely have encountered the addictive power of sweet, salty, and fatty foods. These foods bury their hooks in us with our first taste, and each bite that follows slowly pushes the door of self-control open a little wider. Infrequent at first, then with subtle increases, these foods continue until they march in like an army crushing self-control to oblivion. The addiction is in place, and nothing short of a miracle will break the ever-present temptations.
You may be wondering how a food addiction has any connection with our relationship to God and His Holy Spirit. It relates in more ways than you may realize.
The Inward Connection
God created us in His image with a spirit, mind, and body co-existing as one person. It is impossible to separate one from the other as long as we live. What affects one area, affects the others. If something occurs in the mind, a reaction occurs in the body and the spirit. If I cut my finger, my body bleeds, my mind tells me I’m in pain, and my spirit begins to pray for help. These three exist as one.
If my body suffers from an out-of-control addiction, my mind is troubled and will actively engage with the body. In fact, the addiction may be controlling my mind more so than my body. With the food addiction, my spirit, my inner man, felt the defeat in my mind, saw the extra weight on my body, and changed the attitudes of my heart.
In order to overcome and be completely healed, addictions must be broken in all three areas. Simultaneous healing must occur in spirit, mind, and body. I could go through countless self-help programs and find some measure of success, but only the Holy Spirit can provide the power to overcome, because He is able to heal from the inside out.
Finding the Cure
While everyone may not have a food addiction, all people are trapped in one way–we have all sinned. We were born into a world separated from God by sin, and we need a solution to this dilemma. There are no human means to bridge the chasm between us and God, but He didn’t leave us hopeless. God sent Jesus to die in our place and take our punishment for sin. Jesus gives us a new life, a new spirit within us, one without sin, so we can enjoy a relationship with Him.
Jesus also promises to give us His Holy Spirit.
And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive Him, because it isn’t looking for Him and doesn’t recognize Him. But you know Him, because He lives with you now, and later will be in you. (Joh 14:17 NLT)
When we believe in Jesus, the Holy Spirit comes live within us. He empowers us to resist the temptations we face. He will help us to overcome.
In my own strength, I cannot defeat the temptations of seductive foods. I can’t even control my little tongue, much less the rest of me. I need more than my own strength. I need the Holy Spirit.
When God broke the food addiction for me, I still needed the Holy Spirit’s help to keep me from doing the same destructive eating habits again. In the same way, when I believed in Jesus to forgive me, I needed the Holy Spirit’s power to keep me from wandering aimlessly away from God and falling into temptations again.
When I hear cake calling my name, I turn to the Holy Spirit and ask for help. He gives me with the strength to overcome the temptation of addictive foods. I know He is always with me and helps me follow God’s way instead of my own. He can do the same for you.
Finding the strength within ourselves to break addictions or control bad habits is a myth. It is a deception to keep us bound in chains only God can break. Power to overcome is found in one source—Jesus. We must seek Him and ask for help.
What struggles do you have in your life?
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.… (Gal 5:23 NLT)