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What is the sin of gluttony? What does the Bible say about it? How can we know if we are engaging in gluttony? Most importantly, how can we overcome it? We tackle these questions and more in this message.
Putting Gluttony To Death
1 Corinthians 6:12-13
If there was ever a time and a place where people could indulge in gluttony, it would be today in the USA. We have an abundance of food the likes no people have seen before. A new Raley’s was built just around the corner. When I went in to that supermarket for the first time, I was stunned! The selections of food is unbelievable. About 20 years ago the average supermarket offered about 9,000 different varieties of food. Today, the average supermarket offers about 35,000 different options. So, if gluttony was ever a temptation, it is even more a temptation in the day and age in which we live. Perhaps this is one of the reasons that 67% of Americans are either overweight or obese.
This morning we are going to tackle the sin of gluttony head on. Gluttony is the most accepted sin in the church today. It has been utterly ignored from the American pulpit. We have no problem calling drunkenness or drug abuse as sin. But we just try to ignore gluttony, because it hits too close to home. Probably every American, at one time or another, has been a glutton. It is one of the seven deadly sins, identified by the church fathers. We probably need to give more attention to gluttony than to other sins, simply because it is so prevalent and so accepted today. I may be crazy in our American culture today by speaking on gluttony. However, I did wait until after Thanksgiving! You have to give me that.
This morning we are going to ask and answer 4 questions:
- What is gluttony?
- What does the Bible teach about gluttony?
- How do I know if I am committing gluttony?
- How can I overcome gluttony?
1. What Is Gluttony?
Dictionary Definition: “An over-indulgence in food or drink.” The word “glutton” comes from a Latin word which means “to gulp.” The glutton is the overeater, or the overdrinker.
It Is A Lust Of The Flesh.
Romans 13:13-14, “Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.” Here we are told to make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts. Since we are to make no provision for the lusts of the flesh, then we are to make no provision for gluttony. Now, don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying that food is bad. No, food is a gift from God! 1 Timothy 4:3-4 says that in the later times some men will “forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude.” God has created us with built in needs and desires like food, sleep, and sex. Now, all of those things are good. They are all gifts from God to us. Yet, all of them can be abused. We can abuse the gift of sleep, by becoming lazy and sleeping too much, or by not sleeping enough. We can abuse sex, by having sex with someone we are not married to, or with someone of our same sex. And we can abuse food, by eating too much. Our built in needs and desires are not in and of themselves sinful. It is only when we indulge in those things out of the boundaries that God has stipulated for them, then they become sin.
Ephesians 2:3, “Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.”
1 John 2:15-17, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life is not from the Father but from the world. And the world is passing away and also its lusts, but the one who does the will of God abides forever.”
Romans 8:13, “For if you are living according to the flesh you must die, but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” Well, gluttony is a deed of the body. God has called us to put it to death, not coddle it, and fondle it.
So, what does the Bible teach about the lusts of the flesh? Lost people indulge these lusts. However, believers are commanded not to love them, but rather to make no provision for them at all.
It Is Being Enslaved To Your Appetites.
Romans 16:17-18, “Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them. For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting.” That is a very interesting phrase – “they are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites.” Let me ask you – are you a slave of Christ, or of your own appetites?
1 Corinthians 6:12-13, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything. Food is for the stomach and the stomach is for food, but God will do away with both of them. Yet the body is not for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body.” After Paul says that all things are lawful for him, but he will not be mastered by anything, the very next thing he talks about is food. It seems to me that Paul was saying that food is lawful for him, but he would not allow himself to be enslaved to his appetites, which is exactly what the glutton does. Instead of controlling food, the glutton allows food to control him.
It Is Idolatry. And because the glutton has made food his god, he belittles the true God. Romans 1:25 says that the ungodly worship and serve the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever.” That is what the glutton does with his food. He worships and serves food. In Philippians 3:18-19 Paul writes, “For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite (belly), and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things.” Did you hear that?! “Whose god is their belly.” Is your belly your god? Do you serve your belly?
2. What Does The Bible Teach About Gluttony?
The word “glutton” or “gluttony” does not appear very many times in the Bible. In the NASB, the word appears 7 times. Let’s take a look at some of those passages to see what we can learn about it.
Deuteronomy 21:20, “If any man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey his father or his mother, and when they chastise him, he will not even listen to them, then his father and mother shall seize him, and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gateway of his hometown. They shall say to the elders of his city, `This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey us, he is a glutton and a drunkard.’ Then all the men of his city shall stone him to death; so you shall remove the evil from your midst, and all Israel will hear of it and fear.” Here God tells the people of Israel what they are to do if there was a stubborn and rebellious son that would not obey his parents or be corrected. We are told that this rebellious son is a glutton and a drunkard. In this passage, as in many others, gluttony is linked with drunkenness. One of the signs of a “stubborn” and “rebellious” son is gluttony. His sin was so serious that he was to be put to death. He had to be removed from the midst of Israel, so that he would not corrupt others. This man would not listen to his parents chastisement or obey them. He was uncontrollable. He was undisciplined. He lived to fulfill his unbridled lusts, and he would not allow anyone to stop him, including his parents. He was incorrigible.
So, what do we learn about gluttony from this passage? We learn that it is linked with drunkenness, it flows from the heart of a stubborn and rebellious son, and that his sins are so serious he is to be put to death.
Proverbs 23:21, “Do not be with heavy drinkers of wine, or with gluttonous eaters of meat; For the heavy drinker and the glutton will come to poverty, and drowsiness will clothe one with rags.” Again we find that gluttony is associated with heavy drinking. Both sins have to do with a lack of self-control. Both also have to do with lusts of the flesh – eating & drinking. And both of them will bring a man to poverty. It’s easy to see why the heavy drinker will come to poverty. Just go down to the Mission, and you will see dozens of men and women who have come to poverty because of heavy drinking. Through time their addiction to alcohol has caused them to become unreliable and inconsistent on their jobs. Eventually they lose their job, and in some cases, are reduced to sleeping on the streets. But why does Solomon say that the glutton will come to poverty? His gluttony indicates a lack of self-control. He can’t control his drinking. He can’t control his eating. And, very likely, he can’t control his spending, or his drug use. So, in the end, because of a lack of self-control, he comes to poverty.
Now, what do we learn from this text? We learn that we are not to hang out with gluttons and drinkers. Rather, we are to avoid them. Also, we learn that the end of gluttony and drunkenness is poverty and being clothed with rags.
Proverbs 28:7, “He who keeps the law is a discerning son, but he who is a companion of gluttons humiliates his father.” Note that gluttony is contrasted with law-keeping. Since, according to 1 John 3:4, sin is the transgression of the law, and gluttony is the opposite of keeping the law, then gluttony is sin. Its effect is to bring humiliation to his or her parents.
3. How Can I Know If I Am Committing Gluttony?
Not Necessarily By The Amount of Food You Consume. You might compare yourself to someone else, and notice that you eat less than they do. However, if the other person has a physically demanding job, they might consume a lot more food than you and still not be a glutton. Also, a pregnant woman needs to consume more food than a women who is not pregnant.
Not Necessarily By Your Weight. You can be thin, and still be a glutton, and you can be overweight and not be a glutton. We ought not try to determine if someone else is a glutton. Rather we should be solely concerned about ourselves. Am I a glutton?! The purpose of this sermon is not for all of you to try to determine who in the church is a glutton. The purpose is for you and I to see in what areas we are gluttons, and put that sin to death.
By An Obsession With Food. The gluttonous person is obsessed with food. He thinks about it a lot. He doesn’t eat to live. He lives to eat. After he is done with one meal, he is already thinking about the next. He is preoccupied with eating. Food is way too important to him. You see, food itself, is not the problem. The gluttonous man’s cravings are the problem. Jesus said in Matthew 15:17-20, “Do you not understand that everything that goes into the mouth passes into the stomach, and is eliminated? But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, bearing false witness, and slanders. These are the things which defile the man; but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile the man.” In this passage Jesus says that food which enters the mouth does not defile him. But the things that come from his heart defile him like murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, and slanders. Our problem is not so much a food problem. It is a heart problem. Our hearts are sinful, and love to abuse God’s good gifts to satisfy our cravings. So, ask yourself this morning, “What do I crave? What am I obsessed with? What do I dwell on more than anything?” If your answer is something other than God, then your heart is fixed on the wrong thing.
By Looking To Food Rather Than To God. When do we eat when we don’t need to? When we are lonely or depressed or bored or empty. Now, when you are feeling that way, what do you do? Do you run to food when you are lonely or depressed? That shows that you find food more comforting than God. Do you run to food when you are bored? That shows that you find food more interesting than God. The glutton has made food a substitute for God. We need to honestly evaluate our lives, and pinpoint the times when we run to food rather than run to God. Why did God create us with a need to eat? He could have created us like the angels, where we would not need to constantly take in food for energy, then eliminate it, then take it in again our entire lives. I think God must have created us to need food, so that we would understand how we are to relate to Him. Over and over in the Scriptures Jesus says He is the Bread of Life, and that we must eat of Him. He is the Living Water, and we must drink of Him. Well, by creating us with built in needs for constant replenishing of food and water, we understand that we are constantly dependent on Christ. We need Him continually. We can’t live without Him. Food is a sign pointing us to our need for God. So, we should really live this way. Rather than depending on food for comfort or to capture our interest, we should look to God for comfort, satisfaction, companionship, and zest in life.
4. How Can We Overcome Gluttony?
- 1) Be Filled With The Spirit. You will not be controlled by the Spirit, and bear the fruits of the Spirit, unless you are filled with the Spirit. Yes, every believer has the indwelling Spirit and His influences in some measure. However, it is possible to quench the Spirit, and it is possible to be full of the Spirit. In Galatians 5:23 we learn that self-control is a fruit of the Spirit. To the extent that we lack self-control, we are not full of the Spirit. What we really need in this fight against gluttony is God! We need more of God. We need communion with God. We need the power of God. We need closeness to God. If you are not full of the Spirit, ask God to fill you! Jesus said, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” If you see gluttony in your life, it is a wake up call to draw near to God. Seek Him with all your heart. The only way we will be able to put gluttony to death is by the Spirit (Rom. 8:13). Glut Yourself On Jesus. You can never get too much of the Lord! It is never wrong to feed on Him too much. If your fleshly cravings are out of bounds, direct your cravings to Christ. Find your comfort, and joy, and satisfaction, and companionship in Him. Jonathan Edwards wrote, “There is no such thing as excess in our taking of… spiritual food. There is no such virtue as temperance in spiritual feasting.”
- 2) Train Yourself To Go To God Instead Of To Food. If you have cultivated a habit of gluttony, you are not going to overcome it without strenuous effort. Habits are hard to break, because we do them without thinking or effort. They are just a part of our life. In order to grow in godliness, we must break old sinful habits, and replace them with new godly habits. One such habit is to replace going to food when we are bored or down or lonely, and instead go to God. In 1 Timothy 4:7, Paul writes, “But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.” The word Paul uses for “discipline” can be translated “exercise.” We get our English word “gymnasium” from it. In other words, if you and I are going to become godly, we are going to have to work out! It will take effort and exertion. Don’t you know how much easier it is to pig out and watch TV when you are bored instead of going into your prayer closet? It’s so much easier to surf the Net when you are bored instead of reading the Bible or another good Christian book. That’s where we must train ourselves. We must break an old habit, by replacing it with a new one. Will you determine today, that when you feel the tug toward gluttony, you will seek fulfillment in God?
- 3) Keep Active Serving The Lord. If you are busy and active in the work of the Lord, you will have little time to give to gluttony. When Jesus’ disciples asked Him if He had had anything to eat, He replied by saying, “I have food to eat that you do not know about. My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work” (Jn. 4:34). It seems that Jesus had lost His appetite, because He was so energized by accomplishing the work of the Lord. He had just been witnessing to a Samaritan woman which would lead to a great many Samaritans believing on Him. Perhaps getting out of the house and doing some spiritual ministry among unbelievers is just what we need, to break the back of our gluttony. As Paul tells us in 1 Cor. 15:58, we are to “be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that our toil is not in vain in the Lord.”
- 4) Set Apart Days Occasionally For Fasting. Now, I know no one likes to think about fasting. We hate the idea of voluntarily giving up food. But that may be exactly what we need to break the stranglehold of gluttony in our lives. How long has it been since you fasted? I know it has been quite a while for me. One way to overcome gluttony, is to deprive yourself of food to draw close to God. Maybe it would be good to set apart one day a month seek the Lord in prayer and fasting. Mull this over, and think about it. Ask the Lord if this is something He would be pleased with in your life.
- 5) Remind Yourself To Glorify God In Your Eating. Paul says in 1 Cor. 10:31, “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” Isn’t it interesting that we are specifically told to glorify God in our eating and drinking?! How can we glorify God in our eating? We can be truly thankful to God for the food He has provided, and then we can refuse to abuse the gifts God has provided. We can eat enough to give us the energy to live for Him, but not over-indulge, so that we are not controlled by food. The next time you eat, ask yourself whether you are glorifying God in your eating.
- 6) Believe Promises of God. Ps.16:11; Ps.90:14
Brothers and sisters, let’s put to gluttony to death by the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives, so that we bring Him glory! Amen.
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