1 Corinthians 6:12 "Heavenly Appetite" (Gluttony & Self-Control - Week 2)
“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything. (ESV)
“I have the right to do anything,” you say- but not everything is beneficial.”I have the right to do anything”- but I will not be mastered by anything. (NIV)
You say, “I am allowed to do anything”- but not everything is good for you. And even though “I am allowed to do anything,” I must not become a slave to anything. (NLT)
As I mentioned a few weeks back, one of my main inspirations for studying the themes of Vices and Virtues was derived from Rebecca DeYoung’s book Glittering Vices. When approaching the topic of Gluttony, she says, “Put simply, this vice gluts on pleasure, reducing human life to self-gratification. The glutton salivates at the thought of his or her own pleasure. Excess pleasure. Immediate, tangible pleasure. Fundamentally, gluttony is primarily not about how much we’re eating but about how much pleasure we take in and why.” Put another way, Gluttony is not merely a matter of “too much” but rather a state of being dominated by your desires and cravings
Heavenly & Earthly Appetites
Gluttony is less about the calorie count of the food on our plates and vastly more about the state of our hearts. In 1 Cor. 6, Paul links lust and gluttony together. Claiming they will both lead us to an enslavement to our pleasures. This is incredibly important to pay attention to. When we satisfy a desire with earthly things, we can spiral down a dangerous path of entrapment and ultimately become mastered by these very desires, even desires of good things.
I think, if put in a modern context, many would certainly mock Paul as a legalist. Claiming to abstain from even lawful things seems a bit extreme. Don’t you think? Well, Paul makes a strong argument here as he challenges both Corinth's way of thinking then and, likewise, our similar thinking now. Arguing that just because something is permissible, it doesn’t mean it’s fruitful or, even, beneficial. (1 Cor. 10:23) Many good things, if unchecked, can become our masters.
Paul goes on, in the following verse, to respond to the Corinthian’s argument. Writing, “13 You say, “Food was made for the stomach, and the stomach for food.” (This is true, though someday God will do away with both of them.)” He says we can shift our mindset on food because it’s merely an earthly matter, as there is no need for either food nor the stomach in paradise. Simply put, our anticipation of being without cravings or certain appetites in eternal life is a very good argument for not being under its mastery of it in this one. Shifting our appetites, whether for food or any other desire, from an earthly one to a heavenly one means going from a pleasure fix and overindulgence to balancing both enjoyment and contentment of God’s good gifts.
Mainly, whatever choice we make in this life, we should be asking the question, does this move me closer to Jesus or take me away from Him? If it’s neutral, it’s important to know where that thing can lead. To freedom, or to imprisonment?
Legalism or Faithfulness?
Unlike in Paul's argument, legalism must involve imposing upon others the same specific rules that we deem essential for ourselves. Faithfulness, in response to the call of this week's verse, entails being fully convinced within your own mind of where you establish your boundaries, exercising self-control to pursue them, and not jumping to the conclusion that everyone must follow this same “rule book.”
One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God.
If there’s such a thing as a gray area, this is it. However, what’s clear is that we must navigate it with unwavering faith and commitment to the convictions which the Holy Spirit grants us. It's important to differentiate between personal convictions and scriptural commands and guidelines. For instance, the command in scripture to abstain from sexual immorality is clear and applicable to all. However, when it comes to personal choices, such as these broad examples of smartphone use, marriage, or dietary preferences, diversity abounds. Some may rightly use smartphones, while others should refrain for the sake of purity or contentment. Some are called to marry, while others are called to singleness. Some can dine at a fast-food establishment and still honor God, while others should steer clear. Likewise, some may enjoy a glass of wine with a steak dinner, whereas others should abstain entirely. The overarching principle is that we should not let our desires master us. I'm not here to dictate where you should fall on this spectrum. Instead, I urge you to find complete conviction in your heart through the Holy Spirit concerning your daily decisions and how they pertain to godliness.
Personal convictions are not about testing the limits but rather about understanding where those limits lie and installing a guardrail fifty feet from the precipice. We aren’t granted these personal liberties only for us to bask in unrestrained leniency but instead for true surrender to the Holy Spirit to take form. Your guardrail may differ vastly from another person's, and that's perfectly fine. The thing we all must be certain of is that the decisions we are making and the things we partake in are for the Glory and enjoyment of God alone, not in pursuit of personal liberties. If you live this life flippantly or with no strong convictions, you will end up compromising and, ultimately, being utterly enslaved to your cravings.
Authentic self-control looks different for everyone and involves establishing boundaries to avoid situations where you won’t have it. Self-control isn't about eliminating our cravings, but rather, exercising discipline, directing our desires towards the One who bestows gifts, rather than fixating on the gifts themselves.
In Christ, we are a new creation; the things that used to drive our actions and the things we crave no longer have mastery over us. We now have an inner fullness instead of a needy emptiness. Living this life out of strong conviction, discernment, and faithful intention will lead to freedom, flourishing, and satisfaction of new found heavenly desires, greater than you could ever imagine.
Written by Blake Stanley
As Paul reminds us that although lawful, not all things are helpful, and if left unchecked, can enslave us, what do you need to surrender to Christ this week?
1 Corinthians 10:23