My husband has a bit of a renegade immune system and numerous food sensitivities. We learned the hard way that what he eats has a huge impact on his body and how it functions. I’m finding that this isn’t exclusive to my husband. After my husband had to cut out another bothersome item this summer, gluten, I learned that a sensitivity to gluten is often genetic. After reading up on it, we decided to do a short trial of going completely gluten-free as a family.
During that time, someone stole my clingy, weak, all-night snoring, middle son and replaced him with a cheery go-getting happy boy who no longer snores! And it wasn’t just him, it took less than two weeks to see how big of an impact gluten was having on almost all of our kids. I was shocked and so grateful. Yes, it was a challenge and more work to take out the bread (and other hidden gluten we all love), yet when I saw the life-changing impact on everyone, I couldn’t go back.
What we feed ourselves has a huge impact on who we are.
So what are you eating today? Better yet, what are you feeding?
I’m not here to talk about gluten, auto-immune diseases and food sensitivities. I’m here to talk about our spiritual diet.
As I’ve been studying the Bible this year, the constant picture of flesh vs. spirit seems to fill my time in God’s Word.
There is a part of us seeped in sin from birth. Call it the “Flesh”, the “Old Adam” or the “Sinful Nature” but he is a nasty fellow who just won’t quit. I view the flesh as the real me. The Katy that I don’t want everyone to know. This flesh of mine craves everything easy, pleasurable, lazy and self-focused.
Then, there is the Spirit. The very Spirit of the Living God dwelling within my soul because I’ve been redeemed by Jesus!
Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. - 2 Corinthians 1:21-22
The Christian life is a crazy one because until Jesus comes back and finally puts an end to all sin and death forever, we will live our lives here on earth filled with both our flesh and Spirit. There is a war raging within each of us between these two entities.
So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. - Galatians 5:16-17
There it is laid out for you: Spirit vs. Flesh, in constant conflict with each other. It’s the war that will determine what fruit flows forth from our lives. The flesh seeks to please ourselves, it is focused on our earthly pleasure and desires instant gratification. The Spirit is always looking towards heaven. It seeks God’s will and heavenly treasure, of far greater worth than earthly joys. It’s able to endure, persevere, serve and sacrifice because heaven is our true home and Jesus our true joy.
So I want to ask you again: what are you feeding?
It is not only our bodies that are impacted by what we feed them, but even more so are our souls.
Which entity will drive your decisions as you live your life each day? The one that you’ve fed.
I think we all would like to believe that the Spirit is driving our hearts, but does the fruit of our lives reveal that? If we read further on in Galatians, we get to some very familiar passages that are a great way to assess ourselves.
The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
- Galatians 5:19-21
What are the fruits that reveal our flesh is driving our actions?
Sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery;
Idolatry and witchcraft;
Hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like
In contrast, what are the fruits that reveal the Spirit working in our hearts and driving our actions?
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. - Galatians 5:22-24
If each of us take an honest, humble look at our lives, what fruit do we see most evident?
If we are eating a diet of primetime TV, Instagram feeds, shopping and magazines, what do you think we are feeding? If we are constantly focused on our earthly home, our wardrobe, our family, our vacations, our hobbies, are we feeding the flesh or feeding the Spirit?
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. - Colossians 3:1-3
We don’t feed the Spirit by saturating our souls in the things of this world.
The Spirit can only be fed by diving into God’s Word.
Only when we feed our souls on the food of God, the Word that transforms and the truth that convicts, do we see the Spirit start to drive the daily actions of our lives. To live a life of service for the kingdom of God, something other than our sinful flesh must drive us. Only God’s Spirit within us can enable us to live our lives for something other than ourselves.
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. - Galatians 6:7-10
When my life isn’t satisfied in Jesus, the first thing I see go out the window are those fruit of the Spirit. I’m better described by discord, fits of rage, selfish ambitions and envy rather than love, joy and patience.
When I’m in God’s Word, when his truth is filling my life and his Spirit is guiding my thoughts, I find myself walking out a life on mission for Jesus and service to others in his kingdom. I see the fruit slowly manifest in my life and I see the joy that comes when my mind, body and entire life is looking towards Jesus as my all-satisfying Savior.
So what about you?
If you stopped and considered your daily intake, are you heavily fed by the world and its influences? Or are you feeding on the Word of God, keeping your eyes on Jesus? You may not realize how poor your “diet” has been and how much of an impact it is having on your life until you start to change it.
While changing our spiritual “diet” may seem challenging, we soon realize that Jesus really does satisfy us more than any earthly pleasure. A life of worship and service to him really does brings joy, purpose and contentment. What may feel like an initial loss is nothing compared to the surpassing joy of a life lived by the Spirit for things that matter for all eternity.
But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowingChrist Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. - Philippians 3:7-9