Their god, their Belly

Philippians 3:17 ESV

“Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.”

In my experience, from my observations of people, I have known very few people in my lifetime who I would want to imitate. I know not one of us is perfect, but I just see so many people claiming Jesus as Savior but still walking according to the flesh, living to please their sensual appetites.

Or, I see many who are all caught up in the world, and the things this world has to offer, so much so that they have adopted the thinking and the ways of the world. Thus, they are not passionate about their faith in Jesus Christ. They are not on fire for Jesus. They are more lukewarm. And, they appear to be content with the status quo, too, with no apparent hunger to change.

Many of them are religious. They pray before meals and they read their Bibles or a daily devotion. They attend church gatherings, now mostly virtually. And, they do good and kind things for other people in their communities or in their families. But Jesus is not their lives. He is not the whole of or the center of their lives.

So, I find it difficult these days to find anyone I would want to imitate, that I would want to keep my eyes on and to follow his or her example.

But, I am encouraged by many brothers and sisters in Christ I have met, mostly online, who appear to be walking with the Lord, and who are serious about following Jesus with their lives, and who share the Word of God with one another, and who encourage one another in their walks of faith.

But let me say this. We must be careful about following the examples of others, for not everyone has faith, although they may profess that they do. Not everyone who says “Lord, Lord,” truly knows the Lord. Not everyone lives what they profess. So, we must be very discerning in these matters. So, what matters most is we keep our eyes on Jesus, and we imitate him.

Philippians 3:18-19 ESV

“For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.”

The sad reality is that this describes a lot of people who call themselves Christians, and who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ. And, I have found that this seems to be the rule more than the exception, and that is troubling, indeed!

I believe this behavior is a heart issue, and this is a sin issue, and it stems from humans choosing their own fleshly appetites over God (Romans 1).

But, it is magnified, supported, and given validity and acceptance by man-made religion and man-made gospels which deny the Lordship of Jesus Christ, and which coddle people in their sins, and which make no demands for them to change or for them to be free from their sinful addictions.

A lot of these addiction support groups, even the Christian ones, do not help the addict to freedom from his addiction, but they sympathize with him in his addiction, and they give validity to his “struggle” with sin, even if that “struggle” with sin has been going on for many years without deliverance from his addiction. For, many of them believe they can’t be delivered.

The church at large in America has mostly pacified people in their sins. And, so they end up supporting, validating, accepting, and approving of people’s walks in the flesh, which they call “struggling” with sin, but which means regularly giving in to their fleshly appetites. And, so the church at large is not insisting that the Christians in their midst live like Christians.

So, they end up validating sinful conduct such as what is immoral, corrupt, wicked, depraved, perverse, and dishonest. Thus, they encourage their flock to sin against God, and to sin against other humans, and to cause them harm. And, the leadership won’t rise up and defend the ones being harmed by these people’s sins, nor will they confront the offenders in their sins. For, if truth be told, many of them are living in addiction to sin, too.

Also, the church at large and many of these “Christian” support groups are encouraging spiritual laziness, i.e. the shirking of biblical and moral duties and responsibilities. And, they are supporting and accepting habitual stumbling, adulteries, abuses, excuses, unfaithfulness, lies, deceptions, and manipulations, and thus the destruction of human lives and of marriages and of families. So, they approve the spiritual and moral decline of the church.

Philippians 3:20-21 ESV

“But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.”

So, this is in direct contrast to what we read in vv. 18-19. Those of us who have our citizenship in heaven are not to have as our god (our idol) the things of this sinful world, and the fleshly appetites of our sinful natures.

We are not to live our lives on this earth consistently “struggling” with sin, in the sense of habitually giving in to the lusts of our flesh. For, if we walk (in practice, as a matter of habit) according to our flesh, we are going to die in our sins, not have eternal life with God (Gal. 5:16-21; Eph. 5:3-6).

But, if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, and if we are walking (in lifestyle) according to the Spirit, and not according to the flesh, then we have salvation from sin and eternal life with God (Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Tit. 2:11-14; Lu. 9:23-26).

For, Jesus Christ truly gave up his life for us on that cross to free us from our addictions to sin and to eradicate sin from our lives. He died that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness. He died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us (1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15, 21; Tit. 2:11-14; Rom. 6:1-23).

We are also not to coddle other “believers in Jesus” in their sins, or to validate their “struggle,” and thus to allow for them to continue living in sin year after year after year, while they go on hurting other people, while making excuses for why they are not living in freedom from slavery to sin.

But we are to confront sin in sinful humans. And, as the body of Christ, we are not to tolerate willful premeditated and habitual sin within the congregation of the saints. We are to call for repentance and obedience, and if they refuse, they are to be excluded from the fellowship of the body of Christ. But instead they get embraced.

And, oftentimes, those who do confront sin, and who call for repentance and obedience, are the ones who get shunned, instead. And, this is just wrong!

Eternal Father, Strong to Save

William Whiting

Eternal Father, strong to save,
Whose arm does bind the restless wave,
Who bids the mighty ocean deep
Its own appointed limits keep;
O hear us when we cry to Thee
For those in peril on the sea.

O Savior, whose almighty word
The winds and waves submissive heard,
Who walked upon the foaming deep,
And calm amid the rage did sleep;
O hear us when we cry to Thee
For those in peril on the sea.

O Holy Spirit, who did brood
Upon the waters dark and rude,
And bid their angry tumult cease,
And give for wild confusion peace;
O hear us when we cry to Thee
For those in peril on the sea.

O Trinity of love and pow’r,
Your children shield in danger’s hour;
From rock and tempest, fire, and foe,
Protect them where-so-e’er they go;
Thus, evermore shall rise to Thee
Glad hymns of praise from land and sea.

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9 thoughts on “Their god, their Belly

  1. I “struggled” with an eating disorder for about twelve years, and I truly wanted deliverance. One reason I failed so often was that I wasn’t confiding in my Christian brothers and sisters and asking for their help and prayers. Another reason was that I did not really know who I was in Christ. Once I accepted that I was forgiven, a child of God, and belonging to Christ through GRACE, not my good works or lack of bad deeds, I could live it out by refusing to let my failures define me. Before scolding people about their behavior (which might truly be a struggle, just without the weapons needed to fight in the Spirit) I would share my testimony and come alongside that person, not to excuse their failures (You’re right, that’s the worst thing we could do.) but help them get beyond their failures and onto victory in Christ.

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    • Annie, the Scriptures do teach that if anyone is overtaken in a fault (overcome by sin) that we, who are spiritual, should restore them in an attitude of meekness and gentleness, in the fear of God, watching that we do not fall into temptation ourselves. Gentleness is defined as controlled strength. And, to restore them is to come alongside them and to help them to turn from their sin and to turn to God to follow our Lord in obedience to his ways. So, yes, we should come alongside a brother or a sister overtaken by sin to help restore that person back to a right relationship with the Lord, to following him in obedience.

      And, we should use our own testimonies, too, of how God delivered us from our sins and how he rescued us from the darkness and how he lifted us up out of our pits and gave us a new song of rejoicing to our God. Our testimonies are very powerful, for they are living proof that God can deliver, and he can heal, and he can restore our lives and make us into who he wants us to be.

      I put the word “struggling” in quotes for a reason. It is very popular today for people who are willfully, knowingly, and habitually sinning against the Lord, in direct defiance to his Word, to say they are “struggling” with sin, because it makes it not sound so bad. It gives kind of a spiritual sense to it, as though they are trying not to sin while they premeditatively sin against God on a consistent basis in specific sin areas.

      And, then the church supports them in this by coddling them in their sin and by sympathizing with them over long periods of time without ever trying to restore them, without ever helping them to wholeness, but while even telling them that God is ok with them living like that, or that God can’t even see when they sin, or by telling them that God’s grace covers it all and that they don’t have to repent, they don’t have to obey the Lord, and that they don’t have to submit to Christ as Lord.

      So, we have a whole lot of people saying, “Lord, Lord,” but they are not committed to Christ. They aren’t listening to him. They aren’t following him. So, he is not their Lord. The lust of the flesh is their god because that is what they serve, not God. And, that is what this passage of scripture is talking about. It is about those who have made the lust of their flesh their god instead of God and so they truly walk (in lifestyle) as enemies of the cross of Christ, which is about dying to sin and living to Christ and his righteousness. Their end is destruction, because they have chosen to walk in the flesh and not according to the Spirit.

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