Why Do I Keep Eating the Junk Food?
But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more? Galatians 4:9
Eating right is one of those continual struggles for me. I know what’s good for me. I just always want that which is bad for me. I’ll do well for a while, reaping the benefits, and I might even tell myself that I’m never going back to junk food. Then, perhaps because of some stressor or even some celebration, I’ll indulge once, which turns into twice, which turns into weeks of eating junk. Then, I’ll look back and ask myself the inevitable question. Why would you go back to eating like that? You were doing so well. Why would you want to return to the misery of your old eating habits?
It’s a question I need to answer if I want to learn how to stop going back. This isn’t just about eating donuts. This is about why I go back to any of my self-destructive behaviors. The answer isn’t that complex. I go back to those behaviors because there’s some reward there. I indulge, because on some level, I like it and I get some immediate gratification out of it. The problem of course, is that the reward wears off, leaving me empty, asking myself why I went back.
In today’s passage, Paul asked this question to the Galatians. The Galatians came to know authentic salvation by faith in Christ alone. Then, however, they added to the requirements for salvation, insisting that those who wanted to know God must also be circumcised. This was their old religious practice, but they no longer needed to rely on their own works, because now they were saved by faith. Maybe it made them feel superior, or maybe it provided them some measure of power over others. Whatever it was, going back to the old ways was attractive enough to them that it caused them to abandon faith.
It seems so obvious and ridiculous when we see others do it. Why would anyone go back to jail, drugs, or gambling? When we do it with our gluttony, pornography, greed, anger, or resentments though, it makes sense because we really want it. If we desire to disrupt the cycle of returning over and over to the old life, we need to understand this about ourselves. We need to see that we’re trying to fill some void and then, we need to do what it takes to daily leave the old life, filling that void with the new life found only in God.