Food, Sex, and Drugs
Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. 1 Peter 4:1-2
We all struggle with something. We all have an appetite for some self-destructive behavior. Food, sex, and drugs isn’t a comprehensive list, but it’s a catchy title, representing a few of our most obvious or common struggles. These things aren’t necessarily evil in themselves. Rather, we go wrong in how we use and twist them. Food isn’t bad. The problem is in how and what we eat. For the overweight, type 2 diabetic, with a sugar addiction, candy can be just as lethal as alcohol is to the alcoholic. Drugs can be useful. Fentanyl, the drug responsible for the most overdose deaths today, is a medication I ordered often in the Emergency Room for patients with severe pain. Drugs aren’t bad, it’s in how we misuse them. And sex, in the proper context is a wonderful gift from God, but we twist it, inviting pornography and inappropriate relationships into our marriages. Your struggle may not be on this list, but we’ve all got an appetite for something that isn’t healthy for us – physically, mentally, or spiritually.
Peter would have referred to this as our flawed flesh nature and in today’s passage, he pointed to the solution. He said that just as Christ’s body suffered and died, we must choose to spiritually identify with his crucifixion, killing our old lives and behaviors. This doesn’t mean that we must literally die on a cross of course. To suffer in the flesh (today’s passage), to put to death the works of the flesh (Romans 8:13), or to put off the old self (Ephesians 4:22-24), is a process prescribed several times in the New Testament. Jesus himself said that to be a disciple, we must take up our cross daily to follow him (Luke 9:23). What does this mean?
To kill a self-destructive, addictive behavior is to do whatever it takes to separate ourselves from it. This is anything but a passive process. God provides us with a new life, but we’re responsible for daily leaving the old one to seek the new. If we’ve got a pornography addiction, this may mean counseling, accountability groups, and getting an old dumb phone. If we’ve got a drug addiction, this may mean going to treatment, meetings, and changing everything about our lives. If food is our struggle, we will have to figure out how to eat differently for the rest of our lives, shopping and cooking differently, and perhaps joining a support group with others who’ve struggled as we have.
As we do whatever it takes to separate ourselves from the destructive, we must replace it with the constructive. We must pursue healthy relationships, recovery, and physical fitness. Above all, we must pursue an intimate, authentic relationship with God. That after all is the reason for Christ’s death in the first place. We all struggle with something, but because of Christ, we don’t have to live enslaved to that struggle.