I love the T Shirts at the beach. Some are awful, some are hilarious. One of my favorite T Shirts has a picture of an exhausted mom pushing a baby in a stroller and above that picture, it shows what the mom is really thinking. It says, “All I wanted was a backrub.” I love it. It’s a perfect picture of our appetites. We want what we want, we get what we want and it goes too far and then we experience the ramifications for what we wanted.
Today we are talking about appetites. Let me list a few for you. Our desire for food, relationships, success and sex. Our craving for acceptance, validation, comfort or justice.
Here is what you need to know about appetites. First, God created them and planted them inside you. If you think about it, life without your appetites would be boring. Life would be in black in white when it could be in HD color. So understand, God created them and planted them inside you for you to enjoy.
The second thing about appetites is that they will never satisfy you. Your appetites will always leave you wanting more. On Thanksgiving, you will tear up a turkey and be so full, it seems inconceivable that you would ever be hungry again in your life. On black Friday you will be out looking at a whoopie pie thinking, ‘That looks good,’ it’s remarkable, how does that even happen? Appetites never satisfy you. You can have someone give you huge compliment today and feel amazing but if someone doesn’t give you a compliment tomorrow, you walk around depressed thinking people hate you. Your appetites are short term and will never satisfy you.
Third, sin distorts our appetites. Sin takes the God given good thing and twists it into a distorted, out of control, demand. We are not happy unless we feed our appetites. We know our appetites turn into sin when our cravings begin to control us. We know there is a problem when we know what is right and what is wrong and we do the wrong thing anyway. We know what is right, we know what is wise, we know how the Holy Spirit it leading us and we allow our appetites to control us.
So understand; God created them for our joy. Sin distorts them to be a cruel master over us. One of the best ways you can ruin your heart; is allow your appetites to grow into a cruel master over your life.
Here is a quick point. How you manage your appetites, will determine your life. We see this in the news today. Bill Cosby. Lamar Odom. Their appetites damaged their lives. How you manage your appetites, will determine your life.
Quick reminder. Appetites are good. We are talking about the appetites that have grown into being a cruel master over us.
For I have told you often before, and I say it again now with tears in my eyes, there are many who walk along the Christian road who are really enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their future is eternal loss, for their god is their appetite: they are proud of what they should be ashamed of; and all they think about is this life here on earth. 20 But our homeland is in heaven, where our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, is; and we are looking forward to his return from there. TLB Philippians 3:18-20
Same text in a different version.
There are many out there taking other paths, choosing other goals, and trying to get you to go along with them. I’ve warned you of them many times; sadly, I’m having to do it again. All they want is easy street. They hate Christ’s Cross. 19 But easy street is a dead-end street. Those who live there make their bellies their gods; belches are their praise; all they can think of is their appetites. 20 But there’s far more to life for us. We’re citizens of high heaven! We’re waiting the arrival of the Savior, the Master, Jesus Christ. MSG Philippians 3:18-20
Paul is broken hearted to watch people allow their appetites rule over them. He actually says, they are people trying to live out Christianity but can’t because they hate what Christ stands for. That’s alarming! How can Paul say that someone who goes to church, someone figuring out how to follow Christ is an enemy of the cross of Christ? How does Paul know they hate what Christ stands for? They are focused on feeding their desires and cravings and it’s ruining them. It is causing a huge conflict. They want to walk the way of Christ but are allowing their appetites to lead them, not Christ. That’s why the apostle John wrote the following.
Stop loving this evil world and all that it offers you, for when you love the world, you show that you do not have the love of the Father in you. 16 For the world offers only the lust for physical pleasure, the lust for everything we see, and pride in our possessions. These are not from the Father. They are from this evil world. 17 And this world is fading away, along with everything it craves. But if you do the will of God, you will live forever. NLT 1 John 2:15-17
Let’s walk through this. How many people can be honest and say, ‘I have fallen in love with the desire, the craving, for physical pleasure.’ Or would you say, ‘I have am the person that wants everything I see.’ I drive by houses and want them. I see what I got, what they got, and I am miserable because I don’t have what they have. No one today would ever say, “I am proud of my possessions.” But what we think is, ‘I feel better now that I own the house, have the land, have the shoes, have the loaded 401k.’ The apostle John said, these are not from the Father.
Now before we go one, ‘YES’ it’s good that the older you get the more comfortable your life is because you lived responsibly. I hope you hear me say that there is a difference between a lust and pride for possessions and living responsibly.
When our appetites control us, it ruins our hearts and it ruins our love for Christ. It can actually drive us away from Christ because our belly is our god.
Here is my question for you today. Is your belly your god? By that I mean, have your appetites turned from a good God thing and grown into a twisted, I must have it thing?
Jesus was tempted to feed His appetites. I want to read for you the story and focus on how He responded.
Jesus was taken into the wild by the Spirit for the Test. The Devil was ready to give it. 2 Jesus prepared for the Test by fasting forty days and forty nights. That left him, of course, in a state of extreme hunger, 3 which the Devil took advantage of in the first test: “Since you are God’s Son, speak the word that will turn these stones into loaves of bread.” 4 Jesus answered by quoting Deuteronomy: “It takes more than bread to stay alive. It takes a steady stream of words from God’s mouth.” MSG Matthew 4:1-4
Jesus’ response seems confusing and unrealistic. He’s starving and is offered a way to eat. He refuses and says something about words from God. As a kid, I read this and was thinking… what?!? Do you not realize you are dying? What does a spiritual thing have to do with a physical thing?
Jesus was saying, I’m starving but there is more going on here than feeding my appetites. It’s about trust. Who will I trust? Do I trust God to take care of me? Or, do I have to take my trust away from God and feed my belly to make me feel good now?
Jesus was saying, I will not put my trust in me and feed my appetites because it would temporarily make me feel good. I will put my trust in my Father, even if it means I am hungry. My belly is not my God. My spiritual life has everything to do with my physical life. My spiritual life is the foundation for how I behave. My spiritual life determines the decisions I make.
How do most people live? I’m going to feed my belly, I’m going to do what I want, I’m putting my trust in me and then maybe, I will do something with God… next month. I’m going to feel good first, I’m to build the business first, raise the kids first and then maybe, I will do something with God… later.
“My belly is my god I wonder why spiritual life is in ruins?”
Let me ask you, is your belly your god? Do your appetites determine how you live? Or, does your spiritual life determine your physical choices?
If you and I lived a life where we just feed our appetites, what are we doing? We are just feeding one temporary hunger after another. What happens to soul? It’s empty. No substance. Never fulfilled. Never satisfied. We might even believe in Christ and go to church. But if our belly is our god, our appetites will drive us away from falling in love with Christ more and more.
Imagine a life, where your appetites don’t control you, instead, you are enjoying the words of God in scripture. Your spiritual life determines your physical choices. Imagine the freedom.
Jesus was tempted three times and he passed each temptation. I want to drop to verse 11 and read for you what happened at the end of the story.
The Test was over. The Devil left. And in his place, angels! Angels came and took care of Jesus’ needs. MSG Matthew 4:11
How beautiful is that? The Devil left. The angels of God came and comforted Jesus and his physical needs were met. Why? Because Jesus refused to allow His belly to be His god.
I wish I could tell you that this is my reality all the time. It’s not. Too many times, my belly has been my god. Instead of my spiritual life determining my physical choices, I have allowed my appetites to grow. It’s a battle that I fought and lost too many times.
There is one way to kill the appetite that has become a cruel master over you. You starve it. If your appetite is the dog inside you, you starve it. When you feed your appetite, the dog inside, it gets bigger, stronger and barks louder. And when you are around others, you try to keep the dog quiet and hope others don’t notice. What do you do? You starve that dog. Drag it out, starve it and it will become weaker and weaker. Jesus called it fasting.
“And now about fasting. When you fast, declining your food for a spiritual purpose, don’t do it publicly, as the hypocrites do, who try to look wan and disheveled so people will feel sorry for them. Truly, that is the only reward they will ever get. 17 But when you fast, put on festive clothing, 18 so that no one will suspect you are hungry, except your Father who knows every secret. And he will reward you.” TLB Matthew 6:16-18
When you fast, you, on purpose, put your trust in God not your belly. Look at your life. What appetite has grown and become a distraction or a sin? Fast. Go three days, a week, maybe a month and kill that appetite. Put your appetite under the authority of Christ.
Some ideas. Too much TV, go a month without it. Instead, walk, read scripture and pray.
Lust, pornography, sex outside of marriage. Fast. Spend time with God. Kill that appetite.
Do you yammer, gossip and complain non-stop? Fast. Spend time with God. Kill that appetite.
Do you live in fear and control? Fast a month and relax. Spend time with God.
Do you have a validation issue, you talk to people more than God? Fast talking with people too much.
Live on purpose.
Let me ask you, is your belly your God?
What determines how you live, your appetites or God?