When Food Is An Idol, Part 3: Inward Focus

“Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt. I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the LORD. And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone.” – Psalm 32:5, NLT

A few years ago, my church adopted the motto “upward in worship, inward in commitment, and outward in evangelism.” The idea is based upon the fact that in order to be effective in reaching others with the gospel, our lives must glorify the Lord, inside and out. Otherwise, our ministry efforts are futile.

These areas of focus – upward, inward, and outward – are also key factors in overcoming sinful habits, such as food addiction. Let’s start by taking a look at the first component, the inward focus.

Inward Focus
If you struggle with food issues, and most people do to some degree, the first thing you must do is repent. Repentance is more than saying you’re sorry and feeling bad for what you’ve done. It’s getting alone with God and confessing your sin to him. State specifically how you’ve violated his commands. For example, tell the Lord if you’ve sought comfort in eating when you should have turned to him. Admit when you’ve been a glutton and medicated yourself with food. Acknowledge that you’ve worshiped a false god.

Once you’ve repented, though, you are forgiven. God doesn’t hold your sin against you, so you don’t need to punish yourself. This is an area in which God has had to help me. My tendency is slip into self-loathing when I do something I shouldn’t. However, a friend once shared something that has helped me release my shortcomings to God and leave them there. She said, “When you refuse to forgive yourself, you’re basically saying what Jesus did on the cross was not enough.” She’s exactly right. What a huge insult to Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross! I’ve learned (and am learning) that when God forgives, there is no condemnation. If there is shame, it’s not from the Lord.

Next, ask God to search your heart and reveal your motives for confession. Are you broken over your rebellion? Or, are you merely listing your failures in prayer just to clear your conscience? God requires that we come to him with sincere and complete remorse. When we do, He receives us with open arms. Psalm 51:17 says, “You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.” Once you’ve confessed your sin, the Bible says that God purifies you from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). His mercy and grace cover you. You’re clean in his sight.

Finally, if you have truly repented, you will change, first in your mind and then in your behavior. That doesn’t mean you won’t occasionally stumble. You might even fall flat on your face. However, the overall direction of your life with regard to food and eating will be different. You won’t keep on making the same mistakes over and over again. You’ll begin to trust God for the self-control you need instead of giving in to the cravings of your flesh.

Although it’s necessary to look inward to overcome a food addiction, it’s just the starting point. You can’t stay there. You have to move on. What you do at this point in your healing process is absolutely critical and will determine whether you walk forward in freedom and victory…or go back into slavery.

Tomorrow: When Food Is An Idol, Part 4: The Upward Focus

Additional verses:

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” – Psalm 139:23-25

“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord” – Acts 3:19

When Food Is An Idol, Part 2
When Food Is An Idol, Part 1