Saturday, May 26, 2012

Enjoy Food

Sensual things (taking the word "sensual" meaning "having to do with the senses") can be used for the glory of God and enjoyed in thanksgiving to Him. Take Deuteronomy 14:22-27 for example,

“You shall tithe all the yield of your seed that comes from the field year by year. And before the LORD your God, in the place that he will choose, to make his name dwell there, you shall eat the tithe of your grain, of your wine, and of your oil, and the firstborn of your herd and flock, that you may learn to fear the LORD your God always. And if the way is too long for you, so that you are not able to carry the tithe, when the LORD your God blesses you, because the place is too far from you, which the LORD your God chooses, to set his name there, then you shall turn it into money and bind up the money in your hand and go to the place that the LORD your God chooses and spend the money for whatever you desire—oxen or sheep or wine or strong drink, whatever your appetite craves. And you shall eat there before the LORD your God and rejoice, you and your household. And you shall not neglect the Levite who is within your towns, for he has no portion or inheritance with you." (Deuteronomy 14:22-27, emphasis added)
There is a certain sensuality that is condemned in Scripture, but it has to do more with wantonness, lewdness, gluttony, and the like. Basically we can use our senses for selfish reasons, forgetting to praise God for them, and then use them in a wrong idolatrous way, without self-control, etc... Basically it looks like Galatians 5:16-24 (keep in mind that the flesh and Spirit being compared here is not physicality against spirituality, but what is born of the flesh, fallen human nature, and born of the Holy Spirit, renewed human nature):

"Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires." (Galatians 5:19-24)
The way we guard against selfish sensuality is by thanking and praising God for His gifts to us. Instead of solving the problem by rejecting physical pleasures, we embrace the pleasures from God in gratefulness to Him. It is then that physical pleasures will find their place, not as idols that control us, but as gifts that we enjoy with self-control and joy. And it is only this way that the enjoyment has real meaning. Else the brief enjoyment is lost and passes away and is vain. Only when we recognize temporal enjoyments as the loving gift of the eternal God are they meaningful and worthwhile in the ultimate sense and not vain.
"There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment? For to the one who pleases him God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, but to the sinner he has given the business of gathering and collecting, only to give to one who pleases God. This also is vanity and a striving after wind." (Ecclesiastes 2:24-26, see also verses 1-11) 
There is more to say on what exactly is good, but we should at least agree that to deny that God has given us the physical pleasures of food and to ascribe it to the Devil is insulting to God. God is good! Let us praise God for His great gifts to us and let us never pervert them for selfish reasons.

-Peter Bringe
 Deo Vindice

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