Ah, yes. The infamous Bible verse quoted by every Christian who is trying to battle an addiction – be it food, alcohol, drugs, sex, whatever. 1 Corinthians 10:13. It basically tells you that your temptations are not special. Others have dealt with the same things, and have made it through. Turn to God and he will give you the way.
However I am going to address the verses before and after this one. 1 Corinthians 10:12 says “So if you think you are standing firm, be careful you don’t fall!” How true is this? How many times have you thought “I got this,” and then are completely derailed by a piece of dessert that turns into two, that turns into a 3-day binge-eating-fest. I know I have. This verse tells us clearly to be careful. It doesn’t say that with God you cannot possibly slip up. It tells you to chek yourself. Just because you lasted a week or two controlling your eating habits doesn’t mean you can’t get thrown off in one evening.
You don’t see recovering alcoholics in a bar or recovering drug addicts in a drug den. The difference with food addiction is that the hope is, sometime in the future, that you can have a piece of cake and not be completely derailed. But maybe not just yet. It’s better to say no and stay on track than to think you can “have a little” and have to go back where you started.
I made it from September 2016 to December 1, and was able to only occasionally have some sugar. December hit and I started doing all my holiday baking, and as I consumed more and more, I began to get back to my old, terrible eating habits and eventually it was like I never started. Thankfully I kept the weight gain to under 10 pounds, but it could have easily been much, much worse. I thought I was standing firm, but I fell. And this was after sticking to it for THREE months. So be careful! The old adage is “better safe than sorry,” and it couldn’t be more applicable here.
While verse 13 tells you God will show you a way out, 1 Corinthians 10:14 tells you what that “out” is. It says, very simply, “Flee from idolatry.” In previous posts, I’ve talked about how being addicted to anything means you are treating that thing like an idol. When you go to food before Jesus for comfort and fulfillment, you are idolizing that food, making it more important than Jesus. Well here, very clearly, Paul is telling you God’s way out of the temptation: flee from it. It doesn’t say face it down until it goes away. It says FLEE. Run away. Get it away from you so you can endure it and turn to Christ.
This is really difficult for some people. It means giving up some things early on. Maybe you have to leave the birthday party before the cake or ask friends if you can all avoid getting dessert with dinner until you have a better handle on the situation. It might mean staying home just to avoid unnecessary temptation. This won’t last forever. Eventually, the cheesecake won’t even be a temptation, and you can easily say no. Or perhaps even later, you can eat a small slice of cheesecake and not descend into the abyss of uncontrolled eating. Until such a time, flee the cheesecake.
I know this isn’t always easy. Perhaps you are at work and there’s a giant bowl of candy. Perhaps there’s a lunch meeting with the world’s worst-for-you foods. Perhaps it’s a social event you can’t avoid. This is when you spend extra time praying, and arming yourself with the full armor of God. This is when you enlist the help of friends and coworkers and family to give you the verbal slap on the wrist when you reach for the brownie or bread. Take all the help you can get, and don’t get angry when they do what you ask.
Remember, this is a lifelong journey, not a quick change. It will take time, and strength, and prayer, and failure, and getting back up again. Just remember these verses, and learn to be humble when you think you can handle the temptations, and when you can’t, there’s no embarrassment in fleeing from it.
So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry.
God bless and good health.