Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about “healthified” recipes. You know the kind of recipe I’m talking about: things like pancakes made with coconut flour or replacing the oil with applesauce in banana bread. What I’ve realized, though, is that these things tend to enable us to continue in our unhealthy habits instead of leading us toward healthy habits. We all love banana bread (if you don’t, we can’t be friends), but let’s be real. I don’t care how many ingredients you substitute, there is no way you can turn it into a health food. You just can’t.
Now, that doesn’t mean that there is no value to making healthier exchanges to our foods. I’m all for that. But here’s the deal– we cannot lie to ourselves and let ourselves believe that something that is meant to be a treat is actually a healthy food. We have many ways of deceiving ourselves into believing that things that hurt us are actually ‘not that bad’ or actually good for us. We love doing this sort of thing! Why? Because we get what we want and are freed of the consequences. What could possibly be better than that?!
Sadly, if our recipes were the only aspects of our lives about which we lied to ourselves, we would actually be pretty decent shape. But the real problem is the way we accept and encourage our own sin.
This is a difficult subject to tackle because it hits so close to home for so many people. It puts our pride at risk and convicts us of so very much. We have to come face to face with all the wrong we have done and really own it. I, for one, don’t like doing that and I can’t imagine that anyone else would. But unfortunately, we know that this simply doesn’t work.
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. — 1 John 1:8
Now I know what you’re going to say: “I’m not pretending that I’m without sin, but that doesn’t mean that this particular action is sinful! I’m not completely sinful!” That’s true! Just because you are sinful doesn’t mean that everything you do is sinful. But sadly, we are sinful beings. Although we seek intimacy with Christ (and replace him in many ways, out of ignorance, deceit or pure hate), we do not put him first in our lives. His will is actually so very rarely our purpose and goal. That, in itself, is sinful.
The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. — Romans 8:7
Well, shoot. Yup, my mind is frequently governed by the flesh. It is not uncommon that I am seeking after physical comfort (relaxation, financial security, friendships, sensual experiences like foods and movies and clothes). Sometimes I can disguise those as amoral or even celebratory to God (being grateful to Him for his blessings in this world!), but usually these are excuses to worship his creation instead of the creator. I can argue that certain behaviors aren’t sinful because they are cultural, the Bible is outdated, it wasn’t really discussed in scripture, ‘that can’t really be what Jesus meant’, ‘I don’t see what’s so wrong about it’…the list goes on. But the reality is that we are seeking after a kingdom on this Earth, not in heaven. That, in itself, is sinful. Period.
That sin separates us from God and limits us to only what this broken world has to offer. We cannot be whole, we cannot be optimal, we cannot be satisfied while living in a pattern of sinfulness.
The Deceiver is remarkably good at convincing us of the sinlessness of our sins. He knows the ways to make each of us excuse our fallen nature and embrace it. By far his most successful and effective method is to convince us that not only are our sins not sins, they actually good! They are holy! He convinces us that we misunderstood God (“Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden?” — Genesis 3:1), usually by twisting His word (if that doesn’t work, he moves on to a different tactic). He tried to convince us that the Jesus we know is actually different, a different person who is either hypocritical (and thus unworthy of leadership) or more ‘generous’ or ‘liberal’ (an thus completely fine with our behavior).
So where’s the good news? What good is there is accepting our sin and being honest with ourselves and with God? Well, there’s the simple answer of it s God’s will and God’s command and therefore you must do it because that’s what God says’. Well, yes, that’s true. However, that’s not the whole story. That’s the kind of blind lawfulness that Jesus despised in the Pharisees. Here’s the real good news:
With acknowledgement and confession comes forgiveness: “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” — Ephesians 2:4-7
With acknowledgement and confession comes healing and freedom: “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” — James 5:16 You not only are you forgiven, you also get healing and release from that the trap of that sin. You no longer have to be deceived in your sin, but are free in that truth. After all, “the truth will set you free!”
We are easily deceived creatures. Living in deception is safer and more comfortable. It gets us what we want on multiple levels. But unfortunately it does not allow us to escape the consequences of our sin. The wages of sin is death, regardless of whether you believe it is sin or not. That “healthified” banana bread is still packed with sugar and unhealthy carbohydrates no matter how you try to disguise it. Eat it for breakfast everyday, and you won’t be seeing your waistline shrinking.