Why does denial of appetites play such a large role in every religion?

Christianity doesn’t call us to curb all our appetites, just the unhealthy ones—the ones that can eat us alive.  Unhealthy appetites are those that prompt us to seek satisfaction apart from God’s plan for life.  When our appetites are not subject to God, we tend to make gods of our appetites (Philippians 3:19). And when our desires become our gods, we become their slaves.  Today’s appetites lead to tomorrow’s addictions.

The Christian approach to appetites can be summed up by three words:  eliminate, enjoy and elevate.elimin

Christians are to eliminate unhealthy appetites.  The grace that brings us salvation when we trust in Christ, also “teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions” (Titus 2:9).  It empowers us to “put to death. . . sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry” (Colossians 3:5).

enjoyChristians are also to enjoy healthy appetites.  We are free to satisfy our God-given desires within the healthy boundaries he’s established.  We eat with gratitude, not gluttony.  We earn money, without giving way to greed.  We enjoy sexual pleasure within a marriage relationship. As we obey God’s commands, we find he truly is the God who “richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment” (1 Timothy 6:17).

ELEVATE_LOGOFinally, Christians are to elevate their appetites, hungering for the eternal delights waiting in heaven.  C. S. Lewis was right when he wrote, “It would seem that our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak.  We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea.  We are far too easily pleased.”

(This article is from Dr. Reed’s book, That’s a Good Question)

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