“Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.” Philippians 3:19
I have reached an unachievable milestone.
Four years ago my bathroom scale registered 227 lbs. That too was a milestone but not a surprise. I had been on a rather rapid ascension as I broke new heavier weights on a regular basis. This ascension was quickly taking me to 230 lbs; an unthinkable weight that no longer allowed me to deny the reality of my physique. I had ceased to be husky or thick or filled-out.
I was fat.
For years, my exercise had consisted of mere yard work associated with the eating habits of a twenty-nothing’s metabolism. Inevitably, every birthday was heralded with a larger number on the bathroom scale. Yet, my body type allowed me to deny the reality of the bathroom scale. I carry my weight throughout my upper body. As a result, I have never had a big gut. I carry weight across my chest, down my back and through my torso. In fact, my body has an amazing ability to insert fat into body locations that I didn’t know could hold fat. I confused strategically placed fat for being muscle.
The result was a redefining of being overweight.
I read an article in Bicycling magazine about the ideal cycling weight. According to the article, my ideal cycling weight is 167 lbs, which I thought was simply absurd. There was no way that a guy of my stature and build could be 167 lbs. So, I changed a couple of the variables in the formula and re-calculated an ideal weight of 186 lbs. I felt that this weight while maybe not absurd, it surely was ridiculous. There was no way a guy with my muscle mass could get down to 186 lbs.
Yesterday, when I stepped upon my bathroom scale, it registered 186.6 lbs.
It was a rather anticlimactic achievement of the unachievable. I had a mental image of what 186 lbs. would look like and reality has not matched my mental glamour shots.
I still can’t see my abs.
I still have “man-boobs” and love-handles.
I can still lose another 10 lbs.
I can grab hold of exactly where the next 15 lbs. will come from.
When I was 227 lbs., I argued against obesity charts that stated I needed to lose 40 lbs. I scoffed at an ideal of losing 60 lbs as impossible. I am no longer scoffing. I had lived a lifestyle that normalized excessive weight. I criticized those who stated the reality of an ideal as being ridiculous and without understanding.
I have now proven who was ridiculous.
The most disturbing aspect of this weight loss is the realization of how deceived of my own condition I had become. No one had deceived me. I had done it to myself. I like to think of myself as a logical and rational person. However, I had convinced myself through years of denial that fat was muscle. How irrational was that? Yet, I don’t think I am alone.
It was only when I had achieved some weight loss that the combination of a bathroom mirror and scale began to provide an effective rebuttal to years of justification. I now know the ideal cycling weight is possible. It is an ideal not measured by what others are doing or what I think is possible. It is an ideal based upon accurately identifying fat.
The realization of this self-deception has caused me to contemplate the possibility of a similar pattern of denial in far more important aspects of my life. I look at my spiritual life and consider myself reasonably mature. I endeavor to live in a manner of obedience to the ideal presented in the Bible. Jesus Christ says follow me and that has been what I desire to do.
However, I wonder if years of living in a soft and decadent age may have eased me into a redefinition of what is possible in the Christian life. I can provide a series of justifications as to why the ideal of perfect sanctification has not occurred within my life. Yet, could many of those justifications merely be a confusion of disobedience for spiritual maturity? Self-deception substituting of sin for strength. Just as 65% of Americans are physically overweight to obese, how many professing Christians are spiritually over-weight to obese with sin?
We live in a world of convenient confession and an inoffensive gospel. Individual self-esteem is idolized through every aspect of our society, including the Church. There are many in the “church” who redefine sin as virtue and confuse unrighteousness with strength.
I fear me that the Christian church is far more likely to lose her integrity in these soft and silken days than in those rougher times. We must be awake now, for we traverse the enchanted ground, and are most likely to fall asleep to our own undoing, unless our faith in Jesus be a reality, and our love to Jesus a vehement flame. Many in these days of easy profession are likely to prove tares, and not wheat; hypocrites with fair masks on their faces, but not the true born children of the living God. ~ C.H. Spurgeon
Many professing Christians are spiritually fat with sin, having deceived themselves into thinking the ideal is absurd. I don’t want to be one.
We must return to believing that there is an ideal of obedience. We must not redefine obedience in order to make it reasonable or appropriate for our time. We must not criticize those who state the reality of the ideal as being ridiculous and without understanding.
Also, we must believe the ideal of obedience is possible for all those who are in Christ.
Some ideals of obedience may seem unachievable and they may not be achievable, today. However, that does not eliminate our hope. Do not be deceived into thinking that God does not have something better for you. We are continually being transformed from one degree of glory to another.
And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18)
Do not give up on the ideal of sanctification. Do not be deceived into thinking you are strong when you are not. Do not be content with carrying strategically placed sin simply because no one notices or you have a better façade than your friends. Press on toward the goal of obedience emanating from a grateful heart in love with God. Press on despite what the world around you is languishing in. Press on toward the holiness that God has called us to because the obedience we desire comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. All things are possible for those who are in Christ.
Let us never measure our religion by that of others, and think we are doing enough if we have gone beyond our neighbors. ~ J.C. Ryle
PRAYER: Lord, remove any self-deception that I may have allowed in my life. Help me to see clearly. Examine my heart and show me where I have allowed sin to linger and accumulate. Make me lean in obedience to you. Father, you have been so good to me. Thank you for the gift of faith. Lord, you are my good Father and you have said that you will give me what I ask in your name; I ask to be sanctified in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Transform me from one degree of glory to the next. I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen