What does the Bible say about Overeating?

February 12, 2020

overeating and gluttony in the bible

When's the last time you attended a potluck? Or an event with loads of delicious food? Or went out to eat? 

Food is a great way to draw people in. However, overeating is not only damaging to the body but also unhealthy spiritually and emotionally.

Christians should ask: What does the Bible say about overeating?

Most people enjoy eating, many making an art of it. Recipes, tips, and competitions revolving around cooking have flooded cable, streaming services, and social media feeds. Rarely does a day pass when some great new dish doesn't come across some screen.

Food is a blessing and is enjoyed in abundance by most in our society. However, the plethora of diets, weight loss supplements, and exercise programs show reveal that our eating tends to be out of balance.

That out of balance ends today.

Today you will learn signs of overeating problems and if necessary, how to end an overeating issue for good in two ways,

  • Simple tests that will bring awareness of underlying overeating issues.
  • 3 useful steps to take when you struggle that will also empower you to replace unhealthy habits with great ones.

You can break the sin of gluttony for good using these tools and through prayers like the one in the conclusion.
Let's lay the triumphant foundation from the Bible first.

Where is overeating mentioned in the Bible?

overeating and gluttony in the Bible

overeating and gluttony in the Bible

Most people don't realize or think about what the Bible says about the body and eating.

One striking verse is Philippians 3:19. "Their end is their destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things."

Ouch. Is what we eat, and how much, really that important to the Lord?

Is eating too much a sin?

This verse seems to imply so.

Paul, the author of Philippians, makes a strong connection between "enemies of the cross of Christ" and several types of behaviors. It might shock many of us that the belly – referring to letting it control us instead of us controlling it – is included in such a passage.

This is a brief reference. How can we know it's referring to overeating as sin? As with any scripture, we examine it within the context of the verses around it and in light of the rest of God's Word.

Gluttony in the Bible

Other bible verses also make a strong connection between a sinful lifestyle and overindulgence. Here are a few:

  • Deuteronomy 21:20 - a gluttonous person is correlated with someone stubborn, rebellious, and a drunkard.
  • Proverbs 23:20-21, and 28:7 - gluttony is depicted in a negative light and associated with drunkenness, poverty, and shame

Given these bible verses, one could easily be so bold as to call it sin. So why don't we hear more about it in the church?
Too often, people minimize overindulging, brushed it off, and even joke about it.
Most don't acknowledge it as sin. And we keep paying the cost.
God's laws and statutes are for our benefit and His glory. All of them, including His statements on overeating.
God gave us a great gift in food! He's provided a vast array of food for us to fuel our bodies. Unfortunately, like so many other gifts God has given us, food has become an idol.
Eating is ingrained into our hearts, minds, and culture – even within the church. We celebrate, grieve, support, and fellowship with food.
Part of this comes out of necessity. Food is required for living.
However, as with other good things, it often becomes the purpose, focus, or even an out of control obsession.

Why is overeating a sin issue?

God wants more for us. He wants us to desire to be filled with Him and led by the Holy Spirit.

When we continually overfill ourselves with food, we feed our flesh, give into physical desires, and choose indulgence over discipline. These behaviors are the opposite of thirsting and hungering for righteousness.

God's best for us is to feed the spirit, deny ourselves, and exhibit self-control. 

The mind, body, and spirit are inextricably linked. This means what and how much we eat affects the health of our mind and spirit, as well as our body. 

When we overeat, we damage our bodies in the short and long-term. This diminishes our effectiveness for the Lord. We also impact our brains, energy levels, and moods.

God doesn't call out, making our stomach our god and correlate gluttony to living a lifestyle of sin to deprive us.

He calls us to balanced eating because He knows it's best for us. When we keep fueling our bodies with the right amounts of life-giving foods, we'll be physically equipped to glorify Him and grow His Kingdom.

Defining Gluttony

The problem with addressing gluttony starts with the difficulty in defining it. Many sins in the Bible are straight-forward. 

We understand that there is a clear-cut line in the areas of sins such as lying, stealing, adultery, and murder. If we were somewhat unclear, Jesus clarified many of them further. 

He gets to the heart of the matters instead of just the outward behavior.

God gives us freedom in some areas and boundaries in others. To help parse these out, the Jewish people of Old Testament times (and some since) have created and lived by up to thousands of specific regulations. 

What does it mean to not work on the Sabbath? How to prepare food? How to become cleansed after exposure to death or illness?

These rules helped control behavior, but they didn't help to change hearts or always draw people to the Lord.

At the core of every sin is a pulling away from or putting up a barrier between people and the Lord. Such is the case with overeating. But what are the correct boundaries?

The Bible does not say how many carbs, protein, or other food to eat.

Looking outside scripture at available diet plans and recommendations isn't helpful, either. Mixed messages abound. 

They endorse everything from no carbs to no fat, from intermittent fasting to gradually decreasing calories. 

Figuring out the best course of action is akin to one making their way through a series of mazes.

How can we have victory over gluttony?

how can we have victory over gluttony

how can we have victory over gluttony

The bible verses mentioned above are a great place to start in the Bible. There are also a host of scriptures that talk about the importance of spiritual food, which are invaluable.
For many of those, we again look to Jesus Christ.

  • "Then Jesus declared, 'I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.'" John 6:35
  • "Jesus answered, 'It is written: "Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God."

Whenever we look to break a habit, we need to replace it. 

Overeating is a sin because it shows we rely more on material things than on God. Therefore, the opposite of overeating is to rely more on the Lord and seek Him for nourishment.

Here are a few ways to learn over time how to feast on his bread instead of man's.

Examine the Heart

Examine the Heart

Examine the Heart

We look to Christ and where He focused: the heart. Where is your heart when you're eating? 

Perhaps you eat by rote and don't think about it. Maybe you eat in a hurry because life tends to maintain a hectic pace.

Possibly you enjoy cooking and eating and making an art of it. Whether you put a lot of thought into eating or eat on autopilot, it's essential to recognize the place food holds in your heart and whether you control it or it controls you.

Overeating doesn't happen in isolation. It occurs in an environment where food becomes more than the fueling sustenance God created it to be.

One quick test of the heart is to start paying attention to why you eat. 

  • Do you eat when you're only physically hungry?
  • Or do you eat when you're sad, lonely, or bored?
  • Do you eat more than you tell yourself you will or what you know to be a healthy amount?
  • Do you eat to fulfill unmet desires, avoid conflict, or sooth difficult emotions?

Has eating become an Idol?

These are hard but important questions to figure out if food has become an idol.

God has provided everything we need to live an abundant life. Unfortunately, though, there's a propensity for people to rely on physical comforts like food instead of Christ.

Too often, we don't take our grief, disappointments, fears, doubts, joys, questions, and praise to God. We eat to drown or enhance these feelings instead.

Overeating occurs when we don't exercise control and eat for momentary physical pleasure. On the contrary, God calls us to deny our flesh, humble ourselves before the Lord, and spend that time in prayer and His Word.

Don't get me wrong! I'm not in the least saying that people who struggle with overeating don't love Christ. 

Most are dedicated to the Lord and have a great love for Him. Many people passionately love the Lord who also battle overeating.

The point is that this is an issue many grapple with, but don't know the spiritual implications. If the effects of gluttony – i.e., out of control eating – didn't impact us spiritually, God would not have mentioned it in scripture.

Overeating becomes sin when people rely on food instead of God and succumb to earthly desires setting aside discipline, perseverance, and spiritual health.

Conclusion - Prayer for Victory

Father, I praise you and thank you for the abundance of life-giving food you've provided. Help me to have a biblical view of overeating and not let eating be out of control or become an idol.

Forgive me for sinfully relying on things of this world to comfort me. Strengthen me to live self-controlled and glorify you in everything I do.

  • Thank you for this truth, because I know the truth will set me free. I pray I’m not too old at 65 to make amends for a lifetime of self-indulgence, idolatry. I pray I can stop eating to cover up or push down my feelings, such as disappointment, anger, hurt etc. There is no excuses anymore. Gluttony is sin. My body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. I have read your article, made notes & prayed the prayer with as much faith as I can – even as small as a mustard seed. Thank you so much for this article. Bless you. xxx

  • I have been struggling w/eating to much in the evenings n nites. Until tonite I had forgotten that overeating was a sin although I have been asking our lord to help me control it. Yes I was awaken ! Thank you also for your help.God bless you!

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