Going Deeper

You Are What You Eat: The Bible and Holiness

"When my circumstances were bitter, Jesus Himself met me in His Word. That meeting was the sweetest thing I've ever tasted" by Reverend Diane Ury

You’ve probably heard it said that we are what we eat. This is of course true of our bodies, which derive the nutrients needed for life from each meal and snack. But it is also true of our souls. As the Bible says, “Man does not live on bread alone” (Deuteronomy 8:3 NIV). We are what we eat.

Before the cross, Jesus taught that He alone must be the Source of our life. He described Himself as the Bread of Heaven, the manna for our journey. He alone is our true food and drink, our sustenance, our nourishment. He doesn’t only want to give us good gifts, like food. He wants to give us Himself – through His Word.

My experience of reading the Bible is that it’s way better than eating chocolate. Years ago, a woman in my Bible study asked me, “How can you enjoy reading your Bible like that? I know I need to be reading my Bible, but I’m just not a reader.” My instinctive reply was, “I don’t read my Bible.  It’s much different than that.  The best way to describe it is that it’s an encounter, and is more like eating than it is like reading.” At the darkest point of my life, when my circumstances were bitter, Jesus Himself met me in His Word. That meeting was the sweetest thing I’ve ever tasted.

“Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart” (Jeremiah 15:16 NRSV).

“Knowing” in the Bible isn’t just fine-tuned logic. It’s gritty and real. It’s to taste, to engage with, to know experientially, to receive into the depths of one’s heart – the seat of one’s affections where abide our deepest loves and deepest hatreds. Those form our beliefs, choices, and feelings. To taste is to know. To grasp into oneself. To create communion.

What are you tasting of and feasting upon for satisfaction? (Ephesians 4:19)

  • Gossip?
  • Being critical?
  • Resentment?
  • Pornography?
  • Envy/selfish ambition?
  • Self-pity?

These enter and form who we are.

Humans are created hungry and needy – this is “good” (Genesis 1:27-31). In ourselves alone, there is no good, because we’re created to be filled with God (Genesis 2:7; Ephesians 3:16-19). “Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love” (Psalm 90:14 NIV).

Here are some habits I’ve personally implemented. Perhaps you could try these for the next 30 days:

Start with the Bible

The first thing that enters us upon waking, forms us. Let what your eyes fall upon in the morning be the Word of God. Not your phone, email, news,
or social media.

“My soul cleaves to the dust, Revive me according  to Your word” (Psalm 119:25 NASB).

Prioritize the Bible

Spend no more entertainment “screen time” daily than you do in God’s Word. Social media, streaming services, video games, sports, the news – will you allow these primarily to shape your life?

“I will set no worthless thing before my eyes” (Psalm 101:3 NASB).

Read the entire Bible each year.  

I use a chronological Bible. (It only takes 72 hours!) It’s a magnificent whole story that forms your story. 

Being satisfied in Jesus is the key to holiness.  We can truly be holy only when we’re filled with God.  When we turn away from delusion – which is darkness and grief – and turn toward God, Who is our Source, Light and Life, then we taste and see the goodness of God (Psalm 34:8).  It’s like going from eating dog food to a delicious, healthful banquet! Our appetite is transformed by the health and life of real food. We must become “food snobs”, in a spiritual sense. Receiving the Life of Jesus literally transforms our beings.  The corrupting desires of selfishness are quelled.  Sin is starved; it becomes tasteless, it dies.

Then one is Christlike.  

He bore our sins. He tasted our death, so we can live (1 Peter 2:1-2, 24-25; Hebrews 2:9-18). If you’re malnourished, you will die. Receive His love and life (1 John 5:11-12). 

We are created to be filled with His life. This is holiness.

We are what we eat.  

Questions to ponder

  • How much time each day do you spend consuming various forms of media? How much time do you spend daily reading the Bible? 
  • What is your plan to spend more time encountering the Word of God?
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