Whose God is Their Belly?

shutterstock_22050235Philippians 3:19 Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)

In this verse, Paul is referring to those who are self-serving and have made their lusts their god. The belly was seen as the seat of person’s desires. Paul refers to this same type issue in his epistle to the Romans.

Romans 16:17-18 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. 18 For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.

This situation is similar to Eve’s temptation to eat the Fruit of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. During that test Eve was consumed with the desire to feed her own appetite, hence feed her own fleshly desires. In his temptation, the devil tested Eve through her lust of the flesh, lust of the eye, and pride of life or possessions. These same points are said to be the weaknesses of the flesh’s worldly appetites (see 1Jn 2:16). Eve saw the food was good for food (lust of the flesh), and was a delight to her eyes (lust of the eyes), and would make her wise (pride of life) (Gen 3:6). Eve surrendered to her fleshly desires and ate of the fruit. She was promised that if she fed her fleshly appetites, she would be as God, thus being free to follow her own desires.

Similarly, Jesus’ appetite was tempted after His 40-day wilderness fast (see Mat 4:1-11). His “lust of the flesh” temptation was to turn stones into bread to satisfy His hunger. Jesus’ response was that only God’s Word can satisfy a man’s true hunger. For “pride of life,” the devil tempted Jesus to throw Himself from a pinnacle of the Temple, so the angels could save Him, thus proving that He is the long expected Messiah. Jesus told satan that we are not to “test” God. Then for “lust of the eyes,” Jesus was promised that if He worshiped satan, He would receive all this world’s kingdoms and their glory. Jesus answered by saying that the Father is the only one that should receive such service and worship.

These two accounts demonstrate two things. First, what becomes of a person when they make their belly their own god. Second, what happens when one’s belly is put under submission to the One True God. In the first, Eve decided to make following her lusts her god. This led to disobedience and spiritual death. In the second, Jesus died to any lusts on His part and chose to obey  God instead of His belly. This led to obedience and life. Concerning this type obedience leading to life, Jesus said, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul” (Mat 16:24-26)? This same commitment to die to self and live to God was taught by Jesus throughout the New Testament (see Mat 10:39Mar 8:35-36Luk 17:33Joh 12:25Phi 1:20-21). Such commitment is what leads to the promised crown of righteousness (see 2Ti 4:6-8).


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