Is overeating a sin? Well, I think if you’re asking the question, I think you already have some sense of the answer. But if I was approached with this question I would first have to ask another: Why do you eat? Do you eat to keep from getting sick or do you eat for pleasure? When you’re stressed or worried, do you eat to medicate your problems or do you avoid eating food altogether? Do you see food as a means of escape from life’s troubles or as an unavoidable necessity of life? Can you get through the day without eating certain foods or must you have these foods every day?
The answer to these questions reveals a great deal about whether or not food is something you depend on for comfort or a necessity you indulge in order to live.
Now nothing I’ve said so far is revolutionary. Go into any weight-loss clinic and they’ll not only put you on some eating plan (a diet) but they’ll push psychological counseling that will ask you these same kinds of questions. The reason they do this is no different than any other religion: to determine the depth of your dependency and to help you break this dependency.
But the difference between the Gospel and the psychological counseling is the difference between night and day. The Gospel tells you that your problem lies within your heart and that you need to look beyond yourself to find freedom. Modern psychology tells you that your problem lies outside you, and that you need to look within to find the answer. So to understand a dependence on food (or anything for that matter) as Scripture sees it, we have to understand something about sin.
Scripture defines sin as lawlessness. Whenever we sin we don’t merely break a single biblical command but a whole suite of them. When Adam committed the very first sin, he reached for the forbidden fruit in the garden. But he didn’t just sin by disobeying God, he sinned in a whole host of ways. He doubted God’s command, he stole fruit from his tree, he dishonored his name and rebelled against his authority. Adam did all of these things out the worst desire imaginable. He took the fruit in the vain dream that he would free himself from God’s control and make himself into a god – and thinking it all could be done by eating a piece of fruit that God had made.
So is overeating a sin? Yes. When we overeat, we aren’t merely breaking Jesus command to “eat to live, not live to eat.” We are, like Adam and Eve, placing our trust in a created thing for comfort and joy, and we are committing idolatry without even bowing a knee.
Every sin comes with a price, and the price we pay is dependence. In fact, the price is much greater than mere dependence. It’s slavery.
And an addiction to food is the worst kind of slavery because we can’t just abstain from food and go on with our lives. Drugs or alcohol aren’t required for us live, but food needs to be taken in daily. This is why mere counseling is insufficient because its remedy is insufficient. And this is why only the Gospel is sufficient because through it comes the power of God which is the only thing in this universe that can drive all sinful addictions from our hearts.