Summary: This is the ninth message in my SURVIVOR series, focusing upon staying spiritually healthy by utilizing a balanced spiritual diet (11-10-02).
Prepare a fill-in-the-blank sheet for worship which contains the message outline. Also, on the back of the sheet, include a section which says “A Believer’s Menu.” List the following items: Malice, Deceit, Hypocrisy, Envy, Slander, God’s Word, Prayer, Fellowship, Worship, Bible Study, LIFE Group, Witnessing, Ministry, and Missions. Congregation members will interact with the menu during the sermon, marking some items off and circling others.
Show video segment, The Diet, from Shockwave Video 4, Group Resources.
Most of us can definitely relate to that guy. Many of us have a great desire to lose weight and become more healthy, but we find it so difficult to deal with the stress of dieting. I truly understand the stress involved in that carton of “Whoppers!” Without a doubt, sticking to a special diet is a very difficult task.
Of course, the people on Survivor don’t have a problem with it. They simply don’t have anything to eat. All of their temptations have been removed. Unless they are tempted to eat tree bark or sand, they pretty much have to deal with it. I think they may have found the secret to dieting! Totally remove yourself from the possibility of food, and you will definitely lose weight! Now, there’s a diet!
But, you know, as Christians we must be on a diet. Ours is a spiritual diet. We must carefully watch our intake of those things which will draw us nearer to God or lead us to stray from Him. Like any other diet, there are things that are good for us and things that are bad. There are things that we can enjoy without fear or guilt, and there are things that we must totally avoid. And, in the end, our balanced spiritual diet will lead us to spiritual growth and good spiritual health. As followers of Jesus, we have to seek spiritual nourishment at God’s table. That is the place where we must seek to stay healthy and well-fed.
Peter dealt with this subject of spiritual diet. In his first letter to the scattered, persecuted church, he used vivid language to show a good spiritual menu. Let’s look at what God led Peter to write in 1 Peter 2:1-3.
*** Read 1 Peter 2:1-3***
Interesting words! We see words like crave, milk, growing, tasting … sounds like a diet, doesn’t it? So, as we work to remain spiritually nourished and fed, what are some specifics that we need to remember about our spiritual diet?
1. There are some cravings that we absolutely must resist.
Scripture: Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. (1 Peter 2:1)
You know, there are just some things that have no place in the life of a Christian. Just like there are some foods that are just plain bad for us … foods that we should never eat. The behaviors listed in this verse have no place in the spiritual diet of a follower of Jesus Christ.
Have you ever gotten into something just plain nasty that messed your clothes up? Something that got your clothes so nasty you didn’t want them to touch you when you pulled them off? That has happened to me before. I had to work underneath a house one time, and it was so nasty under that house. I had coveralls on, so I was pretty protected. But when it came time to take them off, I didn’t want to touch them. They were so nasty! So, I just had to take a deep breath and strip them off as quickly as I could … then I ran for the shower!
Now look at what we are told to do with this unpleasant list of activities and sin ... we are told to “rid ourselves” of them. The word translated here as “rid yourselves,” is a very vivid word. It is the word for stripping off a piece of clothing. It simply means to “strip off!” Just as if you were stripping off a set of stinky, nasty clothes.
But what are we instructed to strip off? What are some menu items that don’t belong in the diet of a believer?
• Malice – That’s just a good old desire to harm people. It means that you want to do evil to someone even if they have done nice things for you. This word is talking about being just plain mean. And lots of times malice can be hidden behind good actions. Do you know any people like that? Any in the church? I sure do! I know a woman from my former church just eat up with malice – she has turned her back to me and my family in public … and we have never done anything to harm her. I just can’t stand it when supposedly Christian folk act just plain evil … like the world. Christians, malice has to be removed from our menu.