Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin, once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law, but under grace.
The Sixth Wednesday of Lent 4/01/2020
The Twin Sisters of Gluttony and Lust
My Brothers and Sisters in Christ;
This evening I would like to introduce you to a pair of ladies, twins, and really all-American girls! To some of you, they will be total strangers, and this will be the first time you have ever met. Some of you will find them strangely familiar, perhaps, although you have never been properly introduced before. Still, there may be others of you who are quite well acquainted with them.
Let me introduce you to the twin sisters of Gluttony and Lust. If you find them a little disgusting, don’t let it bother you. They have no sensitivity to what others think, and you’re right, they are disgusting. They are also deadly murderers. They murder souls.
Now, before I have any women’s groups upset, let me explain. I call these two sins “twins” because they are so much alike, and I call them “sisters” not because they are feminine – or particularly the sin of women – but because they are so seductive and alluring to the unwary, and, let’s face it, a woman is the symbol of all that is seductive and alluring and attractive. When I imagine gluttony and lust, however, I see two aged and over-painted flirts trying to look seductive and desirable, but looking totally disgusting instead.
Let me introduce you to gluttony first. Ms. Gluttony is known for her consumption. Gluttony is usually equated with consuming great quantities. But gluttony doesn’t consume for the sake of getting the food, or whatever, eaten. There is no need to consume in gluttony, nor any great desire for whatever it is that is being consumed. It is just consumption itself. It is not even consuming for the sake of getting full, for Ms. Gluttony cannot get full. She doesn’t taste, particularly, or admire the quality of that which she consumes. She just consumes. And gluttony doesn’t just consume other things. The glutton consumes him or herself as well, in his or her gluttony.
The consuming is actually an escape. The glutton is in flight from life. Often people view gluttony as one of the more sociable and companionable sins. Sometimes it masquerades as a fun time for a group, but gluttony is a very solitary sin. Gluttony is focusing on the thing consumed and on self getting that consumable thing and consuming it. In eating, the glutton escapes thought and purpose and interaction with others and focuses on eating. He doesn’t focus on taste, color, smell, the sensation of being filled, or anything else. The glutton focuses on consuming.
The glutton doesn’t escape into enjoyment but from it. The glutton is incapable of real appreciation of beauty, taste, or fun, because the glutton is fleeing from the pressures of reality, and therefore the qualities of it, in favor of a non-demanding bowl of swill.
Therefore, Ms. Gluttony is also devoid of gratitude. She can never give thanks because it is either just swill, and not worthy of thanks, or she is ignoring it and fleeing from it. In this lack of thanksgiving, gluttony is like the other sins. Pride is offended by beauty or worth in anything but itself, and so gives no thanks. Envy cannot bear the sight of beauty in another, and cannot see it in itself. Anger will destroy it if it cannot possess it. Greed sees the beauty in others only if they are reflecting his. Sloth doesn't have the spirit or energy to enjoy or appreciate beauty. Lust seeks beauty but doesn’t know how to enjoy it. And gluttony doesn’t see beauty but reduces everything to the level of swill. Therefore, none of the sins can, or wants to, give thanks.
Ms. Gluttony is usually identified with overeating. It is a common sort of gluttony which over- eats, although eating too much is not necessarily gluttony, but there are other sorts of gluttony. One popular form today is dieting. The focus is the same, on the consumable items, and on the self, but this gluttony expresses itself in denial of food instead of over-use of it. It is still self-consuming, and it is still escape from the pressures of reality into one’s stomach.
Another gluttony is drug abuse. What else is a “high” but an escape? And everyone knows that if you are “into” drugs, then talking about them, or the high, or getting the drug, or preparing to use it, or using the drug is the entire life of the glutton for drugs. Almost the same gluttony is the alcohol gluttony, which is most graphically illustrated on skid row but is no less present in the Bloody-Mary breakfast, the six martini lunch, and the dinner wines and after-dinner drunk of the social drunk. Much that is simple gluttony is passed off as helpless alcoholism. And then there is more than just a symbol in the phrase “a glutton for punishment,” or for work, or for youth, or life.
But enough “flattery” for this sister, Lust is every bit as charming as her twin. So, let me introduce you to Lust.
First of all, I can say that everything I have said about gluttony applies to Ms. Lust. She deals with consuming, she, also, is an escape from life, and she is thankless too. But Ms. Lust deals in sex.
Actually, Lust deals in sex and in self-love. Lust is pure craving. Lust has no concern with partners, quality, morals, or anything, only with satisfying the craving. Lust is very lonely, although she has a lot of company and is often found mingling in a crowd. But she is not interested in the crowd, or the mingling, only in the craving. And she is empty because there is no time for joy or beauty, or love or anything, only the craving which refuses to be satisfied, and which demands more and different every day.
It is a common thought that lust stirs up sex, excites it. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Lust kills it, Lust dries it up, it empties it of meaning and enjoyment. Lust actually takes what is free and natural and good, and makes an onerous task of it. It makes a work ethic of it and tells the lustful one to work at it, work harder!, to satisfy that craving.
Lust offers nothing to another, no permanence, no obligations, no relationship, no responsibility, no involvement. And lust receives just as little. When all is said and done lust walks away with nothing, not even satisfaction. Nothing has been added to ease the pain or loneliness.
Lust, like gluttony, feeds on other sins. It feeds on envy that wants to have what everyone else has, and claims the right to have it. It feeds on greed which wants to have or possess without purpose to the possessing, and while taking no joy in having, other than simply having. It feeds on sloth, lacking the desire or the energy to get involved or to take any responsibility. It is like gluttony in this too, it is mindless and sense-less. It thinks nothing, and it feels, sees tastes, and hears nothing. Only the craving. And it escapes a world full of reality by contemplating its craving like Buddha’s navel.
As ugly, as over-painted and disgusting as these two sisters are, they have a peculiar seductiveness to them, and they draw many unawares under their spell. But there is an escape from them. There is a way to say, “No!”
The first step is self-examination. Look carefully and honestly at yourself and see if the description fits you. Are you a glutton? Are you lustful?
The second step is faith. That involves repenting and trusting God for forgiveness. It also involves a commitment to Christ and a desire to live in accordance with His will.
The third step, which can only be used if you have already accomplished the first two, is our text tonight. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin, once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Even so, consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law, but under grace.
If we believe, we have been buried with Christ in our Baptism, into His death. And the one who has died is no longer under sin, for verse 7 says that he who has died is freed from sin. Having died with Christ, we believe we shall also live with Him – both in eternity and now. For the death that Jesus died He died to sin once and for all – for all men and for all time. Having died, there is no more death for Him, or for us who have shared in His death by Baptism. The life He now lives, He lives to God, and so must we. So, St. Paul tells us to consider ourselves dead to sin. We are, now, dead to sin – and we ought to reckon ourselves, to consider ourselves to be so. Many times this feels contrary to fact because our sinful nature still lives and still hungers after sin and corruption, but the truth expressed in God’s Word is that we are truly spiritually dead to sin, and alive to God, in Christ Jesus. With that fact in mind, it is clear that sin is unnatural for us spiritually, and that we must stop it, by the power which God gives us, wherever we can.
Our text says, “Do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey its lusts.” Instead of using our bodies as tools of Satan and sin, we are to present them in daily living to God as tools of His will and service for Him. And we are even given God’s promise that when we recognize that we are no longer spiritually alive to sin and no longer need to serve it, with God's help, sin shall not be master over us! We are not under the control of sin any longer but of God. We are no longer under the law which spurs sin on in us, but under the grace of God which forgives our sins and promises to release us from the doing of sin as well as the guilt.
If we so consider ourselves and live with God’s help, we can escape our twin sisters of gluttony and lust. We can live as His people and serve Him as tools of righteousness. We may not be able to stop sinning entirely in this life, but we can escape the control of sin, and the soul-murdering plots of these two aged and over-painted flirts, the twin sisters of Gluttony and Lust. God grant you the faith and the strength to escape all of the snares of these and other sins, for the sake of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.