Introduction

The healthy spiritual diet – are you eating healthy spiritually?  

Many of us are trying to live our lives as healthy as we possibly can.  We have been told that daily exercise is good for our heart and for our mental health as well.  So, some of us do our very best to diligently exercise as often as we can throughout the week.  The goal being that we want to live as long as we possibly can.

The second thing that some of us attempt to do in order to have good health is we try to have a healthy diet.  We have been told that a healthy diet can help to protect us from chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer, diabetes, hypertension, and of course, it can also help us maintain a healthy weight.  When we have a healthy diet, again, we are told that we will think better, feel better, move better, and can potentially live longer lives.  

As I have said over the past couple of weeks, many of us have a great concern for our physical condition which I believe to be very understandable.  It is understandable because I believe all of us want to live as long as we possibly can, right?  

With that thought in mind, I again say to you this week that we should be just as concerned when it comes to our spiritual health.  We want to live as long as we possibly can, physically, but why don’t we show this same concern spiritually?  Don’t you want to live on spiritually after this physical passes away?  In order for us to continue to live on spiritually, we must be in good health spiritually.

So, I want to ask a couple of questions to all of you today for you to have in mind and focus on.  First question – are you eating healthy spiritually?  In other words, I am asking whether or not you have a healthy spiritual diet.  My second question is this – does what you eat spiritually make you think better, feel better, and are you moving better?  These are questions that I want you to focus on throughout my message today and even after this message.

What Do You Consume

On the thought of having a healthy spiritual diet, I want to first point out to all of you that our world is like a big buffet.  What I mean by this is that there is much food in our world for our spirit to be able to consume.  Now, I understand that the thought of the spirit being able to consume (eat) anything would be something that some of us would consider to be far-fetched.  Far-fetched because many of us don’t think of ourselves in a spiritual light.  Far-fetched because a spirit being able to eat anything doesn’t make much sense at first thought.  Yet, as we can feel hunger in our stomach, I tell you that your spirit has a great desire to fill (to satisfy) its hunger as well.

Hunger of the spirit

Again, I want you to remember that all of your thoughts, feelings, and actions are born in your soul.  What I can also conclude from that thought is that all of your dreams, desires, and goals – whatever they may be — are all born in your spirit.  We all hunger to fulfill those goals and I believe we feel that hunger on a spiritual level.  The belief being that fulfilling our dreams and goals will bring about happiness, right?  So, I believe that all of us simply desire to be happy, and I believe we all desire to be happy in our soul.  

Now, the problem that many of us face today is that we do not truly understand what can satisfy our soul.  Many of us think we know what can satisfy our soul, but at the same time, many of us absolutely struggle to satisfy our soul because we simply don’t know how or what can satisfy our soul.  This means the soul still hungers and is not happy.

Now, for those of you that don’t believe your soul can hunger for anything or consume anything, I want to share some points from scripture.  In the book of Psalms, you’ll see that David often spoke of how his soul longed for the Lord and was thirsty for God (Ps. 42:2; 63:1; 119:81; 143:6).  What this meant was that David’s soul had a strong hunger that he felt could only be satisfied by God.  

In the gospels, Jesus often spoke of feeding the hunger of the spirit.  On the day after feeding 5,000 with a few pieces of fish and five loaves of bread, some of them sought to be fed by Jesus again.  When they came to Jesus, Jesus turned and said to them, “He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst (John 6:35).”  I want you to understand that Jesus was not talking about providing them with physical food or liquid drink but was speaking to feeding and quenching the hunger of the soul.

Our spirit is living and breathing, and like an empty stomach, it goes through hunger pangs.  Your soul constantly seeks its next meal to have its hunger satisfied – to be happy.  So, what is most important for us is that we are feeding our spirit the right sustenance so that it can feel good and be merry.  Again, we know that a merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones (Prov. 17:22).  

An Unhealthy Spiritual Diet

So, what should we or what should we not feed our soul in order for us to have a healthy spiritual diet?  I want to direct your attention to Matthew’s gospel for a brief moment here today.

Jesus and the devil

After fasting in the wilderness for forty days and forty nights, scripture tells us that Jesus found Himself being hungry (Matt. 4:2).  Now, I can only imagine the kind of hunger pangs that Jesus was going through after going forty days fasting.  To go this long without, we could imagine that Jesus may have been physically hurting in pain and maybe even physically exhausted or physically weak.

We are then told in scripture that the tempter – Satan – came to Jesus while Jesus was hungry and physically in a weakened state (Matt. 4:3).  Remember how Peter described the devil in his first letter when he said that the devil is like a roaring lion that seeks who it can destroy (1 Pet. 5:8). When lions go on the hunt, they typically attack when their prey is in a weakened state.  So, don’t think for a second that the devil arrived by coincidence when it appeared that Jesus was in a weakened state.

Again, as I have said over the past couple of weeks, we live in a world with two intertwining domains – the physical and the spiritual domains.  So, while Jesus was in a physically weakened state, I suppose the devil considered that time to be the best time to test the conditioning of Jesus’ soul and attack.  Again, this would not be far-fetched because when Satan went on the attack against Job, he attacked him through the physical in order to get Job to go against the Lord in his soul.  (The devil also attacked while Jesus was in a weakened state on the cross.)

So, the devil says to Jesus, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread (Matt. 4:3).”  Now, this may sound like it was a challenge that was physical in nature, but I tell you today that this was not a physical challenge by the devil.  The devil had begun a spiritual battle here to test the heart of Jesus and Jesus certainly knew that this was a test of His heart.

But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ ”

KEY VERSE – MATTHEW 4:4 NKJV

So, Jesus responds to the devil with a strong saying that is very famous, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ ”

Living by bread alone

Many have quoted this scripture, but what does Jesus actually mean by this?

First and foremost, Jesus’ response was all about spiritual living.  If Jesus was solely speaking about physically living in the world, then this statement would not be true, right?  We have to have bread or some kind of food to eat!  Our body requires some sort of sustenance in order to be able to keep on living.  So, whatever our diet may be, we know that we have to put something in our belly or else we would die of starvation.

Now, our physical bodies may be able to live off what the world provides but the truth of the matter is that physical food does nothing to fill our soul.  Our soul would be temporarily fed and we would go back to being hungry because the soul would feel empty again.  Simply put, our soul requires more food than the world could ever provide it with.  Spiritually, we cannot live by bread alone and Jesus tells us that every word of God is what our soul needs in order to be able to live.

When we try to spiritually live solely by the food of the world, the end results aren’t good.  I want to direct your attention to Mark’s gospel for a moment to show you the kind of person we become when we, in our spirit, are hung up on the buffet of the world.

In the gospel of Mark, Jesus we read about an occasion when Jesus was confronted by some of the religious leaders.  They were accusing and judging that the disciples had defiled themselves because they had eaten food without washing their hands (Mark 7:1-5).  This, again, was another spiritual battle where they were accusing the disciples of being corrupted in their spirit.  

Jesus understood well the battle and responded to the religious leaders and also spoke to the people.  In that passage of scripture, Jesus tells the people, “There is nothing that enters a man from outside which can defile him; but the things which come out of him, those are the things that defile a man (Mark 7:14-15).”

Jesus then explained to the disciples, “whatever enters a man from outside cannot defile him, because it does not enter his heart but his stomach, and is eliminated, thus purifying all foods.  What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,  thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man (Mark 7:20-23).”  

The traditions of men

All of the characteristics that Jesus mentioned to the disciples come from those that suffer from a poor spiritual dietWhen Jesus responded to the religious leaders, He told them that they had laid aside the commandment of God for the “tradition of men (Mark 7:8).”  So, we could say that the “bread” that the religious leaders had been consuming in their spirit were those traditions of men – think of this as worldly teachings and logic.

Because they were living by the bread of men, we would see throughout the gospels that the religious leaders’ actions were often contentious, and filled with anger, hatred, and selfish ambitions.  I use these words purposely to describe the religious leaders because in his letter to the Galatians, Paul used these characteristics to describe works of the flesh.

Paul wrote that some of the works of the flesh included hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, and heresies (Gal. 5:19-21).  Again, these characteristics describe those who consume from an unhealthy spiritual diet. They were in poor spiritual health because they were eating from an unhealthy spiritual diet.  Their poor spiritual diet actually led those religious leaders to be the ones that had defiled themselves.  Every thought, every feeling, every action is born from what our spirit has consumed.

Are you defiled in your spirit today because of what you have consumed?  Consider today that all of us have been fed some of the same bread that those religious leaders were fed since the time we were children. We were fed that we must gain (profit) in order to be successful in life.  The end results have led to many of us facing an endless amount of struggle and burdens to satisfy the empty hunger of our soul.  So many of us have developed nothing but anxiety and stress – a spirit of infirmity – because we have spiritually tried to live from eating poorly spiritually. 

The Healthy Spiritual Diet Choice

So, we should want to eat better, right?  We should want to have a healthy spiritual diet.  So, the question that some of us may ask is this:  What is the healthy spiritual diet for our soul?  

Let’s turn our attention back to my key verse for today because Jesus gives us the answer we seek to answer that question.  Again, Jesus stated that man cannot live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ ”  Pay very close attention to the fact that Jesus says the only way that man can live is by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.

The word of God

Jesus quotes from Deuteronomy 8:3 where Moses recalled when the Lord fed the children of Israel with manna.  Manna was considered to be the “bread of heaven” which the Lord provided to the children of Israel for a time while they were dwelling in the wilderness.  The children of Israel had to learn to trust in and depend on the Lord to provide this manna to them in order for them to be able to live to see another day.

Moses would then go on to tell the children of Israel that they had learned a very valuable lesson.  The lesson being that man cannot make it by himself – live by bread alone – but that man is in need of God to sustain him.  So, again, we cannot live by bread alone but by what the Lord provides the soul the sustenance it needs in order to live.  

What God has given to our soul to sustain is His word, and John told us that Jesus is the word of God (John 1:1).  So, if you’re going to have a healthy spiritual diet, you should be eating up – consuming – every last word that Jesus taught, preached, and commanded us to live by!

In his letter, James wrote that we should not just be hearers of the word but that we should be doers of the word (Jas. 1:22).  He would then go on to write, “ He who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does (Jas. 1:25).”  Let us understand that the “perfect law of liberty” is the word of God.  We must eat, digest, and be consumed with Jesus Christ so that our heart – that is our spirit – becomes Christ.

Peter would write, “as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby (1 Pet. 2:2).”  I remember when I was little, we were told how eating carrots can help our eyesight and how eating spinach could make us strong like Popeye.  I tell you today that I believe there are great benefits eating up the word of God.  Those benefits are that you will grow in your spirit – you are going to be in a better place spiritually.  

Your thoughts are going to become pure.  Your feelings are going to become pure.  Your actions are, therefore, going to become pure.  I tell you today that you will no longer have that empty feeling inside after you have sat at the buffet of the Lord and dined on His word!  The word of God will fill up the empty hunger of your spirit.  You are going to be blessed – which means you are going to be spiritually happy.  These things will happen because you have eaten from a healthy spiritual diet.

The word of God will sustain you today, tomorrow, and eternally – you will never go hungry in your spirit again.  So, I encourage all of you today that if you are still dining at the buffet of the world, let that unhealthy diet for your spirit go!  Go and dine at the buffet of the Lord and consume the word of God.  Eating a healthy spiritual diet that the Lord can provide to you and watch how much better you will be.

Thought: The Healthy Spiritual Diet

By Rev. Leo H. McCrary II – August 22, 2021
Responsive Reading – Matthew 4:1-11
Key Verse – Matthew 4:4