GLUTTONY – The Overindulgence of Achan


I was inspired to preach on this series by Timothy Keller preaching on the subject. True to his Kellerian style he has exegeted his culture most sensitively and I have made mention of the some salient points which he has made so compellingly. But in preaching this series, I have tried to illustrate and amplify each of the seven sins with materials which I have gleaned over the years from various other sources; and secondly, where I have found bible characters who, for me, best exemplify those sins, I have based the sermons on them. I hope you are edified by reading them.

The Se7en Deadly Sins – Part 4 – Gluttony – The Overindulgence of Achan
Philippians 3:17-21; Psalm 63:1-5 – 21 November 2010

Each week / as we look at the seven deadly sins / all seven of them
You come across one / and you think Well! / that’s not my problem
You come across another you say / “That’s me / that’s my problem”
Well / you’re right when you sense one or two of those sins
that may not look like an immediate problem in your life

But when you look deeper enough
not just at how you’re troubled by any one of them
but if you look into the desires and inclinations of your heart
you will be surprised to find
that all seven of those deadly sins
are sitting right there / brooding over your heart
– incubating

Now / it’s the same with the sin we’re looking at this morning
At first look few of you will recognise gluttony
to be an evident sin in your life

And yet gluttony is a sin that virtually all of us are troubled with
Every sin the Bible describes is in your heart and it is in your life
You’re not free of any of them

“The Lord saw that that wickedness of man was great on earth
and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart
was only evil continually” / Genesis 6:5

But / let me not jump the gun here

Let me start with the most obvious surface level idea of gluttony
In the most natural sense / we normally defined gluttony
as being “given to excessive eating” “prone to overeating” / “greedy”

Theologians have recognised various forms of gluttony

First / and this is the most obvious one
a glutton is one who eats voraciously / inordinately
One who gluts himself / eats himself sick / without restraints
Clearly a case of overindulgence

You think of all those ancient Chinese emperors
who ate excessively
and then only to induce vomiting
so they could eat some more

But there’s a second kind of gluttony
A glutton is not just one who eats too much
You may not be eating very much / but if every time you ate
you always eat sumptuously / eating only the finest of food
always spending too lavishly on food
eating only the very best / you’re a glutton

The sort of Roman extravagance / where they made pies
out of nightingale tongues and peacock brains

You may be eating very little
but if it costs you lavishly every time you ate / you’re a glutton
Gluttony has little to do with weight
Very thin people may well be massive gluttons
For gluttony is not only eating excessive
it’s eating luxuriously / sumptuously / extravagantly

But there’s a third kind of gluttony
Gluttony is not only eating excessively and eating sumptuously
It’s also eating far too passionately
You eat as if life revolves around food
Food is your chief focus / you’re preoccupied with food
Even when you’re not eating
you’re always thinking about food

Now / when we talk of gluttony in this way some of you might be thinking
that Christianity is all dull and dreary
forbidding enjoyment of any kind

If you’re thinking like that / you couldn’t be further from the truth
The Bible does not forbid us / from enjoying the good gifts of God

There are only two times in the New Testament
where the charge of gluttony is made
On two occasions / the same person is charged with gluttony
Luke 7:34; Mt 11:19

Now against who / is the charge of gluttony made? / Our Lord Jesus

His enemies accused him
of being a glutton and a wine-bibber / a drunkard

Now / what does that tell us about our Lord Jesus
It tells us / that whatever Jesus is / He isn’t an ascetic
Shiva the Hindu deity / may be an ascetic
The Buddha may be an ascetic
they dedicated their lives
to the pursuit of contemplative ideals
they practiced extreme self-denial or self-mortification

But not our Lord Jesus
He accepts invites to dinners / and takes delight in food
One time He turns 180 gallons of water into 180 gallons of wine
He wouldn’t have help the bridal couple make more wine
when wine ran out
if He thought wine in and of itself is bad

We frequently find Jesus / eating at table
both with his friends and his enemies
Quite unashamedly / the Bible declares
“The Son of Man came eating and drinking” / Luke 7:34

When the younger son returns / that father throws him a banquet
Fancy using the banquet
as a metaphor of the heart of the Christian gospel

In fact / the Bible starts with eating / and ends with eating
The Bible starts with people eating in the garden / how cool is that
God says / “There’s pomegranates here / passion fruit there
mangoes / pineapples / grapefruit / whatever pleases you

We have been so keenly conscious of the forbidden fruit
we’ve almost forgotten that God actually says
“You may eat of the fruit of any of these trees”

The Bible began with eating / and it culminates with eating
in the setting of the a grand banquet
– the Marriage Supper of the Lamb
And in between those two narratives
we not only have all those descriptive narratives
about people enjoying good gifts
but we actually have the clear / normative teaching
that “God richly provides us with everything to enjoy”
1 Tim 6:17

We have the teaching that wine makes us merry
and feasting brings us laughter / Eccl 10:19

All good and fascinating food / are ours to enjoy
lamb biryani / butter chicken / beef rending / Peking duck
suckling pig / foie gras / caviar
truffle / garlic buttered crayfish

Anything from crème brulee for dessert
to passion-fruit cheesecake / to pavlova
topped with / cashew nuts / macadamia / pistachio
All that washed down
with the finest Sauvignon Blanc / Chardonnay

Now I’ve got you all thinking of other favourites of yours!

Now / of course as bigger brothers
we are not to cause a weaker brother
to stumble by our eating and drinking
we’re to be sensitive in our eating and drinking

We’re not to insist on our rights to eat / just because we can

But the point is this
The Bible does not forbid the enjoyment of good things

But precisely / it is right here / that we see the subtleties of sin

The things that stumble us / are not the plain evident poisonous stuff
I don’t believe there’s anyone here who’s dabbling with witchcraft
or anyone here who’s struggling
with paedophilia / or substance abuse

It’s often not the poison / It’s often the pleasure that ruins us
its the overindulgence in apparently harmless pursuits
shopping / eating / drinking / travelling / training / exercising
fishing / skiing / collecting / massive endless texting

And it is right here that we see the real spirit of gluttony
We may not see it explicitly / but implicitly
it’s right there in our heart

What’s that? / It is this:
Taking the good gifts of God / and making them ultimate things

So at the heart of the sin / gluttony is more than just about eating

At the heart of it / gluttony is taking some good gifts of God
making that our everything / and engorging ourselves with it
until we’re overstuffed and sated

Gluttony is the craving for anything / immodestly

Adam and Eve sinned the sin of gluttony
when they ate of the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil
because they wanted to become like God

The story of Achan / illustrates for us how very possible it is
to be a glutton / not of food / but of something else

The Israelites have been brought out of Egyptian slavery
wondering in the wilderness for forty years
then they entered the Promised Land
stumbled upon this fortified city called Jericho

God says “I will deliver this mighty military citadel into your hands
But don’t you go running into the city
and plunder and take the booty for yourselves
I want you to leave it for me
for my honour / for my glory
for my temple / for my work

This is consistently what God says whenever He gets His people to take a city
He says / You’re not to see yourselves as plunderers
You’re not to go into Canaan
as imperialists / for national expansion
You’re not doing this for nationalist zeal and political expansion
And neither are you to plunder anything for your own personal gain

You must not see the wealth there as your spoil and pickings
The wealth is for the ultimate building of My Temple
for the worship of the people / to My glory
I am taking you into the land / so that there / in that place
you can be my people and I your God

And right through this is what we see
Obedience brought success / Disobedience brought failure

Nobody when he’s caught pleaded ignorance
it is the name of the game
Everybody / right from the general down to the smallest soldier
Everyone understands the clear command of God

So / they enter Jericho / with God’s help they take city
and a man call Achan spots a beautiful Babylonian garment
and exquisite silver ware and gold

Achan is supposed to have had the garment destroyed
and the gold and silver turned over to the Levites
to be purified / and used for the building of the tabernacle
But he does not do this / instead picks them up / hides them

Achan took that which was korban / what was forbidden for himself
he knew it was korban / but he’s got to have it

Now he knows that it is wrong because when he is found out
and given the death penalty / he does not protest
he does not say / “I didn’t know plundering is a capital offence”

Because he knows it was / he knows God’s law
In fact / He says
“Indeed I have sinned against the Lord God of Israel” Jos 7:20

The point is this / Knowing that he is not supposed to touch the booty
he takes it anyway

And this / is the consuming / predatory power of gluttony

Gluttony drives you crazy
to grab the things /you feel you’ve got to have
Gluttony has this hypnotic grip on you / its spellbinding

Our hearts are so gluttonous we’ll shove aside
what we know to be God desires
Then / in the most cavalier fashion
we will totally disregard
what we know to be what God hates
we will go ahead and have them anyway

I don’t know what it is you’re a glutton for
but you’re a glutton for something / None of us is free from this sin

There’s something in your life / you’ve got to have
you look to them / to give you life

Saint Augustine / called it concupiscence
It comes from the Latin cupere meaning “wishful desire”
from which the figure of Cupid was derived
It speaks of an ardent sensual longing appetite

Solomon knows it / he says
“Wise men and fools alike spend their lives scratching for food
yet his appetite is never satisfied” / Eccles 6:7

We’re gluttonous / not because we’re hungry / but because we’re empty

This is part of the reasons / why we drink life up / in great gulps
Let me give you an example
Ever notice a bunch of tourists
when they disembarked from their bus
say in Tongariro National Park / or Queenstown
and seeing for the first time The Remarkables / or Mitre Peak
with its beauty reflected on the pristine lake waters

What do most of the tourists do?

They would start clicking away on their cameras
They haven’t yet quite taken in the beauty
standing majestically before them
They had only just given it a casual glance

They may not know it / but strange as it may seem
it’s the photo they want not the real thing

And they hurriedly board the bus / to go to the next destination
only to do the same thing

And if you’re an Asian like me / it gets even more embarrassing
you’ve got to have yourself stand right in front of the mountain
and get your friend to take a shot of “you” / not the mountain

Surely / the better thing to do is first to take it all in
the beauty / the sheer sight of it standing right before you
– for real
to soak it all in / the magnificence and majesty of the peak
and then / just before you leave / to take some shots
to help you remember the experience

But why do we do that?

It was Marva Dawn who first pointed it out to us
We can’t drink up life fast enough / So we drink it in / in huge gulps

I mean / The whole of Europe in seven days / how is that possible
Or 764 friends on Facebook
I mean who on earth could have 764 “friends”
acquaintances perhaps / friends of friends perhaps

The record by the way is held by a certain Steve Hofstetter
who had approximately 200,000 friends on Facebook
before they reset his profile cause as he was slowing down FB

He currently has over 5000 friends

By the way / did you know that we meet more people in one day
on the streets of New York
than the medieval person meets in a lifetime

What is all this doing to us / you must wonder

Now the reason why we drink up life in great gulps
is because we tell ourselves
“Right here / right now / I can find happiness”

Henrik Ibsen the Norwegian playwright has a play called The Wild Duck
In it he has a line that says: If you take the life-lie away
from the average man
straight away you take away his happiness

Ibsen is saying / Everybody has his life lie
Everybody believes there is something / someone
that will bring him happiness
You take that away from him he’s virtually got nothing to live for

And there are only two ways to have that myth exploded
And that’s to either to be in plenty / or to be in poverty

Plenty / exposes the lie
that if you have what you want so much
it will make you happy

Poverty / exposes the lie
that you’ve got to have all that stuff / before you can be happy

People who finally end up searching for God
are either those / who have their dreams dashed
or have their dreams realised / and come up empty

So there’s these two places
where the myth of your life-lie can be exploded

But the trouble is this / most of us are neither very rich nor very poor
Most of us have never acquired such massive wealth
and come up empty / to conclude that the life-lie is indeed a lie

Neither have most of us suffered abject poverty
and yet remain happy
to conclude that the happiness of wealth is a myth

So for most of us / who are in the middle
we stay in the daydream a lot more longer / a whole lot longer
and consequently we stay away from God a lot while longer

Our journey looks a little like this
We get to have a little of plenty / we’re not terribly poor or destitute
We’ve enough to keep us hopeful / and that keeps us believing
that if only we get to have a little more / it’ll make us happy

But until we die / it never comes / so we never know it
But all the time that we are hoping life slips through our fingers

But what’s the deal here? / What’s happening?
Why are we like that? Why do we crave like we do?
I like Ronald Rolheiser’s take on it / he rightly says
that the reason why we crave and hunger
is not because we’re too ungrateful / too greedy
to over-sexed / or hopelessly neurotic
He says the reason we’re so restless
is that congenitally we’re overcharged / over-built for this earth

We were built for infinity / We’re eternal spirits
Our hearts are made to be latched on to a much higher Being
But we have all these pathetic dreams that disappoint us

Solomon is right / “God has planted eternity in their hearts”
Eccl 3:11

God created us with a hunger to long for Him
God created us for worship / to offer Him praise and worth

Gluttony is offering supreme praise and giving supreme worth
to some good gifts of God / instead of offering them to God

Now / when you define it this way / then we’re all gluttons for something
Many of us are gluttons for human approval

As you work / you may be working far too hard
for the approval you could get
out of your performance and accomplishment

Whenever you do that
you’ve become a glutton for people’s approval
“Look at how good I am / how smart I am
Look at how capable I am / how efficient I am”

If we’re all gluttons for something / what are you gluttonous for?

Tim Keller has gone a long way
into exploring the whole concept of idolatry
and one of the areas he gets us to look into is to ask ourselves
* what it is / that we mostly think of
when we don’t really have to be thinking about

In other words / ask yourself / “What’s my daydream
Archbishop William Temple / uses what he calls the solitude test
What do you most think about / in your solitude
What is it that you most effortlessly think about / when you
have nothing pressing that you need to be thinking about?
When you lie in bed / and you have nothing to worry about
– what is the one thing you find yourself
most thinking about?
– somewhere your mind most effortlessly goes to
– like a default setting
you’ll there / whenever you have space to spare
you’re dwelling on that thing
– that person / that dream
Its your preoccupation

And even when you know you can’t possible have it
or is anywhere near to having it
it still gives you tremendous gratification and joy
just to be able to dwell on it in your mind

Now / whatever that is / you’re a glutton for that

Keller gives us another way to sniff out what you might be gluttonous for

He asks us to consider how we react to our unanswered prayers
How you react to your unanswered prayers
tells a lot about what your ultimate love is

If you’re praying for something and you say
“Lord / this is what I’ve got to have”
You can deny me anything / and I’ll still stay by you
but if you deny me this / we’re through / I’m out of here”

In other words / this thing whatever it is / is for you / non-negotiable
But God is

Its a no brainer to figure out who your God really is
The things or the people you so passionate desire
reveal who your god really is
despite your loud protestation that he is not!

Still / yet another way to find out what you’re gluttonous for
is to look for the times / when your disappointment is inconsolable

Take a long look / deep into your heart and you will find
always right there
there’s an unrestrained craving for something

You will always find that the reason you’re so angry / so envious
so disappointed / so discouraged / so depressed
is because there’s something in your heart
that you crave for gluttonously
like a voracious carnivore / and you’re not having it

If only you could be moderate about what you desire
If only you could say
“Man! / Would be great if I could drive that red Ferrari
But / that’s OK / I don’t have to have it”

Or “Gee! Wouldn’t it be great if he took notice of me
But that’s OK / I’m in God’s hands / He is sovereign”

Or “Would be great / if my child could do well in school
But I’m OK with how he does / We have God with us”

If you took this attitude / then when you fail to have what you like
you wouldn’t go jump from the 34th floor!
the sky wouldn’t fall on your head!

Sure / you’ll be disappointed / but you wouldn’t be devastated
Sure / you’ll be a little annoyed / but you wouldn’t be bitter

The reason why many of you / are depressively unhappy
is because there’s this thing you’re lusting after
and you’re devouring it / and it is devouring you in turn

Right / how then may we be saved from gluttony

Now / you may be surprised by this / but the strategy to win
the war against gluttony / is not to say “No” / but to say “Yes”

Contrary to what some people might think
the cure for gluttony / is not fasting / but feasting

Let me explain
The Bible strangely is filled with metaphors from the culinary world
and it tells us to say “Yes” to them

* It talks about milk
“Desire the sincere spiritual milk of the word” / 1 Peter 2:2
* It talks about bread
“I am the bread of life
Come to me and you will not hunger / Jn 6:35
* It talks about taste
“Taste and see that the Lord is good” / Psalm 34:8
* It talks about thirst
“Come / everyone who thirsts / come to the waters
and he who has no money / come / buy and eat!
Come / buy wine and milk without money and without price
Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread
and your labour for that which does not satisfy?
Listen diligently to me / and eat what is good
and delight yourselves in rich food” / Isaiah 55:1-2

God is here saying / “Fine me sweet / tasty / delectable

Gluttony cannot be uprooted / But we can replace its object of desire

The only way to fight gluttony / is to have a spread before us
far more delicious and delightful that what we’re gluttonous for
something far more stunning and smashing / and enchanting
than what we’ve been gluttonous for

Let me explain

You have this great gluttonous desire
to hook up a record-breaking kingfish / on the Coromandel

You dream about it / you plan for it / you watched DVD’s
of that kind of fishing / you save up for it / preoccupied over it
Then all of a sudden / out of the blue / a rich uncle offers you
a free / all-expense paid 3 wks trip to Alaska
to fish for the highly coveted halibut / the king of all flounders
these denizens of the ocean could hit the scales at 400 pounds

Now / receiving an offer like that / quite suddenly
your dream for hooking that kingi / fizzles into nothing

Instead you’re now ruined
for this trip to Alaska at the end of next year
– you’re now retying all your tackle / loading up a different reel
– watching a different DVD / you now daydream the halibut

How did the dream over the kingfish die
Not by yanking it out of your mind / you couldn’t do that

But simply by replacing it with a dream / of greater grandeur

Thomas Chalmer has a sermon called The Expulsive Power of a New Affection

Chalmers wrote:
“You never will be able to arrest any of its leading pursuits
by a naked demonstration of their vanity
It is quite in vain to think of stopping one of these pursuits
in any way else / but by stimulating to another
But what cannot be thus destroyed / may be dispossest
and one taste may be made to give way to another
and to lose its power entirely as the reigning affection of the mind”

Chalmers is saying
You can never turn your heart away from a beautiful thing
You’ll go on being mesmerised and enchanted by it

The only way is to turn your heart away from a beautiful thing
is to look at a more beautiful object

John Doone lived in a time when people had space
to reflect and think / and he came up with this

He said”
“Dearly I love you / and would be loved fain
But am betroth’d unto your enemy
Divorce me / untie / or break that knot again
Take me to you / imprison me / for I
Except you enthral me / never shall be free
Nor ever chaste / except you ravish me”

Doone is here saying to Jesus
Take me / imprison me / because if you don’t imprison me
I’ll be imprisoned by something else
Ravish me / because if you don’t ravish me
I’ll be ravished by something else / someone else

The cure for gluttony / is not fasting / but feasting

The way to be healed of your gluttony is not for you
to make an iron-willed determining to fast from your cravings

The only way to be healed of it / is for you
to feast on the sweetness of Christ
to seek to be enraptured by Christ so that your soul is satisfied

Only when your heart is smitten by Christ
will you be deeply satisfied
Apart from Christ there is no satisfaction
If your soul isn’t satisfied with Christ
you’ll will be gluttons for all sorts of pacifiers

Jesus says to you / “I am the bread of life
whoever comes to me shall not hunger
and whoever believes in me shall never thirst / John 6:35-36

Jesus says / “Man shall not live by bread alone
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” / Matt 4:4

And we are to ask for it afresh everyday
We are to say / “Give us this day our daily bread” / Matt 6:11

Hebrews 12:1,2 “Let us run / with endurance
the race that is set before us
looking to Jesus / the author and perfecter of our faith”


















About Andrew Lim

When I was pastor of Christ Sanctuary, I’ve always thought “Although I don't have a job, I’ve got this glorious calling I’m eternally grateful.” So I am a pastor. But who am I really? Am I who my flock make me out to be? I am probably not even what I imagine myself to be. Whoever I am, You have searched me and know me, oh God. Whoever I am, You know I am yours” [Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “Wer bin Ich?”] But that said, you may come to know something about me from what I put on “paper” here. I will blog on whatever inspires me or jolts my memory. I’ve been married for thirty-nine years to my level-headed wife, Gloria. We have two daughters Hannah and Rachael, and a labrador called Chutney.
This entry was posted in The Seven Deadly Sins. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to GLUTTONY – The Overindulgence of Achan

  1. Melanie says:

    This is fantastic . I have been pondering these very thoughts. Thank you


  2. Pingback: Best Fruit Dip: Ketogenic/Dairy-Free/Vegan/Paleo – Remedy Health and Wellness

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