People turn to sin—whether it be gluttony, substance abuse, lust, or materialism—seeking some kind of satisfaction. But the Lord calls out to us in Isaiah 55:1–2,
Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money come, buy and eat. Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and delight yourself in abundance.
The bad habits (substance abuse, overspending, immorality, etc.) to which we keep turning for fulfillment don’t satisfy us. They just make us miserable and ashamed. When we seek satisfaction in these instead of in God, we make them into idols. God offers something so much better. To illustrate: If a toddler is playing with a sharp knife, one way to deliver him or her from danger is to grab the knife. Another, perhaps more effective, method would be to offer the child a piece of candy, for which he or she will gladly let go of the knife. This is how God motivates us to let go of our favorite (dangerous) sins. God does not merely take away our sin idols. He offers us something much better in their place. Jesus uses the same kind of language speaking of himself:
He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, “From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.” (John 7:38)
I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst. (John 6:35)
Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh. (John 6:49–51)
A key to overcoming any temptation (experiencing change) is realizing that Christ is more satisfying, more enjoyable, than the misuse of food, alcohol, sex, or material things. When tempted, we need to learn to “Taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8), as we learn to feed by faith on Christ instead of trying to satisfy ourselves in the broken cisterns of the world. The lonely, discouraged glutton who is tempted to eat some candy as a kind of drug to make her feel better can instead choose to turn to Christ and be filled spiritually. The man who is tempted to go into debt to buy a new electronic gadget can forsake the temporary “buzz” his new toy offers so that he might have more of Christ, in whom there is unmixed joy and satisfaction.
[This post is an excerpt from Jim Newheiser’s excellent mini-book HELP! I Want to Change, which is part of the counseling series for which I serve as editor.]