Why Some Believers Can Be a Bad Influence on Your Health Behaviors

Just like non-believers, Christians can be a bad influence on your health behaviors. Use discernment.
Just like non-believers, Christians can be a bad influence on your health behaviors. Use discernment. (iStock photo )

Our health-related behaviors can easily become influenced by the ways of the world—the ways of the unbeliever. We can also be influenced in a negative way by other Christians.

Social norms and the practices of those around us can be so influential that our ways and habits can end up being indistinguishable from those who are not followers of Jesus. But, as Christians, we are called to be holy—set apart from the unbelieverin all our ways.

"Because it is written: 'Be holy, because I am holy.'" (1 Pet. 1:16, MEV).

This applies to what we eat and how we care for—or don't care for— our bodies, the temple of the Holy Spirit, the living God.

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I confess that this applies to my life too.

Let's look at two Scriptures in particular: 

"Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with unrighteousness? What communion has light with darkness? What agreement has Christ with Belial? Or what part has he who believes with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: 'I will live in them and walk in them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.' Therefore, 'Come out from among them and be separate,' says the Lord. 'Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty'" (2 Cor. 6:14-18, MEV).

"Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God" (2 Cor. 7:1, MEV).

To be separate from the world and its practices does not apply only to blatant sinful behaviors such as those that Paul speaks of: "adultery, sexual immorality, impurity, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, strife, jealousy, rage, selfishness, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, carousing, and the like." (Gal. 5:19-21). This ought to extend to how we spend our money, how we use our time and how we attend to our health.

We are each called to "work out" our own salvation (Phil. 2:12). Part of "working out" our salvation is to become more and more set apart from the ways of the world. As we are aware that what we are doing is sinful, then we are instructed in God's Word to purify ourselves of this type of behavior.

"What? Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God, and that you are not your own? You were bought with a price. Therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's" (1 Cor. 6:19-20).

So, in light of the verse above and Romans 12:1, here are a few key questions we each ought to ask ourselves: Is habitually eating food and drinking beverages that are not good for our bodies a sin? Is being slothful, being inactive, a sin? Is eating more calories than we expend in physical activity—and putting on a lot of excess weight—a sin? Is repeatedly engaging in any unhealthy behavior a sin?

Sit with that for a second. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you how to respond to these questions.

If these unhealthy behaviors are sinful, why do we continue in our sin?

Have you been, like I have, so influenced by the attitudes and lifestyles of others—even by those in the body of Christ, the church—that it's affected your attitude concerning these behaviors? It's an easy thing to do. It's easy to become complacent. I think the church at large has become complacent with this issue. The term "sloppy grace" could apply here.

Another motivator to caring for our bodies in ways that are different than the unbelievers is that it's a good witness. Others will see in us behaviors that are different. Those who know that we are Christians may connect the dots between our behavior and our faith.

Those who may not know about our faith may ask why we have the lifestyle habits that we have, and we can explain our motivation for caring for our bodies.

This post is not meant to be a scolding, it's meant to be a reminder and an encouragement. And I need the reminder as much as many of you might need it.

"Iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend" (Prov. 27:17, MEV).

So, fellow Christ follower, I encourage you to be connected with at least one other person who is like-minded about this issue so that he/she may encourage you and hold you accountable, and so that he/she challenges you to grow and be more and more transformed into the likeness of Christ, including in your health-related behavior.

And you don't have to do this in your own self-effort. The Holy Spirit within you will help you do this! He is faithful.

"But we all, seeing the glory of the Lord with unveiled faces, as in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory by the Spirit of the Lord" (2 Cor. 3:18, MEV).

Dale Fletcher, executive director of Faith and Health Connection Ministry, is a speaker and wellness coach who lives in Fort Mill, South Carolina. He conducts workshops and retreats on the link between the Christian faith and health. Connect with Dale at faithandhealthconnection.org and on Facebook.

For the original article, visit faithandhealthconnection.org.

Our health-related behaviors can easily become influenced by the ways of the world—the ways of the unbeliever. We can also be influenced in a negative way by other Christians.

Social norms and the practices of those around us can be so influential that our ways and habits can end up being indistinguishable from those who are not followers of Jesus. But, as Christians, we are called to be holy—set apart from the unbeliever, in all our ways.

"Because it is written: 'Be holy, because I am holy.'" (1 Pet. 1:16, MEV).

This applies to what we eat and how we care—or don't care—for our bodies, the temple of the Holy Spirit, the living God.

I confess that this applies to my life too.

Let's look at two Scriptures in particular: 

"Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with unrighteousness? What communion has light with darkness? What agreement has Christ with Belial? Or what part has he who believes with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: 'I will live in them and walk in them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.' Therefore, 'Come out from among them and be separate,' says the Lord. 'Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty'" (2 Cor. 6:14-18, MEV).

"Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God" (2 Cor. 7:1, MEV).

To be separate from the world, and its practices, does not apply only to blatant sinful behaviors such as those that Paul speaks of—"adultery, sexual immorality, impurity, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, strife, jealousy, rage, selfishness, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, carousing, and the like." (Gal. 5:19-21). This ought to extend to how we spend our money, how we use our time, and how we attend to our health.

We are each called to "work out" our own salvation (Phil. 2:12). Part of "working out" our salvation is to become more and more set apart from the ways of the world. As we are aware that what we are doing is sinful, then we are instructed in God's Word to purify ourselves of this type of behavior.

"What? Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God, and that you are not your own? You were bought with a price. Therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's" (1 Cor. 6:19-20).

So, in light of the verse above and Romans 12:1, here are a few key questions we each ought to ask ourselves. Is habitually eating food and drinking beverages that are not good for our bodies a sin? Is being slothful, being inactive, a sin? Is eating more calories than we expend in physical activity—and putting on a lot of excess weight—a sin? Is repeatedly engaging in any unhealthy behavior a sin?

Sit with that for a second. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you how to respond to these questions.

If these unhealthy behaviors are sinful, why do we continue in our sin?

Have you been, like I have, so influenced by the attitudes and lifestyles of others—even by those in the body of Christ, the church—that it's affected your attitude concerning these behaviors? It's an easy thing to do. It's easy to become complacent. I think the church at large has become complacent with this issue. The term "sloppy grace" could apply here.

Another motivator to caring for our bodies in ways that are different than the unbelievers is that it's a good witness. Others will see in us behaviors that are different. Those who know that we are Christians may connect the dots between our behavior and our faith.

Those who may not know about our faith may ask why we have the lifestyle habits that we have, and we can explain our motivation for caring for our bodies.

This post is not meant to be a scolding, it's meant to be a reminder and an encouragement. And I need the reminder as much as many of you might need it.

"Iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend" (Prov. 27:17, MEV).

So, fellow Christ follower, I encourage you to be connected with at least one other person who is like-minded about this issue so that he/she may encourage you and hold you accountable, so that he/she challenges you to grow and be more and more transformed into the likeness of Christ, including in your health-related behavior.

And you don't have to do this in your own self-effort. The Holy Spirit within you will help you do this! He is faithful.

"But we all, seeing the glory of the Lord with unveiled faces, as in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory by the Spirit of the Lord" (2 Cor. 3:18, MEV).

Dale Fletcher, executive director of Faith and Health Connection Ministry, is a speaker and wellness coach who lives in Fort Mill, South Carolina. He conducts workshops and retreats on the link between the Christian faith and health. Connect with Dale at faithandhealthconnection.org and on Facebook.

For the original article, visit faithandhealthconnection.org.

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