Do You Need Rules to Lose Weight?

A friend recently told me how she’d given a copy of The Weight of Grace to a relative, but after reading the first few chapters, the relative expressed her disappointment with the book by saying, “I’m sorry, but I need the rules.”

Is it true that we need “the rules” to maintain a healthy body size or to lose unnatural excess weight?

Actually, there’s strong biblical evidence that just the opposite is true. In fact, the “common wisdom” that rules are necessary for weight loss is what I believe gives rise to the constant struggle many Christian women have with overeating.

Paul makes an amazing statement in Romans 6:14:

For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. (ESV)

Apparently, he imagined that his readers would immediately question such a statement, because in the next verse, he asks rhetorical questions that indicate he assumed people would react to the exchange of rules for grace.

What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace?  (Romans 6:15, ESV)

According to this month’s Tabletalk magazine, in Paul’s day, “According to standard Jewish interpretations of the Old Testament, those who did not have the old covenant law had nothing to hold back their sin…” (May 2014, p. 32)

This is also the contemporary American Christian view about living by rules—that where there are no rules, there is nothing to hold one back from overindulgence. Most Christian women who struggle with overweight believe the rules will provide the control they need.

However, Paul argues strongly against this idea. See Romans 5:20 and 7:7-8. Law leads to law breaking. Law actually arouses sin. “The rules” only make it more difficult to eat in moderation. The truth is that we don’t need the rules. As Paul said in Romans 6:14, sin loses its power over you once you go from law to grace.

And why don’t we need the rules? Because, as believers in Christ, God has created us anew and empowered us with His Spirit and his grace. Read Romans 8:1-11. It is only as we let go of our rules and cling to the indwelling Christ that we find the freedom to be who we were “born again” to be—new creations who are being taught by grace to be godly and self-controlled (Titus 2:11-14).

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