It’s been over a year since my heart surgery. I’m still learning lessons about life. Many of the physical lessons I’ve learned also have enhanced my own spiritual walk.

After a year, there are times when people ask me, “are you still trying to lose weight?” I knew I needed to lose weight, but after some education and practice in cardiac rehab., I realized this whole thing wasn’t about losing weight. It was about being healthy. I needed to change my life, not go on a diet. The problem with diets is they are simply a tool for “weight management.” And anytime we just try to manage something instead of change something, we easily go back and forth. We stick with it for awhile and then we go off track.

We do the same thing in our spiritual lives. Except in our spiritual lives, we don’t do weight management, we do sin management. We try hard every day to keep enough sin out of our lives that we don’t feel like a total failure. We trust Christ to forgive our sin, but we try to bring change on our own power. And like that dreaded diet, there are days when we feel successful and days we don’t.

How do we get past this idea of sin management and stay on the path of true spiritual health?

1. Adopt a new goal. Our goal shouldn’t be to shed excess sin. Our goal should be to be spiritually healthy. We have to adopt the goal of walking in fellowship with Christ 24/7/365.25! That’s all day, every day. If we adopt this goal we learn to go after something, rather than rid ourselves of something. It is always easier to fill our lives with a right pursuit than it is to empty our lives of a bad one.

2. Accept that there is no such thing as moderation. Many people have come to me and said, “all things in moderation.” They are graciously trying to make me feel better for the things I’ve given up. But I don’t usually feel bad about what I’ve given up. The truth is, some foods are trying to kill me! French fries? The things I loved, they are out to get me. In our house, we call Little Debbie a drug dealer. Some things shouldn’t be eaten even in moderation.

Sin is like that! It destroys. We have to be honest about that. It hinders our fellowship with God, and our love for others. And it just doesn’t belong. Sin management is succesful if we just don’t go too far. Spiritual health says, “it is no good no matter how much!”

Will we fail? Of course. But I don’t make failing inevitable by trying to manage things that want to control me.

3. Create spiritual discipline. I’ve talked before about the discipline that has helped me with my health. Sodium, saturated fat, cholesterol and minutes of exercise are all things I keep track of daily. I’ve chosen this discipline to give my physical health some framework to live within. This is the discipline that kicks my butt out of bed at 5:30 for my walk. I’m not perfect at it… that would be legalism. But it offers me structure. Likewise spiritual disciplines like corporate worship, bible reading, prayer, journaling, small group, serving, sabbath, etc., all work to give us a framework in which to live and experience Christ.

So what will it take for you to get past living on a spiritual diet? Adopt the goal of filling your life with Christ; accept that for sin there is no moderation; create some spiritual discipline.

What has helped you get off the sin roller coaster?