The 1 John 2: 16 caution against worldliness opens with the desire of the flesh.
In the Notes, the pleasure of taste is Wesley’s first example of this particular desire.
Wesley’s advice for using the Means of Grace includes questions about the preacher’s desire for food and drink--
(2.) . . . . Are you temperate in all things? instance in food: do you use only that kind and that degree which is best both for your body and soul ? Do you see the necessity of this?
(3.) Do you eat no flesh suppers? no late suppers?
(4.) Do you eat no more at each meal than is necessary? Are you not heavy or drowsy after dinner?
(5.) Do you use only that kind and that degree of drink which is best both for your body and soul?
(6.) Do you drink water? Why not? Did you ever? Why did you leave it off? If not for health, when will you begin again? to-day?
(7.) How often do you drink wine or ale? every day? Do you want it?
The fourth-century monk Evagrius’ list of temptations to keep vigil against opens with γαστριμαργίας translated as gluttony. Evagrius warned that, just as the devil first tried to tempt Jesus to turn stones into bread, so too the first temptation the new monk must resist is the urge to abandon ascetical meals.
Gluttony as the first temptation? The urge to satisfy physical appetites as the opening obstacle to the life of faith? Can our appreciation of pleasing food and drink really be that detrimental to our souls?
Instead of viewing the desire of the flesh as an impulse that must be overcome through willpower, what if we considered it a potent daily reminder of our need for grace? We have good intentions to care for our bodies and each day several outcomes are possible--
Resisting the desire of the flesh as a spiritual discipline could also serve as a reminder that we are more than these bodies and we have other needs beyond the physical that crave to be satisfied. We could use every hunger pang, every dry mouth as a prompt to ask ourselves whether or not we have nourished the needs of our soul that day.