“Among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” — Ephesians 2:3 Desires in us can be utilized for good and they can be used for evil. As Christians we generally know that we must put off our wicked desires. We see this in regards to sexual immorality, covetousness, pride, etc. But we often fail to realize how many of our desires still stem from our will but are covered by the appearance of “good”. This is done when we think that we can permit our own will in certain areas of our lives “just as long as we don’t permit ‘those’ sins”. We fail to understand or to submit to the truth that our entire life is to be lived in submission to God, not just part of it, and that when we continue to live in this willfulness we are still living in rebellion against God and in sin. We are all prone to be led by our desires. In parts 1 and 2 of this series, we talked about how this is man’s natural disposition—we live guided by our desires and all of us must learn to replace this with being guided by godliness. To realize that we must challenge even our deepest desires if we are to live truly in accordance with God’s Word. And here we are to be challenged by the truth that we are to conform in every area of our lives to the Word of God, not just some. Guided by Desires When we seek to permit our desires that are contrary to God’s Word, we must realize that this always comes from our desires for self, our desire for the world, and our desire for sin. Trace this back further and we realize that we desire to “liberate” ourselves to sin, but also to do so without consequence! We are trying to decide how the world should be, and to glorify ourselves in the process. When we are seeking to permit our own wills we are actively resisting God. However this may seem to us on the surface, all of this takes root in pride. This attitude comes because we allow ourselves to be guided by our desires rather than by the Truth. We often permit a little bit of the Word of God, but only so far as it supports what we desire to believe. We will make sacrifices, but only the ones that make us feel holy without cutting too deeply. Living in this way can be our attempt to lie to ourselves and fool ourselves into thinking that we are living in obedience to Christ, when we are living for our desires. We’re living for ourselves—we’re just trying to get away with it. This is the nature of lukewarmness: it completely blinds us to the truth about ourselves, the Word of God, and Christ’s anger towards us (Rev 3:15-16). We must confront this reality and not be so foolish as to deceive ourselves into believing we are in line with the whole of God's Word when we are only in part. The issue for us is that God’s Word lays open to us and yet at the same time, we are filled with numerous desires that oppose God’s Word. We must confront this reality and not be so foolish as to deceive ourselves into believing we are in line with the whole of God's Word when we are only in part. This is some of the deepest self-deception that is going on in the church today. It is leading us further into deception, not out of it. “If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” (Matt 6:23) Again and again we must hear the same truth—that it is God’s measurement of us that is the guideline, not ours. We put off God’s Word in our foolish self-satisfaction, and it is a great danger to us. As Christians we must realize that our lives must no longer be dictated by our desires. Rather, we must be entirely ruled by God’s Word and His Spirit. If we continue to allow our desires to be what guides us in this life, then we cannot hope but to fall into self-deception and sin. Allowing ourselves to be led only by God’s Word and the Holy Spirit is hard work at times. God’s Word opposes just about everything in our natural desires, and the Holy Spirit opposes the oversimplifications of God’s Word. But this should be a sign to us of our own sin and deception, not a justification for resentment against God and His Truth. We desperately need to cling to Christ to lead us in all things, not just a few. We must fight against our desires in the fear of the Lord, and maintain being led by godliness alone. Sin Is More Than Action Part of the trouble today with our desires is that we imagine that we are free to have our desires just so long as they are not desires for known sins such as sexual immorality, adultery, substance abuse, gambling, consumerism, violence, etc. And because of this we have lost perspective on the truth that all of our desires must be kept in submission to Christ, not merely those that we term as worse, or think the Bible deems worse. We have to understand that sin is a nature. From this flows different actions, desires, emotions, and thoughts, but it all comes from the nature within us. What this means is that God is opposed to the nature in us that is evil, not just the mere actions that we do, because the actions are not the whole of our nature but only are a part of it. God is opposed to our evil actions for they are evil, but He is equally opposed to the heart in us that hates Him, the thoughts in us that rebel against and resist Him, and the self-will in us that resists doing His will in favor of our own. God is opposed to the nature in us that is evil, not just the mere actions that we do, because the actions are not the whole of our nature but only are a part of it. So in one area, these sins of sexual immorality, drunkenness, etc are correctly seen as wicked and should be turned away from, but to imagine that this alone (and often not even this) is a satisfactory response to the call for godliness is folly. It is only a desire to live for ourselves and not for God (Rom 12:1, 2 Cor 5:9), to go on permitting this sinful nature within us—believing that this is “freedom”. In truth, the issue within all of us is more than a simple morality check; it is a deep-seated nature within all of us: one that resists God, hates Him, and is intent upon doing our own will, not His. The root of this sin issue is not a question of simple morals (for any worldly person can even do these), but the question of our living to please ourselves or to please God: “And he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” (2 Cor 5:15) So when we persist in doing our own will in any capacity rather than live in submission to God’s will, we are continuing in our sin nature. What we have to understand is that this can be done in outright sins such as adultery, but this can be done equally in what appears good to us. Anything we take for ourselves in self-will is a part of this rebellion against God. This means that anything flowing from us that is contrary to God’s will and Word is actually corrupt. We cannot merely escape all of sin by choosing certain actions over others. We can do this to a certain degree, like choosing to walk away from the temptation of lust. We overcome by the physical action of removing ourselves, and this is very good. But we misunderstand the nature of sin inside of us if we think that we have overcome all of sin by simply not walking in certain wicked actions. Sin is not only actions, but a nature. Our actions flow from this nature, but it is not only actions themselves. We overcome by our actions where actions are necessary, but that is not the only area in our lives that must be conquered. This is because godliness is not only actions. Godliness is a nature; it is done in heart, mind, spirit, and action. This is how we understand what the command to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind” (Luke 10:27) means. It is about the whole nature in us. Godliness is not only actions. Godliness is a nature; it is done in heart, mind, spirit, and action. Our mistake is always when we try to love God only in one area. We can do this with purely the mind, thinking about God but not surrendering the will or giving Him our hearts and obedience. Or, on the reverse, we commonly see many people trying to love God with the heart, but they fail to understand that loving God very much still uses the mind and also still must be matched with obedience to His Word. And then there are those who try to love God by keeping away from a certain (sometimes even large) collection of sins, but they do not give God their hearts, minds, obedience, or surrenderence. We do not accept that the whole of our being must be given over to God. Then, and only then, will sin be rooted out of us and will we truly walk in holiness. It is only when the whole of our being is given back over to God that we are truly brought out of the nature of sin and into the nature of holiness. To do otherwise will always yield in us a lukewarm righteousness. It will always be mixed with sin, self, and foolishness. We talk much of surrenderance today and we think about it within emotionalism, but surrenderance in the right sense is the foundation for true holiness. Only in the whole of our being, given over to God, will we have the foundation of purity to work from. This surrenderance is giving ourselves back to God, to follow the Holy Spirit and walk in obedience to the Word of God. Often we think of surrenderance only in terms of the first—being led by the Spirit. We “feel” that obedience to the Word is somehow contrary to this freedom of this surrenderance. But again, this is the “surrenderance” the flesh desires, wanting to be free to do what it wishes in the name of “freedom”, as we talked about in Pt1 and Pt2. True godly surrenderance is based in devotion to God as He commands it to be, and obedience to Him in this. Our peace is in knowing that God wants our obedience and love, not our lobotomization. On the subject of surrenderance I would like to warn the reader of one other misconception, and that is that surrenderance is somehow the yielding up of the self to such a degree as the removal of one’s will altogether. This is a very harmful idea. And it is something the devil tries to provoke us into believing that God wants from us when God is seeking surrenderance in us. Our peace is in knowing that God wants our obedience and love, not our lobotomization. It is the devil that wants our lobotomization and we are right to resist this notion of “surrenderance”. We must press in to make our wills align with God’s will, but never believe that God’s idea of surrenderance is the removal of our will altogether. ___ Self-Deception: Desires, Pt1 | Emotions Following Faith Self-Deception: Desires, Pt2 | Emotions Led by Godliness Self-Deception: Desires, Pt3 | Full Surrenderance Self-Deception: Desires, Pt4 | Imagination and the Mind

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