Friday, January 22, 2010

Instant Gradification Gradifies Only for an Instant

Building on what we discussed in the last couple of posts about desire and lust. How do we know the difference between righteous desire and violent desire{lust, coveting}? I think we first need to define the difference between desire and need. Need is something that is a necessity or requirement. What is it that man absolutely needs for survival? We often hear of hikers lost in the woods or mountain climbers losing their way in a blizzard. So if you were one of these people what would you do? Find food, water and shelter; right? Really with those three things man can last for quite some time. On the other hand desire is a wishing or longing for something beyond necessity. These are the things that we often define as pleasures. Pleasures are things that we don't need to survive but are also things that can enhance or make life more rich.

God is a God of pleasure. God created man to enjoy pleasure. We differ in this way from all the other animals. We have in us the capability to enjoy enhanced necessity beyond animal instinct. We also have in us the capability to enhance necessity ourselves. To create things that are enjoyable to us and others. What exactly is enhanced necessity? Well look at God. He didn't just make it that the sun goes down in the evening. God made it that when the sun goes down there are beautiful colors and light reflected on the clouds. He didn't just create one type of fruit or vegetable. He made all different types, colors and shapes. Each with their own unique taste and texture. So that when we eat something it actually tastes good. He didn't just make it that we had an opposite sex to procreate with like the other animals. He enhanced that necessity with relationship and love...and yes, the act of sex itself.

Being created in the image of God, man has the limited capability to enhance necessity as well. Think of all the fantastic cooks you know and the wonders they can do with food. Or what about musicians and artists. The things that they can create that are pleasing to the senses. What about dancing or swimming or playing games. None of those things are necessary to survival. But they are things that bring us pleasure beyond necessity. They are things that make our lives enriched. Think of all the different hobbies that people have. Photography, stamp collecting, fishing, hiking, painting...the list goes on and on. None of them necessary, but all of them pleasurable to the person.

So we know that particular pleasures are not bad. God obviously created certain things to be pleasurable beyond necessity. But along with that there are a few things to take into consideration. Do we seek pleasure to find fulfillment or is pleasure the cherry on top of a life already fulfilled? I will venture to say these two things 1} Pleasure in and of itself will never bring fulfillment. 2} Pleasure outside the boundaries of God's truth & principles will always destroy. We see a fantastic example of this in the book of Ecclesiastes. Solomon tried to fill himself with every desire and pleasure known to man, yet he wasn't happy. Then he tried to deny himself every desire and pleasure known to man...still not happy.

Let's not forget what we discussed in the last post. About how the devil uses desire against us by slandering God and by slandering the image of God in us. When we were discussing this in terms of coveting and lust it is slander against the other person. Bringing violence against that person's spirit and aiding in the oppression of the enemy. Now what happens when it is not directed at another person but personal. The exact same thing. We can slander against the image of God in ourselves. The devil loves nothing more that to see us self destruct. He knows that he can't kill us {Heb 2:14-15} so he has us destroy ourselves. This is usually a slow, painful death.

More often than not in talking to people struggling with addictions I hear these words "This is just who I am" or "this is just the cards I was handed in life". Hear the slander against the image of God? These are the people that left the garden of Eden ashamed in their nakedness and not covered by God. These are the people that have no identity rooted in Christ. So in their search for pleasure or fulfillment the devil steps in and continues to heap false identity on them. This goes far beyond feeling good, it begins to destroy. But people feel a false sense of gratification. They look past the fact that instant gratification only gratifies for an instant. There is no substance. Their identity is rooted in fleeting pleasure. They are covering their nakedness with invisible clothes. At the same time the devil is violently slandering the image of God in man. These pleasures are far outside the boundaries of God and are usually easy to recognize. Such things as drunkenness, gambling, inappropriate relationships, drugs etc,etc. These things are are not necessary to mans survival but become crucial to survival in their own minds. Then the addiction eventually becomes the identity of the person afflicted.

Don't be fooled people...the devil can also use pleasures that are in the boundaries of God's necessity to ensnare you. Food is a perfect example. We need food to survive, but what is food taken far beyond necessity? Obesity. The person is no longer eating out of necessity or even enjoyment. Or go to the other extreme. Starving yourself from food. Equally damaging to your body and your identity. Violence and slander against their image in God is again the driving force.

Sex is another big one. First of all we don't need sex to survive. Against popular will not die if you don't have sex. Yes we need to populate the earth. But there should never be a drive in you to have sex like the instinct of an animal. It is not something that you should have no control over. You are not an animal; you are a human created in the image of God. Therefore you are capable of following the rules laid down by your Creator. Sex is only suppose to be in the bounds of marriage. But even married you will never find sex fulling unless you are operating out of an identity in Christ in a life fulfilled.

The bottom line is pleasure will never be fulfilling. Pleasure is something that God created to be in partnership with a life fulfilled in Him. Remember the lost guy in the forest? Food, water and shelter, right? Now what if that guy also has a compass. Think of how much that increases his chance of survival. God should be our compass folks! That was the end conclusion of Solomon. Don't overindulge yourself outside the boundaries of God. At the same time don't under indulge and deny yourself the beauty and pleasure of this life.

You will know that pleasure has gone too far or is wrong altogether when it is only your pleasure that identifies you. I am an alcoholic, I am a drug addict, I am a shopaholic, I am a gambler, I am identified by whom I have sex with. See how the devil has devoured your identity? Root your identity in Christ and he will fulfill you. Then the pleasures of this life will be pleasurable to you. Then you will be guided by God as to what pleasures are destructive. Above all don't allow the enemy to slander the image of God in you. If you have taken on the identity of your pleasure you are headed down a dark road. God can change that, but you have to turn around first.

"The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun scorched land..." Is 58:11

"You {Lord} open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing. He fulfills the desires of those who honor him; he hears their cry and saves them." Ps 145:16,19

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