What is it about human desire that can be so filthy sometimes? Think about it. Did you ever want something for Christmas when you were a kid, and then when you got it, you wanted something else right away? Or maybe you wanted something for a long time, and then as soon as you got it you didn’t like it? When I see that phrase “human desire” I immediately think of lust. Lusting after anything – food, clothes, a man or a woman. Everybody in the entire world lusts for something at some time or another. Human desire can be filthy. The results of human lust are horrific. Look at the number of obese people in America. Look at the number of girls having abortions before the age of 18. These are only some of the results. Doesn’t it sound filthy? The worst part of it is, our culture and society promotes it. Not the results, but the acts. “Live in comfort. Do what you think is right. Make sure you feel good about yourself.” Everything nowadays is self-centered. You can eat all you want – it’s okay. Just go to the weight loss program if you’re not happy. You can run around as a teenager – just make sure you play it safe, but if anything happens, just have an abortion or something. All taken care of.
How many lives do you think are destroyed before the age of 18? Do you wonder how many lives would be saved if the focus were off of ourselves? There is so much humanism rampant in societies – yes, even good ole’ America. America is a Republic. Supposed to be anyways. Our motto is Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. (The pursuit of happiness, though, has become: “do what makes you happy.”) Oh, and most Americans don’t have a life – they spend it in front of the tv. Oh, and Liberty? Good heavens, in ten more years if you say liberty someone will laugh at you. But we are Americans. We have a constitution (which nobody adheres to). We are Americans. We have a president. (Who isn’t American.) The point is, no country is perfect. Not even America. Each country has strong points and weak points. Perhaps America is the better of them all, but our moral standards aren’t anything to be proud of. Actually, no country’s moral standard’s are to be proud of. Why is this? Because “do whatever you think is right” this “follow your heart” and “go by your feelings” kind of advice points people where? At themselves. We are encouraged to look to ourselves for the right decisions. To be guided by what we think is right and wrong. To start with ourselves. Humanism to the very core. What happens when strong desire gets in the way? Eventually, by looking to ourselves, we find a way to make our desire seem right. People’s moral standards make up a society. Societies make up a nation. Nations make up the world. So here we have it. 6 billion+ people on one planet make decisions based off of their standards of right and wrong.
But Christians. We look to God, don’t we? We go to the Bible to get our standards of right and wrong, don’t we? Do we? The sad thing is not all the time. And what kind of a testimony is it to a watching world if we act no different from them? If we show absolutely no restraint towards food or physical desire, if we are no different than they are in what we listen to on the radio, what we watch on TV, what we read, what we say and think, what is to be said about Christianity? The problem is Christians are sometimes trampled by human desire. The desire that comes from the core of the heart. However, if the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately sick (Jer. 17:9), how are we supposed to follow the impulse that comes from there? How are we supposed to pray “Lord, fulfill my desire” when that one little desire might be the ruination of your life? The heart is deceitful – it won’t let us see what’s good for us and for other people. So we do what we want. Not what we need to do. What we need to do ends up being the best thing for us in the long run. What we want to do destroys us. Let me give you an example.
At present the name of the battle and war escapes me, and I do forget whether it was during the reign of King William or Queen Anne that this happened. But war ravaged Europe for most of both their reigns. John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough, was King William’s most trusted general. Yet Marlborough fell in and out of favor depending upon the fortunes of the war. He took dismissal without a protest, and when he was called back into service he was ready and came willingly. The half of Europe defending itself depended upon Marlborough. If John Churchill had been proud, too proud to come when called, the results would have been disastrous—not just for England, but for Europe. One significant event took place. At a certain battle, Marlborough was in complete command of English as well as foreign troops. The commander some of the foreign regiments was a bit upset about the fact that he was not given as big a part in the battle. His orders (curious how I remember them) were to wait, and then fall upon the rear of the enemy, cutting off retreat. However, he was upset about being ordered around, and not having a significant role in the battle. What do you think he did? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. The time came when Marlborough depended on his assistance, and he was not there. The battle was lost for this sole reason. One man’s pride ruined a battle, and changed the fortunes of war for a year. One man’s pride. He betrayed everything – his country, his cause, his faith by rubbing shoulders with pride. I wonder if he realized just how important his role was, when the whole battle was lost because of him.
This is just an example. I could go into detail about how man’s pride and human desire had disastrous effects on the course of history – in societies, in war, in every day life. I suppose I should remark that this isn’t to say that God is not sovereign. Rather, it’s a prime example of our total depravity.
Do we, as Christians, give in to our desires? We do have them – after all, we’re human. Do we, when we know they’re wrong, attempt to curb them? Do we attempt to cleanse ourselves of our dirty desires? Or do we merely shrug our shoulders and say: “I’m human. Nobody’s perfect.”
What ho! I have news for you. You won’t be perfect as long as you’re human, true, but does that necessarily imply that perfection is unattainable? Well, if we’re constantly imperfect, then by ourselves yes, it’s unattainable, even for those who try the hardest, on this earth. The French Republic was all about forming a Utopian society. They murdered thousands every day. What kind of Utopian society was that? They strove for the perfect – but they sought it on their own. The truth is, Christ is our perfect example, the one we’re supposed to follow. I have news. The battle for holiness never stops. But I have more news. You can’t do it on your own. I have further news. When you are reunited with Christ in death, full sanctification will come upon you, but guess what? No thanks to you. Whatever good you have done was not you, but Christ who worked in you. Perfection is not impossible, it’s just not possible when you try to do it on your own. So, “I’m human, nobody’s perfect” cannot even be an excuse. The attainment of holiness or perfection requires effort on our part. And the “excuse” implies no effort. It also denies the power of God to sanctify us, because if we are supposed to be pursuing holiness, yet we don’t deny that we can’t do it on our own because of our sin, we yet adhere to the “fact” that we’re beyond all help, and that is a denial of the power of God. If nothing is impossible with God, our sanctification is certainly possible, no matter how depraved we are.
In Thomas Watson’s book The Great Gain of Godliness he talks about our thoughts and how, if we feel tempted by evil or wicked things in our thought world, we must not only not think on those things, but rectify the whole situation by fixing our thoughts on the kingdom of heaven, on Christ’s righteousness. An even harder struggle for a Christian than just “not thinking about that one thing.” Thoughts are at the base of everything. Words, actions, dreams and ambitions etc. Would they not also be at the base of our desires?
Last night, dad prayed at the close of family worship. Something he said struck me. “Lord, purify and fulfill our desires.” It struck me how “purify” came before “fulfill.” Our desires have to be purified, because they are naturally dirty. Psalm 37:4 says: “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” I don’t think this implies a fulfillment of our human desires. I think it’s saying he’ll give us purified desires that he will fulfill.
In Shirley by Charlotte Bronte, one of the heroines sits thinking to herself. She says: “I may have half a century of life before me. How am I to spend it?” (Something along those lines.) Will it be for the pursuit of human desire? Or the sacrifice of self for a deeper, richer desire we cannot half-comprehend? How are you to occupy the rest of your life? I’m not talking about what you’ll major in in college, or what your next job will be, or what the next step will be, but what are your mental, spiritual and emotional pursuits be? It’s a difficult question. It’s funny, I can’t say what I’ll do tomorrow, but I might tell you I’m going to strive for holiness the rest of my life. Spiritual things are much more certain than physical or material. And yet it is the spiritual that is doubted, the material that’s depended upon. God is ignored while men rely on money and their jobs to see them through everything. And what fails them in the end?
Did you know that half America is brain dead? Do you know why half America is brain dead? Because half America spends their time killing their brains with technology. Not like it’s a bad thing. It’s one of those things that’s very useful, but that’s over-used and sometimes for the wrong purposes. I know that when I’m bored, the computer looks mighty tempting. And after three hours, I’ve realized I’ve accomplished nothing. And I feel even more tired than I was before I did Nothing for three hours. Funny how that works. Nothing is more exhausting than idleness. Do you want your brain to be alive? Explore your possibilities. Stories. They awaken your mind because they spur your imagination. Unlike a movie, where everything is depicted for you, a story in a book makes you imagine how things were, what people looked like. Music is food for the soul. Most everybody loves music. People like different kinds. I’ve discovered something, though. My great love for classical music. It’s so different from everything else, and I can feel the power surging through the lines of Mozart’s Requiem, or the freedom and adventure of the New World Symphony. Classical music can sometimes be wordless, or not understandable, but it let’s you imagine. So take care of your soul. Leave time for inspiration. Seek things in creation. Take long walks, and think. Imagine; don’t be afraid to dream. Appreciate beauty, and take time to find something beautiful every day. Once this Spring I took a walk because I felt tired and in the dumps all day. I found some buttercups in the lawn of a house uninhabited. I picked them, and as I took them home, they awoke joy in my heart. It was because I found beauty in an ugly place. Replace human desire with spiritual desire. Watch out for your soul. Don’t let your soul become dull through technology. Keep it alive and colorful. Keep it vibrant and living.
Imagine your life is like a breath. Like these pieces of flying fluff from a cat tail, shaken off and blown wildly before the wind. Imagine your life being that short. One moment your held fast to life, the next you’re blown away by just a shake. Your life is plunging on towards a cliff. What will occupy your mind and what will be your pursuits till then?