Perhaps I should say, you will seek what you desire. Many of our decisions are driven by want, or appetite, or desire of some sort.
Human beings are created with the desire to seek out and bask in Truth, Goodness, and Beauty. If you are attuned to it, you will notice this in the writings of both believers and unbelievers; it is part of our being created in the image of God. Yet, this hard-wiring to seek these out is impacted by the Fall–so now we have desires and cravings and inclinations which will lead us astray, hurt us and those around us, fool us, lulling us to sleep that we may not enjoy Life.
Instead of an intimate knowledge of our Triune God, and the joy of purposely seeking all these in Him, we try to make our own way, seek inwardly, or we exchange the truth of God for a lie.
As Christians, we do not seek these apart from Him–rather we know Him as the Source. He is the Way the Truth and the Life. He alone has no needs, and He alone has Life in Himself (John 5:27). He is Good and there is no goodness apart from Him; He is good and does good, His goodness satisfies our longings, and He will impart that Goodness to His own (Psalm 119:68; Jeremiah 31:14; Galatians 5:22-23). He created everything beautiful to reflect His beauty, and we cry out as the Psalmist did that our one desire is to behold His Beauty (Psalm 27).
Apart from Christ, in our fallen state, when we followed our hearts’ desire, we sinned and we worshiped idols and we erred in our thinking, we were full of pride and arrogance, we ran amok. It is helpful sometimes, as we remember our past, to read Titus 3:3, Ephesians 2:1-3, and Colossians 21. What do these passages say about your inner man; your thoughts, desires, and motivations?
Are you a slave to desire? Or are your desires enhancing your experience of Life in Christ?
Either/Or, not a mixture of both. If we leave off seeking Him in the ways He invites us to, our desires that have been awakened by the Spirit and set upon Him will reroute to idols…and our sluggish souls will feel no end to the weariness of groping for the Light…
Titus 3 gives a great summary of what we were apart from Christ, when we were dead in our sins. “For we too were once foolish, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another.” This is a description that makes us cringe–”really? Not me, I was not that bad.”
Yes beloved. Enslaved to various lusts and pleasures. Lusts are desires that have grown out of proportion, and are usually ruling over you. Titus 2 says that when Christ came in the flesh, He taught us to deny worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously, godly in the present age.
He taught, have you taken heed? Do you recognize the difference between godly desires and worldly desires?
What a helpful passage to memorize, meditate on. The LORD has taught me much as I’ve recalled these words over the years. Recently, a question was asked whether it could be true that we are too easily enslaved to habits/desires/cravings because we are undisciplined.
At first, many will think–no, our freedom is in Christ, not in discipline. And yes, our freedom is in Christ–He has freed us from so much! What a rich thing to think upon.
Yet the Spirit is at work in us to conform us to the image of Christ, to produce in us the desire for goodness and fruitfulness, to work in us the same obedience Christ exhibited during His earthly years. What do you suppose Paul meant when he said:
Rather, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily training is just slightly beneficial, but godliness is beneficial for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.1 Timothy 4:7-8
He grants us new desires, including the desire to obey, the freedom to fight the old self, the old desires, the old habits. We are finally free to set new habits–living sensibly, righteously and godly; habits formed out of love and awe for our God. And the Spirit now fills us with His fruit, including the Spirit-willed self-control to walk with Him. And in this way, we lead a disciplined life, desiring the riches of our Life in Christ.
Walking in the Spirit, we do not fulfill the desires of the flesh that are at war with our soul. We do not begin by the flesh, nor do we continue in the flesh.
Rather, in Christ we will grow in obedience. We now present ourselves to God as those alive from the dead, as those who are subject to the King of the Universe, as those who are eager as children to obey and hear the Father’s words of approval. (reflect on Romans 6, and how we are slaves of the one whom we obey. Is that one the One True God, or is it yourself–and your various lusts?)
God in His Providence has ordained this pattern. He calls, and tells us to seek Him. And so I do, and He restores my soul, renews me, refreshes me. We begin by the Spirit doing this work in us (see Galatians 3 and Titus 3)…we continue by the Spirit as well (see Romans 8 and Galatians 5).
We seek Him where and through the means by which He reveals Himself. And no other way.
“O foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you that you do not obey the truth…” (Galatians 3:1) How often would the Spirit whisper this to us, in our fleshly ways of seeking? “Who has led your mind astray Emily, that you attempt to know Me and My will apart from Me? Why do you seek Truth, Goodness and Beauty, yet are not willing to come to the Source? Why do you not heed My revealed truth? Why do you let go of your confession, and cease from clinging to the Word of Life?” (2 Cor. 11, John 15, Philippians 2, Hebrews 10)
So what can we know about holy desires, godly desires, desires that come from the One the Psalmist praises:
You will make known to me the way of life;Psalm 16:11
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.
When we seek, and cling, and delight ourselves in the LORD, we enjoy the pleasure of His nearness. (Rather than dreading His presence, as Qohelet, the author of Eccesiastes does. )
And then, the desires for glory, honor, goodness, righteousness, beauty, purpose, fruitfulness, etc will be a joy to feel, to bask in, and to experience Him fulfilling. Though in this temporal realm, our desires are only partially fulfilled. We have but a foretaste of all that He has prepared for us! (1 Cor. 2:9-13)
To those who by persistence
in doing good seck glory,
honor and immortality, he will
give eternal life. But for
those who are self-seeking
and who reject the truth and
follow evil, there will be wrath
and anger. Romans 2:7-8
The Spirit awakens these godly desires. True humanity, or being truly human, is to experience these desires as God created us to, and to be compelled by these desires to act in ways that are pleasing to Him. (Colossians 1:9-11)
Consequently, these ways are also the most pleasing to us, though in our unbelief we search for pleasure and fulfillment in many false ways along our journey. Pride and unbelief always lead us astray; but questions, examining our faith, looking to Jesus for answers to our doubts–these are healthy ways of dealing with our uncertainties, our weariness, our doubts and fears.
To this end also we pray for you always, that our God will count you worthy of your calling, and fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.2 Thess 1:11ff
Beloved, may we all grow in our desire of truth, goodness and beauty, in all areas of life. May we seek these together, in godly ways. May this be reflected as we image Him in our desires to love and serve Him in heart, soul, and might, being faithful stewards in all spheres of life, all our vocations, all our undertakings, all our fellowship…
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash