Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Wilful Desires

I love those one liners that capture your attention and cause you to sit up and take notice when you are sitting in a class, listening to a sermon or attending a conference.  A couple of weekends ago, we were blessed at our church to be under the ministry of Major Marney Turner at our Spiritual Retreat weekend.  There were many powerful and Holy Spirit inspired words spoken at the retreat, but it was this one liner that confronted me with an uncomfortable truth.

"When we deliberately sin, we are not weak, we are wilful."
Major Marney Turner

I immediately connected it with an equally uncomfortable Scripture that reminds us that we cannot be tempted by what we do not desire.

"but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed."
James 1:14

When we connect these two truths together we are challenged with the reality that deliberate sin is a wilful pursuit of what we desire!  Ouch!!  This is very difficult to justify or defend if we are to make an honest assessment of any perpetual sin we may struggle with. 

  • Adam and Eve desired the forbidden fruit and wilfully ate it, despite being told not to.
  • Jacob desired the birthright of his brother and wilfully deceived his father, despite the inevitable conflict to follow.
  • King David desired Bathsheba and wilfully pursued her, despite knowing it was wrong.

If you have ever raised children, you will be all too aware of how this works every time they wilfully pursue what they desire even when they are told 'no'.  Or, if you have ever struggled with an addiction, you will know the power of an unhealthy desire that drives your will, despite all the warnings about the dangers. 

The paradox of wilfully pursuing what we desire is that if we change our desires by submitting them to God, then we can wilfully pursue the Spirit instead of sin.  This is affirmed by Paul in Romans 8:5, "Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires."

So, we have a choice:  Instead of wilfully pursuing sin that is driven by misplaced desires, let us instead, wilfully pursue the Spirit of God who transforms the desires of those whose minds are set on Jesus.

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