Yesterday we talked about the Lure of Momentary Pleasure and reaping what we sow. I have read several devotionals and heard several podcasts in the last couple of days that remind me that while we live in this world, we are not a part of this world and aren’t supposed to love anything in it more than our Lord. There are certainly times when I have felt unsatisfied, and instead of delighting in the Lord and being grateful for all He has done and provided, I’ve looked to earthly things to satisfy me. I cannot think of one single time that I did that where I ever found lasting satisfaction. Instead, I’ve usually found “buyer’s remorse”.
The devil is crafty; he is a liar since the beginning. So he uses his wiles to tempt us to look to things and people to satisfy our yearnings. The other day we talked about The Fullness of God in us. We all have struggles in life that can make us feel incomplete, but the apostle Paul says we can be “filled up to all the fullness of God” (Eph 3:19). A “whole person” is generally satisfied with life. He feels loved and is able to love others in return. Difficulties and hardships don’t devastate him, because he is able to go through them with confidence in God.
And John reminds us that we can only truly be satisfied by our Lord. “Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.” (1 John 2:15-17)
We live in a materialistic, sensual, impatient, indulgent, and undisciplined world. We’re also a “have it now” culture. Satan specializes in presenting us with opportunities for instant gratification while promising us that indulging our appetites will bring us the satisfaction we seek.
Human appetites, in themselves, are not sinful. In fact, they’re God-given. However, because of our fleshly weaknesses, they need to be controlled. When our appetites rule us, we’re in trouble. Paul likened the Christian life to that of athletes who are so focused on winning the race that they exercise self-control in every area of their lives. “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)
That’s exactly how we’re called to live, yet we lack the motivation, determination, and power to do so in our own strength. For this reason, we need to rely on the Holy Spirit within us. If we yield our lives to Him and step out in obedience to His promptings, we’ll have the strength to say no when fleshly desires feel overpowering. “So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.” (Gal. 5:16).
Another key to success is keeping our focus on the eternal instead of the temporal. Many decisions that seem mundane are in fact spiritually significant. Are you indulging an appetite that could result in the sacrifice of an imperishable reward in heaven?
When the Enemy tempts us, he always tries to keep our attention on our desire and the pleasure of indulgence rather than on the eternal rewards and blessings we’re forfeiting. Just remind yourself how quickly immediate gratification wanes and how long eternity lasts.