Pleasure vs Pleasure

Written by Ryan Miller
Sin calls.  It tempts.  It whispers.  Sometimes it roars.
But it’s all around.  Everyday.
As the apostle Paul says, “So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand.” (Romans 7 21)
And I can relate.  So much.  I know you can too, especially if you are following Jesus.  If you aren’t, I guess sin isn’t really tempting you.  It just has you.  But you feel it’s pull.  You just don’t care as much as those of us who have a continually Christ-refined conscience.
Point is, sin calls – it extends the promise of pleasure.  And, in actuality, it is pleasurable.  To paraphrase Matt Chandler, the problem with sin is that, just for a moment, it does indeed satisfy what it promises to satisfy.  It brings legitimate pleasure.
But then it’s gone.  And in place of the brokenness that preceded the sin is a slightly deeper and darker brokenness than before.  We roll down the hill, come back up in a rush for a moment – just a moment – of pure ecstasy, and then we go careening straight back into the darkness from which we came.  Only this time we go a little bit deeper.  And the next time deeper still, the darkness seeming darker and longer until we eventually succumb completely to the increasing comfort of the blackness.
So how do we combat this?  How do we possibly defeat sin?  Is it not somehow possible?  Do we, as Matt Chandler has said, “white-knuckle it, try harder and manipulate (our) environment”¹ until we finally, through the sweat and tears of agonizing personal anguish, put sin to death?  Can we?
If you’re a Christian, if you’re a human, you know this is impossible.  It simply cannot be done.  Yet look at the world around us friends!  You would think white-knuckled, whitewashed morality is the way to go.
But no.  There is a better way.
Fight pleasure with pleasure.
Let me explain.
To quote John Piper’s ministry statement, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.”  And when God is glorified in us, sin cannot be front and center in our lives.  There is no room for sin to be indulged when the Lord is actively being glorified.
So what do we do?  Simply, seek pleasure in the Lord.
We fight not by putting pleasure to death.  Rather, we redirect.  Or better yet, we direct our natural pleasure-seeking souls in the correct direction.  True north.  We win by allowing the Lord to direct our gaze, our emotions, feelings, and desires to him, the Lord of Heaven and earth.
Is this easy?  Heck no!  Remember (if you can bear it) that we are sinners.  Jesus had to die and bear the wrath of his Father to save us because of how broken and despicable we are.
Yet take heart brothers and sisters, even as I sit and write these words to my own heart: the Lord longs for his children to experience joy in him.  In relationship with him.  It’s what we were made for.  It’s what we are made for.  Not for the stifling of pleasure.
The Lord did not create us to have deadened souls.  He created us to have eternal joy and communion with him.  He sent Jesus to make new all things – to restore and redeem everything, emotions and pleasures included.
My prayer, dear friends – eternal siblings in the Lord, if indeed you have been called – is that we would make pleasure our aim.  God-glorifying, God-centered, pure, unadulterated pleasure.  Let’s love one another, communing with each other and our Creator as often as we possibly can, being restored, renewed, and refined in his glorious grace and all-consuming fire.
Love you all, imperfectly as I can.

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