Freedom and Desire

Posted on 02/19/2012 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.

AUDIO: dialup - broadband - podcast

TRANSCRIPT: (does not contain everything found in the audio above)

*** listen to the audio for introduction and prayer ***

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He is the King of Kings
He is the Lord of Lords
His name is Jesus, Jesus,
Jesus, Jesus
Oh -- He is the King

...of Kings
He is the Lord of Lords
His name is Jesus, Jesus,
Jesus, Jesus
Oh -- He is the King

His name is Jesus, Jesus,
sad hearts we've no more
He can heal the broken hearted
open wide the prizon doors
And he's able, yes he's able
to deliver evermore


You are beautiful beyond description
too marvelous for words
Too wonderful for comprehension
like nothing ever seen or heard

Who can grasp your infinite wisdom
who can fathom the depth of your love
You are beautiful beyond description
majesty enthroned above

I stand, I stand in awe of you
I stand, I stand in awe of you
Holy God to whom all praise is due
I stand in awe of you


I'm finding myself at a loss for words
And the funny thing is it's okay
The last thing I need is to be heard
But to hear what You would say

Word of God speak
Would You pour down like rain
Washing my eyes to see
Your majesty
To be still and know
That You're in this place
Please let me stay and rest
In Your holiness
Word of God speak

I'm finding myself in the midst of You
Beyond the music, beyond the noise
All that I need is to be with You
And in the quiet hear Your voice

*** listen to the audio for the message introduction ***

Today, I'd like for us to take a look at something with which we all have to deal from time to time. Have you ever wanted to do one thing, but instead you've done another?

Maybe you wanted to tell someone about Jesus, but you didn't; maybe you wanted to stay calm and collected next time you encountered a certain person or situation, but instead you said or did things you had made up your mind not to do.

Whatever it is, we've all been there and done that. And not only is it nothing new, it's not something that should make you feel ashamed or like a failure.

Paul wrote about this very thing in Romans chapter 7.

Romans 7:15-24 (KMV)

15 For that which I do, I do not understand; for what I want to do, that I do not; but what I hate, that I do.
16 If then I do that which I do not want to do, I agree with the law that it is good.
17 Now then it is no longer I who does it, but sin that dwells in me.
18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwells no good thing; for the desire is present within me, but how to perform that which is good eludes me.
19 For the good that I want to do, I do not; but the evil which I do not want to do, that I do.
20 Now if I do that which I do not want to do, it is no longer I who does it, but sin that dwells in me.
21 I find then a law, which is this: when I want to do good, evil is present within me.
22 For in my inward man, I delight in the law of God;
23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
24 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?

Now I don't know about you, but I can identify with Paul VERY well here. There are so many times I've looked back at what I've said or done, and kicked myself. "Why in the world didn't I do such and such? Why did I say (or NOT say) such and such? I wanted to... I knew they right thing to say or do... Why in the world DIDN'T I?"

Well, Paul points out here that it's not because we're horrible people; rather, it's because there is a battle going on inside of every single one of us, and that battle's going to continue to be fought until the day you die, or the day Jesus returns and carries you away, whichever comes first.

Of course it would be easy to think that we're hopeless -- that it's just our nature to not do the right things we want to do, and instead do the wrong things we DON'T want to do. But in the next verse, Paul says this: "I thank God through Yeshua Messiah our Lord."

You see, even though even Paul didn't understand why he did things he didn't want to do and didn't do things he did want to do, he knew that the situation wasn't hopeless. And so he gives thanks to God through Yeshua Messiah, Jesus Christ, our Lord. And in Philippians 2:13 (KMV), he writes this:

"For it is God who works in you both to desire and to do that which pleases Him."

Do you ever wish that you would do the things that please God? Do you ever have the desire to do the right thing? Then you should say, along with Paul, "I thank God through my Lord Jesus Christ!" for it is GOD who works in you to desire to do that with pleases Him.

And if God is working in you to build the desire to do what's right, then you can be sure He is ALSO working in you to actually DO those things that please Him.

Philippians 1:6 (KMV) says this:

6 Being confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will complete it until the day of Yeshua Messiah.

So if God started your life of pleasing Him by putting Godly desires inside of you, then He WILL complete that work by increasing that desire until you act on it. Just continue to seek Him about it, and He will do it.

And it really does all boil down to that one thing: DESIRE.

Why do you do whatever you do? Desire. Your spirit and your mind often desire one thing while your flesh, your carnal nature, desires something else. And so the battle begins. And which one wins? Well, the one with the strongest desire.

Take addiction for example. An alcoholic might really want to quit drinking, or a drug addict might really want to stop taking drugs. But if that desire was enough, why is there rehab? Why is there Alcoholics Anonymous? Why are there countless programs designed to help people not do the things they want to quit doing, and do the things they DO want to do instead?

It's because there are TWO desires inside those who are struggling with addictions: the desire to continue abusing alcohol, food, drugs, sex, or whatever other form their vice takes; and there is also the desire to STOP doing those things or to do something that those things are making difficult or impossible.

Jesus told us that the spirit is willing to do the right thing, but the flesh is weak. Another way to say that which fits in with today's topic is that the spirit desires to do the right thing, but the flesh's desire to NOT do it or to do something else instead is almost as strong, if not stronger.

Let's read that verse, in Matthew 26:41 (NKJV):

41 "Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."

The flesh and the spirit are at war, and Jesus instructed us to "watch and pray" so that the desires of our spirit become stronger than the desires of our flesh.

Have you ever arm wrestled someone? If they were a lot stronger than you, or if you were a lot stronger than they, you probably didn't enjoy it very much. Arm wrestling becomes a real challenge when both of you are close to the same strength.

It's the same with our spirit and our flesh. These two terms, by the way, at least in this context, are very simple ways of itentifying the good and the evil that are dispersed throughout every part of us.

Our bodies are just one small part of us. They feel hunger, pain, chemical addiction, and sexual desire. Our minds contain complex, multi-layered programs that direct us to respond to physical desires in certain ways. Those programs also create their own desires which often keep on calling to us even if the related physical desires are either gone or never existed to begin with.

Our mental desires are actually a lot more dangerous than our physical ones. For example, several people could experience the same physical circumstances, completely identical in every way. They would all perceive the experience differently. One might feel rejected, and get up and leave. Two others might feel wronged; one becomes bitter and withdrawn, while the other becomes angry and lashes out with words or starts throwing punches. Another one might sit back and laugh inside his or her self, thinking the whole thing enjoyably laughable.

One really heavy example might be sexual desire. The physical component itself is something God created. It's a good thing. Completely good. Especially when someone is a young man or woman, anything can spark that desire... or nothing at all.

It's the way the MIND deals with that desire that makes it either good or evil. Those mental programs can aim the desires at the person's spouse, and that's what God intended, and the only thing He allows, as far as other people are concerned. Another person's mental programs might aim the desire at someone of the same gender. We call that a homosexual desire, and the Bible makes it clear that entertaining such a desire is an abomination to God. And even people who would object to THAT statement are likely to think that an adult male whose mental programs aim their sexual desire at little kids, is a pervert who should be behind bars.

But the point I'm trying to make here is that it's the desires of the MIND that are either good or evil. And it's the desires of the mind that are the most complex and the most difficult to overcome.

This is one reason it is SO important for us to learn how to observe what's going on in our minds -- both the stuff we can easily see and hear, and the stuff that lurks below the surface.

That's why Philippians 4:8 (KMV) says this:

8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report; if there is any virtue, and if there is any praise, think on these things.

And let's consider for just a moment that, for example, we can't focus on something unholy the same time as we focus on something pure. One will take our focus off the other. And the same applies for ALL of these things.

So my first suggestion to us today is this:

1. We should memorize Philippians 4:8, and watch our thought life; if any of our thoughts or feelings stray from what the Bible tells us to think, then we should immediately replace that thought with something that is in line with the word of God.

Speaking out loud is a really powerful way to do this. And if you can think of a verse or passage of Scripture to speak out loud, that's even better.

When we speak, we project the meaning and feelings of our words into the atmosphere. We also feel the vibrations of our words in our chest, throat, and mouth, and we hear the words with our ears. That's an aweful lot of experience compared to a thought in our head.

And don't just speak what you should be thinking, but speak it with belief and conviction. Even if you don't FEEL those things, project them into your words.

And watching your word thoughts is just the beginning. You might need to do this for awhile before you can go on to more subtle thoughts.

The more subtle thoughts are feelings. These come as "gut reactions," expectations, and emotional responses, and they can be even more difficult to control. But 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 (NKJV) says this:

4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds,
5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.

This doesn't say "just word thoughts." Rather, it says EVERY thought, and EVERY high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God.

It's much more natural to just BELIEVE our every thought; and if we FEEL a certain way about something, we all too often simply assume our feelings must be correct.

But realizing that our thoughts and feelings are highly subjective and subject to error, and remembering that they come out of layers and layers of complex mental programs that contain elements that are often flawed, are powerful first steps in learning how to bring all those things into captivity and obedience to our Creator Savior and His holy word.

Next, we need to watch what goes into our minds. I'm sure you've heard of the acronymn GIGO -- "Garbage In, Garbage Out." With a computer, if you put in bad code or commands, you'll get something bad out. If you put bad ingredients and mixtures into the oven, you're going to get something out that nobody wants to eat. Well, this also holds true for our minds. What you put in -- and even what you ALLOW in, including things you don't even KNOW are going in -- is what you're going to get out. And it's what's going to produce your automaticly-generated thoughts and feelings.

Maybe that's why Proverbs 4:23 (KMV) give us this vitally important command:

23 Keep watch over your heart with all diligence, for out of it flow the springs of life.

And what does it mean to "keep watch" over your heart? Well, this would include watching what you let into it.

Do you listen to music that promotes a worldly perspective on life? If so, don't be surprised if you some day realize your perspective isn't quite as Godly as you think it is.

Do you watch movies that promote fear, sexual immorality, and other things that are in opposition to God's word? If so, you're feeding faulty and dangerous mental programming.

Do you hang around people who tell off-colored jokes, use foul language, talk bad about others, and spew other demented gargabe out of their mouths? If so, remember that bad companions corrupt good morals. And what does Provergs 3:20 (KMV) say?

20 He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed.

In other words, you become like those with whom you spend your time.

Now this isn't to say you shouldn't spend time with the lost. Jesus ate with sinners. If we were to separate ourselves from those in the world, who would lead them to Jesus?

What this IS saying is that you should be very choosy in who you "hang out with." Plant the seeds of God's word, but don't just hang around and listen to their dirty jokes, their gossip and complaining, or their rotten attitudes... even if they are Christians. Hang out with wise people, and people who are pursuing wisdom, and you will grow more Godly and wise together.

So to recap what we've covered:

1. Watch your thoughts
2. Watch what you let in to your heart and mind, and
3. Choose your companions carefully.

These could all fall under the first part of what Jesus said in Matthew 26:41: WATCH. But that's only half of what He said. Jesus told us to watch AND pray.

And that's where it gets tricky. You see, praying tends to be one of those "good things" we "want to do," but "don't."

Let's go back to the example of arm wrestling for a moment. Let's say you keep wrestling with someone who is just a little bit stronger than you, and you keep losing. What should you do if you want to win? Well, you COULD slip some muscle relaxants into their drink. And while in the real world this would be cheating, it is NOT cheating to spend some time fasting. Fasting is a very strong denial of the flesh, and during your fast, it can make your flesh weak.

But while this is a very good thing to do, and the Bible tells us to set aside time to fast and pray, you also need to start exercising your muscles so that you are eventually stronger than your opponent.

Apply just a little bit more will. Stir up the desire within yourself to overcome the next battle. Do whatever it takes to win. Don't worry about every battle that will come in the future and whether you think you can win them all. Just focus on the next one. And as you apply more effort, and as you fall to your flesh just one less time, you become stronger.

Remember that what you feed becomes stronger. If you want something inside you to become weak, stop feeding it. The less you feed your flesh, the weaker it will become; and the more you feed your spirit man, the stronger it will be.

Set aside a time; make an appointment, a date with God. And don't let ANYTHING cause you to break that date. And pray! Ask God to strengthen your Godly desires, your desires to do that which pleases Him. And keep asking. Even if it's just a short prayer every time you think about it (and of course you can put up notes to yourself reminding yourself to ask God to strengthen your will to please HIm).

And you know what? God's not going to ignore you. Whenever you keep asking Him to do something that He already wants to do, something that is absolutely in line with His will, He WILL do it! Now, it might not be in the way you think He will, or according to your time table; but you can rest assured that He DOES hear you and He WILL answer.

In fact, He has ALREADY answered! He knew before the foundation of the earth that you would ask for this good thing. And He has already put the answer into place.

Just think about this for a moment: the interactions between people's choices and various circumstances that bring about various changes is so incredibly complex, it boggles the most brilliant mind. But it's not difficult for God. He already knows and understands it all completely, from the very first moment of time to the very last trumpet blast. And He has already stepped into time, in the past, the present, and the future, and He has intervened on YOUR behalf! Just trust in Him. Just ask Him for strength where you are weak. And just rest in His mercy and in the fact that He WILL continue that good work He has begun in you!

Let's close today's service with a time of prayer and ministry.