UCAN sharing: Wildfires of desire
Scripture: Romans 7:5, Jn. 7:38-39
14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. James 1:14
Every year in California there is a season of wildfires. During this time the weather is dry and hot. Conditions that encourage wildfires to start. Once started these fires can burn for days and consume a large amount of land burning everything that lies in its path. Our spiritual life without the presence of God is like a land ready to ignite and burn out of control. Lustful desires when they first arrive may seem controllable but once they
take hold there is little one can do to resist the call to give in to the sin that follows. But just like in real life water puts out the fire so does the living water of Jesus Christ serve to strength us till the fires are no more. As always God is a willing participant but are we? For the lustful desires to be overcome we must want them to be done away with, we must seek Him and yield to God in the storm for he is our strength to put out the wildfires within.
Most of the things that man desires are not evil in and of themselves but rather it is how we think of them and how we go about getting them that turns harmless things in to objects of destruction. Take for example, money. It is a necessity of life but fear the lack of money or believing in the security of money as well as the comforts that money brings can generate a lot of lustful desires. We can lust for more money or use the money to feed our desires. No matter what the manifestation the issue is the desire that got out of control. Money itself is not the problem it is we who desire it more than God which causes us to go in to the flesh as we pursue it. We can see how something neutral can become so harmful when it is a lustful desire.
Our desires are very much like fire. Fire can be great when used properly but when misused it can destroy. Even good desires can become harmful when man puts his carnal zeal in to them. The reason is in the motivation. Man’s heart without God is dark and no matter how good the deed may seem to us the heart of the deed is still flawed by the corrupted nature of sin. Even the best intentions are marred by some lustful desire. This is who man is and there is nothing we can do about it. Matt 15:19. 18 But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. 19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. We don’t need any help to bring up evil desires. It is what happens after we let them go that does all the harm.
When a person lives by their carnal desires there is a sense of loss of control. We have all had the experience where we sin and afterward wonder how we let it get this far. It happens as we yield to the desire. Everyone is tempted in some way. Even Jesus was tempted (Matt4) but the difference between us and Jesus is that while he was tempted he never gave in and received the lie behind the desire. All of us give in as we embrace the lie to get the suppose pleasure. Take lying for example. All Christians know that lying is a sin but we may lie if we see a benefit or a need to avoid shame or punishment. Here the desire is self-preservation over being right with God. All lustful desires work this way. They offer something we want but to get it we must do things that are not right. Here is where we lose control. The moment we want the desire more than we want to be right
with God we begin to turn toward the desire. The fire is growing but we are not aware because our minds are fixed on the pleasure or reward. As the fire grows we lose control and we find it burns quickly.
As our desires lead us to act it does so with a restless and demanding spirit that says get what we want now, no matter what. Remember King David with Bathsheba? He saw her and his lust took off. As it did he acted and called her to him. They had sex and she got pregnant and this lead to murder. I bet you David spent many a day wishing he had never looked down at her. His desire became a wildfire and impacted him and his family.
Such is the way of a lustful desire. They seem pleasant for a moment but quickly change to pain and suffering as the consequences unfold. For lust is never satisfied and never satisfies us. It demands more and more like a fire that burns hot and needs more fuel to burn. Out of control we give in and it takes a toll. What get a moment of pleasure but the cost is so high.
For many Christians the idea of overcoming one’s desires seems impossible but that is only if we try to do so in our own strength. God through His son Jesus has made a way that anyone who has a relationship with Jesus can gain the needed power to overcome. 1 Cor. 10:13 states that all sin is common to us. This means that when the enemy tells you it’s all about you and your sin then you can answer it is not. We all get tempted in some way so none of us is above another. But God who is above us knows how much we can take and though in our eyes when we are tempted it may seem too much God says it is not. He makes a way out if we look for it. Here is the first step in gaining control over desire: you have to want to get rid of the desire. God offers but does not force us. If we sin it is because we wanted it and went looking for it. God says we can make it through
so from the start no matter what sin you are dealing with you can grasp hope in knowing that God is fighting with you and that you can and will overcome if we walk it out with him.
What is the way out that God offers? Is it bible reading or more prayer time? No. Is it attending a bible study and being knowledgeable in the word? No. None of these efforts will work because they are just works we do to justify ourselves. All works are useless and God can’t receive them. No, the true hope lies in being in God’s presence for in God’s presence there can exist no darkness (1 Jn 1:5). So if we want to learn to overcome our desires it must be in God’s presence. How do we get to God’s presence? Amazingly God wants to be with you. This in fact is his leading desire. This is why Jesus came and die so that we could come to know eternal life and eternal life according to God is being with Him (Jn 17:3) and knowing him. Knowing him is the key.
In Jn 7:38-39 Jesus declares that if we are thirsty we need to go to him. A life on fire makes a soul thirsty. We need to see our desperate need and want Jesus to fill that need with his love. He offers drink but not water like we normally think of (See Jn 4:13-14). Jesus spoke of the Living Water, which is the Holy Spirit in us. This is the water that puts out our lustful desires. We receive the Holy Spirit by faith in Jesus. He comes and is sealed in us to show that we belong to God. Great all desires gone. Right? Wrong. We are only beginning. We now have to learn to listen to God and walk with the Spirit (Gal 5:25) so we don’t satisfy the desires of the flesh. Only when we are totally surrendered to God will we experience total freedom from our lust and we may struggle but we should be growing continuously (Gal. 5:16).
It is in the believing that we fail so often. Remember the fires comes because we believe a lie. Receiving the truth from the Holy Spirit will set us free but not if we refuse to accept it. This is why some issues in our lives are tougher than others. The lie is deeper and requires we spend more time learning to repent in a true way that brings godly sorrow. This too is from God and He will reveal it to us as we listen and walk with him. So no matter how challenging a desire may seem, remember God’s words and his love for you. He is willing to get you through the storm if you put your faith in him. Faith grows by trust and that comes by being with Jesus. If you fall, confess your sin (1 Jn 1:9) and you are forgiven. Now use this opportunity to seek God and ask Him to reveal why you sinned. Press in and hunger to be free. He whom the Son sets free is free indeed. (Jn 8:36). You can be free of your wildfires but only in Christ so don’t give up.