Let Scripture Direct and Define Our Pleasures
Imagine going to a used car salesman looking for a car. His eyes light up and he takes you to a certain one. “This is it,” he proclaims. “This is the perfect car for you.”
“Is it a good car,” you ask.
He assures you it’s in great shape. Two weeks later you are stranded on the side of the highway. Your mechanic tells you the transmission is junk and has been for quite a while. You go back to the salesman, irate and demanding your money back. He calms you down, then says, “I’m very sorry about last time. But I have the perfect car for you. Nothing could be better.”
He shows you another model with a bright new paint job, and the next thing you know you’re driving it off the lot. Six days later the paint is peeling around the wheel wells to reveal some serious rust and body damage. You take it back furious, only to leave the lot with yet another of the same cars that will leave you in the same lurch.
That’s what we are like when we keep listening to our flesh. It’s lying to us. Our flesh is lying to us.
We welcome, love, and sometimes even run to our old sinful ways. We excuse, then allow, then fall, then hate, then repeat the cycle. We are battered. Sometimes we cry. We are free to do what is best for us, but are often so quick to return to the sin that is hurting us. We are attracted to the exact thing we are repulsed by. We hate what we do, and we hate what we don’t do.
The grandness of pleasure is marketed to our flesh at every turn. It is the atmosphere of our world, and sometimes we breathe it freely. It doesn’t have to be some dark pleasure we don’t even speak of, though it could be. It can be 5 minutes from the snooze button, or 2 hours of a borderline movie, or 1 swipe of the credit card.
Pleasure drives us whenever we know what is true, know what is wrong, and still choose the wrong because of what we think it will do for us. It’s ugly and it’s repulsive and it’s blasphemous, but at that moment we are declaring that we think ______ will bring more satisfaction and pleasure than God.
We may even recognize that the pleasure is only for a season, but convince ourselves that the pleasure of the season will be more enjoyable than obeying God right now, that the pleasure will somehow be worth it right now, that God would not make me as happy right now.
That’s wrong though. That’s evil and it’s idolatrous and it’s just plain wrong. When the Bible talks about the pleasures of sin for a season, it’s acknowledging that sin can be enjoyable, not that it is more enjoyable than God. Nothing could be better than God. No momentary thrill, no ongoing high, no emotional release, no liberated feeling could possibly touch the pleasure of being in God’s presence.
R. Kent Hughes offers this stirring Gospel reason to reject our tendencies to sinful pleasure, and it’s a great call. “As with the sin of materialism, Christians must set themselves apart from the world’s hedonistic pursuits if they are to have a ministry to the world. Lot, we remember, had balked at foregoing the pleasures of Sodom, with the sad result that he had little or no impact on Sodom’s dying culture.
In contrast Moses rejected ‘the fleeting pleasures of sin’ in Egypt with the result that he was used to effect the deliverance of his people (cf. Hebrews 11:25).
If we are captive to the pursuit of pleasure, there is little chance that we will introduce others to the pleasures of God. Our singular hope, and by extension the hope for those we would attempt to influence for Christ, is to let the Scriptures define and direct our pleasures.”