Copyright © 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
Have you ever thought much about desire—how it operates; what it is; what significance it has in your life? Actually, what we desire, what we want, plays a large role in our discipleship and destiny.
Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. (Philippians 2:12,13)
Have you ever thought much about desire—how it operates; what it is; what significance it has in your life? Actually, what we desire, what we want, plays a large role in our discipleship and destiny.
God works in us to will and to act according to his good purpose.
We know that God’s purpose is to conform us to the image of His Son that Christ might be the Firstborn among many brothers.
We know that God’s purpose is to make us His house, His place of rest.
When it states God works in us to will and to act according to his good purpose, does this mean that all we desire, all we do, all that happens to us, necessarily is of God? I don’t think so.
I don’t believe it is God working in an unsaved person to rape and murder a child.
I don’t believe it is God working in a Christian who gossips about another Christian—or even about another person.
If this is the case, what does it mean that God works in us to will and to act according to His good purpose? It means that when we are seeking God with all our might He helps us by giving us righteous desires. Then God works with us so we will act according to His good purpose in Christ.
You know, the only free and fulfilled person is the one whose desires are governed by his will, and whose will is governed by God’s will. Therefore it is well worth our while when we submit to God so He can conform our will and desires to His will and desires.
We are wise when we ask God to change our desires so they are identical with His desires for us.
We humans are subtle. We often conceal our motives from other people—even from ourselves. Our heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.
The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? “I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve.” (Jeremiah 12:9,10)
We do not understand our own motives, why we feel and act as we do. This is why people go to psychologists—to try to gain some understanding of their own desires and actions.
The Bible tells us to guard our heart, for from it flow our desires and actions.
Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. (Proverbs 4:23)
How are we to guard our heart? With continual prayer. With continual meditation in the Scriptures. With stern obedience to God. With fellowship with fervent disciples, as possible. By confessing our sins, denouncing them as evil; renouncing them as undesirable; by walking in the Presence of Christ in an attitude of openness and repentance.
Always remember, your heart will betray you if you are not careful.
Deception is more common among Christians than they understand. Christians depend a lot on their feelings, many times supposing that a good or special feeling necessarily is the Holy Spirit. However, they often are mistaken, not realizing that Satan can imitate the Holy Spirit until it nearly is impossible to distinguish the truth.
Passionate desires seldom or never are the Lord. We may be convinced some fervent desire we have is of God. More often than not, that fervent desire is not of God. It is a wise person who waits until his desires are moderate before he acts.
Satan has no real power over the Christian. Satan’s power was destroyed on the cross. Satan examines the believer until he knows where the strongest desires are. Then he begins his work of convincing the believer that the fulfillment of the strong desire is God’s will and ought to be pursued. The believer then may act in undesirable, unscriptural ways, believing he or she has heard from God. For this reason we must learn to be extremely careful when there is something we desire intensely.
Very often our most fervent desires are God’s will for us. These desires are areas of our greatest opportunity and our greatest danger. Satan always will attempt to persuade us to take a shortcut to our goals, to try to get what we want without patiently waiting for the Lord.
We see how Satan works when we consider the three temptations of Christ. These are the three temptations that are applied to every son of God.
First, the temptation to turn stone into bread. Christ was hungry. Christ knew He had miraculous power. He knew also He was not to use His power to accomplish worldly ends.
In our day we have been presented with the “faith” and “prosperity” doctrines. The object is to “turn stones into bread,” to use our God-given powers to get what we want in the world.
Recently a prophecy issued from a major prophetic source. The idea was that toward the end of the age the Christians would be given the material wealth of the world.
How could a devout Christian be so deceived as to utter a prediction so contrary to the New Testament; and why would thousands of believers accept this as from the Lord? The reason is, we desire to be rich. In spite of the numerous biblical warnings about the deceitfulness of riches, we want to be rich. And so we readily are deceived.
When we read the warnings of the Apostle Paul about the love of money, how riches pierce the owner through with many sorrows, we guard our heart. We will not permit the desire for riches to captivate us. We will choose the spiritual treasures that are ours through Christ. Thus we insulate ourselves against the temptation to use the Holy Spirit to turn stones into bread, as it were.
The Lord Jesus Christ is a King by right. He knew from the Scriptures that He is destined to be the greatest of all kings. He desires to be a king, to govern, because God has placed this in His heart.
Therefore Satan, understanding the desire of Christ to be King of the kingdoms of the world, invited him to take a shortcut to this goal. The problem was, in order to move immediately to His objective, Christ was required to worship Satan.
In order to take a shortcut to that which God has placed in our heart, we have to worship Satan. We do not realize we are worshiping Satan, but that is what we are doing. When we indulge the passions of our flesh and soul we are worshiping Satan.
If we would avoid being deceived in this manner we have to pray every day, and read our Bible as I have stated. It helps greatly when we can have regular fellowship with fervent disciples. Fervent disciples are hard to find in these days because of the grace-rapture-Heaven emphasis in Christian teaching.
Part of guarding our heart, our desires, is our acceptance of the fact that in the world we shall have tribulation. This is what the Lord said. Whenever we try to make the present world a place of pleasure we open ourselves to deception.
I have been saying for years that the Christian people will be divided over the issue of suffering. So much preaching today emphasizes the happiness of the believers, and their imminent escape from every kind of trouble, that we forget we are as sheep for the slaughter. We forget that the saints who went before us suffered many privations and persecution. To read the Christian books of today one would suppose that Christians are supposed to be enjoying the best the world has to offer. Such teaching and preaching, such a concept of what Christian discipleship is, leads directly to satanic deception.
We have to be prepared at all times to suffer. We have to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. To follow the path of pleasure we have to surrender our integrity. The United States of today has a multitude of leaders and citizens who are ready at any time to sacrifice their integrity in order to gain the pleasures they are seeking.
The third temptation of Christ had to do with self-will. How often are we Christians exhorted to “step out in faith and do great things for God.” This precisely is the temptation of the high point of the Temple.
Self-will is the mother of all sin. Self-will is our inheritance from Satan. Getting rid of other forms of sin and rebellion is relatively easy. Self-will, however, is at the core of our personality and our greatest obstacle to living in the place where God can put His desires in us and accomplish His purposes through us.
God’s solution to our self-will is to leave us in undesirable circumstances, and to prevent our having that which we desperately desire.
I wonder how many Christians there are who are willing to serve God when He prevents their having that which they desire intensely. These, and only these, are the believers who will govern with Christ.
Getting rid of our desire for the things of the world is difficult. Getting rid of our desire to indulge in the lusts and passions of our flesh and soul is difficult.
But denying ourselves, taking up our cross, and patiently following the Man of Sorrows each day of our life is a way of life so demanding that only the most resolute of the believers are willing to accept this much personal pain and suffering.
Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. (Deuteronomy 8:2,3)
The above is the way of the cross. Before God was willing to give Christ all God had promised Him, He had to experience the death of the cross of denial. Before God is willing to give us all He has promised us; we must experience the death of the cross of denial.
God humbles us. God tests us. God wants to find out what is in our heart.
Doesn’t God know everything? It appears from the Scripture that God gathers information by various means. The heart of man is so profoundly deceitful, its desires spring from such a complex, convoluted maze of wickedness, that we cannot know our own heart. God puts us in various situations that reveal to God and to us what is down there in the subterranean depths. Can you see that such insight is necessary if we are to entrusted with a powerful, immortal body like that of the Lord?
God causes us to hunger, and not always for food. Rather, God keeps us from having what we want in many areas and situations of life. Sometimes we are like a starving dog with a juicy bone held in front of it, while the Lord says “don’t touch it!” And this can go on for decades.
Christ would still be on the high point of the Temple if God had not told Him to get down.
The key to the Kingdom of God is stern obedience to the Father! The key to being a soldier in the army of the Lord is stern obedience to the Father! The key to governing with Christ is stern obedience to the Father! By stern obedience I mean if the most intense desires of our heart are not fulfilled for fifty years we march forward in God’s perfect will. We put our treasures in Heaven, and we stay in our prison until death. We overcome the devil by loving not our lives to the death.
God feeds us with manna. We have just enough for the day.
Sometimes people speak of being saved at some point years ago. They do not realize that their experience may be moldy and repulsive. Salvation is always today—not yesterday or tomorrow but today. If we are not interacting with the living Jesus right now, then we are placing our ultimate salvation in jeopardy. He who endures to the end shall be saved.
What is being preached today in America is far, far too soft. It is unscriptural, a people-pleasing, humanistic gospel that has created churches of silly, sometimes immoral, baby Christians. The age of physical and moral horrors is approaching, and out from this period of trouble in America will emerge a godly, militant remnant of believers who will know their God and do exploits. The rest of the “believers” will follow the Antichrist world spirit and their suffering will be intense.
We must learn to live by the daily grace given to us, the body and blood of Christ which are our resurrection. It is the body and blood of Christ that will lift us to the slain Lamb when He appears, not our doctrine, as some suppose.
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, the Bible states, but when the desire comes it is a tree of life.
It is said of Christ that He shall see the travail of His soul and be satisfied.
If we are willing to go the way of the cross, guarding our heart carefully so that the desires issuing from it are God’s will for us, we will be rewarded some day. Our inheritance in Christ will be so vast as to be utterly incomprehensible to us in the present hour.
When the one who “looked like a man” told Daniel that those who turn many to righteousness will shine like the stars for ever and ever, he spoke the truth. Can you imagine the Divine Glory that will descend upon these saints to such an extent they will shine like a star in the firmament? It is beyond imagination, but will be just as glorious as this. The promises of God Almighty to His suffering servants go beyond our ability to comprehend.
The sufferings are great. The rewards are staggering.
All depends on how we guard the desires that come from our heart.
When you have been a disciple for any length of time you will find that desires will go as quickly as they came. One moment we will be aflame with some desire. Then something else will come up and that which we desired so fervently now is of little interest to us.
We can think of our desires as a bonfire. The flames leap up until they just about overpower us. We are so certain this surely is the Lord. But when we control ourselves and wait until we know what God is saying, we discover that soon this desire is quite manageable. Later we lose interest.
This sometimes is true of a relationship. We burn with desire toward some person. We have to possess this individual. We do not realize that no matter how bestial or how exalted our passion is, its origin is in our sexual drive. Our sexual drive is so intertwined in our emotions that it can conceal itself quite easily. We think we are in a sublime state of poetry and high romance, and the object of our affection is as an angel of beauty or masculine strength. We have “fallen in love.”
We may then act in haste, either in a quick marriage, or rape, or some other move that has not been thought through. After we have acted and the normal course of life continues, we realize we have been deceived. The reproductive urge God placed in us has taken over and driven us into an unwise action.
You see, we did not guard our heart with diligence. We permitted our feelings to run away with us.
Now there is an unwanted pregnancy. Because we are so self-centered we consider aborting the life of the child, thus adding murder to our other sins.
Or we may have raped and murdered a child. The pedophiliac spirit, which is a demon spirit, is powerful in the American culture and becoming more powerful each day. Over the past month a child molestation has been announced in the newspaper almost every day, it seems. And there have been numerous other molestations in both Christian and non-Christian homes.
There are terrible consequences of pedophiliac behavior. The boy or girl who has been molested suffers psychological pain throughout his or her lifetime—all because some adult—perhaps a Christian—has not learned to control his or her desires. The idea in America is to do whatever you feel like and hope you can escape undesirable consequences. Never mind how much you hurt someone else.
In many countries marriages are arranged by parents. I do not say this is always for the best. But it does have some points in its favor, in that adults often can determine if a marriage is going to be a workable situation.
However, in America the idea is to “fall in love” and then get married. Because “falling in love” is a temporary infatuation in most instances, being based on little more than a sudden mood, in turn based on the sexual drive, marriages take place that do not have much chance of being successful. The two people are not suited to one another. In fact, they may know little about each other. They have been propelled into marriage on the basis of physical attraction.
Any sociologist could predict the result. The two people involved soon are displeased with each other and seek a divorce.
Marriage is a practical business. It requires that both parties be willing to surrender some of their own desires in order that peace may prevail. There are practical economic considerations that must be addressed. Everyone who has made a success of his or her marriage realizes that a lasting union ordinarily is not based on “love at first sight.”
The person driven by uncontrolled desire into rape and murder may have a long time in prison to think about the folly of giving in to a sudden urge, an urge that soon would have passed away had he contained himself. Now he is deprived of his liberty, if not his life, because he was not wise enough to consider the possible results of his hasty action.
We can see, therefore, that how we handle our desires is of the greatest importance, and may determine our happiness in the present world as well as the world to come. Our eternal destiny very well may be determined by how we take charge of our desires.
Our American culture is given to pleasure. Pleasure is a high, if not the highest, goal. The media continually informs the listeners that they deserve to have every happiness. It is no wonder that young people, upon having a credit card pressed on them by an entrepreneur representing a banking system, soon find it necessary to declare bankruptcy. They have never been taught that one has to work hard and experience much denial before he can expect to be on a sound economic footing.
I think the primary lesson one must learn about God is that God is seeking our good, our joy, our peace. Furthermore, God has the power to bring us to total joy, total peace, total love.
However, in order to make the changes in us that are necessary if we are to maintain love, joy, and peace once we receive them, God has to bring us through painful—sometimes very painful—experiences of denial and deferred hope.
Adam and Eve were placed in a situation of perfect love, perfect joy, perfect peace. Satan tempted them by placing before them something certain to produce desire in them. Satan’s reasoning was that God, through ignorance, cruelty, or carelessness was preventing them from being wise. Wisdom is to be desired. Do not go to God and find out if He wants us to be wise, take the knowledge of good and evil while it is being offered.
We understand that God knows good and evil. To have this knowledge is to be like God.
And the LORD God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” (Genesis 3:22)
We know also that had Adam and Eve waited for God’s time they would have been given the knowledge of good and evil. In fact, to know the difference between good and evil, and to have the desire and strength to embrace the good and reject the evil, is one of the primary characteristics of the mature Christian.
Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. (Hebrews 5:13,14)
The fact that they would have gained eternal life, and the knowledge of good and evil as well, had they waited for God’s time, furnishes us with one of the most valuable lessons in the salvation curriculum. God is seeking our joy. He is bringing us to the fullness of joy and pleasure. God has joy when we have joy. God takes no pleasure in denying us the desires of our heart. The Christian who has faith in God will put up with every sort of pain and frustration, being certain that the day will come when God will fulfill his deepest desires abundantly.
God opens His hand and satisfies the desire of every living thing. How much more, then, those who patiently have looked to Him throughout the years of their discipleship on the earth.
It is of great importance that we learn not to clutch anything. Any relationship, circumstance, or thing that we cling to is an idol. Let it go!
As we are willing to pray and wait for the Lord we find that our desires change. That relationship, that thing, that circumstance that was the object of our flaming desire finally begins to lose its luster. The first thing you know, we don’t much care whether we have the thing or not. It is then that we are in a better position to hear what the Lord is saying.
I like to say that you cannot cook potatoes over a bonfire. You have to wait until you have hot coals. Otherwise you will burn yourself.
So don’t cling to anything. You may find that your desires may change as time goes on, and as the Lord works in you to will and to act according to His good purposes for you.
So much depends on our willingness to suffer denial and wait for the appointed time. In some cases the believer may receive the desires of his heart during his present life. In other instances, God may see that the person will receive the fullest measure of joy if fulfillment is delayed until the next life. We always are wise when we place our treasures in Heaven. Who knows if God will repay us in this world or the next?
We have to prepare ourselves for the long haul, as they say. If Satan has an inkling that we will give in after we wait for a long time, you can be sure that our prison will last until the point when we have decided we have waited long enough and now are going to take matters into our own hands.
Sometimes God gives us a word concerning something that will be our possession in the future. We may guess that our hopes will be realized in a few weeks, or months, or in a year at most. But we may find that after forty years we are still waiting. But know this: the saints are made during the years between the vision and the fulfillment.
Be assured that the King takes delight in giving you that which will bring the greatest joy to you. He indeed is King of all kings, and derives no pleasure from depriving His subjects of love, joy, or peace. When our hope is deferred, the answer is delayed, you know for a certainty that there is a good reason for this; and it has to do with ensuring that there will be no sorrow associated with your blessing.
Have faith in the goodness and the bounty of the King! After you have suffered a while He will establish, strengthen, and settle you.
The following passage has meant much to me through the years.
Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong; For like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away. Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalms 37:1-4)
There is much evil in America today, and I know the evil shall increase. The tares of wickedness will come to maturity. One of our greatest problems will be that of fretting because of the wickedness we see on every side. Satan may not be able to tempt us to participate in immorality and violence, but he can tear us down from our high place in Christ by tempting us to fret concerning the evil.
Satan does not like to be ignored. He will perform every antic he can think of in order to take our eyes of Christ and place them on himself.
We need to understand that offenses must come. But the offenders soon will disappear. They take on great stature, and then they wither away.
God wants us to keep our eyes on Him, do what good we can, and enjoy the peace that God gives us.
God commands us to delight ourselves in the Lord. We do not fret concerning the evil, unless the Lord shows us something we can do that will help. We are to fasten our eyes on the Lord with all confidence, realizing that the earth is His and all its resources—the world and those who live therein. All belongs to Christ. Nothing whatever of this world belongs to Satan; and Christ is in absolute control, no matter what happens in the world.
And so the Lord encourages us to delight ourselves in Him. Then He promises us that if we will do this, He shall give us the desires of our heart.