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Lesson 4: Lord of Our Desires *

Introduction: Disney has a ride where you pretend that you are in a microscopic "boat" and you go sailing into a person's mouth, then lungs, then deeper and deeper into the circulatory system. That is how I feel about these lessons. Last week we learned that sin begins with the thoughts, not with what we do. We sailed from the hand into the heart. This week we sail even deeper into the mind and study our desires and our nature. Let's jump into our boat and set sail into the topic of desire!

  1. Creation of Desire

    1. Read Genesis 2:8-9. We learn that God created a garden for Adam. What is the purpose of a garden?

      1. What purpose is mentioned in Genesis 2:9? (That the trees in the garden were pleasing to the eye and provided good food.)

        1. Why would God want to create trees that were pleasing to the eye? What need is there for that?

        2. When it says that the food God created was "good," do you understand that to mean it was tasty? (Although the word translated "good," means good in every way, I believe that it was tasty for the simple reason that God created in us the ability to taste.)

    2. Read Genesis 2:21-24. What do you think Eve looked like? Beautiful or not? (It is hard to believe that God would creates trees ( Genesis 2:9) that were pleasing to the eye and create a woman who was not.)

      1. When it says that Adam and Eve became "one flesh," to what does that refer? (It refers to the process of having children.)

      2. Why did God make conceiving children fun?

    3. Are we seeing a pattern here? God creates surroundings that are pleasant to look at, food that is good to eat and a method for reproduction of the race which is highly enjoyable. (The pattern is that God created pleasure for humans.)

      1. What does this teach us about God and desires? (That God created desires in us.)

          1. Would it have been better for God to create tasteless food and pleasure-less sex? (We would be thinner - and there would be fewer of us. But life would not be the same.)

  2. Desire and the Creation of Sin

    1. Read Genesis 3:1-3. Why did the serpent ask Eve to repeat what God had said? (My guess is that he wanted no later debate about what Eve did. He did not want her to claim she stumbled and accidentally took a bite.)

    2. Read Genesis 3:4-5. What is Satan's argument for disobeying God? (That God wants to keep Eve from being like God. That if she eats she will know the things that God knows.)

    3. Read Genesis 3:6. Why did Eve eat the fruit? Was it her hunger? Her desire for food? (The claim Eve sinned because of her appetite makes no logical sense to me. She was surrounded by trees with good fruit. It was not food which made her sin, it was her desire to be like God.)

      1. If I am right that it was not appetite that caused Eve to sin, then why does Genesis 3:6 say the fruit was "good for food and pleasing to the eye?" (Do you think that Satan would have handed her a moldy, wormy apple? It had to be appealing.)

    4. Let's step back a minute. We learned that God created desire in us as a good thing. How did Satan use human desire in this story? (He uses our desires to attract us to sin.)

      1. What lesson does that teach us about sin and desire? (Desire is not sin. Desire is a tool that Satan uses to attract us to sin. The issue becomes whether the object of our desire is appropriate. In law school they taught me that the most important step in correctly resolving a legal dispute was to determine the issue. The issue in the Eve account was not appetite. If it were, you could argue that desire itself was sin. Instead, the issue was whether one could use his own schemes to become like God. That is a consistent problem from the fall of Satan through to the issue of acquiring righteousness today.)

  3. Deeper Into Desire

    1. Read 1 Peter 1:13-16. So far we have learned that God created desire and that desire is not inherently good or evil. How do we square that conclusion with Peter's statement about "evil" desires? Is our conclusion wrong? (If you look at these three verses the overall theme seems to be to set proper goals. Aim to be holy. This suggests that if our aim is wrong, our desires are evil. If our aim is proper, our desires are proper.)

      1. What does this suggest about the relationship between thoughts and desires? (In tracing the line of sin we went from hands, to hearts to desire. Desire was found by drilling deeper than thought. Peter suggests to us that our thoughts, Godly goals, and Godly learning control our deeper desires.)

    2. Read Romans 7:7. Do you recall that last week we discussed that the commandment against coveting was a recognition that sin began in the mind? Why do you think Paul chooses that commandment over any other to use as an illustration? (A failure in the thought department leads to the violation of the other commandments. Paul teaches us that the law is critical to help us learn about this kind of sin.)

    3. Read Romans 7:8. Does Paul disagree with Peter? If we correctly understand Peter to say that our thoughts control our desires, how can Paul teach that controlling our thoughts (learning we should not covet) produces all sorts of evil desires? Are evil desires produced by good thoughts? Are evil desires produced by the knowledge that we should think good thoughts?

      1. Have you ever seen a sign telling you not to do something that makes you think about doing it? For example, you see a sign in the bathroom that says, "Don't write on the walls." Does that make you want to write on the walls? (Normally, I would not even consider writing on the wall of the bathroom. I'm in the bathroom for something other than literary pursuits. But the sign makes me consider what others have written and the entire issue. Paul says that being told not to do something, makes us think about doing it.)

    4. Let's read a little more. Read Romans 7:18-21. Here Paul tells us he has the right desires, the right thoughts, but the wrong actions. Should we determine that the conclusion to our carefully thought-out study for the last two weeks is just wrong? Can we realize the battle over sin is in the mind, put the right stuff in, have the right aims, the right desires, and still be swamped with sinful actions? (Paul is adding two very important points to our discussion. Although we learned that God created desires in us and those desires in themselves were neutral, after Adam and Eve, the rest of us were born with what Paul calls "my sinful nature." This powerful force pushes our thoughts, desires and deeds towards sin. Compare 2 Peter 2:10 to see that Peter agrees on this point.)

      1. Remember we started out with the illustration of Disney's boat ride? It seems that when it comes to our conduct, we are traveling down from our hands, to our hearts (thoughts) to our desires to our sinful nature. We drill down to a nature which Paul (and therefore us) cannot control.

      2. What is the solution to the problem of our sinful nature? (Paul's second important point is that God, and only God, can rescue us from our sinful nature.)

        1. How does the Eve account, the account of the fall of humans, fit into this? (Eve wanted to be like God through her own devices. God calls on us to trust Him. We need His power to overcome our sinful nature.)

    5. Read Romans 9:16. How does what Paul is writing fit our discussion so far? Is he now saying that our relationship with God has nothing, zero, to do with our thoughts and desires? Or, are we wrong in concluding that our thoughts and desires have an extraordinary amount to do with our relationship with God? (The answer, again, is the "God component" of things. We must realize that all of our efforts to be good, even those focused on our thoughts, are simply not sufficient without the power of God's Spirit in our life. It is an acknowledgment that God has the power to give effect to our choice of right thoughts. Acknowledging the place of God's power and authority, also acknowledges that we defer to Him on the issue of salvation.)

      1. Those of you who are troubled by this verse may read further ( Romans 9:17-18) and become even more troubled. Will God, because He has the ultimate power, be arbitrary in His decision on salvation? Was He arbitrary with Pharaoh? (If He were to be arbitrary, we would have no basis to complain. See Romans 9:20-21. However, what has been revealed to us shows that God was not arbitrary when it came to Pharaoh. If you compare Exodus 8 with Exodus 9, you will see that Pharaoh hardened his heart towards God before God hardened Pharaoh's heart.)

    6. Friend, God created our desires. He asks us to set our thoughts on those things which will encourage a desire for good. But, in all aspects of our Christian walk, whether in our thoughts or in our deeds, we must remember that we depend completely on God for our salvation. Will you ask God for that power in your life?

  4. Next week: Lord of Our Speech.
* Copr. 2005, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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