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Sabbath School Lessons on The Spiritual Life - Experiencing Jesus Christ as Lord
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About the Author
Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 37 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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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!
- Creation of Desire
- Read Genesis 2:8-9. We learn that God created a garden for
Adam. What is the purpose of a garden?
- What purpose is mentioned in Genesis 2:9? (That the
trees in the garden were pleasing to the eye and
provided good food.)
- Why would God want to create trees that were
pleasing to the eye? What need is there for
- 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.)
- 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.)
- When it says that Adam and Eve became "one flesh," to
what does that refer? (It refers to the process of
- Why did God make conceiving children fun?
- 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
- What does this teach us about God and desires? (That
God created desires in us.)
- 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.)
- Desire and the Creation of Sin
- 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.)
- 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
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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
- 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.)
- Deeper Into Desire
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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
- 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?
- 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
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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
- 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.)
- 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?
- 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.