I am a fellow Christian who believes that God alone is the source of all things good (James 1:17).
The connection between sin, desire and death
Desire leads to sin. Sin is separation from God. Therefore, your desires determine whether you are getting closer to or further from God.
Sin leads to death. God is life. Your desires determine whether you will live life abundantly (through your relationship with God), or whether you will be pulled away from Him (like the prodigal son). Desires may ultimately lead to death: Many will turn away from the faith (Matthew 24:10)
The root cause of sin is desire
How easy it would be to get everything right if we desired the good things and not the bad!
You sin out of desire. Without desire, you would not sin. Many people try to fight against their desires in hopes that they will fade away over time. Although possible, this has an extremely low success rate. It is like walking through the fire doused in gasoline and hoping not to catch alight. If you rid yourself of the gasoline, the fire won't consume you as soon as a spark flies your way.
We hold off on our desires until something triggers us. Once triggered, we enter into a 'free-for-all' mode where anything goes before we come back to our senses. This is why one form of sin often leads to others in a short period of time.
Desire is the root cause that we need to take care of. If you rid yourself of your desire to sin, it loses its power over you.
We are to desire God above everything else
You can tell whom you serve as your god by looking at your desires. So how do you rid yourself of your fleshly desires and long for God instead? Let's get into it by understanding more about desire itself.
Desire aims to meet a need
We often view desires as things that we can live without. This is misleading. There is no life without desire. God created us to desire. Our desires aim to fulfill the needs that we have. These needs include love, affirmation, rest, protection, survival and provision.
Let's use addiction as an example. When you try to quit an addiction, you will desire that particular substance or activity. This desire corresponds with your body's need for stability and your mental need for rest. Your brain needs to restore balance, and resuming the addiction is the quickest way to do so. Your soul (heart and mind) will seek rest from the discomfort that abstinence entails. It is hard work for the body and brain to adjust to a new way of living - and it requires rest to make this change.
Understand that your desire to resume your addiction is rooted in your need for rest and comfort. You can now address the root cause of the problem instead of wrestling with the symptoms. All actions, positive and negative, are fueled by desire. Desire aims to meet a need that we currently have. By understanding what specific need your desire is trying to fulfill, you can get to the root cause of your desire and deal with it appropriately.
Examples of needs that desire aims to address
Everybody is different. A desire to brag (pride) might be brought about by insecurity in one person, lack of love in another, and guilt in someone else. That being said, here are some underlying desires needs that I have found in my own life. I have also added verses that clearly demonstrate that God should be the solution to all of these needs, instead of the things that our flesh loves to chase.
1. Cravings for unhealthy substances or negative environments (going out with wrong friends)
- Brought on by the need for joy (depression)
The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving (Psalm 28:7)
- Brought on by the need to escape
The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe. (Proverbs 18:10)
- Brought on by the body's need for rest, or the mind's need for a break
Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)
- Brought on by boredom
But they delight in the law of the LORD, meditating on it day and night. (Psalm 1:2)
2. Prideful desires (bragging, gossiping about others, self-pity, manipulation, dishonesty, selfishness, hatefulness)
- Brought on by the need for love
How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. (Psalm 36:7)
- Brought on by our need to defend or protect ourselves
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:31-32)
- Brought on by the need for gain, provision, self-promotion or success
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:33)
- The need for protection
The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him. (Psalm 28:7)
God should meet our desires. Our lives get messy whenever anything else takes His place
As we have seen, many of our needs will be fulfilled by God when we make Him our source instead of other things. When the need is met, the desire has no reason to stay.
We were made with these needs for a reason
I believe that we were made with all of these needs on purpose, so that we would turn to God at every part of our lives. When we turn to anything else but God, we put other things in His place. This is idolatry. Anything that takes the place of God is an idol and needs to go, for God is a jealous God:
Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God. (Exodus 34:14)
So what do I do when I have a sinful desire?
Recognize the desire and give it to God immediately
This is extremely important. Do not wrestle with it, try to resist it, or go against it. Do not see it as something that you have to live with. Desire gives birth to sin! You can't expect to live God's life if you let your heart marinade in unhealthy desires. Cast sinful desires unto God immediately. Give your desires over to Him. If you will be faithful to do this, God will be faithful to set you free.
- So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:36)
- Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. (Matthew 7:7)
Do this immediately before it gives birth to sin.
2. Identify the need that the desire is trying to meet
Your desire points to what you need. Identify what it is and seek God to fulfill this need. In many cases, it could be something as simple as stress or weariness. These issues aren't easy to deal with: Until we place them completely in God's hands and let Him be Lord over us. We often wrestle with something for years while God would heal them in an instant. He waits for us to choose Him as our source - NOT as the secondary option.
- Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14)
The struggle is not the time that it takes for God to heal us. It is the time that it takes for us to come to Him at the source of our problem instead of asking Him to deal with the symptom. If my heart is with another idol (desire), God will wait until I abandon that idol - for He does not contend. God is either first or nothing at all (Revelation 3:15-17).