Today we want it all and right now! The world is fueled by a fiery passion towards self-gratification. When we sit at a red light for even a second too long the car behind us honks impatiently. If we have an issue in the checkout line, the people behind us start to stir and sigh. If an elderly or handicapped person is walking in front of us we slowly (or quickly) nudge ourselves around them to get ahead of them. If someone is in the crosswalk of a street, we don’t allow the person to get to the other side before we take our deserved turn.
Dictionary.com defines the word furious as violent passion and unrestrained energy. Isn’t that the behavior we see in the world nowadays? We want what we want, and we want it at any cost. This is self-gratification at its finest. When we don’t get what we want we always have someone to blame, as Christians, it is often God. We begin to hear that voice that tells us God is holding out on us. Satan begins to whisper in a seductive voice, “did God really say.” He shows us things we are missing out on because we choose to live a holy life. Things like spending our money on worldly desires instead of kingdom advancement. He convinces us that we deserve that new purse or fishing pole, so we don’t give, we take. He tells us that “the grass is greener on the other side” and assures us that God is aware of our plight and takes delight in our torment.
Of course, if we seek the Father when these setups come, we will quickly discover, through prayer and reading the word that these are lies. When we are tempted by such things, we must do as Jesus did and respond with the scriptures. Let’s look at what Jesus did when Satan tried to convince Him that things are better on the other side.
Jesus had just been baptized with the Holy Spirit and then led by the Spirit into the wilderness where He ate or drank nothing for 40 days. And the devil said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread." But Jesus answered him, saying, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.' " Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, "All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for [this] has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. "Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours." And Jesus answered and said to him, "Get behind Me, Satan! For it is written, 'You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.' " Then he brought Him to Jerusalem, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here. "For it is written: 'He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you,' "and, 'In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.' " And Jesus answered and said to him, "It has been said, 'You shall not tempt the LORD your God.' " Now when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time. - Luke 4:2-13 NKJV
Jesus wasn’t tempted by the Devil’s schemes. He was led there by the Holy Spirit to be tested and prepared for His ministry. Jesus passed this test with flying colors; notice how He did it. Every time the enemy whispered temptations Jesus answered with the word of God. He didn’t argue with the devil or get into a debate of sorts. He simply used the scriptures and His authority in telling him to go. Satan gave his best shot but lost. However, the scriptures show us he only left for an opportune time; this tells us he was going to go back to try again. Satan comes for the sole purpose of killing, destroying, and stealing all that is of God. If he doesn’t get you the first time he will return because he wants your God-given destiny!
The Desires of the Flesh
In Genesis 3 we read the account of Eve being tempted by the serpent which was Satan. She didn’t rely on the truth of God’s word but instead believed that God must have been holding out on her. So when the woman saw that the tree [was] good for food, that it [was] pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make [one] wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Gen 3:6
Eve saw something she believed was better than everything she had. It appealed to her senses so she took it, ate it, and shared it with her husband. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they [were] naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. - Gen 3: 7 NKJV
Just moments before all this took place and brought shame on Adam and Eve we read how free from shame they were. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed. - Gen 2:25 Sin ruined their shameless life and caused them to try to hide from their Father and cover their shame. Of course, God came looking for them, He loved them and wanted them to discuss their condition with Him. They did, but Adam blamed his part on both God and Eve when he said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.” Gen 3:12.
The only way we can beat selfishness is to walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. - Gal 5:16 Self-gratification is a fleshly desire that says “I want what I want and I want it now.” But the fruit of the Spirit is self-control and patience.
As followers of Jesus Christ, we are to be a light in this dark world and our behavior should be one of kindness, gentleness, and bearing with one another. Sadly, the behavior I described at the beginning of the article is not just of the world but of the Christian world. Some days it is difficult to tell that we are any different. In the book of Revelation, there are seven churches that Jesus Christ addresses, the last one is to the Laodiceans. To them, He says, “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Rev 3:15-16
These verses should put the fear of God in us! Jesus goes on to describe the people in the Laodicean church’s spiritual heart condition. They boast of their wealth and how they are in need of nothing, but He says the truth is they are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked!
These people have become numb to the presence of the Holy Spirit and live according to their flesh. This will be the condition of the Church of Jesus Christ at the end of days. Sound familiar?
Heavenly Father, I humbly come before Your throne of grace and mercy to repent on behalf of the Bride of Christ and my own life. Lord, we have been selfish and centered on self. We have put our own desires before the needs of those less fortunate and have become lukewarm in our hearts towards the life of holiness we have been called to live. God help us I cry! We are in need of a heart transplant and a spiritual renewal that only You can bring. Father as we stand in the gap for those who are unaware of their own condition we ask You to hear our cries. Lend Your ear towards our prayers and stretch out Your hand to do signs and wonders that the awe and fear of You may come to those who have lost it. Turn our hearts from the focus of self and cause us to look towards You once again. In Jesus name, Amen