You Are Not What You Want

Sometimes we actually empower Satan by the way we speak of Christian conversion. We highlight the testimony of the ex-alcoholic who says, "Since I met Jesus I've never wanted another drink." Now that happens sometimes, and we should give thanks for God's power here. But this liberation is no more miraculous, indeed in some ways less so, than the testimony of the repentant drunk who says, "Every time I hear a clink of ice in a glass I tremble with desire, but God is faithful in keeping me sober.

The girl with same-sex desires might conclude she is doomed to be a lesbian because she isn’t drawn to boys and still fights her attraction to girls. Family members who have to cut up their credit cards to keep from spending every paycheck on what they see advertised may conclude they’re just not “spiritual” enough to follow Christ because they still war against their wants. Nonsense. You are not what you want. You are who you are. And that’s defined by the Word of God. It might be that God frees your appetite from whatever it’s drawn toward, but usually he instead enables you to fight it. This might go on for forty days, for forty years, for an entire lifetime. That’s all right. There must be room then in our churches for a genuine bearing of one another’s burdens when it comes to the appetites. Pretending the appetites are instantly nullified by conversion is a rejection of what God has told us – that we are still in the war zone.

Moore, Russell. Tempted and Tried: Temptation and the Triumph of Christ. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2011. 72-73.

If we are to make any progress in our churches in the area of mutual sanctification and mortification of sin, we must begin to see one another as co-sufferers. We are all controlled, at some level, by the strength of our desires. We want what we want, and to not want it is painfully difficult. But we are not alone (or we shouldn't be, anyway) in the church. The church is made up of people who have stared sin straight in the face and seen a greater power break the chains. Jesus is alive, which means there is hope even for the hopeless. The key to encouraging sin-strugglers, of which we all are, is to continually point them to the only real sin defeater, who works endlessly on our behalf.

The struggle is real. The fight is exhausting. Admit that. Bear one another's burdens. Be there when it gets hard. That's not only the job of pastors and church staff, that's the job of Christian brothers and sisters, of Christian friends. Walk in the light - together, forever.

When the clink of the glass is loudest, you need a nagging friend who breaks the glass with the power of the gospel.