What Is Wrong With You?
Hebrews 13:4,5 Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled… Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have…
In my worst destruction, those closest to me wanted to know why? What is wrong with you? How could someone so (supposedly) smart be so dumb? Did I have some childhood defect, depression, or self-esteem issue? I had no answer at that point that made sense to anyone.
The passage here, I think holds some answer for me. In it, the writer of Hebrews tells his audience to be sexually pure, to avoid greed and to be content. This seems a bit random unless those defects were exactly what his audience was struggling with.
If the church back then was struggling with sex, money and contentment, this means that two thousand years later, our defects have not changed much. I know that if you struggle with pornography and lust, you are far from alone, even if you sit in church every Sunday morning. I know that affluence is epidemic and has become our normal way of life. I know that we are not content with what God has given us. We have an insatiable appetite for that which is destructive to us.
Why is it that we have, for 2,000 years, pursued sex, money and pleasure in the works of the flesh? Is it that we have defective childhoods, depression or poor self-esteem? No, the why is revealed in the question. We pursue our flesh nature because we find it pleasurable. It is our flesh nature itself that is defective in what it wants. Make no mistake. We derive intense and instant pleasure from sex, money, food, greed, pride, beauty, anger, alcohol and drugs.
This is my (our) problem, that I have a flesh nature that wants instant gratification despite destructive consequences. It is not much more complicated than that. I have been given an appropriate route to pursue pleasure, through the spirit life (Galatians 6:8), but that requires discipline and delayed gratification. Our flesh nature wants what it wants and it wants it now. My addiction may manifest itself very differently than yours, but we all have the capacity to live enslaved to our destructive nature.
This causes us to despair. When will I be free from this damned flesh nature? The truth is, I will only be free at death, when the fire of my flesh finally burns out. In my failure, I found this to be a hopeless condition, but I have come to realize now, that it is my defect that keeps me dependent on God. It is my constant need that keeps me constantly needing him. If I had no defect, I would not need God.
If I am losing the battle, living enslaved to my flesh nature, I should despair. If however, I use my need to drive me to my knees before God everyday, I can daily be delivered from it. In Christ, I live in freedom daily as long as I remain dependent on him. In this light, I can embrace my defective flesh nature as it drives me to God everyday. It is my need that can either ruin me or help me to keep my eyes on God.