Appetite for Destruction
James 1:14,15 Each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
I have developed a bit of an obsession with understanding my flesh nature and its desires. I certainly do not have it all figured out but I have come to understand that while not all of our desires are destructive, we do all have different corrupt desires that, when indulged in, lead to destruction.
The study of addiction medicine teaches us that through reward, our behavior becomes dictated more by emotion and appetite than by reason or logic. This means that my behavior will follow my preferences even in the face of significant consequences. James called these consequences death. He did not necessarily mean a literal death, but rather, a living death, in which we suffer physical, mental and spiritual destruction when we pursue our destructive nature.
I do not have to be an addict sitting in jail to know this to be true. I get angry and yell at my family for no reason. This hurts them and damages our relationship. I eat donuts when I should be training for that race coming up in two weeks. This makes me fatter instead of faster. I spend an hour fuming about a negative interaction with someone instead of taking that time to meditate on God’s word. This makes me irritable and then I yell at my family again.
When I let my mind and my will run unchecked, I cause a thousand little deaths a day. My flesh nature naturally drifts to my immediate preferences or impulses, which are usually destructive. Even more destructive is when I refuse to acknowledge that my preferences are destructive. It’s my right to do what I want!
When I refuse to acknowledge my defects, I refuse to acknowledge that it is my own behavior that causes my pain and misery. I then have no choice but to blame the world, other people or God for that misery. This allows me to avoid the pain of accepting my own defect, but it is completely useless in stopping the recurring death.
It is only in humbly accepting that I have defective desires that I can begin to understand what to do about them. Acceptance alone may not cure me of my defect, but the death will never stop if I do not take the first step of acceptance. Alcoholics Anonymous speaks of how those who are incapable of honesty are incapable of recovery. This truth transcends alcoholism or drug addiction.
I have to be willing to accept that I am my own biggest life problem if I want to understand the solution to my destruction. I have to learn to continually turn from self, looking continually to God.