How Can I Be a Christian if I Still Want Destructive Things?
A fool vents all his feelings, but a wise man holds them back. Proverbs 29:11 (NKJV)
When I do whatever I want, I end up in jail. I heard it again this week, at jail Bible study. I may not have spent time incarcerated, but I know the feeling well. When I go my way, destruction follows.
These are not the thoughts of those who don’t know God. These are the thoughts of those who have grown up believing in him. These are my thoughts. These are Paul’s thoughts. Wretched man that I am (Romans 7:24)!
Though the specific tendencies are not all the same, we all have a flawed human (flesh) nature that has destructive desires. Today’s passage rightly asserts that it is not wise to do everything we want. It is the fool who simply feels and then does.
One of the most destructive things Christians accidentally teach the addict then, is that the flesh nature is automatically removed when one comes to faith. We absolutely experience a spiritual rebirth when we place our faith in Christ, but if a person has diabetes five minutes before he comes to faith, he still has diabetes five minutes later. Just as diabetes is a flaw of the flesh body, addiction is a flaw of the flesh nature, and both tendencies remain. There are some of course, who are miraculously healed, but miracles, by definition, are not the normal experience.
If our flesh nature was completely removed at our spiritual rebirth, then we would simply no longer have any destructive desires . . . at all. Everything we wanted would necessarily be right. This is a terribly dangerous thing to believe. I want it, so it must be right, because I’m a Christian.
The one who knows God though, will often find that his destructive desires look similar to the one who does not know God. I’m a Christian, but I still find that donuts, drugs and sex appeal to me.
Following God does not mean that all of our unhealthy appetites are magically gone, though God does change our desires over time – that is spiritual growth. Following God means that we have the freedom to find our joy, purpose and meaning in the only one who can truly satisfy us. In following God, we have the only adequate alternative to following our own destructive desires.