Deuteronomy 30:19 says,
“I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life,
that both you and your descendants may live;
Several years ago some scorned our former President for offering what they deemed an overly simplistic answer to the question of why he committed infidelity. Our President said that he did it because he “could.”
- “I think I did something for the worst possible reason — just because I could. I think that’s the most , just about the most morally indefensible reason that anybody could have for doing anything. When you do something just because you could … I’ve thought about it a lot. And there are lots of more sophisticated explanations, more complicated psychological explanations. But none of them are an excuse … Only a fool does not look to explain his mistakes.” (taken from Dan Rather’s 60 Minutes interview with our President that aired on CBS June 20, 2004)
The truth is: we do what we do because we (sinful creatures) like it. The question is: What do you like? Trying to come up with a more philosophically deep or complex answer to the question of why we do something may beg the question, but it will not answer it. Let me suggest that as simple as this answer may or may not seem, it is the only right answer. We are as advertised in the Bible: sinful people that delight in fulfilling the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. Or as Galatians 5:19-21 puts it,
19 Now the works of the flesh are clear, which are these: evil desire, unclean things, wrong use of the senses,
20 Worship of images, use of strange powers, hates, fighting, desire for what another has, angry feelings, attempts to get the better of others, divisions, false teachings,21 Envy, uncontrolled drinking and feasting, and such things: of which I give you word clearly, even as I did in the past, that they who do such things will have no part in the kingdom of God. (Bible in Basic English version)
The key to consistently living a God honoring life is not to suppress our delights, but to refocus our delights from that which is earthly, sensual, and demonic (James 3:15-17), to that which is truly, and eternally delightful. When the apostle Paul commands the church to “Walk in the Spirit” and not in the “flesh”, he challenges us to consider afresh what it is we delight in. If our delight is in the flesh (our old nature) we will chose to wallow in the “works of the flesh”. If our delight is in the resurrection life that we’ve received through faith in Christ, then we will chose and relish in the “fruit of the Spirit”.
Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control.
Against such there is no law.
What we delight in will determine what we do, . If resurrection life is our delight we will crucify “the flesh with its passions and desires” (Gal. 5:24) I like the imagery that crucifying the flesh brings to our minds because it is a fitting image of what growing in the grace and knowledge of God looks like. what makes crucifying the flesh, as opposed to simply killing it, a fitting image of spiritual development is because crucifixion was a painfully slow process by which the power of the flesh is broken and drained away.
Let me also suggest that our walking in the Spirit is more than an “I” will or will not chose to do this or that thing. Walking in the Spirit is delighting in having intimate fellowship with God; it is relishing in the resurrection life of Christ that God has immensely bestowed upon us through our faith in Christ. When our delight is resurrection life, than the fruit of our delight (love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control) will be seen is us, as Jesus Christ expresses His divine life through us.
God wisely created us with the freedom to chose, and freedom is what makes choosing to love God so delightful. Our freedom to chose God is also what makes receiving His love so satisfying. (By the way, here is a question for the deterministic out there: Do robots do not delight in doing what they are programmed to do, or find satisfaction in being made on an assembly line? Just asking.)
I like Sweet and Viola’s thoughts on this. I have shared them with you below:
We have been given God’s Spirit, which makes Christ “real” in our lives. We can actually now, as Peter puts it, “participate in the divine nature.” (see 2 Peter 1:1-4) How, then, in the face of so great a truth, can we ask for toys and trinkets? How can we lust after lesser gifts and itch for religious and spiritual “thingies”? We’ve been touched from on high by the fires of the Almighty and given divine life, a life that has passed through death–the very resurrection life of the Son of God Himself. How can we not be fired up?
There is a vast ocean of difference between trying to compel Christians to imitate Jesus, and learn how to impart an implanted Christ. The former only ends up in failure and frustration. The latter is the gateway to life and joy in our daying and our dying. We stand with Paul–“Christ lives in me”–and we aspire with him to “have the mind of Christ.” Our life is Christ. In Him we live, breath, and have our being. What would Jesus do” is not Christianity. Christianity ask, “What is Christ doing through me … through us? And how is He doing it?” Following Jesus means to “trust and obey,” as the old hymn goes. But faith and obedience to Christ isn’t self-effort. It’s responding to God’s will and living by His indwelling life through the power of the Spirit.
Doing life together with Jesus is a coauthored narrative process filled with many points of crisis. But the imaginative, tension-filled process of engaging the crisis is what makes a story interesting.
Every crisis raises relational issues: Will you try it and handle it yourself? Will you find a new partner? Or will you and Jesus tackle the crisis together? In tackling the stuff of life together, you’ll see that your relationship with God will deepen.
In pondering Christ, you find that you are in face living His life, and God is living yours. Christ in you and you in Christ. God doesn’t lead you through phases or steps. He draws you to Himself in continuous motion. What we often have viewed as stages of phases may be a change in music. But the point is never the music. It is the dance. The music is often part of the dance. But sometimes the most beautiful dance is the one where you and your partner make up the music as you dance together. (Jesus Manifesto, p. 68,69)