“But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full‑grown, brings forth death” (James 1:14,15).

WHATEVER OUR GREATEST DESIRES ARE, THOSE WILL DETERMINE THE DIRECTION OF OUR LIVES. Thus decisions about our desires are extremely important. As we begin to desire God, one of the challenges we face is that of purifying our desires and making them whole. Satan is endlessly creative in his enticements, and we can be sure that learning to truly and completely want what God wants is not going to be easy. Frankly, it is hard to purge our hearts of the remnants of our old desires.

Even after committing ourselves to greater holiness and purity, we are sometimes like the people of Israel after they had been delivered from Egyptian slavery. In some ways they were glad to be free, but they quickly began to complain against Moses. Somewhere in their hearts, they seemed to resent the loss of certain former pleasures. “And in their hearts they turned back to Egypt” (Acts 7:39). Like Israel, we will not be truly free from bondage until we stop murmuring against our Deliverer and quit looking over our shoulder. Even if we keep from outwardly returning to Egypt, it’s dangerous even to long for that land!

What we need is not only to desire God but to desire Him single-mindedly and wholeheartedly. We cannot afford to love God with the “religious” part of our minds and still allow illicit desires to make themselves at home in the “other” part. These desires must be evicted from our thinking, for if we are hospitable and allow them to remain, they will eventually burst out of the back room and return to the front porch.

As the old-timers used to say, “Whatever’s in the well, will come up in the bucket sooner or later.” And as one of the real old-timers used to say, “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23). Most of us would say that we’d like to be something other than “worldly” people. But worldliness is a curiously subtle thing. Depending on what we desire, there may be more of the world left in us than we suppose.

“Worldliness is not only doing what is forbidden but also wishing it were possible to do it. One of its distinctives is mental slavery to illegitimate pleasure. Worldliness twists values by rearranging their price tags” (Erwin W. Lutzer).

Gary Henry — WordPoints.com + AreYouaChristian.com

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