Saturday, August 27, 2011

Set our minds on things above 2

Photo by Graurraz Vanionut. Courtesy of
Hello again! Welcome back to A Good Bible Study. Our current topic is "A Passionate Love: the relationship between God and you."

We have been discovering the difference between passion that serves God, and that which serves sin (at it’s root, Satan.) We've asked, how can we express passion in a way that delights God?

Remember that in Col. 3:5, Paul described five specific examples of passion gone wrong, using the former practices of the Colossians as an example that can just as easily apply to those of us here and now. The first was fornication (read the post "Set our minds on things above 1.")

The remaining four are (clarified by various commentaries ) uncleanness; passion or inordinate affection; evil desire; and covetousness. Uh . . . what? Let's try and put this into our language.

Uncleanness doesn't mean you need to shower more often. It means behaving in a manner, thinking, and saying things that are just plain nasty, filthy, hateful, disgusting, and/or amoral, etc. It  means "impurity, or moral defilement; particularly to those impurities which he proceeds to specify in
Romans 1:26."

It's whatever made your granny wash your mouth out with soap, and then some.

Passion or inordinate affection isn't referring to the passionate love between yourself and God, or you and your spouse. That's a wonderful, life-affirming passion given by God Himself for us to enjoy! No, this actually refers to the Greek word πάθος pathos, meaning vile affections, or lust.

Lusting is passion gone haywire! It is not desire for your spouse. It is not a yearning to honor God, to help others, or to be take a God-given talent to a level of greatness that only perserverance and determination can achieve.

How can I say this? Lust involves mentally using the visual form of others for your own internal sexual gratification. What's wrong with that, you say?

God says imagining yourself sexually engaging is not only the same as physically doing so, in His eyes, it is adultery if you are married, fornication if you are not, and eventually leads to taking action. Your behavior follows your thoughts, and sin begins in the heart.

"The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks." Luke 6:45

If you think about it honestly, looking at another human being with lust is so disrespectful (if not abusive.) Ever felt your skin crawl and turned around to see someone mentally undressing you?

It's disrespectful to your spouse who feels humiliated  - and yes, he or she knows despite how sly and sneaky you think you are. It's also disrespectful to your future spouse, who wants to delight and scintillate you with his or her body, not compete with what you've worked up in your own mind or have come to believe through watching porn is more exciting. You think you are creating passion, but in fact pornagraphy steals passion.

Over time, you'll need more and more explicit and degrading images to attain the same level of excitement and eventually, your desire for your spouse actually decreases, not increases. Find out more here.

Finally, it's disrespectful to yourself. You deserve God's best and it's available once you focus on allowing God to transform you into a man or woman who is ready for the kind of love God can provide, if you let Him.

I know this post has been another lengthy one, but let me quickly give you the final two examples of destructive passion: evil desire, meaning all of the above and below, as well as wanting anything that harms oneself or anyone else; and covetousness, or greed, which is idolatry.

Greed means loving things, be it money, possesions, status, achievement, etc., more than God, and covetousness isn't merely liking something, or really enjoying doing an activity; it is a strong desire to take something away that rightly belongs to someone else.

In other words, you value the object more than you care about the effect your actions have on anyone else. So, in essence, you are worshipping that object or event. Your desire for it supercedes all else. It is theft, but it is more than that.

The Topical Bible Dictionary says "Its heinousness, doubtless, is accounted for by its being in a very real sense the root of so many other forms of sin, e.g. departure from the faith (1 Timothy 6:9, 10); lying (2 Kings 5:22-25); theft (Joshua 7:21); domestic trouble (Proverbs 15:27); murder (Ezekiel 22:12); indeed, it leads to "many foolish and hurtful lusts" (1 Timothy 6:9). Covetousness has always been a very serious menace to mankind, whether in the Old Testament or New Testament period. It was one of the first sins that broke out after Israel had entered into the promised land (Achan, Jos 7); and also in the early Christian church immediately after its founding (Ananias and Sapphira, Acts 5); hence, so many warnings against it. A careful reading of the Old Testament will reveal the fact that a very great part of the Jewish law-such as its enactments and regulations regarding duties toward the poor, toward servants; concerning gleaning, usury, pledges, gold and silver taken during war-was introduced and intended to counteract the spirit of covetousness."

Now, contrast the preceeding with the wordly view of passion:

The media tells us that if we are passionate about something, we have an obligation to give everything we have to that interest or object, and that to neglect our relationship with God, our family, or our responsibilities is a further validation of the importance of the focus of that passion.

But the truth is that we are merely serving the passion, instead of the One who designed us with not only the passion, but a purpose and a way to express that passion or drive honorably.

God wants to direct the passionate nature He created in us to serve Him, to worship Him, to praise Him, and to honor Him. Passion is a gift, or a curse, depending on if we see it as a "god", or as a means to honor God.

Let’s pray: Lord, there are so many confusing messages in our world. Help us to set our minds on the things You value, that You are passionate about. In the name of Jesus, amen.

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