Desire and Temptation

What kind of God gives His creatures desires they are not allowed to fulfill? But that's the wrong question. Instead, they should ask, "When in God's perfect timing can I fulfill my desires?" or "How would He want me to fulfill my desires?"

People often walk into my office with a story that ends something like this: "Why would God give me such a strong desire to __________ if He didn't want me to fulfill it?" The argument sounds convincing. What kind of God gives His creatures desires they are not allowed to fulfill? But that's the wrong question. Instead, they should ask, "When in God's perfect timing can I fulfill my desires?" or "How would He want me to fulfill my desires?"

A couple visited me a number of years ago for premarital counseling. I soon learned that they had been sleeping together. Both defended their actions by explaining the strength of their attraction for each other. "God understands," they said. "He allowed us to feel this way."

I turned to the young man and said, "What are you going to do when you meet a woman at work and feel a strong physical attraction? Are you going to use the same rationale: If God didn't want me to meet this need, He wouldn't have let me feel this way?"

We forget that, although the Father created us to desire certain things, Satan has the ability to manipulate and misdirect those feelings. That is the essence of temptation. The Devil wants us to fulfill God-given desires in the quickest and easiest way—in other words, sinfully.

Satan's Aim

All our basic desires are ultimately from the Lord—He gave us longings and needs in order to demonstrate our dependence on Him and to enhance our relationships with one another. Only when distorted do such needs become negative in our lives. Satan sets out to twist our yearning for love into lust, our longing for respect into pride, and our hope for success into greed.

Consider, for example, the natural God-given need to eat. As a result of the Enemy's distortion, some people destroy their bodies by overeating or consuming the wrong things; others starve themselves for fear of being overweight.

Of all the gifts the Lord gave humanity, sex is probably the one Satan abuses the most. One of its God-ordained purposes is to make possible a unique relationship between man and woman. Sexual intimacy is a gift from the Creator. But the prevailing mindset concerning sex today is from Satan. God's standard is: One man for one woman, for life; physical intimacy is designed exclusively for the marriage relationship. According to the Devil, however, it's: Any man for any woman until you are ready for someone else; sex is the relationship. God is not against sex any more than He is against food, love, or success. But He opposes the gratification of any desire outside the confines He has lovingly designated.

Anxious for nothing?

Satan is quick to offer a substitute for God's best, knowing that the alternatives he offers will not truly satisfy. If the Enemy can steal your focus, it's likely that you will completely miss out on the Father's blessings.

Think about: girls who compromise their morals in order to be "held"; boys and men who are trapped in pornography; and alcoholics and addicts who seek to escape problems rather than face them. All have a legitimate need, but instead of turning to the Lord and His solutions, they choose what was easy or quick.

God does not want you to live a life of frustration and anxiety. The apostle Paul wrote:

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:6-7).

The interesting thing about this passage is that God does not promise to meet your needs immediately or even to give you what you ask for. What He guarantees is His peace—that is, inner strength to endure until your desires and needs are fulfilled. It will surpass "all comprehension" because the world will look at you and say, "How can you go without ___________?"

My son was 30 before he married. His non-believing friends used to ask, "Andy, what do you do about sex?" He would respond, "I wait!" They were amazed and could not imagine being "that old" and sexually inactive. The ironic thing was that he was far less frustrated than they were. And so it will always be for those who wait on the Lord to meet their needs His way.

By opting for the Lord's peace rather than Satan's substitute, you can be assured that when it's time for God to meet your particular need, you will be ready. This principle applies to everything from finding the right marriage partner to gathering the money you need to pay the rent. Our heavenly Father knows His children's needs and desires (Matt. 7:11).You and I can trust our incredible God to provide for us––at just the right time.

Adapted from "Winning the War Within: Facing Trials, Temptations, and Inner Struggles" (1988).

Related Topics:  Temptation  |  Singleness

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