The Fallacy of “Getting It Out of Your System”

November 30, 2011 by Jong Park

1381267636_2“What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas” Ah yes, the go-to motto among sly-smiling hedonists as they check out of their Vegas hotel. Here’s a possible scenario: it’s a young man’s last weekend as a bachelor, so his buddies decide to take him to Vegas so that he can do everything he can’t do as a married man. The idea is to party as hard as possible and get it out of his system. But does that really work? The truth is, what happens in Vegas does not stay in Vegas. No, it comes home with you.

Desires Before and After the Fall
Before the catastrophic fall in Genesis 3, Adam and Eve had the liberty to eat from any tree except one, which means that the desire to eat was given by God and was therefore good. It was good biologically that Adam should have the desire to eat; it was essential to his survival. It was also good spiritually that Adam should desire to eat, for God had designed man with appetites and desires to understand certain spiritual realities such as hungering and thirsting for righteousness. Sin messed it all up. We started using our desires to bring pleasure to ourselves and not glory to God: sex before marriage, sex outside of marriage, over-eating, under-eating, intimidating others, manipulating others, etc. This means that our sinful desires affect everything – from our bedroom to our boardroom.

King David’s Embryonic Desires
We’ll never know exactly what went through King David’s mind as he stared at Bathsheba from his roof to hers. What we do know is that David progressed from voyeurism to intercourse with a married woman. Not the finest hour in David’s reign, that’s for sure. Stare -> inquire -> invite -> adultery -> murder -> cover up -> spiritual darkness, until it is brought to a screeching halt with Nathan’s bold rebuke and David’s subsequent repentance and contrition. Apart from the prophetic confrontation of God’s Word, sinful desire grows.

James understood the embryonic nature of sinful desires: “Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death” (1:15). David’s lust gave birth to a perverted glance which then grew to full-blown adultery. History is littered with tales of fallen empires and broken families, each one following this desire-destruction pattern.
So what is the answer?

Receive God’s desires into your heart daily. Growing in our desire for God is the power to abstain from the evil desires that war against our soul (1 Peter 2:11).

Repent of the sinful desire that is in you. In the Beatitudes, Jesus says this of the person whose heart has been invaded by the gospel: “Blessed are those who mourn”. They grieve for the fallen nature of humanity and her world. We all fail. We all make mistakes. We all have the gift of repentance.

Fight sinful desire with the Spirit’s desire in us. Our union with Christ is a beautiful thing. He is in us and we are in him. Before Christ, we had only one desire for ourselves. After Christ, we have been invaded by the Spirit. We have his heart growing inside of us and with increasing strength we can say “no” to our evil desires and “yes” to Christ.

Consider the consequences of your evil desires. Let’s look again at David, who was so mesmerized by the allure of Bathsheba’s naked body, that he couldn’t imagine the fall of his family: Amnon’s incestuous rape of Tamar; Absalom’s murder of Amnon; Absalom’s revolt and death. The curve of her body, the beauty of her face, the thrill of adultery – that became the ultimate thing for David at that moment and the only thing he could see. We must be better than David in this regard. We must see the potential consequences that await us around the corner if we hold onto sin: the pain of our families, the ineffectiveness of our ministry, the mockery of God’s name. These are all heavy prices to pay for a fleeting moment of sin.

An Illustration: Sleeping with a Snake
I heard of a woman with a boa constrictor for a pet. She actually let it sleep on her bed. The snake normally lay coiled but it started stretching out next to her. Then it stopped eating. Concerned, the woman called her vet and explained the snake’s strange behavior. The vet said she needed to bring the snake in quickly so they could put it down. Surprised she asked why. The vet said her boa constrictor wasn’t eating because it was preparing itself for a large meal by stretching its body out. You guessed it, she was the meal. She thought the boa was a pet; he was preparing to be the predator.

Get it out of our system? No, the goal is to change our system. We have the Spirit who will help us to direct our desires for the Divine. Let us starve the snake living in us and eat the Bread of Life to grow, to worship, to minister.

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