Living Fascinated in the Pleasure of Loving God

STARTING WITH THE RIGHT FOUNDATIONS

I will present two foundational truths and three practical principles in our pursuit of holiness.

God calls us to holiness because He is holy. In being holy, He has the highest, most pleasurable and exhilarating quality of life in existence. He wants to share this life with us forever.

16 “Be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Pet. 1:16)

He called us to enjoy the superior quality of life in the liberty of holiness. Many see holiness only as the drudgery of self-denial.

God created every human being with a longing for pleasure and fascination. It is His design. Understanding theses two longings is foundational to pursuing holiness in a biblical way. The call to holiness is a call to the superior pleasures of being fascinated by the revelation of Jesus.

Holiness equips us to enjoy life together with God forever. We must not approach holiness in a negative way with dread. It does not keep us from pleasure, but equips us to experience it. The power of holiness frees us from the vain imaginations of lust, pride and bitterness.

FOUNDATIONAL TRUTH #1: BEING PREOCCUPIED WITH SUPERIOR PLEASURES

God is the author of pleasure. He created us to enjoy physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual pleasures. Our longing for pleasure is part of our created design and must be satisfied; it will not go away. The Devil tempts us with “counterfeit” pleasures that are outside God’s will.

The greatest pleasures available to the human spirit are spiritual pleasures that come to us when God reveals God to our spirit. This exhilarates our spirit at the deepest levels. We are liberated from the inferior pleasures of sin by experiencing the superior pleasures of the beauty of Jesus.

The Spirit discerns the deep things of the Father’s heart and mind including the delight He feels for Jesus, the saints, and His kingdom. The Spirit helps us feel some of what the Father feels.

The Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God… We have received…the Spirit…that we might know the things that have been freely given to us. (1 Cor. 2:10-12)

The Spirit escorts us on a divine treasure hunt into the beauty of Jesus. He takes the things that Jesus is thinking and feeling and reveals them to us. This is divine entertainment at its highest.

14 He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. (Jn. 16:14)

God releases small “measures” of insight and inspiration from the Word which tenderize our spirit for a few moments. These subtle “flashes” of glory are to be a regular part of our relationship with God. Over time, this holy influence changes us emotionally.

The best way to overcome darkness is to turn on the light. No one seeks to remove the darkness in a room by opening a window to throw out buckets of darkness. They simply turn on the light. The way to decrease darkness in our lives is to focus on increasing the amount of light we enjoy.

5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (Jn. 1:5, RSV)

We will not overcome the darkness of immorality, bitterness, or pride by focusing on it; we do not decrease darkness in us by focusing on the darkness. We must change our focus to become preoccupied with gaining more of the “light of the superior pleasure of the revelation” of God.

David had revelation of God’s personality and leadership as being full of joy and pleasure. The throne is the epicenter of joy and pleasure for the entire universe. Our God is a happy God with happy holiness. God’s holiness is filled with joy and pleasure.

11 In Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forever. (Ps. 16:11)

The “river of pleasures” describes the Spirit revealing the beauty of God to the human spirit. The Holy Spirit causes rivers of living water to flow in the heart of a believer (Jn. 7:37-39).

8 You give them drink from the river of Your pleasures. (Ps. 36:8)

One of King David’s lifelong goals was to encounter the beauty of God regularly. As king, David was head of the government and the army. His hands were occupied with his occupation, or ministry assignment, as king, but his heart was preoccupied with the beauty of God.

4 One thing I have desired…all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord. (Ps. 27:4)

In the end times, God will fascinate His people with Jesus’ beauty beyond any time in history.

2 In that day the Branch of the LORD [Jesus] shall be beautiful and glorious. (Isa. 4:2)

OUR LONGING TO BE FASCINATED

God created us with a longing for the pleasure of being fascinated or awestruck and filled with marvel and wonder. We are fascinated most when we are fascinated by revelation of Jesus. Paul was preoccupied with being fascinated by the knowledge of Jesus. It was key to his life vision.

8 I count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ… (Phil. 3:8)

We cannot repent of our longing for fascination. It is a significant part of our creative design. We will either satisfy it in God or in darkness. It is not neutral and will not be silenced or go away.

The secular entertainment industry has identified and targeted this human longing. They have exploited this God-ordained craving to their profit and our ruin. Entertainment is the desire to feel a “wow” in our hearts. It is one of the primary felt needs in human life.

Without having a sense of awe in our relationship with God, we will live spiritually bored, and will be more vulnerable to Satan’s tactics. A spiritually bored believer is weak. A fascinated believer is strong. For example, a fascinated believer has no need for pornography.

We must be preoccupied with a superior fascination. We will not successfully resist temptation if we live in a “fascination vacuum.” Everyone seeks to be satisfied, either by God or by the flesh.

We sin because we believe that it will provide a pleasure that is superior to obeying God. The power of temptation rests on a deceptive promise that sin will bring more satisfaction than living for God. Scripture calls this the deceitfulness of sin or deceitful lusts (Eph. 4:22; Heb. 3:13).

25 Choosing to suffer affliction…than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin. (Heb. 11:25)

John Piper says, “Sin is what we do when our hearts are not satisfied with God. God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.”

The call to holiness is the call to enjoy God by living fascinated. The battle for holiness is the battle to be preoccupied with the right thing; it is won in the pursuit of enjoying God. The way forward in holiness is to embrace a new preoccupation with the pleasure of living fascinated.

FOUNDATIONAL TRUTH #2: SETTING OUR HEART ON HUNDREDFOLD OBEDIENCE

It is empowering and satisfying to set our heart to love God with hundredfold obedience.

Empowering: The pursuit of 98% obedience has a limited blessing. The last 2% positions us to live with a vibrant heart. Powerful and surprising dynamics occur in our emotions as we pursue the last 2%. There is a “spark” of the Spirit in our heart as we “reach” or aim to live this way. The Spirit speaks to many about their lack of agreement with Him instead of God’s beauty.

Aiming for hundredfold obedience includes bridling our speech (Jas. 3:2), making a covenant with our eyes and refusing to look at anything that stirs up lust (Job 31:1), disciplining our physical appetites, and managing our time (for service and prayer) and our money to increase the kingdom of God.

This reach must be so deliberate that it gets into our daily dialogue with God in our prayer times. It is more than a casual commitment to obey God in a general way.

Aiming for hundredfold obedience is different from attaining it. When we sin, we repent and renew our resolve to “reach” to fully obey God with confidence that He enjoys us. He values our journey to grow in love. We are equally yoked to Jesus, not by the size of our love, but by the “all” of our love. Though our “all” is small, the point is that it is our “all.”

Satisfying: God created us with a longing to be wholehearted in our love for Him. It is necessary for our emotional health. The human heart does not function properly without wholeheartedness.

God is self-sufficient: He desires us, but does not need us. His insistence on our full obedience is not because He is an insecure narcissist looking for human affirmation. He knows that only in fully loving Him are we able to experience the fullness of what it means to be human. By requiring our full dedication and in helping us to sustain it, He equips us to experience great joy.

THREE PRACTICAL PRINCIPLES

Cooperation in grace: God requires us to cooperate with Him in His grace. There is a division of labor. He will not do our part and we cannot do His part. Our part includes making quality decisions to deny ourselves, to feed our spirit on the Word, to ask for help through prayer, etc. God’s part includes releasing supernatural influences on our heart (new desires), on our body (healing), on our circumstances (provision, protection), relationships (favor), and in our ministry.

Paul outlined three practical principles necessary in cooperating with the grace of God.

11 Reckon [see] yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ…12 Do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. 13 And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness… (Rom. 6:11-13)

Knowing Principle (Rom. 6:11): We must know who we are in Christ and what we receive in Him (gift of righteousness) as well as the truth about God’s heart as a Father and Bridegroom. We are to reckon, or see ourselves, as dead to sin (to sin’s penalty, shame, and mandatory control over us) and alive to God (fully accepted and indwelt by God) because of Jesus’ work on the cross. There are truths that we must know to be effective in our faith and repentance.

6 Your faith may become effective through the knowledge of every good thing which is in you for Christ’s sake. (Philem. 6; NAS)

Resisting Principle (Rom. 6:12-13a): We resist sin, Satan, and sin-provoking circumstances. We must not let sin reign in us nor present ourselves to sin as an instrument of unrighteousness. One way we resist presenting our body to sin is by avoiding circumstances that inflame sin in us. We do not go to places, buy items, or look at or talk about that which stirs up sinful passions. Another way we resist the reign of sin in our body is by denying fleshly lusts that war against us.

11 Abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul… (1 Pet. 2:11)

Pursuing Principle (Rom. 6:13b): We pursue serving and relating to God and people in love. We present ourselves to God and our bodies as instruments that He may use to bless others. We pursue loving God as we offer our bodies as vessels for the Holy Spirit to use to bless others. This includes fellowshipping with God on the throne and with the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Summary: We must know truth, resist darkness, and pursue God. We pursue serving and relating to God and people as we resist sin, Satan, and sin-provoking circumstances in the context of knowing who we are in Christ and the truth about God’s heart as a Father and Bridegroom.

None of these principles can be omitted. Some people resist sin and pursue God without knowing who they are in Christ. Others pursue God at prayer meetings without resisting sin. It does not work to only know truth and to resist sin without actively pursuing God and people. If we embrace all three of these principles in the context of the two foundational truths of being preoccupied with the superior pleasures of God and seeking hundredfold obedience, then the Holy Spirit will dynamically work in our life.




Incoming search terms for this article:

Comments are closed.