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Bible verses about Desire
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Desire is so normal that we might feel a measure of guilt for any desire we might have. We need not do this because God created us with the ability to have desires, and He pronounced it very good (Genesis 1:31). Through desire we accomplish our goals. Paul exhorts the brethren to "earnestly desire the best gifts" of God (I Corinthians 12:31). David writes that God Himself desires "truth in the inward parts" of men (Psalm 51:6).

Desire means "a strong yearning." However, some desires are destructive, and these the Bible usually calls "lusts." These desires are often shown as cravings for satisfaction of the physical appetites (for example, food, alcohol, sex, money, pleasure). Paul tells Timothy, "Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart" (II Timothy 2:22). Though Scripture speaks of desire in both a good and an evil sense, the man of God recognizes that he can have evil desires, turns from them when they arise, and pursues after what is good.

Desire is also seen in context with power. Some have a passion to be number one, to compete, to dominate, to assert their will, and to have control. Such an attitude frequently produces envy and contention. Others passionately pursue possessions and the glory associated with owning them.

Do not be deceived into assuming that these worldly desires are all somewhat animalistic and base. They also include the more refined passions of pride (such as for academic acclaim), social status, and inordinate ambition. As Colossians 3:5 instructs, a desire taken beyond what is lawful is simply idolatry through which we gratify our carnality.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Five Teachings of Grace


 

Self-mastery ("soberly" in NKJV) is self-government or self-control, the foundation of a strong godly life, growth, and producing fruit. If a person cannot govern himself, if he cannot master his passions, he will certainly not have a good relationship with his fellowman or God. His life will likely be marked by major excesses.

The biblical writers use this word in various ways: to behave in an orderly manner, to be sober, serious, sane, sound-minded, discreet, self-disciplined, prudent, and moderate. In context of a person controlling himself, Paul writes, "For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith" (Romans 12:3; see Titus 2:6; I Peter 4:7).

A person who has self-mastery is even-handed, and his passions are under control. He makes proper use of his drives and desires, and his manner of life is not one of extremes. A person reflecting this quality will be making steady progress in growing into the perfectly balanced character of Jesus Christ.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Five Teachings of Grace


 

Exodus 20:17  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Even when coveting falls short of directly breaking another commandment, it can damage both persons and principles. When a person covets what is another's, even though he may not actually lift a hand to take it, he robs virtue of its real meaning and makes obedience a hollow, mechanical activity. Any wife who has caught her husband gazing lustfully on another woman knows what this means. It kills trust in the relationship. At such a point, lust is already destroying.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Tenth Commandment (1998)


 

Exodus 20:17  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Covetousness is an insatiable desire for worldly gain and lies at the heart of where most sin originates. Of all the commandments, the tenth especially emphasizes man's relationship to man, which is readily seen in the repeated phrase "your neighbor's." It protects the interests of others in seven major areas listed individually within the commandment.

Martin G. Collins
The Tenth Commandment


 

Numbers 11:2-4  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

This passage expresses what motivates the rest of the story in chapter 11: They yielded to an intense craving. Have we ever had intense cravings? Was there a time when our taste buds were watering away for a piece of chocolate, a sundae, a piece of cake, pie ala mode, or maybe a nice filet mignon? Everybody has, but in most cases something stops us. We either do not have the money or the time or we are not in a place where we can fulfill our desire.

But we should not stop considering this with the desires that emanate from the stomach and taste buds. We desire a lot of things: nice clothing, nice homes, nice automobiles. We desire a husband or a wife. All sorts of desires can become so intense that they begin to drive our lives.

When we get into that kind of an attitude, we will begin to find that our desire is not only dominating our thinking, it is making us do what we do and say what we say. Chances are, if we fail to control it, we will begin to take advantage of situations to satisfy our overwhelming desire. We will take advantage of people, if need be, to satisfy it.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Passover and I Corinthians 10


 

Numbers 11:6-10  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

First, note that these people, spiritually, were so far from God that they did not take the first warning, the burning that took place on the outskirts of the camp. It was just a little thing from God to say, "Hey, wait a minute. You need Me. I am giving you the manna, and if it was not for that, you would die. Not only that, I was the One who gave you freedom." But how quickly they were forgetting.

What is the lesson here? They wanted variety; they felt they were leading a monotonous life. The Bible records no particular occasion for the beginning of their complaint except that they were bored with what they had to eat. Their words express dissatisfaction with privations incurred on their journey through the wilderness.

We are to learn from that. It is the Old Testament's form of whether or not we are willing to bear our cross—whatever comes upon us as a result of our repentance, our baptism, our receipt of God's Spirit, our entering into the covenant with Jesus Christ, and being His slave! Are we really willing to be His slaves and take what He dishes out?

What they wanted was food that had a sharper, more distinctive flavor, something more stimulating than manna, which tasted like pastry. They wanted cayenne powder, hot sauce, onions, garlic, spice. They wanted sauces and herbs for flavor that add a dimension to eating that otherwise would not be there.

It is interesting how quickly our taste can become perverted. Many people, for instance, put far too much salt on the foods they eat. Observe this the next time you are in a restaurant: There is a good chance that you will see diners pick up the salt and pepper shakers and shake them over their meals before they even taste the food. It is an ingrained habit, and their taste has become perverted.

That is what happened to the Israelites. They did not comprehend that God was feeding them angel's food, as it is called in the New Testament, the best possible diet they could get in their circumstance. Would we expect God to supply anything less than the best for the situation? Because He is a God of love, He will always do the best for us in every circumstance.

He was doing that for Israel, but their taste was perverted and so they were unwilling to be content with what God was supplying. Therein lies the lesson for us. Are we content with what God is supplying, or are we looking for stimulation that Christianity seems to lack? Are we looking for an edge? Are we craving flavor in our lives? Are we looking for something out of life in the way of entertainments or social contacts that we feel we are being denied because we are Christians? Do we feel this "privation" is a cross we are unwilling to bear? The lesson from these people is, if such a desire begins to gnaw at us, there is a chance we will give in to intense craving and begin complaining to God.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Passover and I Corinthians 10


 

Numbers 11:33-34  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Kibroth Hattaavah means "the graves of greediness." Their sin was not just in giving in to their craving. Their sin was they doubted God's ability to supply and they doubted His concern for their welfare.

Understand that God's concern for us is just as great after His calling as it is before. He is still working out His purpose, and He will supply our need. Remember, though, when God gives us what we desire and pray for, it does not necessarily mean that it is a blessing, as in this situation when the "blessing" turned out to be the instrument of death. It is a sobering lesson to keep in the forefront of our minds. Our prayer should always be, "Not my will but Yours be done. God, please remember I am just human."

Human nature is never satisfied. It is filled with self-concern and does not know what is best for it. What it lusts for may even lead to that person's spiritual death. It makes us think that the grass is greener on the other side and that there is more and better in something else, something new and exciting. And when lust is involved, anticipation is always greater than realization. There is a law of diminishing returns at work in this universe that perversion lessens rewards. The Israelites had a perverse craving for tasty food, and their reward ended up being death. Human nature is something we are always going to have to deal with in this life.

God was not dealing with these people in terms of salvation as He is with us. The lesson for us is not to let these cravings—even desires for good things—take our eyes off the goal and the reality of what God is doing for us.

Jeremiah 10:23-24 says that the way of man is not in him to direct his steps. We have to understand that, when we come to God, we are admitting to Him through repentance that our salvation is not internal—it is not something we can produce. In the same vein, the right way to live is not within us. It must come from outside, and that "outside" is God. Thus, we ask God to direct our steps. At baptism, we are asking God to make us into the image of Christ and to rid us of the perversions of human nature that have produced this world.

The experience of the Israelites shows us that, when the going gets unexpectedly rough and hardships occur—say, in the area of tithing, that we have not been blessed to the extent we feel we deserve, or in the area of Sabbath, that we lose our job and cannot find another—and then we have an intense craving for something and begin to look back at our former situation, we can also begin to lust for the very things that not long before we considered to be expendable and holding us in bondage.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Passover and I Corinthians 10


 

Proverbs 21:17  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Some of the results of a self-indulgent life are poverty, spiritual emptiness, and death. In I Timothy 5:6 "live in pleasure" is translated from the Greek word spatalao, describing a lifestyle of abandonment to one's desires for comfort and pleasure. It appears again only in James 5:5, as "luxury" or "wanton" (KJV).

Martin G. Collins
Overcoming (Part 8): Self-Indulgence


 

Ecclesiastes 11:9  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

God wants young people to enjoy this exciting time of their lives and to be happy. But, being God, He knows that youthful ambitions and energies can get a person into trouble. Such troubles have happened many times to young people in God's church. Thus, with His encouragement He gives a gentle warning: As young people follow their impulses and desires, they need to realize that God will evaluate all they think and do against His teaching.

This applies equally to all of us in all age groups. We must seek joy and happiness within the boundaries of God's moral standards. He promises to bring us into account for all our activities (Romans 2:5-11).

Clyde Finklea
My Parents Won't Let Me!


 

Jeremiah 17:9  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

A person breaks the second commandment when he exalts himself against God by trusting in his own or another's reasoning and lives that way rather than the way God ordained and commanded. Too often, the heart is easily led to satisfy its own desires rather than follow revealed knowledge. But God faithfully searches and tests our hearts to rid us of all idolatries so we will follow His way as closely as possible.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Second Commandment (1997)


 

Hosea 4:12  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Undoubtedly, the fount of Israel's despicable behavior is what Paul concludes in Hebrews 3:12: "Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God."

Israel, despite the fact that God voluntarily revealed much about Himself to her, simply does not believe what He says. The fruit of unbelief is betrayal expressed as departing from the relationship. However, an "evil heart of unbelief" is quite general. To begin, we need to explore one particular step in the process of sin beyond the "evil heart of unbelief."

In addition, we need to understand that our subject is not women who have been forced by their cultures into prostitution. Such a circumstance is far more understandable; women trapped in such a situation are truly victims and elicit our pity. We will be exploring those women who were free to pursue other courses in life yet deliberately chose to prostitute themselves, whether in service at a pagan temple as part of the worship of a god or in making a living. Israel deliberately chose to prostitute herself.

A prostitute is "a person, usually a woman, who provides sexual activity in exchange for material security." Dictionaries also define prostitution as "debasing oneself for personal gain," and this usage applies to either gender. Additionally, it is "a misuse of one's gifts, talents, or skills," and this too applies to either gender.

Because of these usages, in its broadest sense, prostitution is not confined either to sexual activity or to women alone. The selling of sex by a woman is only its best-known form. A prostitute is anybody who, as we would say today, "sells himself out" or makes compromises for personal gain. The gain does not have to be in the form of money. However, biblically, its descriptions and examples are confined to the illicit sexual activity of women because of Israel being symbolized as a woman.

A female prostitute is generally distinguished from an adulterer due to her lack of discrimination in choosing her partners. This lack of discrimination is important because it reveals a mindset, an attitude, that approaches what we today might call an "airhead," one who seriously ignores the harsh realities of sin. The attitude also exposes a stubborn addiction to gambling on sin's outcome. The prostitute usually justifies the sin because of her immediate needs.

All sin follows a pattern. The actual act is the next to the last step in a process that, once it starts, often does not take a great deal of time to complete. James 1:13-15 shows:

Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. 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.

Here, simply stated, is the process of sin:

1. Temptation triggers desire.

2. Desire stirs the yearning for gratification.

3. Failure to consider the end and to discipline oneself prompt the sinful act.

4. The sinful act brings forth death.

Repeated frequently enough, this process becomes habitual. The Bible pinpoints the source of sin in another way in Matthew 15:18-20:

But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man.

This is another way of saying that it is within mankind's nature to sin. However, this does not justify sin because man's nature can be disciplined far better than mankind exhibits.

If sin is to be stopped, these two areas simply must be dealt with, or sin will continue unabated. The carnal mind—man's normal nature—is at war with God (Romans 8:7), and it is not subject to God's law because, out of sheer unbelieving stubbornness, it will not permit itself to submit completely. This is why God says that He will give us a new heart (Ezekiel 36:26).

The Bible uses the word heart to represent all the internal intangibles of human personality. Today, we might say this heart is what makes us "tick." It is the spirit in that heart that lures us—indeed, drives us—to conduct ourselves in a way that is hostile to God. The Bible shows the prostitute having a specific spirit or heart driving her.

God says in Hosea 4:12: "My people ask counsel from their wooden idols, and their staff informs them. For the spirit of harlotry has caused them to stray, and they have played the harlot against their God." He adds in Hosea 5:4, "They do not direct their deeds toward turning to their God, for the spirit of harlotry is in their midst, and they do not know the LORD." In a context like this, the Bible uses spirit to indicate an immaterial force or power, an attitude, leaning, inclination, outlook, position, propensity, or proclivity to move, act, or conduct oneself in a certain manner or direction.

In Hosea 5:4, the conjunction "for" shows the direct connection between the people's sinful, idol-worshipping conduct and "the spirit of harlotry." This spirit is one of the intangibles that comprise human nature, and its direction of conduct is to be disloyal and unfaithful to Israel's commitment to God ratified in the Old Covenant, in which she vowed, "All that the LORD has said we will do, and be obedient" (Exodus 24:7).

Remember, what we are considering is something the entire nation is guilty of, both men and women. We are looking at the streetwalker-type of prostitute only because the Bible provides a clear picture of what motivates her. Once we grasp her motivations, we can extrapolate them to illustrate the whole nation—and ourselves individually because we have participated in the same system, and its drives linger in us.

This, of course, is not to accuse anyone of being a streetwalker. Recall that two of the definitions of prostitution are "abasing oneself for personal gain" and "abusing one's gifts, talents, and skills" for the same. For instance, biographers of famous personalities, especially of artists, occasionally write that their subjects felt they had prostituted their gifts to become wealthy.

This is what God implies in Amos 3:2: "You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities." He expected more and better from them than from any other nation. In terms of the knowledge of God and their access to instruction in the way of life that would produce the most and best toward physical, mental, and spiritual well-being, no other nation came even close to what Israel had because God had chosen them to be His people. Nevertheless, in following the examples of pagan nations who did not know God, Israel frivolously prostituted herself for what she considered personal gain.

Have we not all debased ourselves by indiscriminately accepting the personal gain of the immediate gratification of an unlawful desire, and in the same process, ignored or consciously shoved aside our knowledge of the truth of God? Once we have knowledge of the truth, thus removing our ignorance of God, His way, and His law, if we did not prostitute ourselves, there would be no sin in our lives. The sad truth is that we do not discipline or control ourselves, but instead, we indulge ourselves, and sin occurs. We have prostituted ourselves. We must do better.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Beast and Babylon (Part Nine): Babylon the Great


 

Matthew 5:6  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

It is not at all uncommon these days to hear of an ambitious person as being "hungry" to accomplish significant things. Writers apply this term to athletes who want to make it to the professional leagues, to actors who want to attain stardom, and to businesspersons who seek to become CEO or president of a major corporation. These people drive themselves to work harder than their competition. They push themselves in studying every facet of their discipline, and they practice longer and harder than others. Their ambition knows no limits. They seem to play every angle to bring themselves to the attention of their superiors. They seize every opportunity to "sell" themselves to those who might be useful in promoting them.

Some but not all of these nuances are present in Jesus' use of "hunger" and "thirst" in Matthew 5:6. He describes a person who from the very depths of his innermost being has a driving need to satisfy a desire. William Barclay, in his Daily Study Bible commentary on Matthew, provides a colorful description:

Words do not exist in isolation; they exist against a background of experience and thought; and the meaning of any word is conditioned by the background of the person who speaks it. That is particularly true of this beatitude. It would convey to those who heard it for the first time an impression quite different from the impression which it conveys to us.

The fact is that very few of us in modern conditions of life know what it is to be really hungry or really thirsty. In the ancient world it was very different. A working man's wage was the equivalent of three pence a day, and, even making every allowance for the difference in the purchasing power of money, no man ever got fat on that wage. A working man in Palestine ate meat only once a week, and in Palestine the working man and the day laborer were never very far from the border-line of real hunger and actual starvation.

It was still more so in the case of thirst. It was not possible for the vast majority of people to turn a tap and find the clear, cold water pouring into their house. A man might be on a journey, and in the midst of it the hot wind which brought the sand-storm might begin to blow. There was nothing for him to do but to wrap his head in his burnous and turn his back to the wind, and wait, while the swirling sand filled his nostrils and his throat until he was likely to suffocate, and until he was parched with an imperious thirst. In the conditions of modern western life there is no parallel at all to that. (vol. 1, p. 99)

We see, then, that Jesus is not using "hunger" or "thirst" as we would describe the emptiness or dryness we feel between meals, but a hunger or thirst that seemingly can never be satisfied. With physical appetite, this would be a hunger and thirst that, even after a full meal with plenty of drink, we would still feel as though we could eat and drink much more! Again, as Barclay describes it, "It is the hunger of the man who is starving for food, and the thirst of the man who will die unless he drinks" (pp. 99-100).

Nothing can better express the kind of desire we should have to obtain righteousness. The Bible's writers frequently employ the imagery of hunger and especially thirst to illustrate an ardent desire, particularly for the things of God:

  • Psalm 42:1-2: As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?

  • Psalm 63:1: O God, You are my God; early will I seek You; my soul thirsts for You; my flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water.

Even limiting hunger and thirst to our normal, daily need for nourishment illustrates a continuous cycle of consuming a most vital necessity for spiritual life and strength.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Beatitudes, Part Four: Hungering and Thirsting After Righteousness


 

Matthew 5:6  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

One of the types of righteousness for which we are to hunger and thirst is the one that occupies the greater portion of our life after conversion. Notice how Jesus states this beatitude. He does not say, "Blessed are those who have hungered . . . ," but rather, "Blessed are those who hunger [do hunger, KJV]." This hungering and thirsting is a continuous state, and it must be this way for the second kind of righteousness, elsewhere called pursuing holiness, going on to perfection, or growing in the grace and the knowledge of Jesus Christ. Frequently the Bible calls it sanctification. None of these terms is specifically righteousness, but all are contained within its broad meaning. This righteousness is created in us, imparted to us by God's Holy Spirit following justification as we experience our relationship with God. It is seeking godly character to be prepared for living in His Kingdom.

God cannot create His holy and righteous character by fiat. It requires the willing and freely given cooperation of the called; by exercising their free moral agency, they submit to Him in the experiences of life. Submission is difficult, and thus Christianity is no cake-walk through a garden. Jesus often warns that it will require a devotion to Him of such degree that all else must be secondary to Him. We are to bear our crosses and count the cost (Luke 14:26-28). He also warns, "The way is difficult and narrow" (Matthew 7:14), and "He who endures to the end shall be saved" (Matthew 24:13). The trek of the ancient Israelites through the wilderness is a type of the Christian's pilgrimage to the Kingdom of God. Their wilderness experiences expose a number of pitfalls that can destroy a Christian's faith and enthusiasm for continuing to the end.

Through this beatitude, God presents us with a serious challenge. Because it is continuously needed, it establishes a demanding requirement. How much do we want goodness, the righteousness of God? Do we want it as much as a starving man desires food or a parched man wants water? Do we so lack vision that we will give up our faith as all the Israelites, save Joshua and Caleb, did in the wilderness? According to Hebrews 4:1, though they heard the good news, they did not believe it sufficiently. They, therefore, died in the wilderness, their pilgrimage finished before they reached their goal. Rather than submit, they resisted God until their deaths. Apparently, they did not hunger for it.

Most of us have a desire for God's Kingdom and His righteousness, but it is, to our detriment, frequently nebulous rather than sharp. When the time comes to make a choice, we are not prepared to make the required effort or sacrifice that the righteousness of God demands. It is situations like these that reveal that we do not desire righteousness more than anything else.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Beatitudes, Part Four: Hungering and Thirsting After Righteousness


 

Matthew 5:6  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Desire is an inward longing for something we do not have but feel we need. Hunger and thirst are appetites God gave humans to make us aware of a need. Hunger for God's Word and His attributes are the spiritual appetite God gives Christians to make us aware of spiritual needs. Do pagans pray to their idols and ask them for love, joy, internal peace, kindness, gentleness, goodness, meekness, or self-control? They ask for other things—material things, material blessings.

God has given us faith to make us aware of spiritual needs. We are aware of our physical needs by nature, but we would never be aware of these spiritual needs unless God, by His Spirit, makes us aware. It is a loving gift from Him. He expects us to think about these needs and ask Him for them. Our very awareness of the need is a proof that God is working with us.

This adds another step to the process of answered prayer: There has to be an awareness of need followed by the desire to have what we need. The desire moves us to make it known to God, and if it is really earnest and fervent, it fixes our minds on the object of our longing, motivating our pursuit of it. In other words, desire sets the will into action.

What God really wants us to seek after, to desire, is Him, what He is.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Prayer and Fervency


 

Matthew 5:27-28  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

God's Word obviously shows that not every desire is wrong (Proverbs 4:5-9). It is no sin to desire knowledge, understanding, and wisdom. God's law is "more to be desired . . . than much fine gold" (Psalm 19:10). It is not wrong to desire a godly spouse. Learning is valuable, and desiring godly character is good. Others have good qualities that we might well desire for ourselves.

The word translated "lust" in Matthew 5:28 means "to set one's heart upon." But when the object desired is legitimately beyond the reach of the admirer, when admiration becomes a desire to get, one breaks the commandment. Desire of and by itself is not wrong, but desiring what belongs to another to such a degree that it dominates our thinking and motivates us to take other unlawful actions to possess the object is sin. Such covetousness often suppresses the far more important things of God—and may even cause one to forget them altogether.

When desire builds to the breaking point, people will lie, steal, commit adultery, dishonor parents, and even murder to have what they lust after. We might also break the Sabbath and destroy our witness for God by serving our desires. Truly, Paul was correct in Colossians 3:5: "Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry." Breaking the tenth commandment brings us full circle through the commandments and back to the first.

There is nothing wrong, however, in merely wanting something. It is only wrong to want something so badly that we would break every law to get it, be sick with unhappiness without it, or so occupied with it that we push God out of our lives. To desire a better life does not break the command; to enter the race to keep up with the Joneses does. To want our children to have it better than we did is natural; it becomes evil only when its purpose distorts the child's values.

To love pretty things is normal. God loves beauty and has created it. We can appreciate beautiful things, but to desire them to show them off and arouse envy in others is evil. It is not wrong to desire the needs of life and even its luxuries, but a feverish passion for more—and the action it incites—breaches God's law.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Tenth Commandment (1998)


 

Matthew 5:27-28  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The Jews felt that adultery is a kind of theft. Though this is not entirely wrong, Jesus emphasizes its impurity in these two verses. He says that ruin awaits even the unchaste in thought. Nowhere is the inward aim of Christ's teaching so evident as in this comment. A change must first take place in the thoughts if conduct is going to be changed. The real problem with sin resides inside the mind. Christ traces impurity back beyond the lustful act, beyond the first touch of the hands, beyond the gaze of the eyes, to the inception of desire.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Tenth Commandment (1998)


 

Matthew 5:27-28  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The person condemned by Jesus here deliberately uses his eyes to awaken and stimulate his lust. It is difficult enough to avoid lusting after natural things, but many things in this world are deliberately designed to awaken wrong desires. If certain books, pictures, magazines, movies, places, activities, or people tempt us to lust, we must avoid them, regardless of the cost. Not sinning is that important!

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Tenth Commandment (1998)


 

Matthew 9:27-30  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

With an attitude of humility (Proverbs 15:33), the blind men seek Jesus' mercy in healing, giving Him praise and honor. We have no merits for any blessing from God. As Paul writes in Ephesians 2:8-9, these things are given by grace, not because of anything we are or have done.

The blind men not only honor Christ in their request, but also humble themselves. They do not ask Him to be just to them, for all have sinned and deserve death (Romans 3:23), but in their humility they ask for mercy. Had they asked for justice, they would have been asking for their "rights." Demanding rights is an arrogant approach, the opposite of humility. In emphasizing rights, a person ignores his responsibilities.

Another positive characteristic the blind men exemplify is that they continue to follow Christ until they receive an answer to their request—they persevere. In spite of the crowds, they keep following Him along the road, and when He stops and enters a house, they do not give up but go into the house after Him. When we do not receive an answer to a prayer the first few times we ask, we often quit praying and sometimes indirectly accuse God of failing to act on our behalf. However, delay in answering prayer is not necessarily denial. It may be to test our faith and strengthen it.

If we desire blessings from God, we have to persevere in pursuing them. God does not usually give special blessings to those who seek them half-heartedly. As parents, we use the same method with our own children. We sometimes delay our response until we know whether they are truly sincere in their request, and until we determine how important it is to them and how hard they are willing to work for it.

Martin G. Collins
The Miracles of Jesus Christ: Healing Two Blind Men (Part One)


 

Matthew 11:18-19  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

What are the children of wisdom? Good works and good fruit. Whether what we do is wise or foolish is seen in the fruit we bear and in what we accomplish. An alcoholic produces sorrow for himself and his family, battered wives and children, poor health, and a shorter life. A glutton produces a bad example for his family and his brethren, poverty, poor health, and eventually death. We must control our desires because excess desire is the driving force behind gluttony. When we lose control of it, we sin, feeding the god that is in our belly, the god of excess, the god of too much, too fast, too eagerly.

Another interpretation of "wisdom is justified by her children" is that those who follow the wisdom from above recognize and live their lives based on truth. By their example in living wisely and righteously, they justify, prove, that it is the right and reasonable way to live. The way the wise live destroys the credibility of false accusations. Avoiding gluttony is one way to show that we are living in wisdom. The foolish—the opposite of the wise—tend toward gluttony.

Martin G. Collins
Gluttony: Sin of Lust and Greed (Part One)


 

Mark 4:19  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

A simple illustration helps understand this statement: A desire-driven "window shopping" for things to do in order to be "busy"—filling our time with meaningless, self-centered, carnal activities—crowds out God's Word. When we elect to do this, we risk many spiritual dangers.

When we covet carnal activities or material things, we serve them. If we give our time, energy, and money to them to the extent that we leave only the barest minimum of those things for God, we are practicing idolatry. It may reveal itself in us through a fear that, if we give ourselves to God, we will have nothing for ourselves. We live as if life in God cannot be full enough to make up for the loss of other things.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Tenth Commandment


 

Luke 12:15  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Marketers have thoroughly studied human nature's desire to conform so that they will be considered to be at the same level as everyone else in a social status they admire. This desire is stimulated by constant urgings from marketers to buy what everybody else—obviously—already has, so that one does not seem "backward," unsophisticated, a nerd in their peers' eyes. In the face of this societal pressure, not to compete for the same material things the neighbor already has makes a person appear to be unambitious and odd.

Sometimes it seems to be a paradox, a contradiction, that God says He wishes above all things that we prosper and be in good health (III John 1:2), and that many of God's servants, especially in the Old Testament, have been wealthy; yet He also tells us that it is better to give than to receive (Acts 20:35) and that the accumulation of things is not to be a major goal (Matthew 7:19).

Overall, God teaches that the things prosperity makes it possible for a person to have are a means to an end and not the end in themselves. He instructs us that "one's life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses" (Luke 12:15). Others may make it life's goal to have them, but we must not.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Tenth Commandment


 

Romans 8:24  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

It is fairly easy to understand that, once we have what we desire, we no longer have to hope for it. As a hope fulfilled, we do not need that longing or desire for it anymore. Right now, we do not have what we are hoping for in its fullness. We have a vision of it, and that vision may not be very clear, but we can see it and believe in it. However, we need to focus mainly on how important Paul says this is: We are saved by it. But are we not saved by grace through faith? Yes, we are!

That is ultimately how salvation comes, but God is not merely trying to save us. Saving us is the easy part. The more difficult part is to achieve the fullness of His purpose for each one of us, which is for us to be created in His image. For that to occur, our cooperation is required. We will not cooperate unless we are hoping in the right thing. If we are not hoping in what God wants us to hope for, we will begin heading in a different direction. If we have a different vision, we will go off the path God has set us on. Having the right hope is absolutely essential.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Resurrection From the Dead


 

Romans 8:25  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Hope is important because it plays a major role in salvation. Hope is a powerful motivator. What we love, we pay attention to, and if we hope to get something from what we love, our hope will motivate us in that direction. Hope influences us either to take or not to take certain actions, depending upon what we hope for. We will generally do all that we can to make sure that what we hope for happens the way that we foresee it happening. If we hope something does not happen, we generally do what we can to see that it does not happen. Hope motivates us to move in a certain direction and to do certain things.

What if we hope for something that is beyond our immediate control? We will still pray that what we hope for will happen. If there is nothing else we can do, we will still pray. That is how powerful hope is. It will make us do things even subconsciously, bending us in a certain direction because our hope is so strong. At the very least, even if we do not pray, we will at least wish, fret, and worry about it until something is resolved. Our hopes, whether we are conscious of them or not, are constantly playing on our mind.

Hope is usually defined as a longing, a desire, or an expectation of fulfillment. It can be passive or intensely active. It can be for evil or for good. It is vitally important that we have the right hope because the Bible says, that along with faith and love, it is one of the three timeless and enduring eternal values. There will never be a time in eternity when hope is not on our minds! Think about that! It is that important.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Resurrection From the Dead


 

Romans 12:3-8  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

These six verses are all tied together by humility—that one should not think of himself more highly than he ought. God has put us each in the body as it pleases Him, so we should not think that we, as, say, the toe are better than the knee because the toe cannot do the knee's job. God thinks of the toe just as highly as He does of the knee, but if He has put us as a toe, why not in faith do the job of a toe because that is what God wants us to be? If He had wanted us to be a knee, He would have put you in the body as a knee, but He made us to be a toe, so be happy as a toe! Do a toe's work in faith!

Paul tells us to think soberly, logically, seriously, that as God has dealt to each a measure of faith, that we in faith can consider our place in the church and deal with it. So, whatever we are to do, do it! Do it with all the gifts and skills that God has given—but do not try to do another's job. It is his job to do diligently, not ours. God put us in the body to do a specific job, our job not his, otherwise He would have given us his job!

If we have been given the job to exhort, then we should exhort. If it is our job to minister and serve others, serve—but do not take another's job to prophesy. Paul is saying, "In lowliness of mind, be content where you are, because obviously God has put you there for a reason. If you do the job that God has given to you, you are fulfilling His will." The church, then, can be united because the members are not competing over each other's responsibilities.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Psalm 133


 

Galatians 5:17  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Sometimes we seem to consist of a whole clamorous mob of desires, like week-old kittens, blind of eye with mouths wide open, mewing to be satisfied. It is as if two voices are in us, arguing, "You shall, you shall not. You ought, you ought not." Does not God want us to set a will above these appetites that cannot be bribed, a reason that cannot be deceived, and a conscience that will be true to God and His standards? We must either control ourselves using the courage, power, and love of God's Spirit, or we will fall to pieces.

Adam and Eve established the pattern for mankind in the Garden of Eden. All of us have followed it, and then, conscience-smitten, we rankle under feelings of weakness. They were tempted by the subtle persuasions of Satan and the appeals of their own appetites for forbidden fruit that looked so good. To this they succumbed, and they sinned, bringing upon themselves the death penalty and much more evil besides. What is the use of appealing to men who cannot govern themselves, whose very disease is that they cannot, whose conscience cries out often both before and after they have done wrong, "Who shall deliver me from this body of death?" It is useless to tell a king whose subjects have overthrown him to rule his kingdom. His kingdom is in full revolt, and he has no soldiers behind him. He is a monarch with no power.

A certain Bishop Butler said, "If conscience had power, as it has authority, it would govern the world." Authority without power is nothing but vanity. Conscience has the authority to guide or accuse, but what good is it if the will is so enfeebled that the passions and desires get the bit between their teeth, trample the conscience, and gallop headlong to the inevitable collision with the ditch?

The solution to this lies in our relationship with Christ:

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. (Philippians 2:12-13)

This is the only thing that will give us complete self-control, and it will not fail.

In Luke 11:13, Jesus makes this wonderful promise of strength to those who trust Him:

If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!

Trust Jesus Christ, and ask Him to govern. Ask Him for more of God's Holy Spirit, and He will help you to control yourself. Remember, II Timothy 1:7 says this is a major reason that He gives us His Spirit. He will not fail in what He has promised because the request fits perfectly into God's purpose of creating sons in His image.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fruit of the Spirit: Self-Control


 

Galatians 5:23  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

In Galatians 5:23, "self-control" (temperance, KJV) is the translation of the Greek word enkrateia, which means "possessing power, strong, having mastery or possession of, continent, self-controlled" (Kenneth S. Wuest, Word Studies in the Greek New Testament, "Galatians," p. 160). Vincent's Word Studies of the New Testament adds that it means "holding in hand the passions and desires" (vol. IV, p. 168). The word thus refers to the mastery of one's desires and impulses, and does not in itself refer to the control of any specific desire or impulse. If a particular desire or impulse is meant, the context will indicate it.

Self-control is comprehensive in practical application to life, but the Bible does not use the word extensively. It is implied, however, in many exhortations to obedience, submission, and sinless living. The noun form is used only three times, the verb form twice (I Corinthians 7:9; 9:25), and the adjective form once (Titus 1:8). The negative form of the adjective is used three times. In II Timothy 3:3, it is translated "without self-control [incontinent, KJV]"; in Matthew 23:25, "self-indulgent [excess, KJV]"; and in I Corinthians 7:5, "lack of self-control [incontinency, KJV]."

Another Greek word, nephalios, has the same general meaning, but it generally covers a more specific area of self-control. It is often translated as "temperate" or "sober." Even though its root condemns self-indulgence in all forms, the Bible's writers use it to refer to avoiding drunkenness.

Despite self-control's obvious importance, we should not limit our understanding of these words to merely the stringent discipline of the individual's passions and appetites. These words also include the notions of having good sense, sober wisdom, moderation, and soundness of mind as contrasted to insanity.

We see a good example of self-control implied in Proverbs 25:28: "Whoever has no rule over his own spirit is like a city broken down, without walls." No specific Hebrew word in this sentence means "self-control," but "rule" certainly implies it. In its comments on this verse, the Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible states:

The picture is that of a city whose walls have been so nearly destroyed as to be without defense against an enemy; so is the man who has no restraint over his spirit, the source of man's passionate energies. He has no defense against anger, lust, and the other unbridled emotions that destroy the personality. (vol. 4, p. 267)

Proverbs 16:32 shows a more positive side of self-control: "He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city." Here Solomon uses an entirely different word for "rule," but the sense of self-control remains. A comparison of the two proverbs reveals the great importance of self-control as both an offensive and defensive attribute.

Undoubtedly, self-denial, self-sacrifice, and self-control are inextricably linked in Christian life; each is part of our duty to God. Yet human nature exerts a persistent and sometimes very strong force away from God, as Romans 8:7 clearly shows: "Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be." It is this force that each Christian must overcome. Controlling ourselves, denying human nature its impulse to satisfy its desire, and even sacrificing ourselves are necessary if we are to stop sinning as a way of life. When we add the concepts of self-denial and self-sacrifice to our understanding of self-control, we can see more easily how large a role self-control plays in the Bible.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fruit of the Spirit: Self-Control


 

Ephesians 4:26-27  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Has Paul not said, "Do not give Satan an opportunity to get a bridgehead, a toehold, to induce us into sin"? Sin brings death, and that is Satan's aim—to bring about death.

In this context, not giving place to the Devil is directly tied to a feeling—anger. Anger of and by itself is not sin. There is an anger that is godly, which we call "righteous indignation." But nursing an anger for the wrong reason—the selfish fulfillment of a desire—gives Satan the toehold that he needs. He can easily turn it into bitterness or a sinful conduct.

Having a desire is not ungodly or a sin in itself. God gave us feelings, even ones we might consider to be somewhat negative. Even something like anger is not by itself sin. Life would be terrible and bland without feelings. What we have to understand is that these are areas that Satan, if we are not alert, vigilant, and on guard, can turn what is a blessing from God into a toehold or bridgehead to sin. We must be careful of this. When the emotions get worked up (even positive ones), we can be pushed in the wrong direction.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Satan (Part 5)


 

Philippians 3:18-19  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Paul writes in Philippians 3:18-19 that gluttons tend to concentrate on physical things, neglecting their spiritual relationship with God.

We may think such idolatry is rare among us, but the apostle says there are "many . . . whose god is their belly," their appetites, their physical senses. They break the first commandment, "You shall have no other gods before me," because their desire becomes a higher priority than their Creator and Sustainer. Gluttony breaks the rest of the commandments as well:

The second, when we serve or relinquish control to our physical desires. Colossians 3:5 says, "Therefore put to death your members which are on earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry." We "bow down" to a false god when we gratify our lusts of the flesh and of the eyes (I John 2:16).

The third, when we fail to uphold God's name—and all that it represents—in glory and honor. Many call themselves Christians and claim to follow Christ, but lack the holy character God wants us to have (I Peter 2:5, 9). Is "Glutton" the name God wants His holy people to have? I Peter 1:15 answers, "He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct."

The fourth, when we use the Sabbath, a feast day, to crave and overeat. Sometimes we do this under the assumption that, since we are fellowshipping, we can eat excessive amounts. Eating or drinking too much is seeking our own pleasure, which Isaiah 58:13-14 warns against in the context of the Sabbath:

If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on My holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy day of the LORD honorable, and shall honor Him, not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words, then you shall delight yourself in the LORD. . . .

The fifth, when we do not wisely use the many years of support and training we received from our parents. A child of any age who does not have self-control is a worry and an embarrassment to his parents. The glutton, abusing his body with excessive food, may not live even as long as his parents, fulfilling the inverse of the commandment's promise.

The sixth, by systematically and continually destroying the body and mind that God has given into our care. It is slow suicide. If parents are gluttons, they teach their children to do the same, thereby eventually killing them as well. Since our bodies are the Temple of the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 6:19), to destroy it knowingly is sin.

The seventh, when we over-eat, over-buy, over-accumulate as a "get" way of life. Our way of life is our religion, and if it is a lifestyle of excessive desire, our religion is in competition with God's way of life. This, in effect, is spiritual adultery, as seen in Jeremiah 3:6-10. God says in verse 9, "So it came to pass, through [Judah's] casual harlotry, that she defiled the land and committed adultery with stones and trees." These idols, worshipped on the high places, became the object of Judah's excessive desire, just as food, drink, or any material thing can be.

The eighth, when we take more than what is balanced and needful, thus more than God has given. In addition, by hoarding for ourselves we steal from others. Certainly, when there are people without enough, for us to consume more than we need is wrong (Proverbs 22:9; 11:24-26). A society that over-consumes at the expense of others is, at the very least, greedy. Wastefulness is a by-product of gluttony, and Americans no longer live by sayings like, "Waste not, want not!" We live in a careless, throw-away society, but the day will come when this gluttonous nation will lose everything and be taken into captivity. Proverbs 23:21 predicts, "For the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty."

The ninth, when we are gluttonous while calling ourselves Christians. This is a lie and hypocritical, misrepresenting God. Commonly, gluttons blame a thyroid problem or claim it is a disease, thereby relinquishing responsibility. If this is not true, it is a lie. It is also a lie if we think that giving into excessive desire will not hurt us. God speaks of such self-deception in Jeremiah 7:8-10:

Behold, you trust in lying words that cannot profit. Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, burn incense to Baal, and walk after other gods whom you do not know, and then come and stand before Me in this house which is called by My name, and say, "We are delivered to do all these abominations"?

The tenth, when we are not satisfied with what we have and desire the possessions of others. A glutton wants even more than he has. Children must be taught not to want the biggest piece of cake or the most ice cream. Solomon had one wife, then he wanted another and another and another until he had hundreds. Solomon was a glutton, which his power and wealth made easier.

As James says, if we break one commandment, we break them all (James 2:10). With gluttony, we can specifically break each one. It is not a trivial matter!

Martin G. Collins
Gluttony: A Lack of Self-Control (Part Two)


 

1 Timothy 6:10  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

How can a person identify whether he is lusting? By the fruit he is producing through his desire. A fruit of coveting is a hungering unhappiness in not possessing what is desired. The puppy-love syndrome, which exhibits the "I can't live without him/her/it" reaction is a form of this longing. In more serious circumstances, coveting will cause far more severe consequences, the fruits of intense sorrow, pain, and remorse.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Tenth Commandment


 

James 1:12-15  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

As soon as we are tempted, we must begin to deny ourselves the wrong desire. Jesus calls us to practice self-denial in our actions even before we do them. Temptations vary according to the weaknesses of each person. What may be an easy self-denial for one may be tough to resist for another. Appetite (Proverbs 23:2), material goods, worldly ambitions, personal prestige (Matthew 6:1-4, 16-21), and sexual desires are very common areas where self-denial is tough for many.

Martin G. Collins
Overcoming (Part 5): Self-Denial


 

James 1:12-18  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

One might say, "There are so many temptations out there. The whole world is evil. How do we avoid them?" James gives us some ideas, hints, clues, and instruction. First, he tells us that we will face temptation. We cannot avoid it because deception, evil, will come looking for us and especially because we are God's children. Satan is looking to devour us (I Peter 5:8). We will be the targets of his onslaughts of temptation throughout our Christian lives, and we must be ready to face them! But, if we get through them, then we reach our goal—the Kingdom of God, where we have a crown of life waiting for us. We have that assurance and faith in what God has promised us.

Then James says, "God does not tempt us." The apostle says that we are tempted when our desires lure us away. The process can then intensify if we are not strong enough, leading to sin and ultimately to death—the second death, not just physical death. We can be deceived right out of our crown if we are not careful, if we are not strong. (This process of temptation is similar to modern advertising. It works the same way because the same "spirit" is behind it.)

Then James says, in verse 16, "Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren." This is a hint that what he has just said tells us something important about not being deceived. He has just told us that God never entices—tempts—us to accept His way by promising to satisfy our desires. Instead, we are enticed when our desires lead us to sin. God never tempts us to follow our physical desires for self-gratification.

One might argue: "Wait a second. Doesn't He promise us long life? Isn't that a physical desire? Doesn't He promise us health? Doesn't He promise us prosperity? And that our enemies won't overtake us? Doesn't He promise us all of these things?"

But what does He also say when He makes those promises? In almost every occasion, He says, "If you will keep My commandments, then I will. . . ." He always puts a condition on His promises. "If you keep My commandments," then such-and-such will happen. Many of these blessings or fulfillments of His promises—if not all of them—happen because that is how God designed them to happen. Sure, God intervenes to a certain extent in order to work out His purpose, but, like a spiritual law of the universe, if we keep God's commandments, certain things are bound to result.

If we keep God's commandments, we will probably be healthy. If we keep God's commandments, we will live long lives. What does the first commandment with promise say? If we honor our fathers and mothers, then we will live long in the land that the LORD gives us. It is A + B = C. What does the Bible call it? A person will reap what he has sown (Galatians 6:7)! It is cause and effect. So, if we keep the commandments, then there are certain blessings that just automatically accrue to us.

Oftentimes, because God is working with us so closely, He does not fulfill these physical promises to their extremes. He will give them to us as much as we need them or as much as is within His purpose at the time. He is working something greater for us than just satisfying our physical wants or even needs.

What does James say next? The next two verses key us in on the thrust of James' thought. He says, 1) God gives good gifts, and He never changes. So His good gifts are always the same. Next, he says, 2) that He has made us a kind of firstfruits of His creatures. We must put those two ideas together. Why does God give good gifts? To make us His children! This is what He is always thinking about. His purpose is focused on reproducing Himself!

He calls us and converts us by His truth for the purpose of making us His children. All of His gifts are good, and they never change. They are always geared towards His godly ends. All of His gifts are for our ultimate, spiritual good—to make us like Him. Blessings, then, are a byproduct of His way. His good gifts are all leading us toward our entrance into the Kingdom of God and not the satisfying of our physical desires.

How can we apply this? If we understand that God will give us what is good for us, what will advance us towards the Kingdom of God, then what does this say about false teachers? How can we avoid the deception? The clue is that if anyone tries to sell us a belief in which our physical desires are going to be met, then we have a strong reason to believe that the teaching is false.

God will not use that tactic. He will not say, "Follow Me, and you will have a good life. Everything is going to come up roses for you." Instead, He often tells us such things as, "All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution" (II Timothy 3:12). Does that sound like "the good life"?

How do we get through this life? By lurching from one trial to the next! Is that not how we are refined? By fire! By trial! By going from one problem to the next and overcoming it. That is just how God's way works because He knows that the best way to produce sons of God is the same way the Son of God achieved His glory. Hebrews 2:10 says that Jesus Christ was made "perfect through suffering."

God is not interested in this life except for what it will produce in the next. This life is a training ground. When, say, a soldier trains, he goes through the paces at boot camp. He is made to follow a regimen. He works hard until he hurts. This life is God's boot camp. Right now, we are in training like an athlete. And no athlete worth his salt lounges, plays, and lives the good life while he is in training.

So James gives us good instruction on how to avoid being deceived. When something is "too good to be true," it is probably not true.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Preventing Deception


 

James 1:13-15  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Every problem, individual or national, has its root embedded in sin. But what causes sin? Wrong desires brought to fruition, and everyone—from peasant to king—is subject to wrong desires. From the beginning of time, sinners have blamed their sins on others. Satan blamed God, Eve blamed Satan, and Adam blamed Eve. James sternly rebukes this.

God does not cause sin, nor do things. Sin would be helpless if it did not appeal to something in man. Sin appeals to man's human nature through his desires. If a man desires long enough, the consequence is virtually inevitable. Desire becomes action.

Desire can be nourished, stifled or—by the grace of God—eliminated altogether. If we humbly, thoughtfully, and wholly give of ourselves to Christ and involve ourselves in good activities and thoughts, we will have precious little time or place for evil desires. This commandment pierces through surface Christianity, really showing whether we have surrendered our will to God.

The spiritual requirements for keeping it are in some ways more rigid than any other because it pierces directly into our thoughts. II Corinthians 10:4-5 sets a very high standard for us to shoot for:

For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.

These verses, revealing God's authority over even our thoughts, also sets what may be our ultimate goal in this life. The tenth commandment shows the depth of God's concern about the state of our inner character as well as our apparent character. If our thoughts are right, our actions will be too. Changing our thinking strikes right at the heart of character, emphasizing why spending time with God, in studying His Word and in prayer, is so important.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Tenth Commandment (1998)


 

James 1:13-15  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

It is not wrong to want something. We can want a spouse, a house, or a car, but not if it belongs to our neighbor - unless he is selling a possession, and we acquire it in a fair and honest manner. However, when "desire has conceived," it may result in breaking any of the Ten Commandments, including covetousness, to which everyone is susceptible. Uncontrolled lust for power, land and wealth can drive men to murder, if necessary, to obtain a coveted prize.

Martin G. Collins
The Tenth Commandment


 

James 1:14  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Temptation is an appeal to think or do something contrary to God's law. We are drawn away from truth, virtue, and God's standard of righteousness.

In this context, desires are forces of attraction in the wrong direction: We long for it, crave it, covet it, want it. We are enticed or attracted when we are offered hope of reward or pleasure (e.g., food, drink, sex, money, drugs, entertainment).

The verbs "drawn away" and "enticed" derive from the activities of fishing and hunting. "Enticed" usually describes the drawing of fish out of their original retreat. We are tantalized, as fish are with bait. What is on the end of a fishing line? A LURE! James pictures man's desire first attracting his attention and persuading him to approach the forbidden thing, and second, luring him by means of bait to yield to the temptation.

Another analogy that illustrates the force of enticement is that of a magnet. If one places a small piece of iron close to a magnet, invisible forces reach out from the magnet to attract the iron. By moving the piece of iron a little closer, the attraction intensifies. Nudge the iron still closer, and the magnet will draw it all the way to itself. The closer one moves to a desired thing or the more one's interest grows, the greater and greater the pull becomes.

Who does the luring and enticing? Who does the tempting? Paul calls Satan "the Tempter" in I Thessalonians 3:5: "The tempter had tempted you." "Tempter" is the present participle of the Greek word peirazo, which basically means "to tempt." When preceded by an article, it literally means "the (one) tempting." Satan uses temptation to entice us into sin (Matthew 4:1). James 4:7 says, "Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you." Following Christ's example in Matthew 4:1-11, we should strongly resist the temptations of Satan, causing him to flee from us.

Martin G. Collins
How Does Temptation Relate to Sin?


 

James 4:1-3  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

This is vital because we find ourselves living in a culture that is coming apart at the seams because each individual wants to execute his desires. James tells us what happens when individuals begin to do this.

His basic question to the Christian is, "Are we going to submit to God or to our desires for pleasure?" Pleasure here does not mean "fun," as when one goes to an amusement park. James is talking about the desire that normally arises within an individual, who must make the choice of whether or not he is going to follow through and gratify himself by fulfilling that desire. So pleasure here means "that which gratifies."

He is saying to us that, if we seek our desires, then we had better understand that life will be filled with conflict. Why? Because everybody else is doing the same thing. Their desires are likely different from ours, and so our desires runs headlong into their desires, producing arguments, struggle, strife, and war over whose desire is going to be fulfilled. When people do what is right in their own eyes, rather than submit to the central authority, desires will crash into each other, creating conflict. It does not matter whether that central authority is the family, the culture, or God's Word!

This is happening constantly, but God has a solution. It is not easy. The solution is that each son of God bears the responsibility to govern himself, by faith, within the framework of His laws, His principles, His traditions, and the examples that He gives in His Word. We have to submit to these things.

John 8:32 declares that the truth sets us free, but it will never set anyone free unless it is submitted to. Truth is good only as it is used, so a person must submit to it. Inevitably, differences will arise on what things should be done or how they should be done. But God has a way of resolving these problems if we will submit and not succumb to impatience—if we do not force our will and thus force conflict.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Submitting (Part 2)


 

1 Peter 2:1-2  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Do babies earnestly let us know when they are hungry? They cry and become red in the face. They let us know without any doubt. They want us and something from us. A desire is created by their hunger.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Prayer and Fervency


 

2 Peter 3:3-4  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Things are not continuing as they were, and the reason we know this is because God has given us discernment of the times and seasons in which we are living. Life is not going to continue the way it is: It will get worse before it gets better. So Peter is reminding us.

By the time Peter wrote this (scholars date II Peter in 64 AD), the world is in real turmoil. The world seemed to be falling apart. Jerusalem, especially, is a powderkeg. Christians are being blamed for the trouble being incited in Rome.

However, the New Testament writers reveal to us that they saw the church going to sleep. We can imagine such a thing because many of us have experienced this in our own time. At the most critical juncture of history for the church, Matthew 25 in the Parable of the Ten Virgins shows the church asleep—all ten were asleep, not just five of them. The parable specifically spotlights the virgins slumbering and sleeping at the time of the end, and it happened in the first century too, just before the destruction of the Temple, which was "an end."

It is an incongruity that seems almost impossible to believe. With all this excitement going on, instead of being stirred up to press on toward the Kingdom of God, the church instead—many of them anyway—were doing what the Thessalonians were doing, just waiting it out. Not everybody did that, and it is a good thing or Christianity would have died out.

The apostles were certainly stirred up. There is no doubt about it because they wrote about it. These people were doing exactly what the apostles were warning them of: They were walking after their own lusts or desires.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Don't Be a Prudent Agnostic


 

1 John 2:16  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The apostle John notes three powerful pulls that must be controlled. These, he says, are not of the Father but of the world, therefore they are not part of the standard that we must strive to live according to. If we follow them, we will continue to be conformed to the world.

Our eyes make us the recipients of a multitude of impressions. Many of them can excite us to desire something evil, and if we are complacent, we can be trapped in a sin almost without thinking. That is precisely the problem! We must be thinking to control what we have power and responsibility over and turn from such things as if a hot poker were about to be jabbed into our eyes! When Joseph was about to be lured into sin, he ran, controlling his own part in that unfolding drama (Genesis 39:11-12).

The body and mind possess appetites and needs that can easily lead to sinful excesses if not controlled. They can lead any of us away in a hundred different directions from the supreme devotion to Him that He desires for our good. Note the senseless luxury of this present generation, the exaggerated care of the physical body, and the intemperance in eating and drinking, which are a curse and shame on America! Our culture has molded us to seek ample provision for the flesh and material comforts far beyond our needs, drowning the spirit and producing needless anxieties. We have to learn to subordinate the drive to satisfy these insatiable appetites so they do not master us and lead us into sin.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fruit of the Spirit: Self-Control


 

Find more Bible verses about Desire:
Desire {Nave's}
 




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