Are you discouraged that God hasn’t changed your sinful desires yet? You want to do what’s right and you’re willing for God to change you, so why hasn’t He?
It can be painfully frustrating to keep repeating sins you don’t want to anymore. It can be painfully difficult to keep wanting sins you don’t want to want anymore. Why doesn’t God just snap His fingers and change your behaviors? Why doesn’t God just snap His fingers and change your wants? Wouldn’t it be better for all of us and wouldn’t it bring Him so much more glory if He did?
Maybe you’ve cried out, “God, if you love me, why won’t you just change me?”
I can relate, but I’m coming to believe that it is precisely because of love that God does not often snap His fingers and change us. It is precisely because you are so important to Him that He does not remove all our temptations.
Our choice must remain fully in tact in order for us to be able to love. Love is not truly love if it just happens automatically without choice. For God to create creatures who automatically adored Him and could not do otherwise would be for Him to create creatures incapable of giving themselves freely, and so incapable of truly loving.
C.S. Lewis put it this way:
“But the obedience which [God] demands of men is quite a different thing. One must face the fact that all the talk about His love for men, and His service being perfect freedom, is…truth. He really does want to fill the universe with…creatures whose life, on its miniature scale, will be qualitatively like His own, not because He has absorbed them but because their wills freely conform to His.”
In other words, if God were to simply make your will His will, if He were to assimilate your freedom into Himself, you would no longer be free to choose Him or not. God desires you would love Him and choose Him, and this means leaving your will in tact, and thus able to choose other lovers. We recognize the importance of this in human relationships, don’t we? For God to suddenly remove from us every competing desire would not be too dissimilar to a man drugging another person so the second person will “give” themselves to him. Without actual freedom to say no, yes is not yes.
Where the world says that love makes the choosing easy, God’s Word teaches that love is both revealed and forged when the choosing is most difficult.
“If God is not changing my desires, then I am not to blame if I go on sinning,” someone might say. No, no. You are free to go on sinning, but this does not make you blameless if you go on sinning. Just as importantly, where God leaves you free to say no to him, other gods do not. Say yes to them enough and they will enslave your will.
Even still, God is not leaving you alone to deal with temptation. He is present and daily sharing the strength of His yes with you. As you freely say yes to Him and no to sin, the purity of your love grows stronger day by day.
Our team is here to cheer you on and help along the way. Let us know if we can.
One Sunday night before school 50 years ago, in early 1968, my angry, abusive father kicked my locked bedroom door down and wrestled me, his terrified 15-year-old son, down to the floor. He was offended that I spent so much time alone in there, and demanded that l leave my bedroom door open from now on. Much later in life, I discovered that a few months before this, he had been caught behind another bedroom door in an adulterous relationship by the woman’s husband, and that’s why he had come home from a business trip hospitalized with a badly fractured arm and distraught to the point of weeping because he had disgraced himself and jeopardized his career. This was presented to me and my brother with, “Boys, Daddy’s had a bad accident in Florida. We have to drive to the hospital now to go see him.” He was out of control and taking his pain out on me, like it was my fault, and I wondered at the time if part of it was my fault.
48 years after that horrible Sunday night in January of 1968, on a Sunday morning in January of 2016, in the privacy of another bedroom, I prayed to my Father in heaven and asked him to tell my deceased parents:
Mother and Daddy, I love you, I forgive you and I look forward so much to our being together again in the resurrection. I release you from the obligation to try and pay me back or to make amends somehow. Yes, it was wrong, but we were all wrong, and now Jesus has already taken of all of that on his cross.
Jesus didn’t kick my door down. He stood outside and knocked, and called to me with words of loving reassurance. He waited kindly and patiently until I was ready to open the door and let him in. He showed me what fatherly love was really all about, and waited as long as it took for me to freely respond to him.
And that’s why I’m sure now that I have the free choice to love you and forgive you, Mother and Daddy. We were all slaves to fear and hatred until Jesus set us free.
And his command to set the captives free is like charity: it begins at home, with those you love the most. And I know that nothing would please and honor my Father more than to use my freedom to help set you free, too. Amen. — Weber
Amen. Thanks Josh.
Wow! This is really helpful and aptly timed for my wife and me.
Thank you Josh, your insightful and eloquent writings are a service. It’s easy to understand how a person could feel defeated by the presence of these seemingly natural tendencies that persist. What makes it a unique challenge I think, is that it seems to be innate. As such there is no way to separate oneself…only to withstand, control, and cope. As you mentioned, a person may often plea with God to take it away or help them overcome it. Yet the fact that he’s allowed it to begin with, is cause for one to wonder why. Surely God would not allow for anything that wouldn’t ultimately help us. At times when feeling resentful, I’ve thought of afflictions that could cause similar distress. That of those who have serious or debilitating illnesses, physical or mental limitations. Would they accuse God of trying to thwart them? Maybe. Although it seems there are many with those challenges who seem to respond empowered and inspired to strive for greatness. And in addition they’re gracious! So I would want to respond in like kind. Many saints had afflictions whether they were physical or spiritual challenges. For some they remained their lifelong. Yet they remained faithful clinging to God – fighting, striving, and because of this grew in holiness. And God loved them as He does us, in our highs and lows, because we continue to turn to Him.
I’m sorry I realized after the fact my comments aren’t clear without stating I was speaking in reference to same sex attraction. I was referred by another ministry group and the focus of this group is more broad. I assumed at first they we’re the same.
Sometimes apart from the temptations that can arise from these tendencies, I struggle with discouragement from the implications that it can have for a person’s life. Relationship is an important part of life, and a desire for more intimate companionship is natural. So considering the call to celibacy person’s with this tendency have, along with others of single and religious vocations, it is a serious lifelong commitment. Undoubtedly it will greatly effect the shape life takes for that individual.
Yet I think it should be seen as an invitation to remain with God, to be God’s alone in terms of intimate relationship. If one is faithful to God and maintains purity in light of these tendencies, they can consider themselves truly blessed and preserved by Him. Something thought to be an affliction can give rise to exultation. My road has been rough thus far. I’ve often fallen into temptation and sin, erred in my thinking and emotional responses, but to fulfill what I’ve mentioned above is my hope and my goal.