I have recognized over the past week that when I see the word “SALE!’ attached to something I want, I am extremely tempted to be self-indulgent. Following in the footsteps of my Mom, I’m the shopper who is rarely if ever tempted by anything that is full price, but if you put the ‘sale’ ticket on it, I’ve found it can be difficult (sometimes it seems almost ‘impossible’!) for me to resist. Whether I need it or not. Maybe that’s not your issue, but my guess is that you too often find yourself being self-indulgent rather than self-controlled.
We live in a culture that promotes and rewards self-indulgence: America’s motto for today seems to be, “If it feels good, do it! And don’t judge me for anything I do!” According to Webster’s dictionary, to indulge means, “to yield to the gratification or practice of habit without restraint or control”. Virtually every advertisement entices us to indulge ourselves, to satisfy our every sensual urge. Obesity statistics and bulging waistlines reveal that we indulge in food. Most Americans’ lives are consumed and satiated with sports, TV, movies, Facebook,Youtube, Instagram and a myriad of other forms of entertainment that ‘feed our flesh’. The indebtedness of the vast majority of Americans and their families is indicative that we are a culture that indulges ourselves with ‘more and better’ things that we falsely think will enhance our lives. Our culture’s addiction to alcohol and illegal as well as prescription drugs is also symptomatic of our desire to avoid any kind of pain and indulge in whatever seems to give us pleasure—even if the pleasure is momentary. The whole sexual ‘revolution’– including the increasing ‘normalization’ of promiscuity, adultery, homosexual sex, bi-sexual sex, and now each person supposedly ‘choosing’ the sex he or she ‘feels’ they should be (or to be no sex at all)— also testifies to our nation’s grave sin of self-indulgence.
We are a culture consumed with pursuing whatever we ‘feel’ will make us happy, and we resent anyone trying to restrain us from indulging in what we want, when we want it. At the heart of this are three erroneous and deceptive assumptions: (1) that life is all about me (2) that my happiness is the ultimate goal in life (3) that happiness comes from yielding to my selfish desires.
Thankfully, God’s Word gives us the truth that can set us free from these gross deceptions, and it instructs us in righteous living so we can experience the truly joyous life God longs for us to have!
1) We will have true joy when we comprehend the reality that we were not put on the earth for our pleasure but we were created for the glory and pleasure of Almighty God.
…everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” Isaiah 43:7 Isaiah 43:7 ESV
Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created. Revelation 4:11 KJV
2) We will have true joy when we seek to accomplish the goals that God has entrusted to us rather than seeking temporary, fleeting ‘happiness’ through gratifying our selfish desires.
For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance as our way of life. Ephesians 2:10 Berean Study Bible
We will have true joy– when we know God and experience intimate fellowship with Him.
And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. John 17:3 ESV
God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. 1st Corinthians 1:9 ESV
We will have true joy when we learn to fear Him (revere and worship Him) and to follow the commandments that He gave to us for our good and for the glory of His Name.
Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. Ecclesiastes 12:13 NIV
We will have true joy as we are conformed to His holy image, which can only be done through the power of the Holy Spirit at work in all those who believe in and trust in Jesus and His atoning sacrifice on the cross.
For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. Romans 8:29 ESV
As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy. 1st Peter 1:14-16 ESV
We will have true joy when we serve as ambassadors for Christ who preach the good news of the gospel and go and make disciples.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. 2nd Corinthians 5:17-20a ESV
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. Matthew 28:19-20 ESV
While we are on this earth, we are to remember that we are merely sojourners here so we will keep our focus upon God and the eternal purpose and works that He has entrusted to us that lead to true joy, not upon the temporary, fleeting pleasures of this world.
Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. 1st Peter 2:11 ESV
[looking away from all that will distract us and] focusing our eyes on Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of faith [the first incentive for our belief and the One who brings our faith to maturity], who for the joy [of accomplishing the goal] set before Him endured the cross, disregarding the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God [revealing His deity, His authority, and the completion of His work]. Hebrews 12:2 AMP
…as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. 2nd Corinthians 4:8 ESV
3) We will have true joy– as well as peace, abundant and eternal life– when we live in accordance with God’s will, which is characterized by self-control and abstaining from rather than indulging in the selfish desires of our flesh.
Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? Romans 6:16 ESV
For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. Romans 8:6-8 ESV
…for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. Romans 8:13
The true joy that every soul longs to have is found in a relationship with and in the Presence of our Holy God–Who promises to make Himself known to all who seek after Him (Jeremiah 29:13)!
You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11 ESV
If you are not experiencing the joyous life God created you to have, ask the Holy Spirit to convict you of any area in your life where you are seeking to satisfy your selfish desires rather than to satisfy God’s perfect desires for your life.
Lord, thank You for Your Word which is truth, and for loving me so much that You made it possible for me to experience a truly joyous, abundant life here on earth, as well as giving me the assurance of an eternity in Your glorious Presence! Keep my eyes fixed upon You, Your desires, and eternity, and may my desire always and only be to please and glorify You!
Written by Julie Van Gorp