Over two years ago, I wrote a blog post called “Life Is Best Lived Non-Natural.” I concluded the post like this:
Seek to live life non-naturally. Live it for the truths in the Word of God and for His glory. If you’re a believer, you’ve been changed by the gospel to live differently. Kill those natural desires, and seek after God’s way.
Out of all the posts I’ve written, this is one of the few that has stuck with me in a serious way.
As I approach getting married – a week from today – I’m learning that lesson more and more. We can’t just live by how we feel. We can’t just choose to do what might feel “natural,” mostly because what’s natural to us is often harmful. It’s called sin “nature,” a reflection of what is natural.
The Bible is chock full of stories of men and women who chose to do what came naturally to them and there were dire consequences. And it’s interesting because many of these stories start with something that is not bad, but because of natural inclinations of man, it goes bad:
- David seeing a naked Bathsheba on her roof (not a bad thing) and calling for her and sleeping with her, impregnating her, then causing her husband to be killed (2 Samuel 11)
- Peter eating with the Gentiles (not a bad thing), then eating with the Jews when they came around and shunning the Gentiles (Galatians 2)
- Noah building a vineyard (not a bad thing) and then getting drunk (Genesis 9)
- King Asa of Judah trying to defend his people (not a bad thing) but doesn’t trust God but man (2 Chronicles 16)
In each of those scenarios, a certain natural inclination of man led the character in question to pursue sinful behavior. For David, his lust over Bathsheba caused him to abandon his commitment to the Lord and eventually set Bathsheba’s husband up to be killed. For Peter, his fear of man’s opinion led to his hypocrisy, which led to many Jews being led astray, even a faithful servant such as Barnabas. For Noah, his apparent carnal desire for drink, plus the access to it, led to drunkenness and shame. For Asa, his lack of faith in God led to a separation between him and God.
In our own lives, we have to be careful about what we naturally desire. Because, as I’ve said on this blog many times, living by your feelings is a dangerous path. Feelings can be good and helpful things sometimes, but we cannot just take them at face value. We need to examine them, dig deep, do surgery on our feelings and inclinations. In the same way someone who is allergic to peanuts investigates foods before eating them, we need to investigate our feelings before we accept them as fact.
This applies to our lives on a regular basis. Just because we feel animosity towards our spouse doesn’t mean we abandon them. Just because we feel a desire for strong drink doesn’t mean we get wasted. Just because we lust after our co-worker doesn’t mean we follow up on that, potentially destroying marriages.
With my fiancée, soon-to-be wife, I can’t just let my feelings of fear or frustration lead to ditching the marriage, ditching the wedding, getting rid of what we’ve built so far. I can’t let a girl walking by distract me from my commitment to her. I can’t let my inkling towards laziness pull me away from serving her as I should.
Oh, so many times I want to, if I’m honest. So many times. But I need to remember my commitment to her. In a week, it’s a commitment before God and man. And that’s the real deal.
In the same way, my commitment to the Lord means I strive to reject the feelings and inclinations that lead me away from God, away from obedience, away from what might make me feel good in the moment but what will harm me for much longer. I am not perfect at this, and never will be. Thanks be to God that He did what is not natural for me, forgiving those who are His enemies and accepting those who reject Him.
It’s not easy. As I wrote in Part 1:
So we should just be able to do this, right? NOPE. It’s hard. It’s really hard. If fighting sin was easy, then it wouldn’t really be fighting; it would be more like walking through a bed of flowers, nothing, no real hindrance or obstacle. But killing the flesh, seeking righteousness, it’s hard.
Let’s walk through it. Let’s fight through it. Give it all we’ve got. Daily give ourselves over to the Lord and kill the flesh.
It’s worth every moment, every drop of sweat, every tear that falls, all the blood that’s shed.