There is an old expression that says anything worth doing is worth overdoing, and if you enjoy it, all the better. These are the pleasures we enjoy, the ones that are not burdens upon our time, but things that we willingly participate in and give our time to. They are, in a sense for many, the things in life that they look forward to. They are not looked at as the necessities of daily life, the items that must be accomplished for the normalcy of our existence to continue, but as the pleasures of life, the things that make the rest of life worth living.
Many try to experience these things as often as possible, they become habits, as it were, occurring more than just when it is possible to enjoy them but actually setting times during the day or week to add them into our schedules. In other words, we try to make the pleasurable happen as often as we can, they become a habit, and as with any habit, that can be either beneficial or detrimental to us. These habits can become a master to us, they will not only direct our lives, or at least a part of it, but can take us to where we thought we would never go, places when we first began them that were unthinkable to us.
Which direction shall we go here my friends, for though I am not exactly a mind reader, it is not difficult for me to see the thoughts that just entered your mind, both of the lost and the saved. The lost man, when he first notices the pretty girl walking down the street, and takes a second glance, hoping his wife does not notice, never envisions that just a few short months later he will be sleeping on the couch or even in a motel room, still refusing to believe that he was led so easily into the deceit and lies of pornography. Do not deceive yourself, many marriages of loving Christ centered couples have been destroyed because of this first step of lust, unable to trust in each other in the one place where they should be the most intimate with each other.
Or perhaps we could look at the born-again believer whose greatest pleasure is prayer, seeking the face of our Lord not only daily, but nearly every moment. This pleasure has become a habit that brings joy to his heart, he seeks the Lords presence at every opportunity, his greatest pleasure has become a habit that each time it occurs is fresh and new.
Most generally though this is not the case, our pleasures become unhealthy habits, and in searching for them constantly we find that there is an ever increasing craving for them, that it requires more each time to bring about the same response we had when we first began them. More of the same will not fulfil what we once experienced when we began on the path of pleasure, repetition is not the answer, an advancement of the pleasure must be sought for, something different from last time. The habit has brought with it something that we were not prepared for, an ever-increasing craving and an ever-diminishing pleasure response.
And herein is the main topic of this letter to you, we are never satisfied. The excitement level needs to be increased each time, even if just by the smallest amount, the enthusiasms of the past instances are just not quite enough to fulfil what we think we need this time. This is not just an incident that the lost experience, but nearly all of mankind, we are all creatures of needs and wants, and we all, for the most part, want our wants to be pleasurable. It is that continuing pleasure, the need for more, that becomes our downfall many times, what once was enough comes nowhere near what is now necessary to make the experience pleasurable. The same needs to be modified or increased.
“I said in my heart, go to now, I will prove thee with mirth, therefore enjoy pleasure: and behold, this also is vanity.” (Eccl. 2:1) There is one man that knew above all how to search for pleasure, at least under the sun, and he found it all to be vanity and vexation of spirit. He, as many of us do, are nearly always searching for the next new thing, that item of desire that will bring pleasure to our lives again, for the last one is now old and well worn, even if it just arrived yesterday. So it is with the pleasures we have that have become habits, habits that need an ever increasing advancement of either participation or excitement to increase our arousal of what it was we felt before. Think of the alcoholic, there was a time that he needed only one drink.
The emotions that are not kept in check will begin to control us, and we will usually fall into the trap that we have set for ourselves. There is a helper in every believer that assists us in the continuing progression of these unchecked desires, and that is the Holy Spirit, but my how well versed we are at learning how to not listen to Him. These ever -increasing desires pull at us, they proclaim that the momentary happiness of the moment will be worth it, they promise a reprieve when they are accomplished, but then they return, many times with a vengeance. The pleasure has become a habit and is all compelling, and each time it only requires just a little bit more of us.
These pleasures of sin (Heb. 11:25) are only seen as such by the children of God, those who have professed the name of Jesus as Lord, and as such are the most grievous. We know we are not to be doing what we are doing, we cry out to Him for help to end this incredible grip of pleasureless pleasure. The momentary fulfillment of the flesh draws us each time back to its lie, and we go willingly, and after each encounter, we cry out, we feel the burden of sin draining us, calling us again just as suddenly as it departed from us. Going a little deeper, traveling a little farther is easier that stopping suddenly, stopping brings pain, and pleasure is the goal.
In these letters to you I go in the direction that the Holy Spirit leads, and I am not surprised that in this instance He did not lead in the path of the habit of prayer. I do not know too many people who have the habit of prayer and see it as the most pleasurable thing in their life. I have met many, far too many that are trapped in the life of the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. The pleasures of the world draw them in slowly, never hurrying them, proceeding at a pace that makes it seem like a normal activity, something that is simply a passing of time, unobtrusive into the person that they believe themselves to be. It matters not whether it is pornography, food, clothing, money, the material object is of no concern to the adversary when it comes to the walk of the believer, as long as it draws them away from Christ, that is what he will do. And he need not continue long in his endeavors, a simple push in the right direction, and we will do the rest ourselves.
I do not think that I have ever met a brother or sister in Christ that has not fallen into this trap, though many will never admit it, I myself have been there, more than once. The problem is that we fear the reprisals of those we call our fellow Christians, we dare not ask them to assist us in our burdens because of what they make think of us if we speak to them of the trap that we have fallen into. One of the commandments of our Lord is that we are to bear each other’s burdens, this is not a suggestion, it is a commandment, but one of the things that we seem to fear above all others. Isn’t it amazing how we all go through the same things, to some extent or another, and yet will not speak to each other about them? “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (1st Cor. 10:13) Have you ever thought that the way to escape may be your brother in Christ?
An ever-increasing desire for an ever-diminishing pleasure. Prayer and supplication are the only answer, a broken and contrite heart our Lord will not despise, (Psalm 51:17) but you must be willing to suffer the withdrawal that comes with the desire to stop these habits that have pulled you away from a right relationship with Him. Do not think it will be easy, though I myself have been the recipient twice of habits that were removed that very moment, I am a walking miracle. Many times there will be pain, suffering and sorrow, and herein is where you must seek out a fellow believer who truly loves you, someone to stand with you, and fall on their face with you in true repentance if you fall again. You must pray for that person to come into your life and help you to be accountable to our Lord, in this you will be blessed, your brother or sister in Christ will be blessed, and the Lord our God will receive the glory.
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” (Rom. 12:1) The pleasures that await us in the kingdom of our Father cannot be compared to those we experience here. Only by replacing one habit with another can we find release from those things that are not pleasing to our Lord. Find your strength in the Word of God, seek His face in prayer each day, those things that are a burden to you now will begin to diminish, and the ever increasing pleasure of His presence in your life will be your one true joy, a habit you will seek to continue in each day.