Monday, April 21, 2008

From the Inside Out

At church, Justin's been going through 1 John. Yesterday, we looked at verses 15-17. It talks about the things of the world, and specifically mentions desire of the flesh, desire of the eyes, and pride in possessions. It seems like an easily--or maybe simply would be a better word--applied idea: don't love those things. The carnal desires of excess of food, drink, sex. The lustful desires and covetousness. The boasting of what we have and do. But Justin looked a little deeper than that. If you look at all three things that John lists that are of the world, they are all internal.
Desires, lust, pride all start from within. It's easy to see how they manifest themselves in our everyday lives, and condemn that, but really all that does is extinguish the fire while leaving the flame burning.

John is really repeating what Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, when he talked about lust being the same as adultery and hatred being equivalent to murder. It all makes sense if you think about it. That act of adultery started somewhere; it didn't just spring up and happen. The lust was where it started. And nobody kills without first hating. The physical acts that we do are only products of the tainted heart. This has really got me thinking about how I pray. A lot of time my prayers follow the template of "Dear, Lord, help me, this person, and that person to stop giving in to this temptation," or "Jesus, help us stop sinning." While it is a good thing to flee temptation and to not sin, that's missing the point. My prayer should be, "God, change my heart and my mind to be like Yours: to hate sin, to want to see people glorify You, to love." Out of these changes will flow the deeds that we desire to do. We need to be praying for the changed heart if we want to see the changed man.

"I the LORD search the heart
and test the mind,
to give every man according to his ways,
according to the fruit of his deeds."
-Jeremiah 17:10