Sarah and her husband, Chris, recently had the incredible experience of purchasing a new home, and they couldn't believe the many blessings that came their way throughout the process. From finding a wheelchair-accessible house to trusting God in providing the perfect space for their needs, it's been quite the adventure. But life isn't always smooth sailing – temptation often rears its ugly head, and let's face it, we're not always as strong as we think we are. In this episode, Sarah shares her personal struggles with temptation and discusses a fascinating study from Northwestern University that reveals just how bad we are at anticipating the power of our urges.
The battle between flesh and spirit is real, and we're here to help you navigate it. Join us as we dive into the Holy Spirit's transformative power, setting us free from our base desires and guiding us toward our deepest longings. As we continue our series on the Holy Spirit, we invite you to ponder your own truest desires and consider how a life led by the Spirit can bring about the greatest freedom and fulfillment. So, are you ready to discover your heart's deepest desires and experience the freedom that comes with living the Jesus way? If so, tune in and let's explore this journey together.
Do you guys follow Stephen on social media or just pretend to? Because I noticed that he had like a low key brag a couple days ago. But how he? you know, first year of owning his house he did this And for second year I did this. Right, did you guys see that? I mean, he wouldn't have called it a brag. But let's be serious. Well, i'm going to brag a little bit too. Okay, i feel like it's just fair. He set the stage and I'm going to just follow. Follow his lead. But Chris and I got to buy our very first house about a year and a half ago and it was a challenge, you guys. The market stunk, it was terrible, and when you're shopping for houses with somebody in a wheelchair, you suddenly become very aware of the fact that most houses are not accessible without major renovations. So we had an extra layer of difficulty with that, and as we dreamed about what we needed and what we wanted, we got to see God show up and show off. We, we talked about all the things that Chris needed and he had this list of things that he wanted And, you know, everything was there. Almost everything was there, because God is so good, he's so kind to us And it was right down to the pear tree and the mulberry tree that Chris said he wanted to plant. We're already there And we didn't even know. At first It was great. And then we started dreaming even more about transforming our yard. This is the part Stephen was telling you guys about in advance. We started dreaming about transforming our yard into this little mini permaculture food forest And I did all kinds of crazy research and I made drawings and sketches and my favorite spreadsheets did a lot of those. And we agreed that the first summer we were there last summer we were just going to watch and see what happens in the yard. We're going to, you know, find out where the sunshine is and what's already there, and then we'll make real plans after that. And then we were like, okay, maybe a couple of things we'll put in right away, because things like trees take a while, right, so we'll get some of those main anchors in. So by the end of the summer I had planted 12 berry bushes, seven fruit trees, about 30 herbs and about 100 flowering plants. So, as you can see, we're really good at just seeing what comes up, right, but I have developed. In this process I realized I've developed a plant problem. They've kind of become a temptation for me of sorts. I mean, it's not like the plants themselves are bad or sinful, but I need to be careful, right, because I can easily overspend my money or my time on plants when I need to really be doing other things or spending time and money in other places. And I know I'm not alone. We all have battles of temptation at one time or another. And maybe plants aren't your temptation, but maybe it's getting a really good deal shopping. We have any good shoppers around here that you're like yeah, i got that 50% off, 75% off, right. Have you ever found yourself pulling into a store that you hadn't intend to go to just because they were having a really good sale? I have, especially if it's the plant place, right, they're having a sale, watch out. Or maybe yard sales or Facebook Marketplace is more your style. Sometimes people sell things that are like brand new or almost new, barely used, for like a little teeny fraction of what it's worth. But it's such a great deal. And maybe you find yourself saying something like it's never gonna be cheaper than it is right now. That's Chris's favorite line And I agree with him most of the time. It's great. Or maybe for you it's that next episode of your TV show, of your favorite TV show. You just wanna sit and relax and unwind from this hectic day. You had unplug, check out for a while. We all need that sometimes, but they always end the show with something that's like it's a cliffhanger. You need to know what happens next. So you just have to press, next, you have to, and then the next thing, you know what. You're a season and a half in and there's no point in doing the laundry now. Right, you might as well just say that until tomorrow. Whatever it is that you struggle with for temptation, it's safe to say that we all struggle with temptation. Some of us are better at resisting them than others. If you're a person that thinks you're really good at resisting temptations, you're probably wrong, sorry to tell you. There was a study that was done out of Northwestern University and it revealed that most of us have what is called restraint bias. Basically, that means that we tend to overestimate our how much self-control we have when we face temptation. They ran a series of experiments where college students were placed into tempting situations to smoke, to eat junk food, to skip studying for the day, and what they found was that those who were most confident about their ability to resist were the most likely to give in, they concluded. People are not good at anticipating the power of their urges, and those who are the most confident about their level or about their self-control are the most likely to give into temptation Yikes. So we all know what it's like to give in, to lose that battle of willpower, and I'm not sure what exactly temptation it was that Paul was facing. But he really seems to understand this battle of the will when he writes this in Romans 7.15. I do not understand what I do, for what I want to do, i do not do, but what I hate, i do. No, this might be the most relatable thing Paul ever said, Am I right? It is so relatable. We all feel that struggle between what we want to do and what we actually do. We want to spend time with God, but we're constantly hitting the snooze button At least I am, until my cat bites me because he doesn't like the snooze. We want to be kind, but we use harsh words. That's Stephen's favorite, right? Yeah, i'm just gonna call him out today. The rest of you are safe, just so you know. We want to lose weight, but we make wrong food choices. We want to honor our spouse but we consume pornography. We want to stay sober but we pour another drink. Does anyone relate to those kind of battles? I think we all do in one way or another. But what if I told you that there is someone that wants to walk with us through these battles and lead us to a place of freedom? Wasn't that sound great? Wouldn't you want that kind of help? Because that's exactly the role the Holy Spirit wants to play in our lives. Today puts us in the second week of the series on the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is a divine person, a member of the Trinity. Yet for many of us, the Holy Spirit is mysterious and unknown. Many of us can easily wrap our minds around the concept of God as father creator, the one who reigns over all, and we can understand Jesus. He's the one who walked among us. He's the God who became flesh, our Savior, our King. But the Holy Spirit I mean. For many of us, we're just not sure how to relate to the Holy Spirit. We're not sure what the Holy Spirit even does. So this is an important series and we're exploring who the Holy Spirit wants to be in our lives and the role the Holy Spirit wants to play. So today we're gonna explore further how the Holy Spirit desires to help us in these battles. It's a reality of life, right, we all face the I do not do what I want to do kind of battles. That's just how it is here. The late Anthony Bourdain, who tragically died from suicide, described the battle this way. He said look, i understand that, that inside me there is a greedy, gluttonous, lazy hippie. You know, i understand that There's a guy inside me who wants to lay in bed and smoke all day and watch cartoons and old movies. I could easily do that. My whole life is a series of stratagens to avoid and outwit that guy. So Bourdain is describing the struggle to tame what Paul calls the cravings of the flesh. And he says in Ephesians 2-3, all of us who lived among them at one time gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. So flesh is a weird word. We don't use it very much in the way that biblical writers used it. When Paul speaks of flesh, he's talking about the natural cravings that we can feel, those desires to be greedy or gluttonous and lazy, like Anthony Bourdain was talking about, and we all have them. Author John Mark Comer describes the flesh this way Basically, it's our base, primal, animalistic drives for self-gratification, especially pertaining to sensuality, as in sex and food, but also to pleasure in general, as well as our instincts for survival, domination and the need for control. So the cravings of the flesh are often our strongest desires. We want to satisfy them, and we want to satisfy them right now. We think that they will bring us what we want, but there's an important distinction that is crucial for us to understand today Our strongest desires are not our deepest desires. Okay, so that's really important. So I'm going to say it again Our strongest desires are not our deepest desires. So let me explain what I mean. What we feel in that moment, when there's a piece of cake or a link on a website, a bottle of vodka all sitting before us, is the raging desire of our flesh, and those desires are strong. Often they're the strongest desires that we feel, but they're not actually our deepest, truest desires. We might feel a strong desire to eat a piece of cake, to indulge our appetite, to drown our sorrows, to celebrate a win, but our deeper desire is to be healthy, to feel well physically, to steward the body we've been given well, so that it performs over the long haul. We might feel a strong desire to click on the link on the webpage to indulge our lust, but our deeper desire is to experience intimate, committed relationships that bring a deep sense of fulfillment to our lives. We might feel a strong desire to pour another glass of vodka to indulge our desire for relief, but our deepest desire is to live in a way that is mentally, emotionally and spiritually well, so that we can make a meaningful contribution to the world. Our strongest desires are a counterfeit, but they offer just enough satisfaction to trick us into thinking that they will satisfy. Sometimes these strongest desires are just a degree or two off from our deepest desires. That's why they can be so compelling. They're so close, but just a degree or two off can take us really far off course. So I already asked you guys if you follow Stephen on social media. But did you guys know that he just wrote a book? He did. He didn't ask me to bring this up, i swear, but he posted something this week and it fits really well here. So he posted the first page of his book. It hasn't been released yet, so look forward to that later, but I wanted to share it because it fits really well with what I'm saying here. If you've read it, not sorry, you're going to hear it again. If you haven't now, you can pretend you have read. It, isn't that great? So it says this in 1979, an airplane carrying 257 people for more than a half a dozen different countries left Auckland, new Zealand, for a sightseeing trip to Antarctica. These day trips were both relatively new to the public and very expensive. This was long before people could access live satellite images of the southern pole in high resolution photos and videos in a device that fits in their pocket. It was the first time Captain Jim Collins and his co-pilot Greg Cassin made this flight. However, both were sufficiently experienced and qualified. Tragically, neither of them knew that there was a two degree error in the flight plan They were given the morning of the trip. Those incorrect coordinates placed them 28 miles to the east of where Collins and Kaysen thought they would be, unknowingly headed directly toward a 12,000 foot volcano. The pilots descended the plane to an altitude of 2,000 feet to give the passengers a better view of the landscape. The clouds in the sky blended with the snow on the ground so that neither pilot could tell the difference between the two. Not long after that, the plane crashed to the side of Mount Erebus I think is how you say it and everyone on board was killed instantly. I don't know how that relates to his book, but it really relates here, doesn't it? This was a tragedy that was brought on by just a very minor error. It was a two degree difference and people's lives were lost. Our strongest desires are often just a couple degrees off from our deepest desires, but allowing ourselves to be guided by them can be disastrous, and that is why we need the Holy Spirit. One of the roles the Holy Spirit wants to play in our lives is to guide us to our deepest desires. The Holy Spirit wants to walk with us through the battles of our flesh and lead us to a place of freedom. This is why Paul begins Galatians 5, which is a section about our flesh and the Holy Spirit, and he starts it with these words it is for freedom that Christ has set us free. The Holy Spirit wants us to experience freedom. We often confuse freedom with the ability to do with whatever we want. It's the story that our culture tells us, so we come by that honestly. But we are encouraged to pursue our strongest desires. Our world tells us if it feels good, do it. And yet the irony of pursuing our strongest desires is what initially might feel like freedom ultimately enslaves us Again. In Galatians 5, paul tells us that when we follow the desires of our sinful nature, the results are super clear. The pursuit leads to things like sexual immorality, hostility, quarreling, outbursts of anger, division. Think about how many relationships have been destroyed because one or both people thought that they should be free to do whatever they wanted. This false sense of freedom leads us to all kinds of dysfunction. Paul warns us against this in Galatians 5, 15 when he says But if you are always biting and devouring one another, watch out, beware of destroying one another. The consequences for us today are the same as they were for the Galatians back then. The works of the flesh destroy unity and community. This leads to a life that is opposite of the freedom that the Holy Spirit wants us to experience. In fact, indulging in sinful nature leads to death rather than life. If the freedom that Paul spoke about isn't about doing whatever we want, if it isn't about pursuing our strongest desires, then what is it about? What is it for Well for the Jesus follower. True freedom is found in our identity as a child of God. Jesus made a way for us to be in a right relationship with God and with each other, and it is out of that identity that we can experience freedom for higher purpose than being slaves to our flesh. Here's how Paul explains it in Galatians 5, 13. For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters, but do not use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. True freedom is for love. To be truly free is to be led by the Holy Spirit to a new way of life. It's a way of life that isn't marked with sexual immorality and hostility, quarreling, outbursts of anger or division. Instead, we can see in Galatians 5, 22 through 23 that we can allow the Holy Spirit to lead us to a life that's characterized by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. This is where the Holy Spirit wants to lead us. The Holy Spirit wants to lead us away from the bondage of slavery to our strongest desires, so that we can experience our deepest desires The desires for love, intimacy, health, wholeness, purpose. Allowing the Holy Spirit to direct our lives is opposite of indulging in the sinful desires of our flesh. In fact, constraint can actually be a part of experiencing true freedom. We will have to say no to some things in order to say yes to the best things. In the recovery world, something that I hear about time and time again is about the freedom that comes from recovery. I mean sure it's great to have the ability to spend quality time with loved ones, to be able to keep your finances sorted properly, and all the health benefits that come from not using substances regularly. That's all great, but people most talk about the fact that the substance, or multiple substances, that they were once slaves to no longer have that death grip on them. In recovery, they have freedom, freedom to say no to that substance, freedom to say no to that substance that lets them say yes to family and friends, let's them say yes to controlling their finances and health in a whole new way that they once found impossible. True freedom releases us from the bondage of the desires of our flesh and into the freedom to live in true freedom, like Paul tells us about in Galatians 5, 16,. He says So I say walk by the spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. And he also says in verse 25, since we live by the spirit, let us keep and step with the spirit. So walk by the spirit, live by the spirit, keep and step with the spirit. And these verses Paul makes it clear that in order to live in true freedom, we need the Holy Spirit. A life of true freedom isn't something that we can just accomplish ourselves, through changing our behavior or trying really hard with our own strength. It's empowered by the Holy Spirit. Living by the Spirit is about inviting the Holy Spirit into our daily battles, into our daily battles of desire. It's about following the Holy Spirit who wants to lead us in the way of Jesus. It means inviting the transforming work of the Holy Spirit into every area of our life so that the Holy Spirit can lead us out of slavery and into freedom. So perhaps you joined us today. Maybe you're feeling tired or discouraged. Maybe you've been looking for freedom in all the places that the culture tells us that we can find it, but you're still coming up short. Well, you don't have to settle. You don't have to settle for the empty promises of finding fulfillment by indulging in the desires of your flesh When we allow the Holy Spirit to guide and direct our lives, we will experience the love, the power and the true freedom that can only be found through complete dependence on God. The Holy Spirit wants to guide us, to take us to our deepest desires. So I would really like for you guys to have a chance to put this to real use, because otherwise, we're coming here and we're listening, right, we're not actually doing anything with it, you go away and you forget, and then by Tuesday afternoon you're like I don't even remember what they said. It was great, right. We don't want that. So if you have your phone with you, maybe you want to open your notes app. Or if you have a piece of paper I know everybody has a pen right at somewhere right on the cover of that Bible rip the cover, i don't know, but find a place that you can make a note. So while while you're doing that, i want you to remember that our deepest desires are where we experience true freedom. So I'm going to ask you what are your deepest desires? They love intimacy, health, wholeness, purpose. I'm going to take a brief pause for just a minute and let the Holy Spirit remind you what your deepest desires are and just take it, take this little bitty time and put it in there. I'm not going to ask you to share it. This is for you, okay, so we'll just. We'll just wait for a minute, all right, most of you were pretty in tune with what your deepest desires are, so you didn't need a ton of time. But if you are still writing or typing, feel free to go ahead. I don't know what your deepest desires are, what. What immediately came to your mind. My guess is they were things like love, healing, togetherness, joy, things like that, and these words paint a beautiful picture of life and community transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit. It's a better way that leads to life and wholeness. The Holy Spirit wants to set us free, to lead us out of the slavery of our sin and into the freedom of living the Jesus way, jesus's way of flourishing. To quote Paul one more time, he said it is for freedom that Christ has set us free, and it is my prayer that, as you go through this week and the rest of this month even, that you start to experience that freedom, that you invite the Holy Spirit into your situation and their lives, so that the Holy Spirit can transform your life and set you free.