Guided by God Instead of Our Desires
“Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool,
but he who walks in wisdom
will be delivered.”
The natural person in all of us believes that it is right and good to be guided by the self within us, being guided by our desires, ideas, ambitions, and willpower. Yet the Bible teaches us that being guided in such a way will actually destroy us, and that it is only being guided by God, the great wisdom of His Word and the voice of His Spirit, that will deliver us.
Within the natural mind we will think such claims of God to be extreme, but this is because we do not yet see just how much our ideas, desires, and ambitions are in contradiction to Him. And that anything within our lives, however much we desire it, delight in it, or pursue it, the qualifier of all things is if it is in contradiction to God or is in submission to His will. All things that are in contradiction to His will are sin, and these sins will destroy us, no matter how good or “tasteful” they appear to us (Psalm 119:118). Until the Lord confronts us and begins to show us the corruption in our thinking, we do not understand how true this is about sin, nor that the great need of all of us is to have the greater ruling of God over our lives, and not to be governed by our desires or ideas.
We do not see that we can desire things with great enthusiasm and yet those things are sinful and wrong (Prov 14:12). Often, where we should choose to forgo our own desires, we instead choose to forgo God’s law. And this is the contrast to all our desires and choices.
To give some examples here of this contrast:
I can desire a certain romantic relationship and yet my desires are not necessarily pure—there are still the laws of what is right and wrong within all romantic relations. Failing to accept these means that I can become very convinced of my desire’s worth, and follow these desires in opposition to God’s law, thinking that I wouldn’t want it as much if it were truly wrong. And yet how many of us have gone into these romantic relationships only to feel at the end that they weren’t worth it? But at the start we allowed our desires to so fully convince us of pursuing it, and shunned all of God’s laws for such desires.
With another example, I can have many ideas about what is going to make a positive difference in the world, perhaps about helping struggling young people. I might give myself fully to working at youth centers, believing my ideas about what is good for them will give them a better life. But not all ideas, however right they look to us, are actually good. This is because all charity must be in line with God's will, and yet far too many think that they can carry out their own versions in their own thinking and efforts. What am I truly bringing to these young people from the Lord, rather than from my own morals? Am I contending in prayer for them and maintaining a strong personal walk with the Lord above all my serving, or does that fall to the wayside because I am so busy doing the work I have decided is good? We miss that if our ideas are not in line with what God teaches is good, then they will not yield true goodness. Yet how many of us have run hard after an idea only to find that it did not yield to us what we thought that it would? We find ourselves empty and exhausted and find that things haven’t changed at all and might actually even be worse than before we started. We trusted in our ideas, not ensuring they are governed by God’s Word, and they misled us.
As another example, I can have many ambitions about things, but again, ambition is not sacred. It must be directed by what God’s Word teaches us about where to place ambition: after His Kingdom, after humble and righteous living before God and man, leaving no room for selfish ambition. And yet how many countless people trust in their ambitions, thinking that if they run after these it will yield them all their hearts desires? Refusing to be told where to place their ambitions and what their ambitions must be governed by, they give themselves to whatever they wish. There are numerous ways people do this today, running after their “dreams” as the world tells them to, their careers, some fame, etc. They trust in their desires, their ideas, their ambitions, and do not submit to the truth that all of these things must be governed by a higher authority, God’s Word. Failing to do so means we will destroy ourselves with the very things we believed would save us.
When we’re up close with our desires, ideas, and ambitions, it is very easy to be convinced of them. Very easy. And it can seem to be almost impossible to turn away from such things, because our desires, ideas, and ambitions fill our whole heart. But the work of true religion shows us how we are to be governed by something greater, the authority of God. That only God has any right to rule us, and even our desires, whatever is in contradiction to God, must be subdued in obedience to Him. And that the pathway forward is to see where our desires and thinking are in contradiction to God, and resist them, rather than continue to resist God’s law.
When we see that our desires are simply in contradiction to God’s Word, we can begin to distrust our desires in favor of trusting God instead. We will begin to see what is of God, and the joyous work He lays before us, that this is not a miserable work, but the very work of life and light! This is the work of true religion, to bring us into this government of God, controlling all within us under the Truth and freeing us to what is full of God. We give the Lord place to reign over the whole self, bringing it into submission to Christ.
When we choose our desires instead of God’s law, we are taught in Jude what this really means: “But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively.” (Jude 1:10) We are told that we live in ignorance, living like an irrational animal, and by this we are destroyed.
The great work of Christ in this world is to raise us up out of this self trust, and to bring us into submission to Him—into surrender based on the understanding that He is God and we do not have His wisdom. Just like Nebuchadnezzar was restored from wandering about like a wild animal (Daniel 4:34), so we are restored to God, lifted out our filth of sin and all our cravings after it, and given again a sound mind, a self control over our bodies, and a pure heart, all being governed again by God in holiness and godliness (2 Pet 3:11). This is the great dignity we were created to have.
To be so commanded in how to live can seem wrong to our minds, but again it is because we do not understand who God is, how much He loves and respects every one of us, and that His commands are life, not death.
We are mere children compared to the Lord. As we trust Him, we will begin to understand and develop His wisdom (Ps 119:104), but it does not begin that way, nor does it happen without our engagement. There is no shame in this unless we continue to insist we know better. The Lord desires that we would be delivered, and walk in wisdom, and He gives wisdom freely without shaming us for asking (James 1:5). But we must make the choice to ask, and to make that asking the way of our whole lives.
The pathway to this restoration is in Christ. It is to turn from trusting in our own selves, and to give ourselves entirely over to Him. Christ is our great redemption! May the Lord open all of our hearts to Him.
October 30, 2021