Emotional maturity is a matter of coming to terms with our feelings, specifically our desires.
Welcome to “Inside The Cup Podcast” with Mike and Holly Walsh
Season 1: “How to Love Your Neighbor as Yourself”
Episode 9: “Freedom From Desire”
Only after developing some measure of spiritual maturity, which was discussed in Episode 8, are we are then ready to move on to emotional maturity. Emotional maturity is a matter of dealing with our feelings.
Mike and Holly introduce a specific type of feeling that the Bible addresses frequently, our desires, and they explain how our desires control our decisions and our choices more than we may be aware of. In fact, we are dominated or controlled by our desires, and deceived by the devil that we are actually getting what we want.
The way out of this trap is through the surrendered, and now Holy Spirit-empowered, human will. This is the function of the human will, to allow us a place to stand outside of our feelings and make decisions for what is good. And if we are going to love our neighbors as we love ourselves, we must cultivate the ability to choose for what is good, even if it goes against what we may want.
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Freedom From Desire | Episode 9, (07/07/22)
Season 1: How to Love Your Neighbor as Yourself
Holly: Welcome back to Inside The Cup Podcast. Last week we had a great discussion about spiritual maturity, and we defined spiritual maturity as “the degree that our spirit, or our will, is surrendered to God.” Choosing to think what God wants us to think about or changing our ideas. This week we’re going to be talking about desire, and emotional maturity.
Mike: And it’s only to the surrendered human will that you’re now ready to come to terms with your feelings, or your emotions, or your desires.
Holly: And just like we discussed with our ideas, our feelings have a strong role in our choices and the decisions we make. So, we’ll need to discuss our feelings. But that’s a big topic.
Mike: It is a big topic. And specifically, we’ll be talking about a type of feeling that the Bible has a lot to say on, desire. And the desires that we have have very strong influence over the decisions that we make and the actions or behaviors that come out of us.
Holly: So, let’s define desire.
Mike: So, this will be our definition that we use for desire, “desires are things that we want that appear to offer us something good, give us pleasure, or satisfy particular needs that we have.
Holly: Yeah, we may desire to get married, or live in the country, or eat pizza for lunch, or…
Mike: There’s all kinds of desires. So, we’re very familiar with desires. And they…they hold a strong influence over our behaviors. So, I mean, just think about this, it’s so easy to come up with practical examples of this. Something trivial like, you’ve really got it on your mind that you want…
Holly: A fruit smoothie from the smoothie place.
Mike: There you go, perfect. So, now that desire will have you thinking about that fruit smoothie and taking steps to prepare for action to go get that fruit smoothie. And if something doesn’t come in and interrupt or stop it, block that desire, you’ll be drinking a fruit smoothie because of that desire.
Holly: Yeah, you’re like checking your phone, “When did they open? I wonder if I could go there after I drop off the kids? I could order it online because they open at this time.” Or you find out it’s closed.
Mike: And now desire is not a bad thing, desire is a good thing. So, let’s get that out there first. I mean, if you…if you didn’t have desire for food, you know, you’d be in a real problem. So, God has designed us with desires and that is a good thing. But the problem now, for the human being, is we’re in this trap that we will discuss some more today, where we’re dominated by our desires, and they’re controlling our behavior more than we would like them to be.
Holly: And a desire for the wrong thing can have us locked. Restricting our freedom, or limiting our ability to even change.
Mike: The Bible talks about this system, they’re actually all…all three are conveniently laid out in Ephesians 2:1-3. The Bible talks about the flesh, the world, and the devil. “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts.”
Holly: So, that’s how we live in bondage to our desires.
Mike: We’re not even aware that’s the case, that we’re under this state of domination by our desires. So, let’s talk about these three things that Paul mentions: the flesh, the world, and the devil. So, the flesh, we talked about that last week, where it’s just natural human abilities apart from God. So, it’s what you’re able to do on your own, without God. That is the flesh. And the flesh isn’t bad. Desires aren’t bad, inherently in themselves, the flesh isn’t bad, inherently in itself. You can accomplish some pretty amazing things actually out of the flesh. But you don’t want to be living completely in terms of flesh, because that leaves God out of the picture.
Holly: And we talked about in the last episode. In the fall, our will has been turned over to our self-will, not God’s will. And we can be focused on satisfying our own self-interests, living in terms of the flesh, or what our flesh wants. What we want, which leads to death.
Mike: Yeah, living in terms of the flesh leads to death. But now the world, what is the world? I mean, we’re not talking about planet Earth here, when we’re talking about the world.
Holly: Or the nice globe my daughter has.
Mike: That’s not what we’re talking about biblically, with the world. So, the world is this system that has been developed over time that exists, all around us. It’s interwoven into our society, and it comes from generations of human beings living in the flesh, that have developed the system over time. And the world is of human origin, it’s not from God.
Holly: John describes the three things that make up the world, “For everything in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever” 1 John 2:16-17.
Mike: Yeah, so remember now, we’ve got the three things that have us locked into this system of desire. We’ve got the flesh, the world, and the devil. But now, if you think of the world, there’s three things that compose the world: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. And now the devil, the third thing that has us locked into this system, Satan, is the prince or the ruler of this world, this system that we’re living in here now. And what Satan does is, he’s trying to disrupt God’s project with human beings. And he uses the things of the world to tempt human beings that are living solely in terms of the flesh, to keep them trapped or stuck in this system of bondage.
Holly: Yeah, controlling our actions and fooling us that, we think we’re actually getting what we want.
Mike: Yeah, and we think we’re getting what we want. Where in reality, we’re being manipulated or controlled by Satan, through our desires.
Holly: Yeah, and we see this when Satan is tempting Jesus. He used these exact three things.
Mike: The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is exactly what shows up in his temptation of Jesus. It’s actually the same three things that showed up in his temptation of Adam and Eve in the garden. And you might think, “Well, is it really that easy? Is he really just using these same three things today?” Yes! It’s…it’s that straightforward. He is still using the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, to tempt and manipulate human beings.
Holly: Yeah, he has not changed his mode of operation. He still uses the same three things that used on Jesus, to try to manipulate our behavior through our desires to control us.
Mike: Well, and it’s obviously been a very effective strategy. And that’s probably why he hasn’t had to change his approach. But now, the way out of this trap, is to live in terms of the Spirit, as Paul says in Romans 8. Living in terms of the flesh leads to death but living in terms of the Spirit leads to life and peace.
Holly: But like we talked about last episode, this is only possible when our will has been surrendered and empowered by the Holy Spirit.
Mike: That’s our ticket out of this system of desire, is through our Holy Spirit-empowered, submitted, human will. Which is why last week, we talked about spiritual maturity, or submitting our will. That step can’t be skipped.
Holly: Yeah, and another thing is, desire can be very deceitful. We actually think we’re getting what we want, but Paul tells us to, “put off” our “old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires” Ephesians 4:22.
Mike: So, how does desire deceive us? It deceives us by promising us that we will be satisfied if we try to satisfy our desires. And that’s not the case. Desire is actually unlimited. We talked about this some when we were discussing love. You can’t satisfy your desire by trying to satisfy your desire, because desire is unlimited. You could chase that your whole life, and never satisfy your desires.
Holly: Like, you really think that pizza, or that delicious smoothie, is going to satisfy you that day. And you just come to find out that, you’re a little hungry later on. Like, it was nice while you were drinking it, or eating that slice of pizza, but then the desire pops up again. Or it’s the same thing with buying something. You really think “Oh, if I have this furniture, I will just be at more peace, and my living room will be more comfortable, because it looks all put together.” When really, then you find out a month later, “Well, the living room is done. Now, how about my desire to change up our bedroom, and change something else up.”
Mike: In comes the unlimited nature of desire. And you find out you’re still not satisfied. So, that’s the sneakiness, or the deceitfulness of desire. So, let’s give it a practical example of…of the deceitfulness of desire.
Holly: Like, you have the desire to get a newer house. You might not be able to afford this new house that you really desire, but then it gets sneaky. You start thinking “Well, this is in my family’s best interests. Our new neighbors would be these people, and then they’re great people.”
Mike: Yeah, it would be right next to your favorite department store or restaurant.
Holly: “We wouldn’t be spending time doing these home improvement projects that we’re currently doing with our house. We’d have more time as a family to spend together.”
Mike: Yeah, “So much more leisure time, if we bought this new house.”
Holly: “Maybe the kids wouldn’t have to share a room. Let’s just get this house!”
Mike: So, that is desire coming in and influencing our thinking. Buying that house that we can’t afford, doesn’t have anything to do with getting more leisure time, or being close to a department store, or whatever. That is desire sneaking in, and influencing our thoughts, powerfully. To the point that you go through, and you make a decision, you buy a house that you can’t afford. And now your family is in a tough bind financially, because you were tricked, or duped, by the deceitfulness of desire.
Holly: Yeah, and you see this all the time. It’s particularly with advertising, that you need something, and you really don’t need that.
Mike: Well, the advertising is smart. The powers that be in that field are very savvy to this fact that desires strongly influence behaviors. But now take this deceitfulness of desire and apply it to something more serious. To getting into a marital affair, or something like that. You’ll have the same, slow line of reasoning that built up to that marital affair, as you had in buying the house you couldn’t afford.
Holly: Or even buying the new outfit that you think will satisfy and make you feel better that day.
Mike: Yeah, things big and small, we’re being deceived by our desires. Our desire can be deceitful. Now what that means is, our desires are influencing us, and what they’re influencing is these thoughts, our ideas. Ideas are very powerful, and they lead to us behaving. So, what happens when we have a strong desire for something is, now we start to pick ideas that satisfy those desires. So now the ideas that we’re storing up in our mind, are actually put there by those desires. So of course, they’ll be self-justifying.
Holly: So, if we don’t come to terms with our desires, we will act and do what our desire wants. Instead of choosing to do what’s actually good for us.
Mike: Yeah, we will act in line with our desires, instead of what’s good. So, this is the problem now. Say what you desire is different from what is good? What will happen to the human being now is, desires are such strong influencers over what we choose, we will actually choose what we desire, instead of what we know to be good. And this really shows concretely, this trap that we’re in, this bondage that we’re in, to our desires. Paul says in Galatians 5:17 that, “the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.” So, we’re not able to do the things that we want to do, because of this battle, or dynamic, between the good things, the things that we should do or ought to do, and our desires, our flesh.
Holly: So, we need to come to terms with our desires because that will allow us to do what we actually want to do. And that’s what Jesus did. So, when he was tempted by Satan, he had already came to terms with his desires.
Mike: Yeah, Satan tried to tempt him through the things of the world, like he does with all of us, and it didn’t work with Jesus. And the reason why it didn’t work with Jesus is because, Jesus had a surrendered will to the Father, that was empowered by the Holy Spirit. And that’s the solution, that is the way out of the domination by desire. So, what happens now, and this is why it’s so important to understand our will, the will offers us a place to stand outside of our feelings to make decisions for what is good.
Holly: So, now emotional maturity is coming to terms with your feelings or your desires. But that’s only possible, like we’ve suggested, to the surrendered human will.
Holly: Yeah, coming to terms with your wants.
Mike: What does it mean to come to terms with your desires? It means you’re OK with not getting what you want. That you don’t have to come undone, and get angry, and all that. And the reason why that’s OK, is you’re relying on God now. So, a trivial example: I didn’t get the smoothie that I wanted. And I don’t have to get mad, or throw a fit, or be grouchy for the rest of the afternoon. I’m OK with not getting what I wanted.
Holly: Because we are focused on what God wants. And there’s freedom.
Mike: With emotional maturity, now we can do what we want, because we’re no longer controlled by our desires. That burden of being dominated, or controlled by our desires is lifted from us, and now we can actually act for what is good, independent of how we feel or what we would have wanted. And once we’ve developed spiritual and emotional maturity, we’re ready to move on to the next step of inner transformation, which we’ll talk about next week, humility.
Music: Vlad Gluschenko — Travelling
License: Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/deed.en