Saturday, February 12, 2011

Enslaved by Lust

Wow! I saw this advertisement today.

I often glance past advertisements but this one seemed to burn into my brain. Lust is not limited to sexual desire. We lust for sweets and for junk food and for entertainment and for basically everything that exists.

These lusts enslave us if we allow them to do so. More accurately, they enslave us and we need to be set free from their powers. Our lusts burn from within us. They smoulder within our sinful nature until various factors fan them into roaring flames.

So how can we be free? Do we muster up strength from within to resist them? Do we go to a hypnotist and allow our emotions and our subconscious to be tricked into submission to the hypnotic “suggestions”?

There is a better way. There is a way of true freedom from lust. That way is the way of conversion. That way is the way of true faith. The Holy Spirit is poured out to us in our baptism to live within us. He works continually through the Word and through the Word filled Sacrament. Jesus is in the Sacrament of the Altar. Our God comes to us and gives Himself to us. He empowers us with the true faith with the gift of the Holy Spirit in Baptism. He nurtures us in this true faith through the Holy Supper.

By these means and through the continual preaching of the Gospel, He fills us with His will. His thoughts and holy desires begin to fill us so that our own lusts are pressed out of us. The two ways oppose one another. But God’s will is greater. His will is omnipotent. When His will fills us, our wills are converted to be one with His will. The more that we partake of His means of grace, the more that we rely upon the means that He has provided for us, the more fully our wills become subjected to His.

This is not the same as making a choice. Rather it is a way. God comes to us through His Word. His Word confronts us in our ways and shows us the destruction, the everlasting destruction of the ways that we choose for ourselves. He shows us the everlasting blessing of His way. His Word penetrates our very soul, converting our spirit and our mind and our heart and our will so that His will fills us and drives out the old will. Then He continually calls to us through the Word that has taken root in us and is growing within us by the activity of the Holy Spirit. His Word takes hold within us and even though the old nature tries to come forward and tries to grow again to press out the Word, the Word prevails. The Word is greater than our sinful nature. The Word is greater than our sinful desires. The Word is greater than even our sins.

The question is not whether or not we will choose to listen and heed the Word. The question is whether or not we will choose to stop listening and heeding the Word. Once the Holy Spirit has been poured into our hearts, there remains no choice except for the original choice that Adam made that brought death to the world.

According to our sinful nature we resist the notion of bondage to God’s will being freedom. I like to use the example of my tree climbing to illustrate why bondage to the right way is indeed freedom.

In my tree climbing I bind myself to certain rules. One of these rules binds me further to my climbing rope or ropes. Before I enter into a tall tree I always position my climbing line into a suitable crotch of a limb of sufficient strength to support my weight. Then I tie the appropriate climbing friction knot and attach my climbing saddle, which I have secured to my body. This binds me to the secure crotch in the tree. While it restricts my movement in certain ways, it also sets me free to climb without fear of falling. There are numerous other rules involved in my climbing, to which I bind myself. These restrict me from certain things but set me free to do such things as to walk out onto a branch that otherwise would not support my weight. These set me free to do some rather amazing feats in the tree.

There is a difference, however, between this and the bondage of the true faith. In the example above I do the binding. In the matter of the faith, God does not leave this to me to do for myself. He does the binding. Not only does He teach the need for this binding, but He actually makes it happen. He converts my will so that I become bound to Him and His will. He binds me with the gift of His Holy Spirit. He binds me and maintains the tie, the communion. He does it all for me and I merely follow along in His way. On my own I would wander, but because He has bound me to Himself, I am gently led along the right way, even pulled onward in His way.

God works the same for all who are truly united with Him through the means that He has ordained. This is the way of freedom that little babies know. God makes us to be His beloved and protected children once again.

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