You may have heard the following:
A desire is an emotion. Because it is merely an emotion, it cannot be sinful. It can be “disordered.”
Is this true? Is a desire merely an emotion? Isn’t it more than that?
Isn’t a desire also a thought and an evaluation and even to some degree a choice in itself? (A choice to want something?)
I often hear my son say the unusual phrase “I could want that.” He’s only four, and he doesn’t know the idioms. But he is saying something that makes sense and even that carries significant insight if you reflect on it. Wanting is (in at least some degree) a choice. It is under some degree of control.
Can an emotion be inherently sinful? Maybe not. But can a desire be inherently sinful? To answer that question, we need to ask what is being desired. There is no way to desire an inherently wicked thing without already sinning, merely in the act of desiring it.
People say same-sex attraction is not itself sinful.
They are wrong. Some desires are not like others. Some desires are inherently sinful. Jesus desired to turn the stones into bread, but he never desired to worship Satan. He was tempted by bread, not by idolatry. There is a difference.
Since there is some ambiguity about the meaning of “temptation,” let’s avoid the term here and save that for a full discussion at a later time. But for now notice that Jesus in “every respect has been tempted as we are,” and yet he was without sin (Hebrews 4:15). From this passage many will try to infer that it is possible to experience temptation toward any and every vile thing and yet be without sin. But that does not follow. The passage does not say Jesus himself was tempted by every vile thing. It says he was tempted in “every respect” — a wording that leaves much open about what this could mean.
Here is what I believe it doesn’t mean:
It doesn’t mean Jesus ever desired to worship Satan. It would be blasphemy to say he desired that. If we ever desire to worship Satan, we are idolaters in heart. Jesus never was.
Jesus never desired to hit his mother. That would be blasphemy. At the risk of shocking the reader, it has to be pointed out that Jesus never desired to have sex with a child. Nor did he desire sex with a man. Nor did he desire an adulterous relationship. He certainly never desired anything that was inherently sinful.
In the words of Rowan Murphy:
“There was not ever once even a split second in which the judge of all the Earth could indict Jesus as an adulterer at heart.”
We should reject the idea that “desires can only be disordered, but not sinful.”
Some desires are sinful. Consider the way Scripture describes desires/passions/lusts as being impure/sinful/evil/dishonorable.
“Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry” (Colossians 3:5).
“For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death.” (Romans 7:5).
“Impure Lusts” and “Dishonorable Passions”
“Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions” (Romans 1:24–26).
“And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done” (Romans 1:28).
“To put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires” (Ephesians 4:22).
“He continued: What comes out of a man, that is what defiles him. For from within the hearts of men come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, debauchery, envy, slander, arrogance, and foolishness. All these evils come from within, and these are what defile a man” (Mark 7:20–23).
“The soul of the wicked desires evil; His neighbor finds no favor in his eyes” (Proverbs 21:10).
The biblical wording is stronger than “fallen,” or “disordered,” or other weak substitutes.
Scripture shows that the desires become evil and deceitful, the thoughts become evil, the mind becomes debased, the heart becomes impure, and the passions become both dishonorable and sinful.
Those who want to say desires cannot be sinful have made no effort to support their view with Scripture. It is not even plausible that they have seriously tested their view by reference to Scripture.
There is much at stake.
The gospel itself cannot be rightly grasped until we understand that we suffer not merely from disordered emotions, but from sinful — wicked — desires.
Antinomians, compromisers, and wolves who promote a moral system incompatible with Scripture have every reason to want to change the plain meaning of “sinful desires.” Those compromising on homosexuality and same-sex attraction (such as Sam Allberry) are looking for a chink in your armor. Don’t give it to them.
A Call to Action:
You may think everything said here was obvious. But most church people don’t understand it. Importantly, many prominent evangelical leaders don’t understand it. Christian leaders taken as being representatives of orthodox theology have recently invited Sam Allberry to teach his ideas under their banner.
If you want to know more about Sam Allberry’s agenda and the trend toward #BigEva affirming that agenda, here is an article that summarizes the facts.
You should also know about a new article from Tom Buck, published today at Alpha and Omega Ministries. There’s more to come from Tom, and it is going to be a big deal.
Click below to read Tom Buck’s article ==>
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