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Gods of Pleasure

The God of Pleasure

The gods of pleasure we idolize often begin as good gifts from the Lord God. Food, entertainment, sex, or relaxation are not sinful. They are good things that the Lord gave us out of his love, but too often, we are sacrificing our lives to get more of His gifts rather than more of God. Pleasure is what motivates us to get out of bed in the morning and go to work. Pleasure is what our relationships, our time, and our money often revolve around. And without even realizing it, we can be worshiping the god of pleasure instead of the Lord.

However, the god of pleasure is not always subtle. Often it directly advertises with sweet foods or drinks, provocative clothing, expensive vacations, flattery, and promises of a “feel good” experience. Let me introduce you to a “good ol’ gal” named Folly. Folly is often described as “what life is all about”. Maybe you already know this woman. She talks to us every day.

Prov 9:13-18 The woman Folly is loud; she is undisciplined and without knowledge. She sits at the door of her house, on a seat at the highest point of the city, calling out to those who pass by, who go straight on their way. "Let all who are simple come in here!" she says to those who lack judgment. "Stolen water is sweet; food eaten in secret is delicious!" But little do they know that the dead are there, that her guests are in the depths of the grave.

There is another call to those who are passing by, who are trying to walk the straight and narrow road. That call comes from the Holy Spirit. God’s free and gracious invitation already has been set before us through His Son, Jesus Christ. “Fix your eyes on Jesus,” the Holy Spirit calls, “don’t turn to the right or to the left.” Enter into my joy, goodness, peace, and holiness. We might wonder who in their right mind would leave this straight path and resist the Holy Spirit’s call?

Most people do, for the allurement and the call of the god of pleasure is no less earnest to destroy than Jesus Christ is to save. Pleasure sets up business along the same path of life and bids everyone to take the broad and easy detour to Folly’s place. Her barbed hook is baited with the pleasures of sin and her desire is to drag her victims down the steep slope to hell with her. Pleasure is only one of the foul gods that assail us, but this one represents a legion of demonic temptations that we face everyday.

Prov 10:23 A fool finds pleasure in evil conduct, but a man of understanding delights in wisdom.

The god pleasure is portrayed as a provocative enticing woman in verse 13. “The woman Folly is loud; she is undisciplined and without knowledge.” She tries to overcome our resistance by her aggressiveness. We reject her at first, but she continues presenting her enticements, promising satisfaction without public exposure, and no bad consequences. Her bait is whatever our lust is: food, another unnecessary purchase, drugs, sex, entertainment, etc. The type of lust doesn’t matter to the god of pleasure. Whatever entices us, pleasure offers immediate gratification, whereas Jesus Christ offers long-term satisfaction.

Prov 21:17 He who loves pleasure will become poor; whoever loves wine and oil will never be rich.

Pleasure’s targets are not those who intentionally head for Folly’s place, but “calling out to those who pass by, who go straight on their way”. Her particular interest is those who are making their paths straight. She has already captured those seeking her delights. That is why she calls out to the saints.

The gods are at war for our souls! Satan and his demonic gods are most angry with those who are making their paths straight. So, everyday we hear the god of pleasure and the Holy Spirit call out to us. Whom will we choose to listen to and obey? Who will we worship, Jesus Christ or the god of pleasure? Like Moses, we must choose.

Heb 11:24-26  By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh's daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.

Beware of turning aside from the straight path of God, for as verse 17 indicates, Folly is persuasive with her lying enticements. “Stolen water is sweet; food eaten in secret is delicious!”

The temptation to open sin by worshiping the god of pleasure might seem revolting at first. Yet, we give into Folly quite often. She offers us whatever we want, sex, food, drink, drugs, any feel good experience we desire. “You deserve a break today”, she says, “A little stolen pleasure won’t hurt; besides, who will know.” “Come, feast with me and fulfill your all your fantasies.”

But the Holy Spirit is calling us to another feast. God invites us to find satisfaction in Him. Pleasure entices us with its lies to look for satisfaction in sin and self-gratification. Every day, we have to choose which feast to attend.

We can not choose both Jesus Christ and the god of pleasure any more than we can choose both light and darkness. Every person must turn his back upon either his Savior or the god of pleasure. There is no other choice.

Titus 3:3-8 At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.

If stolen waters were not sweet, no one would steal them, right? This is the lure of the god of pleasure. Since the fall of man, our bodily appetites have become so perverted that they crave for what is poison and loathe what is good for us. That is why this desire for pleasure in man's soul seems sweet. However, it is only in the mouth that stolen water is sweet, after ingestion it turns bitter. The consequences make us wish we had stayed away from it. Underneath the thin coating of pleasure lies a barbed hook that Satan will use to reel us into his net and control us.

Pleasure promises so much, but it is a lie. It doesn't satisfy and it charges a high price: broken lives, broken relationships, broken health, broken dreams. Ultimately, the wages of sin is death. The god of pleasure deceives, defiles, dominates, and finally destroys those who choose to worship it.

The Lord God, however, offers us a feast that satisfies and delights our souls. In addition, the price tag reads, “No cost, paid by Jesus Christ.” It is His gift to those who choose to worship Him.

God's invitation to us is found in Is 55:1-2 "Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.”

Luke 8:14 The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life's worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature.

Listen to the Lord. Stop listening to Folly and getting choked by pleasure. The fellowship and feast of God is far greater and we can partake of it freely because of Jesus Christ. Thank God for the gift of a greater feast than pleasure can provide. We can feast on His Word and His Spirit daily, which will show us the Way to the ultimate marriage feast of the Lamb.

Rev 19:9 Then the angel said to me, "Write: 'Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!'" And he added, "These are the true words of God."

Folly's seductive call is very successful for she receives many guests. These guests accept Folly's invitation and enter her chamber for pleasure, but they find death. Nevertheless, there is something hypnotic and intoxicating about the god of pleasure. One tiny sin leads us to want more as this god feeds our lust. At first, Folly looks ugly to us, but as we pay her more attention, she begins to look appealing. That is why many people put aside all thought of God’s sumptuous banquet in order to eat the stolen food of Folly.

2 Tim 3:1-5 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God--having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.

We could be in the last days, for this Scripture certainly describes our society. Regardless of the time, we must determine whether we will we be lovers of pleasure or lovers of God? Don’t be deceived - sin is deadly. Before reaching for forbidden fruit, take a long look at what happens to those who eat it.

There are two voices calling out daily to us. One leads to peace and eternal life, the other leads to captivity and death. Which feast excites appeals to your heart?

Prov 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.

Our heart defines and determines who we are, how we think, and what we do. Because of this, our heart is the battleground where the gods go to war. It is time to take back areas of our heart that we have given to the enemy.

“Above All Else…” the verse says. In other words, make this your greatest priority. Treat your heart like it’s your most valuable asset.

Our tendency is to focus on what people see. As long as things look good on the outside, we tend not to focus on what’s on the inside. Instead of focusing on our hearts, we often focus on “behavior modification.” We act like Christians at church, but when no one is looking, we act differently. Instead, we must focus on the Lord Jesus Christ, for He is our standard, and let the Holy Spirit make our heart like His.

Heb 3:1 Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess.

“Guard Your Heart…” When we are commanded to guard, an enemy is assumed. When our guard is up, we aren’t passive. We are pro-active. We have set up a defense and do not respond to whatever might “feel good” at the moment.

Prov 4:13-14 Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life.  Do not set foot on the path of the wicked or walk in the way of evil men.

“It is the wellspring of life…” The heart is the truth of our identity, which is why the gods fight so fiercely for every inch of it.

Prov 27:19 As water reflects a face, so a man's heart reflects the man.

Do we reflect the god of pleasure or the Lord Jesus Christ? Which god wins the war for our heart has a lot to do with how diligently we guard it. Here are some practical ways we can build up our defenses.

1. Accountability

Sometimes the emphasis in accountability within the church is almost exclusively behavior focused. But deeper accountability comes when we allow someone to see our heart. That’s harder to do, but the Bible says in James 5:16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed

Each of us needs someone we can trust with our heart, who will pray with us, and keep what we share confidential. There is someone in this church who loves you that much, who will love you no matter what temptation you fight, and who will pray for you. So, don’t avoid accountability. It is critical in our battle against false gods.

Eccl 4:10 If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help him up.

2. Prayer

Have you ever noticed how hard it is to pray when you are not guarding your heart?

Phil 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Prayer keeps us talking and listening to God instead of Folly’s loud enticements.

3. Scripture Meditation

It’s not just about what we guard our hearts from, it’s also what we open up our hearts to. We are going to meditate about something. Make it the Word of God. Listen to the Holy Spirit.

Ps 119:11-12 I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Praise be to you, O LORD; teach me your decrees.

4. Practice Holy Thinking

Phil 4:8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-- think about such things.

We are tempted to constantly surf the net or flip through hundreds of TV channels…and almost none of it is noble, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy. Turn those things off. The glory of God’s creation is all around us. Enjoy it. People need our time and the hope of the Gospel. Spend time with them.  Focusing on Jesus Christ and these activities will help guard our heart.

The god of pleasure is attacking all of us every day. We need to realize we are in a war and “circle our wagons” around the Cross of Jesus Christ. We need to confess we are tempted by Folly and enticed by the god of pleasure. We need to pray for one another and spend time praying ourselves. Instead of looking at Folly’s delights, we need to repent, read the Word of God, and meditate on the delicious life God offers us through Jesus Christ. We need to discipline our minds to think upon holy, good, and true things instead of the enticing fantasies of the god of pleasure.

I read a story this week of a young girl that walked into a department store and fixed her eyes on a set of imitation pearls. She fell in love with them. She saved her money until one day she had saved about 10 dollars and could buy the cheap pearls. She wore them everywhere. No one could get those pearls off her. One night her dad came into her room.  He asked, "Jenny, do you love me?" She told him she did. He said, "Then I'd like for you to give me your pearls." She told him that he could have her favorite toy, but not the pearls. He came in the next night and asked the same thing. She offered him her favorite doll, but would not give him the pearls. The next day the girl came to her father with tears in her eyes and said, "Here, Daddy, you can have the pearls. I want you to know how much I love you." The father reached in his pocket and pulled out a velvet case with a genuine pearl necklace inside. He was waiting for her to give up the imitation so he could give her the real thing.

Are you enslaved by the cheap imitations of the god pleasure? Jesus Christ died to set you free from your captivity and to give the real thing. He wants you to have joy, peace, and eternal life. They are yours today if you give up the imitation life. However, if you don’t want to be free from the false god of pleasure, you will never experience the true pleasures your Father in Heaven wants to give you. Confess Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God, repent of your sin, and give your life to Him in baptism so you can receive real life from the Holy Spirit.

Christian, are you still in the battle against this god of pleasure? Do not despair. As long as you are in the battle, you are not a prisoner of war. If you have been wounded in this war, if you have been to Folly’s place, come away from there, repent, and come to the Lord for healing and deliverance today.