Desire is a tricky thing. It has the power to lead us either to a throne or a tomb, to slavery or freedom, to true joy or mirages of satisfaction.
The war of faith and desire began in the Garden. In Genesis 3:5, Satan is ending his conversational attack on Eve’s faith by influencing her logic, causing her to question not only the commandment of God but the character of God. He uses his demonic craftiness to subtly lie to Eve, telling her that God will not do what he said, that he’s not as good as she thinks he is.
When the character of God comes into question, the mind and the heart will begin to reroute its desires onto something else. After all, so the questions go, can God really be trusted? Eve started down this path, which then led her to see things in a tree that did not exist. Her desires craved satisfaction, and her heart turned away from her Creator.
Eve believed the tree would be good for food. She believed it would be the delight she longed for. She desired it in order to become wise.
But were these desires sinful in themselves? Who doesn’t desire something pleasurable to the senses? Or who wouldn’t want wisdom? Is it wrong to want knowledge? Solomon prayed for it and was commended by God for asking.
We all have this same pleasure factory hidden deep in our souls, causing us to desire comfort when hurt, healing when sick, peace in the midst of chaos, or provision when in need. These desires aren’t inherently sinful or wicked, just human.
The Fatal Bypass
So how is it that when Eve decided to take up the fruit and eat, along with Adam, that sin and death entered into the world?
It is because Eve bypassed her Creator’s sufficiency and wanted to be satisfied apart from him. That is the sin. Her appetite, no longer content with what God had given her, craved more, even at the expense of her soul. Her heart was beating with the capacity to appreciate beauty, but she no longer saw God as the most attractive being in the universe. Instead, she believed beauty was found in the very thing that would lead to her destruction. She disregarded God’s infinite wisdom by seeking knowledge through a tree, which ironically made her a fool (see Romans 1:22–23).
You and I are prone to repeating this same wicked cycle. It’s deep in our fallenness. When we crave security, too often we look for it in weak, temporal substitutes, as if sex, drugs, and human relationships can actually fill the void at the core of our being. If we’re sick, too often we look for gimmick promises of peace. If we have needs, we’d prefer quick money over the path of patience.
Even for Christians, the desire to be known, appreciated, and affirmed apart from God wreaks havoc on the soul, causing us to cheat the Spirit’s ministry for our own gain.
Clinging to Him
So what are we to do? How do we cease from replicating our first parent’s blunder?
Faith in Jesus.
Though humanity fell when Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, the ruin began when they stopped trusting God. They didn’t think he meant what he said, that he wasn’t as good as he promised. But we know better. We have seen his love and faithfulness not only in the history of his people, but most vividly in the person of his Son. Jesus is the sure affirmation that God is good, that he is enough, that he can be trusted.
Our faith in who God is will cause a greater trust in what God has said.
The world’s promises of joy apart from God are exposed to be the mere illusion they are, absolutely incapable of satisfying the desires of a soul created to enjoy God. We must believe and cling tightly to who God has revealed himself to be in Jesus. Our faith in who God is will cause a greater trust in what God has said in his word, increasing our obedience and leading to the satisfaction our soul’s desire, to the glory of God.