12 Behold, these are the wicked;
And always at ease, they have increased in wealth.
13 Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure
And washed my hands in innocence;
14 For I have been stricken all day long
And chastened every morning.
Sometimes, when I am left alone to think, I start to think about how easy life would be if I were not a Christian. Life would be easier if I could follow every desire of my heart. I could follow the mold of society and have few people challenge my views; and if they did, they were the fringe extremists and the intolerant, close-minded bigots. If I believed there were no consequences to my actions and i didn’t have to think about the reality of death, life would be a breeze.
Then I think, “Well, I wouldn’t have to lose my faith.” They idea of abandoning or compromising some parts of my faith for the sake of increased ease can be an extremely attractive offer. There is a constant tension as my heart is tugged in two different directions. Sometimes I think that maybe the “faith vs my desires” dichotomy is false. Maybe the dichotomy doesn’t have to exist. Maybe I could reshape my beliefs so faith and all my desires could coexist in peace. I could still choose to die to self and love others as Christ has told me to, and I could still trust that He died for me on the cross. Maybe some of the things, such as inner purity aren’t that important. Maybe what I have learned as being impure is actually pure. Maybe some of my desires aren’t really impure and are actually from God.
Then I realize the dichotomy is very real. It’s inescapable. I could either allow my own desires to determine the direction of my faith. Or, my faith will determine where my desires will go. If I compromise and allow my desires to determine the direction of my faith, I will cease to live a life of faith. Our desires cannot define our faith. If our desires define our faith, we can no longer call it “faith”. Our desires must be seen through the lens of our faith not faith through the lens of our desires.
If we viewed faith through the lens of our desires, our faith would cease to exist as real faith, and our fluid, unstable desires would become our only “foundations” of our “faith”. Our “faith” would then be in the hands of this world’s ideas of life which only leads (if given any serious thought) to nihilism, hopelessness and despair. Our “faith” would then be rooted in the underlying fear that we are missing out, the fear that this is all there is so we should “live it up!” while we are here. All the while, we would be professing the name of Jesus Christ saying, “He is our salvation!” as well as the foundation of our faith when in actuality, it is rooted in fear and self-satisfaction. Fear that this is all there is is not faith.
The tension I feel and the battle I face is only more evidence for me to see that what I believe is true. The tension is an odd comfort to me knowing that it brands me as a child of the Most High God who is battling for the sanctification of my soul and the affections of my heart. I have complete faith that the God who spoke the universe into existence has the strength and power to turn my unstoppable passions and desires from myself to Him. I will place my faith in the everlasting, unchangeable God who has graciously granted me salvation and promised to never let anyone snatch me from His hand. My faith is in the God of Truth: the God who has never broken a promise and promised to finish the work He started in me.
And in case you were wondering, this is the rest of Psalm 73, and I think it’s awesome:
15If I had said, “I will speak thus,”
Behold, I would have betrayed the generation of Your children.
16When I pondered to understand this,
It was troublesome in my sight
17Until I came into the sanctuary of God;
Then I perceived their end.
18Surely You set them in slippery places;
You cast them down to destruction.
19How they are destroyed in a moment!
They are utterly swept away by sudden terrors!
20Like a dream when one awakes,
O Lord, when aroused, You will despise their form.
21When my heart was embittered
And I was pierced within,
22Then I was senseless and ignorant;
I was like a beast before You.
23Nevertheless I am continually with You;
You have taken hold of my right hand.
24With Your counsel You will guide me,
And afterward receive me to glory.
25Whom have I in heaven but You?
And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.
26My flesh and my heart may fail,
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
27For, behold, those who are far from You will perish;
You have destroyed all those who (AS)are unfaithful to You.
28But as for me, the nearness of God is my good;
I have made the Lord GOD my refuge,
That I may tell of all Your works.