Chapter 12 Meanings
Judas desires represent what the New Testament calls “the flesh” (translated “sinful nature” in the NIV). It is the part of a believer that keeps sinning because of its attachment to this world (See Romans 7 as an example).
|“You will encounter no fruit trees traveling westward. Only those traveling east find fruit. … The fruit always leads away from the cottage—never toward it.” –pp.99, 100|
All movement away from God is sin, and all movement toward God is righteousness. What do James 4:8 and 1 Peter 2:4–5 promise to those who move toward Christ?
If we come to him, he will come near to us an will make us a spiritual house and holy priesthood.
How does one move closer to or farther from God? See Psalm 119:176; Isaiah 29:13; James 4:8.
James 4 – We come near to him through repentance.
Ps.119 – We come near him by asking him to seek us.
Isa.29 – We come near him by aligning our hearts with his.
What does it mean for God, who exists everywhere, to be near or far from a person? See Psalm 69:18, 73:27—28, 145:18—20.
It means to have God do things like rescue and redeem you, serve as your refuge and bring you good things, to hear your call, fulfill your desires, save you, and watch over you.
|“What do you feel after you eat fruit?”
Adam shrugged. “Nausea, obviously. But everyone knows that can be controlled. As long as there’s moderation. Sometimes I barely even feel it.” –p.100
What effect does sin have on the conscience? And why is the conscience so important? See 1 Timothy 4:2; Ephesians 4:19; 1 Timothy 1:18—19.
1 Tim.4 – Each time we violate conscience, we make it less sensitive.
Eph.4 – When sensitivity is lost, sensuality takes over.
1 Tim.1 – The end result is shipwreck of faith.
|He had not realized until this moment how much he had come to love this world. He loved the freedom he enjoyed here. He loved the fruit. He loved the ideas of the prophets. He loved the salve they had put on his eyes and the promise of knowledge that came with it. And he sensed all of that was possible only in a half–real world. –p.101|
What reason does John give why we must not love the world? What does this imply about what must govern all our desires? See 1 John 2:15–16.
The reason he gives for why we must not love the world is the fact that the world does not come from the Father. The implication is that it is only appropriate for us to desire things that are from the Father.
What elements in the world are you most tempted to love?
The elements that have the most tug on my heart tend to be leisure, entertainment, and money.
|“I’ve already sacrificed my home, my job, and a chance at some real wealth. And now I have to give up eating?”
“Sacrificed?” Kailyn said. “Is that how it feels?”
Watson shook his head. “Is it a sacrifice for a drowning man to let go of the anchor he is clinging to? It is true—you must leave everything behind. But the Ruler will never, ever ask you to make a sacrifice … The only demand the Ruler ever makes is that you trade the worthless for the priceless.”–p.101
How much must one give up to follow Jesus? See Luke 14:33.
Why is such a high cost not considered a sacrifice? See Mark 10:29–30; Philippians 3:8.
Giving up everything is nothing because what we receive in return is so many orders of magnitude greater than what we give up. It’s like giving up a penny to gain a million dollars.
So if it feels like a loss, that shows a case of nearsightedness—focus on material things while being blind to spiritual things.
|“There is something deep within you that is attached to the fruit. On the day you decide to forsake the orchard forever, that part of you that loves the fruit will resist. It will feel like someone is tearing your insides apart. You will hate the fruit and love the fruit, and that hatred and love will go to war. When the hatred destroys the love, only then will you have an appetite for real food.” –p.101|
Repentance is a change in direction, turning away from sin to God. What insights can you glean from the following passages about the role of repentance in salvation? Mark 1:15; Luke 13:3; Acts 2:38
Repentance is required for receiving forgiveness from God and for entering the kingdom of God. Those who fail to repent will perish.
|“If you truly want real food, that appetite will strengthen the wind at your back and you can travel as far as you need to travel.” –p.102|
What appetites/desires are lacking in unbelievers that prevent them from coming to God? See Romans 3:11; Acts 13:46.
They lack the desire to know God or to have eternal life. Compared to temporal desires for things like money, human approval, entertainment, leisure, or sex, the desire for eternal life or to know God are so far down on their list, they don’t even register. Therefore, they don’t seek them.
|“You talk a lot about appetite and desire. Why is that so important to you? I don’t look at life that way. I think if a man fulfills his duty, he’s a good man—whether he felt like doing it or not. If desire gets on board with duty, great. But in the end, character is measured by doing what you ought to do. If I do what’s right, what does it matter what I desire?” –p.103|
How would you answer the question “As long as I do what is right, what does it matter what I desire?” See Deuteronomy 28:47—48; Amos 5:15; Titus 1:8.
God punished Israel in Dt.28 for lacking joy and gladness in their obedience. And the punishment was severe. God requires that we not only do what is good, but that we love it.
If a person loves the idea of torturing children, but he restrains himself from doing it, he’s still an evil man. If someone helps those in need, that’s good. But if he loves doing it, that’s far better.
|“It’s true that one must fulfill duty. But your highest duty is to have pure desires.” –p.103|
God rebuked the priests in Malachi’s time for serving him out of sheer burdensome duty rather than desire. How did that lack of desire effect their worship? See Malachi 1:12–13.
They offered sick, lame animals in worship. When our service to God becomes burdensome duty, we offer shoddy work.
The invitation to come and be satisfied is only extended to whom? Isaiah 55:1; John 7:37; Revelation 22:17.
Anyone who is thirsty (and only the thirsty)
What significance do you see in the fact that the fourth beatitude is “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness” rather than “Blessed are the righteous”? (Matthew 5:6)
God doesn’t withhold the blessing until we reach the goal. He’s so eager to bless us, he heaps favor upon us for simply desiring it.
|“How can I be held responsible for my desires? I can control my actions, but I can’t just flip a switch and change what I desire.”
“Not with a switch. But you can with a taste. Or even with a gaze. We can’t choose our desires, but we can stimulate them—both good ones and bad ones. Just taste the Ruler’s delicacies, and you’ll see.” –p.103
How can one who does not have desire for God stimulate that desire? See Psalm 34:8; 1 Peter 2:2—3; Psalm 63:2,5.
When desire is low, we must taste and see—stimulate desire through tasting. This requires discipline to seek hard after God through Scripture, prayer, and other means even though desire is absent. Then, the more we get a taste of his presence, the more desire will increase.
|“The only strength the fruit will give you is strength to resist the wind. The wind always blows toward life. Resisting it is the way of death.” –p.103|
Scripture condemns those who resist the work of the Holy Spirit (Acts 7:51). How does indulging in sin affect the influence of the Spirit on a person? See Galatians 5:16—21.
Each time we indulge the flesh, we weaken the influence of the Holy Spirit on our lives. The result is we continue to do the things we wish we wouldn’t do.
What is the effect over time when a person continues to resist the Spirit? See Mark 4:24—25; 1 Timothy 4:2.
We lose even whatever measure of grace we had. The more we give ourselves to sin, the less ability we have to break free from it.
|Faint memories of his childhood, before the pool, wafted through his mind—memories of eating food that was not fruit. In fact, it wasn’t even sweet, yet somehow still pleasurable and satisfying. –p.102|
Adam is puzzled at how food that isn’t even sweet (like a steak dinner) can still be satisfying. How does that illustrate the difference between the pleasure of sin and the satisfaction of what Christ offers? See Isaiah 55:1—2; Hebrews 11:25.
One taste of sweets may give more pleasure than one bite of a satisfying meal. But a piece of candy can never produce the kind of satisfaction that comes from a full, multi-course meal. That satisfaction takes a little longer to experience, but it’s much deeper and richer. This is a lesson that takes children years to learn. But those of us who have binged on sweets when we really needed meal understand how ultimately unsatisfying that can be.
|“There is something deep within you that is attached to the fruit.” –p.101|
What are some strategies for fighting the part of you that loves sin (“the flesh”)? See Colossians 3:5—16.
The word translated “put to death” in verse 5 means to allow something to wither away. One way to kill the flesh is by refusing to feed it (or, in the words of Galatians 6:8, refusing to sow to it).
Another strategy is to give thought to the anger God feels over the deeds of the flesh (verse 6).
A third method is to remember that way of life is something you made a decision to make a clean break from. It’s part of your old life (verse 7), and you left that life for a reason.
Another tactic is to consider the new self you long to be—that new nature that is being renewed (verse 10).
Furthermore, you can study the Scriptures to learn more of what God is like, since it is through knowledge that the renewal happens (verse 10).
Strive to clothes yourself if the virtues in verses 12-15. The most effective way to drive sin out of your life is to crowd it out by striving for virtue. The virtues of verses 12-15 will displace the sins of verse 8. It’s impossible to rid yourself of a sin without replacing it with the corresponding virtue, because what is sin other than the lack of a particular virtue?
Finally, emersed yourself in the Word of God (verse 16).
|“Looking at the fruit will only feed your Judas desires. … Desires that betray you. Your cravings should be your servants, helping you obtain what is good. When a desire draws you toward what is harmful instead of what is good, it has betrayed you. And strengthening your Judas desires with your eyes is suicide.” -p.101|
When Galatians 5:17 says, “You do not do what you want,” what does the first “you” and the second “you” refer to?
The “you” who is doing the bad things is the flesh—the old man. The “you” who wants to do good things is the new creation. The more we yield to the flesh, the more often we find ourselves doing things we wish we wouldn’t do.
What would be an example of a desire acting as your servant, helping you obtain what is good? See Psalm 63:1, 37:4.
We know that it’s beneficial for us to seek after good things, but we often have a hard time getting ourselves to do it. When we desire those good things, it’s easy to pursue them. That’s how good desires serve us.
When David was driven out into the desert, with dry miserable surroundings, he used his desire for shelter and comfort and water to teach his soul about his thirst for God and it caused him to seek hard after God.
When we delight in the Lord, those desires serve us by causing us to seek after that which God will grant.
How do our evil desires betray and enslave us? And what solution does 2 Peter 1:3—4 provide?
Evil desires betray us by shoving us down paths that harm us. They are supposed to help us go the right way, so when they push us the wrong way, it’s a betrayal. And when they become so strong that we find ourselves repeatedly failing to resist them, we are enslaved.
The solution Peter gives us has to do with God’s promises. Verse 4 says that through the promises we can participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption of the world.
Here’s how it works: God makes a promise, and when I believe that promise is true and begin relying on it, that confidence in the promise releases me from the clutches of sin and transforms me.
Example: Suppose I’m tempted to lie because I want to avoid shame or gain some money. God promises that his way (truthtelling) leads to reward. He will cover my shame and give me honor. He will provide the money I need to do his will. But the way of deceit will result in ruin. If I believe that, I’ll begin to desire the way of truthfulness rather than what the lies promise me.
The key to changing bad desires is believing God’s promises.
What effect does “looking” have on the flesh? See Genesis 3:6; Joshua 7:21; 1 John 2:16. And what did Job mean by his heart being led by his eyes in Job 31:7—8?
Looking at that which is forbidden is like putting kindling on a flame. I can be perfectly content, but then a food commercial comes on and suddenly I’m starving. A desire for new clothes, car, house, or (fill in the blank) can be a weak desire, but when I see it, the longer I look, the more the desire for it multiplies.
Sometimes we think we’re safe if we just look, but don’t touch. But that attitude ignores the fact that looking can multiply desire until it gets out of control. As the song says, “Be careful little eyes what you see.”
The idea of Job’s heart being led by his eyes raises the question of what the alternative might be. Either the heart is led by the eyes (I look at things, that stimulates desire, and my heart goes after them) or my eyes are led by my heart (I set my heart on something, and my heart demands that my eyes turn to that thing, not other things.
Job said if his heart were led by his eyes instead of the other way around, he would be worthy of punishment.