The Desire of Your Heart

Whenever we take Joy to a department store, she always convinces Poppy to head to the toy section. Up and down the aisles I hear “I want that, Poppy!” “I want that!” You and I are just like her. Our wants drive us to go places, make purchases, establish relationships, and yes, sin. It all starts with the desires of our hearts.

Go back to the garden with Adam and Eve. When the serpent tempted her, he didn’t say, “Look at this luscious fruit, Eve. It’s so tasty and pretty! Why, this fruit is full of wisdom. Don’t you want wisdom, Eve?” He let Eve tap into her own desires to make her decision. “The woman saw that the fruit was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, [so] she took some and ate it” (Gen 3:6).

Was it wrong for her to desire tasty, pretty food? Was it wrong for her to want wisdom? Not at all. The garden was full of food she was welcome to (2:16) and God would surely have told her anything she needed or wanted to know (Jas 1:5). Instead, she went after the one thing God had forbidden.

That’s the same picture James painted when he wrote, “Each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed” (Jas 1:14). Remember Eve’s desire for food and wisdom were not wrong desires. But now with the introduction of sin, man’s desires are often laced with evil, and that evil desire – the original language called it “lust” – drives us all the harder to attain whatever it is we want.

Is there any hope for our wicked, evil hearts? Yes! David said, “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart, (Ps 37:4). The answer is to desire God. Like Joy, whatever we want we will pursue. If we want toys, we’ll head to the toy aisle. If we want fruit, we’ll go to the tree (or the produce section of the grocery store). If we want immorality, we’ll search it out until we find it. And if we desire God – well, we don’t have to look far, because He promises we will find Him (Jer 29:13).

Because of our sinful natures desiring God is not our default. But you can ask Him for it. Here’s a prayer that God will honor: “Lord, cause me to want you above every other thing. Make Yourself the desire of my heart.” And He will.

Good and Evil

I came across several verses this morning that set up a theme.

“Hate what is evil; cling to what is good” (Rom 12:9)

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (v. 21)

“Be wise about what is good and innocent about what is evil” (16:19)

“In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults” (1 Cor 14:20).

“Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil” (1 Thess 5:21-22).

Verse 16 intrigues me. Innocent describes a person with a pure mind – unmixed with evil. That was Adam and Eve, the first humans and the last innocent people on earth. God told them not to take the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil because, at this point, they were pure.  In their innocence, they were free from the harmful effects of the knowledge of evil, a knowledge they—and we—are unable to bear.  The serpent led them to believe that if they ate from the tree, they could know what God knew. And he was right. To a point. He failed to tell them that they did not have the moral capacity to bear that knowledge without disastrous repercussions. 

When she plucked that piece of tainted fruit Eve got “knowledge” all right, but she also got much more than she bargained for.  When she and Adam were exposed to the knowledge of evil, evil overtook them and buried their innocence.  They had the “knowledge of evil,” but not the power to resist it.

But Paul said there is good news: good can overcome evil. That’s where Jesus comes in. He is the only pure, good, innocent human being to walk on earth. He took His good to the cross and to the grave and there overcome the evil that was destroying God’s good creation.

So how do you and I overcome evil? The same way the saints did: “They overcame [the evil one] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony” (Rev 12:11). We overcome the evil nature within by faith in Jesus. We overcome evil in the world by proclaiming what God has done for us. And we overcome evil in our daily lives. We avoid it, hate it, and turn our minds away from it. We refuse to give it a foothold (Eph 4:27). You were not made for evil, Beloved. You were made good (Gen 1:31).