Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled. —Matthew 5:6
Jesus’ word is quite clear that when we are hungry and thirsty for righteousness, we will be filled. But why aren’t more people hungry and thirsty for righteousness? Why aren’t more disciples pursuing God’s ways?
I read this very interesting quote this morning:“The average Christian is so cold and so contented with His wretched condition that there is no vacuum of desire into which the blessed Spirit can rush in satisfying fullness.” Born After Midnight, 8. A.W. Tozer.
Missing The Vacuum Of Desire Sucks!
Tozer says that we have become so contented with our own wretched condition that the vacuum of desire is missing. I rarely use the word “sucks” but it fits well here. Simply looking at my own life, I can easily see how I have shrugged off sin in the past. Not only that but I have settled for some less than ideal states of my heart, rather than dealing with them. When I ignore or allow sin to remain, it sinks deeper and deeper, as dirt and stains in a white carpet. My spiritual zeal, zest, and zoom disappears and spiritual desire dries up like a desert when I fail to address the trouble spots in my life. The heavy sin traffic areas require attention to detail. Otherwise, I will live out a mediocre life and succumb to a lackluster, meager existence not intended by God.
Repairing The Belt Of Discipline Hurts Sometimes
One of the most basic malfunctions of a vacuum is a simple broken belt. The snapped piece of rubber doesn’t turn the head and allow the agitation of the carpet which needs cleaning. In the same way, when I ease off the belt of discipline in my life, I find that dirt can be lodged in the recesses of my heart, even though others may never even see it. Paul was clear when he spoke of the need for personal discipline when he said;
26 So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. 27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. 1 Corinthians 9:26-27 ESV
There are times when I have failed to bring out the belt on myself as I needed. Whether it’s failing to see sin the way God does or shrugging off sin as “natural” , failure to repent is evidence of a broken belt. Not that there must be tears and sobbing over every sin, a spiritual brokenness and contrite heart is what brings me into right standing with God. Confession, contrition, and Christ are what repairs what is broken within me.
Confession Of Sin
Thinking about sin is not the same as talking about sin. God wants us to SAY what we have done. He wants us to ADMIT it. It is not enough to nod in agreement. Confession is made with our mouths. Whether it’s acknowledging my sin to another or simply saying it out loud before God, hearing what I have done wrong arrests my heart and stops me in my tracks.
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9 ESV
The word “if” in that verse is huge. Confession must happen if cleansing is to come. When I am sensing a lack of spiritual desire I must start here. Developing the habit of audible confession is the pathway to restoring desire.
Contrition Over Sin
Being sorry for being caught is not the same as being sorry for being wrong. When spiritual desire wanes, I become more concerned about what I can get away with instead of what God says for me to do or not do. God who is rich in mercy and grace often allows me multiple chances to repent. He is gracious in forgiveness. However, God is also holy and just and He hates sin and the effects of sin on humanity. When I lack spiritual desire, I fail to see how sin affects me and others. I can become numb to its effects on my outlook, heart and life when there is a spiritual dryness. Perhaps the dryness can be slaked by tears of contrition.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. Psalm 51:17 ESV
Spiritual desire will return when I truly repent and see sin the way God does. Understanding that sin not only hurts me and others but also hurts my relationship with God, will most certainly move my heart to tears at times. The blood of Jesus cleanses my heart, the tears of my eyes cleanses my soul.
Christ Overcomes Sin
Dietrich Bonhoffer said: “When Christ calls a man, He bids Him come and die”. The call of Christ is not to simply stop sinning but ultimately to stop “living”. Bonhoffer contends that the call of Christ is death to self, which is replete throughout the New Testament. Scripture tells me to “mortify” or put to death certain things in my life. Moreover Paul admonishes me in Romans 12:1 to be a “living sacrifice”, meaning to allow Christ to embody me in such a way that sin is no longer my desire but Christ alone. Spiritual desire will return when I return to Christ and His cross. Having the right and proper view of Christ will always increase my spiritual desire and renew my passion, developing a greater spiritual hunger for righteousness. Spiritual desire dies when I allow Christ to remain on the cross instead of myself. However when I bear my own cross, casting myself at the feet of Jesus, I am restored. Repentance leads to restoration which leads to a renewed spiritual desire. Ultimately, I must understand that it is Christ alone who will empower me through the Holy Spirit, to overcome sin. Spiritual desire is developed through confession and contrition over sin but Christ alone overcomes sin as He disciplines and disciples me.
Questions For Reflection:
Is there any sin hidden in the recesses of your heart? Pray and ask God to search your heart and know your thoughts.
Have you confessed your sin out loud lately before God or to another?
When was the last time you were moved to tears over something you did wrong or a hurt that you inflicted?
What sin traffic areas do you need to give attention to?
How has the belt been broken in your spiritual vacuum?
Is your spiritual desire developing or waning?