In the last blog on this subject I compared the Father’s role in communion to be both like the fire and the anvil of a blacksmith. When you are near the Lord in communion and you gaze upon His perfection your imperfections begin to rise to the surface. There is an inner heat provided by the Holy Spirit in the soul of the willing when it is before the Lord in humility. The hammer blow of God’s word strikes while the iron of the soul is hot against the immoveable anvil of the image of the Lord and the imperfections are removed from the metal and it is left purer and in a different shape than it was before. Only communion with God brings this about. Nothing else will do. But what are the imperfections of the soul? What sort of things come to the surface to be exposed and shattered off the iron of the soul in the smithing process of communion?
1 John 2:15-17
15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
The love of the world is the imperfections in the iron of the human soul. The World is not a place but evil desires. The old King James version of the Scriptures used a nastier word here for desires, it called them lust. The World expresses itself in three essential manifestation, desires, passions, and blinding pride. For our sake here rather than speaking of two types of desires we’re going to refer to them as Paul does in his letters, as desires and passions.
Desires of the flesh are driving sensations that find their expression in physical pleasure. The most obvious in our context being sexual pleasure, gluttony, and various forms of addictions. They are surface oriented, meaning that they are not easily hidden from others, often disrupt our life, and are frequently the first issues the Holy Spirit reveals to us. This revealing by the Holy Spirit produces a godly sorrow and ends in biblical repentance and turning away from them. They are devastating to the human soul without Christ and can remain a struggle for those with Christ depending on the Father’s gift of grace. But they are only fruit. They are not the root or the tree but only the outward manifestation of deeper issues. Things like passions.
I grew up in a broken home. My parents divorced when I was six. I never cried about it at all as a child. It surprised my mother. She once told me on the phone that she thought that I reacted strangely when she told me my dad wasn’t coming back home. For about five years after that day I tried to put my family back together by being the best kid I could be. Whether it was making the all-star team in baseball or straight A’s at school or being class president I did everything I could do to try and make everything right again. When I failed, I spent the next eleven years trying to burn it all down. By the time I was seventeen or eighteen I was a raging alcoholic and daily marijuana user. At twenty-two my life was a wreck.
The day I came to Christ was the first time in all those years that I realized how angry I had been toward mainly my dad. If you had asked me if I was angry I would’ve said no. It was stunning to me to find out how enraged and unforgiving I really was. Like Christian in Pilgrims Progress I knew what it was to have a weight come off my back. But the truth is I had born the weight of it so long that I didn’t even know it was there. What does this have to do with anything? Everything.
My life was destroyed through out of control desires. But I drank, did various drugs, engaged in a host of dangerous behaviors because of my passions. I was angry. I hated. I wanted my life back and my home back as a little kid and no one knew how much I was hurt or how much I had born. Truthfully, even if they had, there was no one I knew of to tell me the things I’m telling you now. Passions are far more dangerous than desires because desires are just the fruit of passions. In fact, one will never progress in the Christian life passed the stage of dealing with desires until they commune with God and allow Him to reveal to them through His Word and Spirit all the old man’s hiding places in their heart. One cannot put off the old man and “put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator” (Colossians 3:10) if he or she has never identified the old man in all his manifestations within us. God does not do this on the day you come into the knowledge of Him in Christ. You could not bear that knowledge in your immature state. It is revealed to you over time in communion with Him as you learn His Word and the Holy Spirit speaks to you through it during the trials of life. Even in Alcoholics Anonymous and other recovery programs they realized that a person had to take a “fearless moral inventory” of their life and come to grips with who they really are. Christ delivered me in a moment from what four years of Alcoholics Anonymous could not by revealing to me the source of my destructive, out of control desires. The source was my raging and out of control passions manifested in anger, bitterness, and hatred. But passions are not the root either. They are the limbs the fruit grows on. There is yet something deeper. Something that supports the life of the bough and limbs of the passions. The root of all is the blinding “pride of life”.
We’ll save the “pride of life” for it’s own blog later in the week..