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The True Path to Pleasure

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Is God a cosmic killjoy?

When faced with temptation, we may find ourselves asking some form of this question, especially in the realm of money, sex, and power. We may think God does not want us to enjoy life because He sets boundaries through His commands.

However, God Himself created pleasure—He is the wellspring and source of it. By following His commands, we actually experience true pleasure rather than a distortion of it. Satan is the one who tempts us to use these good gifts in the wrong way, in the wrong amount, and for the wrong reasons.

The lure of the world is strong. We are constantly tempted to take God’s gifts and twist them for short-term pleasure. We love the world and look to it for fulfillment.

Yet this kind of fulfillment ultimately fails. Sin is deceitful. It lies about the consequences. When we look only at the short-term pleasure, we lose sight of long-term consequences. That’s why we fantasize about pleasure, but we never fantasize about getting caught.

The Tempting of the First Adam

The account of the Fall in Genesis 3 shows us what happens when we ignore the long-term consequences of giving in to temptation.

“Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made” ( a NASB).

That’s how the account begins: “Now the serpent was more crafty.” Notice how shrewd the serpent is. He wants to make God look like a cosmic killjoy, so he twists God’s words and tempts Adam and Eve. He wants to keep them (and us) from realizing the consequences by looking at the short-term pleasure instead of long-term effects.

Satan tempts Adam and Eve with “the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life” ( NASB).

They look at the fruit and see that it is good for food, and they lust with their flesh. They see that the fruit is a delight, and they lust with their eyes. They hear that the fruit will give them knowledge, and they fall to the boastful pride of life.

And the consequences were and are more far-reaching than Adam and Eve anticipated:

  • Adam and Eve were separated from God, no longer able to walk with Him.
  • They were separated from themselves, giving in to sin.
  • They were separated from each other, not understanding one another.
  • They were separated from the natural world, experiencing pain and hardship and suffering.

The torment of consequences is far greater than the torment of resisting temptation.

The Triumph of the Second Adam

Thankfully, our story does not end with Adam and Eve.

Luke 4 tells us that Satan tried to tempt Jesus, the Second Adam, to look at short-term pleasures, just as he did the first Adam. He tried to tempt Jesus to the lust of the flesh by telling Him to turn stones into bread. He tried to tempt Jesus to the lust of the eyes by showing Him all the kingdoms of the world. He tried to tempt Jesus to the boastful pride of life by urging Him to jump off of the temple and prove His power.

Jesus withstood the test; He knew the long-term consequences outweighed the short-term reward. By trusting in Him for salvation, we too can look past present temptation to a future with God.

We are a new creation, and we have true pleasure in Him forevermore.

Copyright © 2019 Ken Boa, used with permission.

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About The Author


Ken Boa has been engaged in a ministry of relational evangelism and discipleship, teaching, writing, and speaking for more than 40 years. An author of more than 50 books (from Zondervan, Thomas Nelson, Tyndale House, and NavPress, among others), his titles include Conformed to His Image, Handbook to Prayer, Life in the Presence of God, and Faith Has Its Reasons; he is also an editor or contributor to multiple Bibles and winner of three Gold Medallion Book Awards. View a complete list of books authored by Ken Boa. As founder and president of Reflections Ministries (based in Atlanta), he seeks