Satisfaction or Pleasure
Learning to know what brings true satisfaction rather than temporary pleasure is one of the main tasks of progressing successfully through childhood maturity. Yet it is what I feel I am just now beginning to learn more completely.
Learning what satisfies in preference to what brings immediate gratification requires being equipped with self-control. Teaching self-control is nearly a lost science in the arena of parenting for many. Because parents live for the present and often have very little maturity or self-control themselves, they are incapable of passing along skills they themselves have never acquired. But without healthy self-control a person seldom can discover what brings long-term satisfaction and they easily become victims to addictions that appeal to the cravings for pleasure.
Pleasure without self-control leaves one empty and even more hungry for satisfaction. We are created to thrive on satisfaction which stimulates true growth and maturity. But pleasure sought outside of self-control that keeps us in line with the principles of health and life in every arena is debilitating and inhibits growth. Many pleasures are derived from self-destructive behaviors and even worse, they often involve exploitation of others. Pleasures that exploit either others or our own well being are rooted in the counterfeit system to God's plan for living a satisfied life of growth and maturity. These pleasures short-circuit our systems and rob us of the very relationships that should bring us life.
Pleasure over satisfaction involves the worshiping of false gods. The concept of gods to start with is rooted in our desire to seek sources from which to derive life for ourselves, which in itself is a legitimate, God-designed longing. But when we turn to any other sources other than what God provides for us to use that fit in His own plans for our lives, then we disconnect from the circuit designed to bring satisfaction and begin to destroy our lives by seeking 'strange fire' sources from which to get life.
The three types of lust listed by John relate to this directly. Lust is actually defined as the deep craving to have something immediately. This is the kind of craving that fuels addictions that look for instant pleasures in preference to long-term satisfaction.
Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever. (1 John 2:15-17)
Lust is the driving force behind everything that fails to satisfy and is the main motivation for all that the world stands for. Lust fuels the counterfeit system of the world. But lustful pleasure resists depending on God or alignment with His principles of reality and disconnects us from the only Source of life in the universe. The world only recycles life second-hand because it does not have any life within itself to give. This is why the world is passing away because all of the fuel it needs to function is being used up without seeking more from God. People steal life from others in all sorts of ways in attempts to feel more alive themselves for a little longer. But unless we turn to receive new life and real satisfaction from the only Source that can supply fresh life to our souls, we will expire along with the world.
Satan is the author of this counterfeit system that is doomed to extinction. That is why Jesus stated categorically, The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. (John 10:10) When one operates disconnected from the only Source of life, to maintain life one has to rob others of the life in them in order to stay alive and feel half decent a little longer. And even all of this can only happen because of the grace of God that prevents the immediate consequences of sin from wiping us out.
God's grace has given us a period called probation in which we are offered opportunity to cooperate with God's repair process and learn to connect with Him to receive life and experience true satisfaction. If we fail to take advantage of this gift of time and choose to allow the Spirit to rewire our thinking, we will live out the lusts of the world and will die away along with the world sooner or later.
How does one learn to make choices in favor of what satisfies as opposed to what quickly feels good? They must learn this through various experiences and have it modeled to them by others who have more maturity. We all need much more training both intellectually but even more so emotionally, how to perceive what is motivated by lust verses what will bring true satisfaction and growth. The more we indulge our appetites and passions at the expense of growth and maturity the more we will suffer under the curse. On the other hand, the more we choose to bring our appetites and passions under control, to defer pleasures in order to experience true satisfaction through self-discipline, the more we will feel whole and alive and truly happy.
True happiness can only be experienced when one is in alignment with the principles under which we were created and lives in healthy relationship with others. These principles are often distilled into what we call 'laws', but these principle-based laws are very different than the arbitrary kinds of laws that the world imposes on us. God's laws are not vindictive or punishment-based laws or arbitrary expressions of selfish people seeking to control others like earthly laws often are. Rather, heaven's laws are simply expressions of what is sometimes called 'natural law'. They define how we can experience growth and satisfaction and integration into the healthy society of the rest of the universe outside our sinful world.
We are living in a time of history when pleasure-seeking predominates nearly everyone's thinking. Evil is on a sharp increase while maturity becomes less and less evident. Self-control is out of vogue and self-indulgence is promoted as the popular option for everyone. Selfishness is the driving force behind everything that is involved in sin; and the perfection of sin is fast approaching.
Those who want to live a better life, to come under the authority of God and be salvaged from the self-destroying lusts of this world, face daunting obstacles and intense pressure to remain conformed to the false principles around us. Only by submitting completely to God, by surrendering our will in deference to His will and becoming intimately acquainted with Jesus and allowing Him full access to our hearts can any escape the corruption that is in the world through lust.
His divine power has given us everything needed for life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Thus he has given us, through these things, his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of lust, and may become participants of the divine nature. (2 Peter 1:3-4 NRSV)
Father, help each of us to see more clearly our own true condition and our desperate need to discern between what only brings self-destructive pleasure and what brings true, life-giving satisfaction. Open our eyes to the ways in which we are ruining ourselves physically, emotionally, spiritually and socially by allowing lust to blind us to what we truly need to thrive and live. Bring us into closer relationship to You and teach us your principles of life that bring true satisfaction, joy and stimulates real growth.