Hebrews 11:24-25 (NIV)
By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time.
After many years of shepherding God’s people, I have learned that no amount of preaching or teaching can ever persuade anyone to love and seek the Lord with their whole heart, mind, and strength.
In order for anyone to become more pious, they must first come to the point where their souls have grown dissatisfied with the pleasures of this world. A preacher can pound on the pulpit all day long, run up and down the center isle, and even raise people from the dead, but if the people in the pews (or at home) are not dissatisfied with the pleasures and the vain distractions of this world, they will absolutely resist any invitation to delve deeper into the spiritual life.
One of the main reasons why we sin is because we find it pleasurable. When Eve considered the serpent’s invitation to eat of the forbidden fruit, she saw that it was “good for food and pleasing to the eye and desirable for gaining wisdom.” (Gen. 3:6)
Sin promises a sense of satisfaction based upon the “knowledge” or “wisdom” one can attain by experiencing it. For instance, young men will oftentimes feel enticed to have pre-marital sex, not necessarily because of the allurement of external pleasures, but rather because of the desire to satisfy the inner need to feel wanted by the opposite gender and respected by other young men. Regardless of the rationale behind Biblical morality, the illusory pleasure of being wanted and respected will oftentimes be of greater worth to the individual than any perceived pleasures promised by God. (Jn. 3:19; Rom. 1:32)
This means, that in order to seek pleasure in the things of the world, the individual must be in a mode of resistance to any promise of transcendental pleasures that could possibly be attained through God-consciousness and spirit-living.
In other words, acedia, or spiritual slothfulness, is always (without exception) a choice of a soul based on the belief that truly-satisfying pleasures can be found outside of a vigorous relationship with God and an active fellowship with believers. It is only when the soul becomes entirely convinced of its inner dissatisfaction with the things of this world, that it can possibly be ready to have ears to hear “the good news” of transcendental pleasures as a result of a devotionally-robust relationship with God.
One of the main factors that motivated Lord Jesus to raise himself from the dead was the promise of transcendental pleasures at the right hand of God after experiencing the Cross. (Ps. 16:9-11; Heb. 12:2)
It is true that in our daily struggle to serve the Lord, that we must make the effort to daily crucify our flesh with Christ (Gal. 2:20) by resisting the desires of the flesh. (Gal. 5:16-17). On the other hand, self-crucifixion (or self-denial) is a waste of time unless we consciously delve into the joys of a robust and pleasurable devotional life. If we are engaged in simply “starving” the flesh of its sinful desires, without the pleasures of devotional living, we are doomed to fail in trying to consistently live holy and Christian lives.
The key to overcoming sin is not through ascetic living (Col. 2:22-23) but rather, by allowing oneself to be guided by our pastor-teachers towards a robust devotional life. It is when we allow for our teachers to guide us through the process of discipleship, that we become ready to experience the transcendental joys and pleasures of God’s Word and Christian living as active members of the community of Faith. (Ps. 119:103; 133:1)
When we come to taste the pleasures of devotional living, worship and God’s Word, sin loses its flavor, and the distractions of this world become unattractive because of the transcendental pleasures we experience in God’s presence through Jesus Christ.
Psalm 63:3,5 (NIV)- Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you.