The Pleasure of Pleasure


According to medical studies, it is suggested that all cholesterol is not the same. An article in U. S. News & World Report reportedly said that there is “good cholesterol” and “bad cholesterol.” Good cholesterol consists of high-density lipoproteins or HDL’s. Bad cholesterol consists of low-density lipoproteins, or LDL’s. Bad cholesterol clogs arteries and leads to heart attacks. But good cholesterol is believed to prevent blockages as it is said to carry the cholesterol out of the coronary-artery walls. It is asserted that studies have shown as HDL levels rise, the rate of coronary heart disease falls.

Just as there is good and bad cholesterol, there is also good and bad pleasure. The Bible says that good pleasure is healthy when one submits to God and his Word. But bad pleasure is unhealthy when one disobeys God and His Word. (Citation: 750 Engaging Illustrations for Preachers, Teachers, and Writers by Craig Brian Larson)

We don’t have to read beyond the first three chapters of the Bible to know what happens when humanity chooses bad pleasure. When the woman looked at the forbidden tree in the Garden of Eden she just couldn’t resist the pleasure she thought she’d enjoy if she ate its fruit. “When the woman saw that the tree was good for food and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate…,” (Gen. 3:6a). Her husband also gave in to the temptation: “…and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate,” (Gen. 3:6b). Giving in to bad pleasure brought on the curse of sin ever since. We live in pain and suffering and death—all as a result of Adam and Eve who chose bad pleasure. “Therefore, just as through one man [Adam] sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned…” (Romans 5:12, New American Standard Version, NASB).

The irony of bad pleasure is that it seems good at the time. What looked and felt good for Adam and Eve turned out to be the worst thing they could ever do. But their desire was in direct opposition to God’s will so, therefore, they paid the ultimate penalty for their deed.

Lest we be too critical of the first human couple, we must confess that we’re in the same boat. More times than not we look at something we “just can’t resist” thinking it will give us great satisfaction and, instead, it ends up giving us great disappointment. Things like getting even, pursuing the latest trends, following the crowd, various addictions, and material gain might appear to set us on the road to happiness—and it might for awhile—but in the end only leads to a dead-end street of despair and ultimately destruction. Jesus put it this way: “Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it. For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find,” (Matt. 7:13-14).

The popular thing that everyone else is doing—the broad way—is more likely to be the bad pleasure that leads to destruction, namely being sentenced to eternal death. In the parable of the Rich Fool, Jesus told the story of a rich, worldly person who put his personal security in all that he came to possess. So, he was going to live it up as he declared, “And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have many good laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink, and be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’” Jesus concludes, “So is the man who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God,” (Luke 12:16-21). See also 1 John 2:15-17; Galatians 5:19-21.

The Bible is quite clear about the foolishness of bad or worldly pleasure. Among other tragedies, it results in poverty (Proverbs 21:17), false security (Isa. 47:8-9), unproductiveness (Luke 8:14), and suffering (2 Peter 2:13). After looking back at all he had amassed by all of his wisdom , Solomon stated, “Thus, I considered all my activities which my hands had done and the labor which I had exerted, and behold all was vanity and striving after wind and there was no profit under the sun,” (Ecclesiastes 2:11).

Speaking of vanity, I found this funny tongue-in-cheek poem titled, “A Yuppies Prayer”:

Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray my Cuisinart to keep,
I pray my stocks are on the rise,
And that my analyst is wise,
That all the wine I sip is white,
And that my hot tub’s watertight.
That racquetball won’t get too tough,
That all my sushi’s fresh enough.
I pray my iphone always works,
That my career won’t lose its perks.
My microwave won’t radiate,
My condo won’t depreciate.
I pray my health club doesn’t close,
And that my money market grows,
If I go broke before I wake,
I pray my Volvo they won’t take.

In contrast, the least popular thing that most people avoid—the narrow gate—is most likely the pleasure that is good for us since it leads to life, namely eternal life in the Kingdom of God. Take Moses, for example. The great Lawgiver of Israel who led Israel from bondage to freedom on their journey to the land of promise is credited with turning down “the pleasures of sin” in view of his faith in God: “By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God, than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin; considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward,” (Hebrews 11:24-26). Moses is listed among those who will inherit the Kingdom of God (Heb. 11:40).

When we live by faith we enjoy the good pleasures that brings greater, more lasting rewards than what bad or worldly pleasures will bring. Consider the following passages about the good pleasures God brings to our lives:

David declared, “To do thy pleasure, my God, I have delighted. And thy law is within my heart,” (Psalm 40:8, Young’s Literal Translation, YLT).

The Apostle Paul advised Timothy, “Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy,” (1 Tim. 6:17).

The apostle said to the Ephesian Church, “He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention [literally, good pleasure] of His will….He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention [literally, good pleasure] which He purposed in Him,” (Eph. 1:5, 9). When we pleasure in doing God’s will, we bring pleasure to him, and this brings blessings to us as well as praise to him (Ezekiel 18:23).

Our good pleasure is to produce the good fruit of God’s Spirit with the expectation of inheriting eternal life and entering the Kingdom of God (Gal. 5:22-23). The Good News is that the real pleasure of pleasure is living the life God wants us to live and enjoying the many blessings that result: the joys and rewards of service, sacrifice, and sharing our hope with others.  These are the true pleasures that bringing lasting happiness.

Now, for your good pleasure, here is a Messianic worship song from Psalm 16:5-11 titled, “At Your Right Hand Are Pleasures Forevermore”:

Good News to YOU!
Pastor Michael

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