Introduction: Disney has a ride where you pretend that you are in a
microscopic “boat” and you go sailing into a person’s mouth, then
lungs, then deeper and deeper into the circulatory system. That is
how I feel about these lessons. Last week we learned that sin begins
with the thoughts, not with what we do. We sailed from the hand into
the heart. This week we sail even deeper into the mind and study our
desires and our nature. Let’s jump into our boat and set sail into
the topic of desire!

  1. Creation of Desire

    1. Read Genesis 2:8-9. We learn that God created a garden for
      Adam. What is the purpose of a garden?

      1. What purpose is mentioned in Genesis 2:9? (That the
        trees in the garden were pleasing to the eye and
        provided good food.)

        1. Why would God want to create trees that were
          pleasing to the eye? What need is there for

        2. When it says that the food God created was
          “good,” do you understand that to mean it was
          tasty? (Although the word translated “good,”
          means good in every way, I believe that it was
          tasty for the simple reason that God created in
          us the ability to taste.)

    2. Read Genesis 2:21-24. What do you think Eve looked like?
      Beautiful or not? (It is hard to believe that God would
      creates trees ( Genesis 2:9) that were pleasing to the eye
      and create a woman who was not.)

      1. When it says that Adam and Eve became “one flesh,” to
        what does that refer? (It refers to the process of
        having children.)

      2. Why did God make conceiving children fun?

    3. Are we seeing a pattern here? God creates surroundings
      that are pleasant to look at, food that is good to eat and
      a method for reproduction of the race which is highly
      enjoyable. (The pattern is that God created pleasure for

      1. What does this teach us about God and desires? (That
        God created desires in us.)

          1. Would it have been better for God to
            create tasteless food and pleasure-less
            sex? (We would be thinner – and there
            would be fewer of us. But life would not
            be the same.)

  2. Desire and the Creation of Sin

    1. Read Genesis 3:1-3. Why did the serpent ask Eve to repeat
      what God had said? (My guess is that he wanted no later
      debate about what Eve did. He did not want her to claim
      she stumbled and accidentally took a bite.)

    2. Read Genesis 3:4-5. What is Satan’s argument for
      disobeying God? (That God wants to keep Eve from being
      like God. That if she eats she will know the things that
      God knows.)

    3. Read Genesis 3:6. Why did Eve eat the fruit? Was it her
      hunger? Her desire for food? (The claim Eve sinned because
      of her appetite makes no logical sense to me. She was
      surrounded by trees with good fruit. It was not food which
      made her sin, it was her desire to be like God.)

      1. If I am right that it was not appetite that caused
        Eve to sin, then why does Genesis 3:6 say the fruit
        was “good for food and pleasing to the eye?” (Do you
        think that Satan would have handed her a moldy, wormy
        apple? It had to be appealing.)

    4. Let’s step back a minute. We learned that God created
      desire in us as a good thing. How did Satan use human
      desire in this story? (He uses our desires to attract us
      to sin.)

      1. What lesson does that teach us about sin and desire?
        (Desire is not sin. Desire is a tool that Satan uses
        to attract us to sin. The issue becomes whether the
        object of our desire is appropriate. In law school
        they taught me that the most important step in
        correctly resolving a legal dispute was to determine
        the issue. The issue in the Eve account was not
        appetite. If it were, you could argue that desire
        itself was sin. Instead, the issue was whether one
        could use his own schemes to become like God. That is
        a consistent problem from the fall of Satan through
        to the issue of acquiring righteousness today.)

  3. Deeper Into Desire

    1. Read 1 Peter 1:13-16. So far we have learned that God
      created desire and that desire is not inherently good or
      evil. How do we square that conclusion with Peter’s
      statement about “evil” desires? Is our conclusion wrong?
      (If you look at these three verses the overall theme seems
      to be to set proper goals. Aim to be holy. This suggests
      that if our aim is wrong, our desires are evil. If our aim
      is proper, our desires are proper.)

      1. What does this suggest about the relationship between
        thoughts and desires? (In tracing the line of sin we
        went from hands, to hearts to desire. Desire was
        found by drilling deeper than thought. Peter suggests
        to us that our thoughts, Godly goals, and Godly
        learning control our deeper desires.)

    2. Read Romans 7:7. Do you recall that last week we discussed
      that the commandment against coveting was a recognition
      that sin began in the mind? Why do you think Paul chooses
      that commandment over any other to use as an illustration?
      (A failure in the thought department leads to the
      violation of the other commandments. Paul teaches us that
      the law is critical to help us learn about this kind of

    3. Read Romans 7:8. Does Paul disagree with Peter? If we
      correctly understand Peter to say that our thoughts
      control our desires, how can Paul teach that controlling
      our thoughts (learning we should not covet) produces all
      sorts of evil desires? Are evil desires produced by good
      thoughts? Are evil desires produced by the knowledge that
      we should think good thoughts?

      1. Have you ever seen a sign telling you not to do
        something that makes you think about doing it? For
        example, you see a sign in the bathroom that says,
        “Don’t write on the walls.” Does that make you want
        to write on the walls? (Normally, I would not even
        consider writing on the wall of the bathroom. I’m in
        the bathroom for something other than literary
        pursuits. But the sign makes me consider what others
        have written and the entire issue. Paul says that
        being told not to do something, makes us think about
        doing it.)

    4. Let’s read a little more. Read Romans 7:18-21. Here Paul
      tells us he has the right desires, the right thoughts, but
      the wrong actions. Should we determine that the conclusion
      to our carefully thought-out study for the last two weeks
      is just wrong? Can we realize the battle over sin is in
      the mind, put the right stuff in, have the right aims, the
      right desires, and still be swamped with sinful actions?
      (Paul is adding two very important points to our
      discussion. Although we learned that God created desires
      in us and those desires in themselves were neutral, after
      Adam and Eve, the rest of us were born with what Paul
      calls “my sinful nature.” This powerful force pushes our
      thoughts, desires and deeds towards sin. Compare 2 Peter
      2:10 to see that Peter agrees on this point.)

      1. Remember we started out with the illustration of
        Disney’s boat ride? It seems that when it comes to
        our conduct, we are traveling down from our hands, to
        our hearts (thoughts) to our desires to our sinful
        nature. We drill down to a nature which Paul (and
        therefore us) cannot control.

      2. What is the solution to the problem of our sinful
        nature? (Paul’s second important point is that God,
        and only God, can rescue us from our sinful nature.)

        1. How does the Eve account, the account of the
          fall of humans, fit into this? (Eve wanted to be
          like God through her own devices. God calls on
          us to trust Him. We need His power to overcome
          our sinful nature.)

    5. Read Romans 9:16. How does what Paul is writing fit our
      discussion so far? Is he now saying that our relationship
      with God has nothing, zero, to do with our thoughts and
      desires? Or, are we wrong in concluding that our thoughts
      and desires have an extraordinary amount to do with our
      relationship with God? (The answer, again, is the “God
      component” of things. We must realize that all of our
      efforts to be good, even those focused on our thoughts,
      are simply not sufficient without the power of God’s
      Spirit in our life. It is an acknowledgment that God has
      the power to give effect to our choice of right thoughts.
      Acknowledging the place of God’s power and authority, also
      acknowledges that we defer to Him on the issue of

      1. Those of you who are troubled by this verse may read
        further ( Romans 9:17-18) and become even more
        troubled. Will God, because He has the ultimate
        power, be arbitrary in His decision on salvation? Was
        He arbitrary with Pharaoh? (If He were to be
        arbitrary, we would have no basis to complain. See
        Romans 9:20-21. However, what has been revealed to us
        shows that God was not arbitrary when it came to
        Pharaoh. If you compare Exodus 8 with Exodus 9, you
        will see that Pharaoh hardened his heart towards God
        before God hardened Pharaoh’s heart.)

    6. Friend, God created our desires. He asks us to set our
      thoughts on those things which will encourage a desire for
      good. But, in all aspects of our Christian walk, whether
      in our thoughts or in our deeds, we must remember that we
      depend completely on God for our salvation. Will you ask
      God for that power in your life?

  4. Next week: Lord of Our Speech.