Life’s True Pleasures Pt. 1
Diogenes, a Greek Philosopher, was asked at a feast to which he had been invited, why he did not continue eating as the rest of the guests did. He answered the inquirer with a question of his own. He asked, “Why do you continue eating?” The indulgent eater responded,
“I EAT FOR MY PLEASURE.”
And Diogenes responded,
“AND I ABSTAIN FROM MORE EATING FOR MY PLEASURE.”
Of course, the second and third helping consumer could not fathom how Diogenes’ pleasure source could be the exact opposite of his own. After all:
“HOW COULD ABSTINENCE GIVE AS MUCH PLEASURE
IF NOT MORE THAN GLUTTONY?”
I think that Diogenes would be unknowingly close to this truth:
“WE WERE DESIGNED BY OUR CREATOR TO BE CREATURES WHO EAT
IN ORDER TO LIVE, AND WHO DO NOT LIVE IN ORDER TO EAT.”
(By the way, Diogenes is the same fellow who once said:
“BURY ME ON MY FACE, BECAUSE IN A LITTLE WHILE EVERYTHING
WILL BE TURNED UPSIDE DOWN.”
Ole Diogenes may have had more spiritual insight than we give him credit for.)
Two men of faith went to Heaven at the same time. Overwhelmed by the glory of it all, one of the men said to the other:
“I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO SAY EXCEPT THAT HEAVEN IS FAR MORE
MARVELOUS THAN I HAD EVER IMAGINED.”
Said the other:
“YES, AND JUST TO THINK WE COULD HAVE COME HERE MUCH EARLIER IF
WE HADN’T EATEN ALL OF THAT HEALTH FOOD.”
THE SENSUAL AND THE SPIRITUAL
It is very hard if not impossible for much of the world, and many religious people too, to even begin to understand that the greatest pleasures and joys in life are not in the seen but in the unseen, not in the physical but in the spiritual, not in the temporal but in the eternal.
But could it possibly be:
“THAT MAN CAN ACTUALLY FIND INFINITELY GREATER PLEASURE IN THE
FULFILLMENT OF HIS SPIRIT THAN HE EVER DID IN THE
FULFILLMENT OF HIS SENSES?”
If you will:
“THAT ONCE ONE TRULY TASTES OF THE LIVING WATER AND THE BREAD OF
LIFE THAT IS JESUS CHRIST, EVERYTHING ELSE IS AS TASTELESS
AS A BALE OF HAY TO A THIRSTY AND HUNGRY LION.”
Jesus Christ claims it to be so, and those who eat and drink Him daily have proved Him super-deliciously true. In fact, once you have tasted of Him, to settle for anything else would be like angels enjoying the pleasures of pigs.
So He says to the five-husbands-going-on-six sensual woman at the well in John 4:13-14,
“Everyone who drinks of this water shall thirst again,”
“but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall
never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall
become a well of water springing up to eternal life.”
To keep this awesome truth from men is to keep them under the torment of unsatisfied desires as they continue to seek pleasure in all of the wrong places and people.
It all reminds me of the man who received a call from an employment agency in Florida. They said, “We have found a job for you, but there is one question for you, ‘Can you pick lemons.” He said,
“BOY CAN I. I HAVE BEEN MARRIED 5 TIMES.”
Here are some amazing truths from the eternal well of delights and total satisfaction that Jesus gives us:
FIRST, the artesian well of pleasures and refreshments that Jesus puts within us is portable, as we carry the Jesus Well within our hearts. We don’t have to travel for pleasure, for it travels with us, or should I say, HE TRAVELS WITH US AND IN US.
SECOND, here we read that Jesus alone gives us a well of pleasures and delights springing up in us ETERNALLY. Unlike the pleasures of the world which expire just when they begin to satisfy. After a few moments of limited refreshment, they are gone. And so man continues his always unsatisfied pleasure hunt.
THIRD, we will never have to thirst for fulfillment or pleasure again. Jesus’ well inside is fulfillment and pleasure flowing in us, through us, and out of us in the extreme. It is the infinite satisfying the finite within, so much so that, as the Psalmist in Psalm 23:5 puts it with another analogy – OUR CUPS RUN OVER.
Finite pleasure never completely nor continuously satisfies. For instance, so many people find pleasure in the receiving of applause and notoriety. Really now, who doesn’t? In fact, they are so fond of it, that like King Nebuchadnezzar they pursue it in all that they do. They spend their entire life polishing their egos to a high luster. Problem is, like lightning, applause and honor only briefly flash upon one’s face, and then they are gone – yesterday’s headlines. And what is more, very few of us will ever get our picture in the paper, except perhaps in our obituary when we are in no condition to enjoy it.
And more than that when it comes to people giving us kudos, people by in large are all about what have you done for them lately. They are better takers than givers, and so applause and honor come at a great price which never stops being paid. If you will:
“APPLAUSE AND HONOR ARE SUCH GRATING AND DEMANDING PLEASURES.”
SPIRIT – SOUL – BODY
The key to understanding all of this is that every man at his core-essence is a SPIRIT BEING, not a PHYSICAL BEING. Here it is:
“HUMAN BEINGS ARE NOT BODIES, WHO HAVE SOULS,
AND WHO LIVE IN SPIRITS.”
“HUMAN BEINGS ARE SPIRITS, WHO HAVE SOULS, AND
WHO LIVE IN BODIES.”
Therefore, if man is to find true fulfillment and highest pleasure in his life, he must find it on the spiritual level, and not on the soulish or physical level. Life’s truest and greatest pleasures do not exist in the natural, but rather in the supernatural.
Of course there are many physical and mental pleasures/body and soul pleasures that the Lord gives us to enjoy. The pleasures of eating! The pleasures of marital sex! The pleasures of recreation and sports. The pleasures of sightseeing and travel. The pleasures of falling in love. The pleasures of family and friends. The pleasures of the stork’s arrival. The pleasures of reading and writing. The pleasures of wealth. The pleasure of sleeping, especially on a cold winter night in Michigan where the bed is the warmest place to be. On and on it goes.
But so many of those pleasures have been poisoned by Satan and by sin. Many marriages and homes have scarred and chopped woodwork that have fallen victim to the slash of bayonets and sabers wielded by combat hardened hearts and hands. Parents whose hearts have been slashed by the cruelty of their children and vice versa.
We read in I Timothy 6:17,
“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.”
The KJV puts it:
“…but in the living God Who richly gives us all things to enjoy.”
But even there, God points us to Himself as our central and highest focus!
We read of the tri-nature of man prioritized in I Thessalonians 5:23,
“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely: and may your spirit
and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the
coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Notice immediately that the primary focus is the spirit, not the soul or the body! Hear it:
“HOW QUICKLY THE UNREGENERATE SPIRIT WEARIES OF THE SPIRITUAL, BUT
HOW QUICKLY THE REGENERATE SPIRIT WEARIES OF THE PHYSICAL.”
I recall the grandmother who asked me to conduct the funeral of her little dead granddaughter, and I immediately said that we should meet with the parents first. The grandmother’s daughter quickly took charge and said that if I was going to get into that JESUS STUFF, she did not want me doing the service. She only wanted the natural, not the supernatural; the horizontal, not the vertical; the physical and the soulish, not the spiritual. How infinite the distance between the unbeliever’s and the believer’s comforts and pleasures. A world, an eternity apart!
I want you to think about the statement of David in Psalm 119:97,
“Oh how I love Thy Law! It is my meditation all the day.”
You talk about a one track spirit and mind! How constant and exalted the pleasure David found from his meditation on and in the Divine law of God. Spiritual and moral truths were the main themes in his life. Not the affairs of state, not the government of kingdom, nor the might he could employ. His spirit and soul were continually refreshed by God’s Word. What a magnificent all-day, every-day addiction and pleasure!
Read David’s words closely. The problem is that we know them too well. Read them again. What he is saying is that the pleasures from the Word of God – the spiritual and the mental are so great, so intense, so engrossing, that there is no room or time left for any other pleasure.
Oh yes, I am sure that he took time to fulfill the inferior operations and functions of the natural, like going to the bathroom and maybe even taking a snooze. But I am sure he looked upon them as interruptions and inconveniences with no extra time wasted on them.
Most people, even religious people, spend far more time eating and drinking than they do meditating on the Word of God. They feed their bods with the temporal, but seldom feed their hearts with eternal truth. And they wonder why they are so restless and unfulfilled. The same people view fasting as torture.
How far apart and disproportionate are the feeding of the stomach with physical food, and the feeding of the mind and spirit with spiritual food. How can physical and spiritual pleasure’s vast disparity be measured? Oh, perhaps by this:
“THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A PIG AT HIS SLOP, AND AN ANGEL
CONTEMPLATING THE GLORY OF GOD.”
Does that tick you off? If it does, that is the bad sign of a carnal religionist. Hear it! When we meditate upon the Word, the object is no less than God Himself, and that in His very being and His works. Then the eye of the spirit, like the eye of the eagle, directs itself chiefly to the sun, a glory that allows no equal or superior. Yes:
“WHEN WE ARE CAUGHT UP IN THE WORD OF THE LORD, WE ARE CAUGHT UP
IN THE LORD OF THE WORD.”
There is no greater delight or pleasure than the great God Himself in His attributes and self-disclosures. Yes indeed:
“THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A SOW AT HER WASH, AND A CHRISTIAN IN THE
WORD IS STILL AN UNDERSTATED CONTRAST.”
Any religion that majors in money and stuff, and equalizes the material and the spiritual, is a carnal religion, and is leading people away from the true pleasures of life in Christ. It is a false religion, and must be avoided and decried.
“NOTHING CAN BE COMPARABLE TO A PARTICULAR AND PREVAILING
THOUGHT OF GOD THAT INSPIRES THE SPIRIT, ENLARGES THE MIND,
AND REFRESHES THE BODY WITH NEW DISCOVERIES
OF THE GLORIOUS GOD.”
I am sure that you have said to someone, or someone has said to you:
“THANK YOU FOR THE PLEASURE OF YOUR COMPANY.”
Those words are never more truthfully spoken than when they are spoken to God in PRAYER AND SCRIPTURE MEDITATION:
“THANK YOU MY GOD FOR THE PLEASURE OF YOUR COMPANY, FOR
YOU ARE THE GREATEST PLEASURE IN MY LIFE.”
From another and very different perspective of the physical/body and the spiritual/spirit, this is more of a personal observation than anything, but I think it is an apt one. I happen to have been an athlete my entire life, and one of the sports I enjoyed playing and now watching is football. To my wife it looks like a bunch of goons trying to hurt each other. I understand, for if you do not understand the designs and the thought behind football, it appears somewhat less than sane.
But as I watch, I can sense the many who are dominated by flesh, and the few who are indwelt by a right spirit. So often I see a player who literally creams an opponent and sends him sprawling. Not only that, but having decimated the opposition, now he goes into a gyration-dance celebration flaunting his conquest, as his enemy lays there gasping for breath or writhing in pain or both. That is his ultimate delight and pleasure, not only sending someone into coo coo land, but doing a victory dance over his crumpled body.
Very few times do I see, though I do see it, that the tackler helps the tackled to his feet, and pats him on the rump to show his care and concern. That last act defines him and his healthy and right spirit, and shows where he finds his ultimate delight and fulfillment.
Modern sport is dominated by the physical and not by the spiritual. Professional sport is in so many ways, like society, spiritually and morally bankrupt. It is the Roman amphitheater, the bloody gladiators, and the flesh-eating masses all over again. And in it all, the spiritually motivated like Tim Tebow become a cosmic controversy.
(I know, I would be laughed out of the NFL by the flesh eaters and flesh maulers.)
LAUGHTER AND TEARS
This brings us to Proverbs 14:13 KJV where we read,
“Even in laughter the heart is sorrowful, and the end of
that mirth is heaviness.”
I have seen this verbatim over and over again in the lives of men, that is:
“EVEN IN THEIR LAUGHTER THEIR HEARTS ARE SORROWFUL.”
Sitting with them and gently probing their lives, I have witnessed them again and again in this sin-ravaged and carnally-debased society, laughing themselves into sorrow. On Friday Night Bar Ministry, I have watched and listened to their alcohol- induced hilarity and guffaw melted away by tears of loneliness, emptiness, and pain. Over and over I have witnessed their slobbering turned into sobbing. Tears of laughter soon turn to tears of pain and sorrow.
True joy, full joy, eternal joy can only be found and experienced in the Lord God, which is why we read in Psalm 16:11,
“…In Thy presence is fullness of joy; and in Thy right hand there are
Full joy and eternal pleasures can only be found in the spiritual, not in the physical. More exactly, they are found only in God’s presence and right hand. If we look for them in any other presence or hand, we will come up empty again and again.
We might put it all this way:
“THE MAN WHO FINDS ALL OF HIS JOYS AND PLEASURES IN JESUS WHO ALONE
IS THE PEARL OF GREAT PRICE, IS LIKE THE MAN PUTTING ALL OF HIS
VALUE INTO ONE JEWEL. THE VALUE IS THE SAME AND THE
ACCESSIBILITY GREATER, FOR JESUS OUR
TREASURE LIVES WITHIN US.”
Are we saying that Christians have no agony but only ecstasy? Of course not, for the wise man tells us in Ecclesiastes 3:4 that in all human lives in this world,
“There is a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn,
and a time to dance.”
I think we can safely and accurately put it this way:
“FOR THE UNBELIEVER, IN HIS LAUGHTER HIS HEART IS SORROWFUL;
BUT FOR THE BELIEVER, IN HIS SORROW HIS HEART IS JOYFUL.”
“THOSE WHO HAVE NOT YET HAD THE BURDEN OF SIN AND GUILT MELTED
OFF THEIR HEARTS BY THE BLOOD OF JESUS, THEY HAVE THE
GREATEST JOY IN THIS WORLD YET TO COME – THE
JOY OF SALVATION.”
I mean, think of it:
“THAT DIVINE JUSTICE, WHICH SHOULD RIGHTLY PUNISH SINNERS FOREVER
IN CONSUMING BUT NEVER CONSUMED FLAMES, IS INSTEAD COMPLETELY
SATISFIED BY THE BLOOD OF THE INNOCENT ONE WHO BECAME OUR
OUR SIN AND SUFFERED OUR HELL, IS A PERPETUAL MIRACLE
OF THE GREATEST JOY KNOWN IN HEAVEN AND ON EARTH.”
Charles Spurgeon summed it all up when he stated:
“I NEVER KNEW WHAT THE HEARTY LAUGH AND WHAT THE HAPPY FACE
MEANT UNTIL I MET JESUS CHRIST.”
I must ask you:
“HAVE YOU HAD THE AWESOME PLEASURE OF MEETING HIM?” Amen!