The road to true pleasure

The Bible tells us that God created man in His own image. A major characteristic of man is a conscious desire for joy and pleasure. It is accurate to assume that since we were created with this desire it must also be a part of God's own nature. This fact is confirmed by a Scripture verse in Psalms 16:11 "In thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore." The view that pleasure and the desire for it is a terrible flaw in human nature is opposed to what the Bible teaches. What the Bible does teach is that the pursuit of pleasure apart from a right moral connection to the Creator is not only wrong, but futile and frighteningly destructive.

A recent news report makes the topic of pleasure even more interesting. Studies of human brain activity have isolated a small area of the human brain they have called the pleasure and reward center. This tiny area of the brain is highly addictive to rewards and pleasure and is therefore a major source of motivation for human activity. Without wise self control and perspective, the pleasure center will lead to irrational and destructive behavior. We are witnesses these days to an incredible pattern of destructive behavior including the lives of some that are dearest to us - family and friends. How can this be explained? For one thing, many are convinced that they know what would bring them true happiness and ultimately put their restless hearts at peace and therefore feel they don't need direction from their Creator. The fact is, most people don't have the foggiest idea of what they want. Second, is the mistaken belief that, with sufficient material resources, pleasures can be easily found and purchased like a hamburger at the McDonald's drive-in. The Cross of Jesus Christ contradicts this illusion. A frantic search for pleasure demanding instant gratification rather than paying the price of patient self denial for the best and most valuable pleasures is the root of destructive behavior. What's more, wise and discriminate self denial in the pursuit of true pleasure is not self destructive. It is self preserving. In this light the Gospel message is supremely important. Forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the dead, and everlasting life are promises that are powerful motivations to Godly living notwithstanding the patience and self denial required. The apostle Paul was referring to these benefits when he wrote in Romans 8:18; "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing the glory that will be revealed in us."

Each one of us are responsible for deciding which road to pleasure we travel. Make no mistake, the Gospel road is a road less traveled and often requires sacrifice but it is a certain road to pleasures in God's presence forevermore.

n Gene Holman is pastor at Living Word Fellowship.n Gene Holman is pastor at Living Word Fellowship.


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