C.S. Lewis was right (see the previous post); God has created our senses and the wondrous world in which we live. God has created pleasure, and he is no slacker in doing so. Our world is filled with wonderful experiences.
Sin simply takes a God given pleasure and distorts it “at times, or in ways, or in degrees He has forbidden.” Proverbs even notes this allure of temptation.
“Stolen water is sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.” But he does not know that the dead are there, that her guests are in the depths of Sheol. Proverbs 9:17-18, ESV
The problem is sinful pleasure has harmful consequences. Sin separates us from God that’s one consequence, but sin often brings other consequences into life, and these consequences can be painful. Unrestrained license can cause your life to read like a soap opera or even an obituary.
The temptation to sinful pleasure is a bit of a con. It promises the pleasure, but hides the painful consequence. Lewis even notes a law of diminishing return, when he has Screwtape say, “An ever increasing craving for an ever diminishing pleasure….”* We see this con at work in many addictive and harmful behaviors.
Yes, pleasure has proper place in our lives. Ecclesiastes notes this.
I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil-this is God’s gift to man. Ecclesiastes 3:12-13, ESV
Paul gives a similar assessment:
For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer. 1 Timothy 4:4-5, ESV\
Pleasure is a good thing unless we make it the chief thing. Even morally good things could harm us spiritually if we make that pleasure the most important thing in life. We are not to be lovers of pleasure (Isaiah 47:8, 2 Timothy 3:4). Pleasure is to be enjoyed, but our love should be directed toward our Creator. To mistake this would be akin to my saying to my wife, “I love your apple pie more than I do you.” It would not endear me to my wife, nor would it be a particularly good strategy for getting more apple pies. It would be harmful to the more important relationship. How much worse is this to say to our Creator who made everything which we enjoy!
It is as if this world is God’s house. He has said, “You may enjoy all that I’ve created, but there are certain restrictions that are for your own good” (Deuteronomy 6:24-25). If we can live in a relationship with him and respect his boundaries, he has something even more wondrous to share with us.
You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11 ESV
God is not a killjoy. Pleasures are a part of Christian living, but they are a part of the things added to you when we first seek the kingdom (Matthew 6:33). If we listen to God, we are on a path to even greater joy – pleasures for evermore.
*C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters, p. 42.