[We are] not grim pilgrims on a death march to personal holiness.  ~My friend Nate Larkin

Following Jesus means a bit, but what it doesn’t include is doing away with desire—a bowl of chocolate ice cream with almonds and the thrill of a kiss in their proper place of course. Following Jesus is not some Christian version of sadomasochism.  How easlily we become religious and shrink to label that which is to be holy—ordinary, bane, and even wrong. 
    
Self-mortification is a strange form of religiosity that the bible never teaches although you can find it running rampant in much of what passes for godliness.  The Devil’s counterfeit can be awful close to what God invented, but the differences are stark.  Simply denying ourselves pleasures under any guise other than the purpose of God’s glory doesn’t serve to please God, it offends him.  Trying to be religious and live up to some wigged out ideal mandated by man as the road to holiness only serves to suppress or stymie our desires, it doesn’t sanctify our efforts to be pious.  God tells us to have some good and needed laughs, he ordered one day of rest for every seven, and relaxation is something he invented. 
       
If you ask me, lust is merely the abuse of healthy God-given desires.  The Devil’s counterfeit ever comes down to trying to surpress and kill altogether the desires we possess, God-given or not, innocent or lustful .  It lies to us and tells us to forfiet our hungers for the appearance of godliness even if it is God gave who us the hungers (that is, what he intended we enjoy in a God-honoring fashion).  It’s no wonder that since the inception of time as we know it we have seen the invention and rise of every religion under the sun of which tout self-mortification as the end all—it’s a predictable and easy path to what may assume is godliness.  But the curbing of hunger isn’t godliness.  Pretending as if  we can kill our desires and somehow tame our capacity to sin by so doing is like declawing a wild tiger and thinking it will make him a bunny rabbit.  You see, we can only suppress desire, a beast isn’t dead just because you cage him—he’ll just be a more relentless beast when he escapes. 
      
Odd thing is, we’ll pick saying no to pleasure rather than submitting to the lordship of Jesus, and how quickly we deny that very lordship when it means sharing in his joy and partaking of his abundance.  There are things we must deny ourselves (our own way to be specific) in following Jesus no doubt—he never would have told us to deny ourselves and take up our cross and follow him if it were not so.  But there are times that as Jesus-followers we should be enjoying ourselves silly instead of denying ourselves to death. 
 
A person without self-control is like a house with its doors and windows knocked out.    (Proverbs 25:28, The Message Bible)

In the end, we shove our desires aside only to rebel with a vengeance later (and rebellion does come in all shapes and sizes).  You can only starve desire so long before it becomes a ravenous 3 headed monster.  It’s then, when we deny our healthy hungers instead of starving sinful appetites, when the enemy of our souls circles about us ready to feast—able to craftily seduce us and tempt us to go all out and indulge in something we have no business doing, and since we haven’t enjoyed a stinking thing in who knows how long, we fall for the bait—and fall flat on our face at that.

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