Many Christians think stoicism is a good antidote to sensuality.  It isn’t.  It is hopelessly weak and ineffective.  Willpower religion usually fails, and even when it succeeds, it gets glory for the will, not for God. It produces legalists, not lovers.

-John Piper, What Jesus Demands from the World

    

Religion is powerless in offering to help us with our fallen condition and it can’t give us victory over sin.  Religion merely offers to kill our longings by doing and saying all of the right things and that doesn’t kill the desire of a flea—besides it’s not the death of our desires God is after but rather the redemption of them.  Let me repeat myself here, God’s not about putting to bed our desires—he gave us desires to begin with.  It is the religious garbage we get caught up in that  God is about extinguishing.  Consider this: Religion hasn’t infused our spirits with an inch of strength , it hasn’t enlivened our souls with an ounce of life and it hasn’t added one single encouragement to our hope-thirsty hearts.   

It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.

I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?

The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.    (Romans 7:21-25, The Message Bible)

If anyone ever tried religion, Paul surely did—and here he admits religion failed to do what Jesus finally did.  For Paul—religion was nothing but an enemy of the glorious gospel of freedom in Jesus Christ. 

I’m not so sure a flea has a prayer in regards to his desire to avoid being swatted to death—but one thing I do know is this: If we have any chance at all in terms of getting a hold of ourselves and seeing our desires under the lordship of Jesus it lies within the freedom only Jesus can infuse within our beings.

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