Imagine I walked up to you on a warm day and offered you a cool glass of fresh sewer water. Would you drink it? Assuming you are not the type to do anything on a dare, the normal response would be to say, "No way! I would never drink that stuff."
And who would want to? All the dirt, awful smell, sediment and who knows what else is in the water has made it not only disgusting to drink, but likely toxic and harmful.
But what if you and I were in the desert, with no water for miles and you have had nothing to drink for a couple of days. Your mouth is dry and feels like it is full of chalk. Your head is pounding from the massive headache due to the dehydration. Your body is shutting down and is likely close to death.
And now I offer you that cool glass of stinky, brown sewer water to drink. What would you do now? Given the choice between dying of thirst and the toxic water, most people wouldn't even think twice before drinking down the sewage in one gulp. The reason is that we feel bad water is better than no water.
And it is the same way with sin and temptation.
The approach to fighting temptation often resembles a Nike ad, "Just don't do it!" We are told to grit our teeth, steel our will and determine to deny any of the longings and desires that sin throws at us. Just keep saying no.
One problem with this strategy is that eventually we tire of the fight as our thirst becomes greater than our resolve until we give into the temptation.
This is the same problem we have in the desert with sewer water. Just as the sewer water is toxic and will likely leave us feeling sick and miserable, sin will always result is us experiencing death - feeling empty, guilty, miserable, weak, isolated, etc. (see Romans 6:23) But when a thirst goes unsatisfied, eventually even what is toxic and bitter becomes appealing. Sin looks better than the alternative of going without life.
A good definition of sin is getting a God given need met in a God forbidden way. Meaning, sin is offering to quench our thirst, just not in a healthy way.
When we feel alone, unloved, tired, rejected, hurt, or empty, this is when sin offers us a way to 'satisfy' our thirst through getting drunk, pornography, escape onto Facebook or TV, anger, manipulation, or maybe even religious performance.
What then is the alternative?
What do we do instead of just continually saying no to sin?
It is not enough to just say no to sin, we also need to say yes to Jesus. (see Romans 6:11-13)
Let's think about the sewer water once again. The best way to make sure someone doesn't drink sewer water is to give them clean water. If their thirst is satisfied then they will have no need, nor any desire, for anything else.
And that is exactly what Jesus offers us. In John 7:37-38 standing before most of Israel during one of their sacred feasts, Jesus cries out, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, 'From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.'"
Jesus is offering to satisfy whatever you are thirsty for. Be it love, hope, peace, patience, worth or confidence - run to Him and receive from Him pure, clean, healthy, satisfying life.
If it is excitement, purpose, sex, companionship or anything other desire that you can think of, run to Him. Because His desire is to satisfy your desires in a healthy way.
In Christ who is our Life,
If you would like to know more about how the flesh battles with us and how to say no to it and yes to Jesus, you can listen to a message called "Do We Have Two Natures?"