The Words of the McCarthy Family

Build a Better You

Kevin McCarthy
February 3, 2009

Don’t Just Battle Destructive Desires... RESTORE FREEDOM!

I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do -- this I keep on doing.

Paul’s words in the book of Romans, succinctly describes the inner struggles and torment of an individual grappling with the contrary nature of sin.

The book of Genesis reveals the process of the entrance of sin into the world. Adam and Eve are given a great vision by God to be “fruitful, multiply and have dominion.” They were to propagate a family, nation and world that would expand under the exclusive sovereignty of a loving God. Their role, in order to bring about that desired result, was to take the moral law issued by God and apply that standard to their own conduct.

For them, the moral law was clear-cut: “Do not eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil.”

God gave them the responsibility to voluntarily apply that moral law to their own conduct. In this way, they could establish their integrity with God. Having integrity is the foundation of an enduring relationship of love. Voluntary compliance to a moral code is also the foundation of freedom. Therefore, true freedom, integrity and love are inseparable components of a happy and fulfilling life.

The serpent in our story represents the challenge that arises in the face of establishing your integrity with God. Whereas, God had commanded them to deny the desire for the fruit, the serpent, in direct conflict with that, was vigorously promoting its alluring qualities and benefits. Whereas, God was demanding a postponement of gratification, the serpent was insistent that a greater fulfillment could be had right away.

Whether the book of Genesis is historical fact, legend or myth, it describes accurately the inner dynamics in the struggle to accomplish a life of freedom and joy liberated from the debilitating consequences of inordinate, uncontrollable desires.

The serpent speaks to our fleshy nature, our instinctive animal side that pursues the way of self-interest, self survival and self gratification. It is this materialist view of human life that insists we are nothing more than animals; and like animals, we should acquiesce to the dictates of natural desires. Within that view of life, our existence ends with the death of our flesh body. Deference of immediate gratification for a greater fulfillment beyond the horizon is unjustifiable, in fact, for the materialist, it is nonsense.

God, on the other hand, speaks to our soul, the part of us that pursues the highest ideals. Ideals, such as sacrificing one’s self for others or maintaining abstinence before marriage, are ideals that only make sense if there is a greater fulfillment beyond the narrow parameters of natural desire and physical life. Within that God-affirming view, our physical life is to be fulfilled by the development of inner spiritual qualities; qualities that will also serve us as prime faculties in the spiritual world to come.

Thus, it was Adam and Eve’s role to exert the primacy of the spiritual agenda over the body of flesh; thereby rejecting the serpent’s relativist enticements. This is your role as well.

However, as Jesus said, “the spirit is willing, but flesh is weak.” This means that, in of itself, the spirit cannot easily elicit the cooperation of the body. In fact, the body’s desire for immediate gratification seems to take precedence at an ever-increasing rate in the modern world. “If it feels good, do it” is the contemporary vernacular of the serpent’s view.

Jesus said that the power of faith “the size of a mustard seed” could move a mountain. When God gave his commandment not to eat the fruit, Adam and Eve were to hold on to that Word in faith and infuse a greater strength to their obedience.

With the power of faith, the balance on the “spirit vs. flesh” scale is tipped toward the primacy of the spirit. When faith is eliminated from the equation, the scale tips the opposite way toward the desires of the flesh; integrity disintegrates, relationships based on trustful love become tenuous. Without the controlling power of faith, inordinate, uncontrollable desires of the flesh are able to rise unabated; the life of freedom is replaced by the slavery Paul described.

Sin is any thought or action that violates God’s Word, undermines your faith and tips the scale toward the flesh and self gratification. Sin is always the result of the relativist alternative to the absolute truths of God, be it offered by a “serpent” or by a pop culture icon. When you commit a sin, you are eroding the basis of freedom and the capacity for enduring relationships of love. You undermine your own integrity and develop habits that cause others to question your reliability and trustworthiness.

Just as Adam and Eve needed to be empowered through faith in God’s word, likewise, each of us need to connect to God’s word through faith. Life is not about “avoiding sin.” That’s playing life’s game in order not to lose. Instead, play to is about living more abundantly. Empower your freedom! Super-charge your integrity! Find a community of faith the fits your needs and embrace it! It could very well lead you to freedom. 

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