Tactic #2: Gives you what you “want”

This is also known as instant gratification.  Our culture is one that feverishly works to meet everyone’s “needs,” and to meet them instantly.  It’s not enough to find out who won the game in the paper tomorrow.  I need to know now.  I need to get updates on the Kardashian’s new baby now.  I need my credit score updated now.  I need to be recognized for my great musical talent now, not five years from now, so let’s post all my sub-par songs on Youtube and start touring even though I can only play three songs and no scales.  It’s my money and I need it now.

And I need a woman now.  I need her to give me sex, and to make me feel good, and I want it now.

This is the culture we live in.  Everything is instant.  We have manufactured a whole array of needs that in fact do not exist.  Even tragedies.  When President Bush heard about the Sept. 11th tragedy, he later was maligned and ridiculed for spending a few extra minutes finishing his visit with some elementary school kids.  Because we expect everyone to respond instantly, just the way we think we would.

When our favorite sports team drafts a new player, we want them to excel now.  Their first year.  Their first game.  Their first snap, or pitch, or shot.  We want the economy fixed now, even though any thoughtful person observes that economic shifts happen over long stretches of time.  There are no instant fixes.

So when I date a girl and she won’t have sex with me after three dates, then dammit Jim, I have a RIGHT to go look at porn because she’s not putting out for me.  Setting aside the garish selfishness that throbs and bulges through that line of thinking, and that also sadly runs through many male minds these days, what is the big deal with having to wait a few months?  Is it really that hard?  What “need” so desperately cries out within you that this will meet?

I do not pretend to minimize the pressure to get physical, or to make light of anything.  But we often talk about this stuff as if it’s impossible to meet this archaic standard.  So we acquiesce to a lower standard, because at least it’s ‘not as bad’ as something worse.  We can start having sex after we’re engaged, as long as we use protection, because at least that’s not as bad as getting pregnant too early.  The ‘not as bad’ morality rears its head yet again.

Now, I’ve spent some time on all these examples because I want you to start thinking about how this pervasive craving for manufactured “needs” has infected all aspects of our culture, from sports to movies to politics to relationships, and to sexual desire.

But the Bible says something different:

Proverbs 28:20
A faithful man will abound with blessings, but he who makes haste to be rich will not go unpunished. (NAS)

Now ponder the contrast between that simple, elegant statement and all the examples–and the many more you can come up with–of how the world does it.

A “faithful” person abounds with blessings.  This strikes at the core of the enemy’s tactics as we’ve already seen.  He wants us to think God will not bless us because He isn’t good and doesn’t care about us.  Right here we see that the person who is faithful to God will abound, not just get by, with blessings.

And for all those ‘prosperity gospel’ types out there, these kinds of verses aren’t speaking only of material wealth.  I could go on about that forever, but in the context of our subject, the blessing here is a sexually gratifying relationship that is free of heartache, bitterness, jealousy, and suspicion, lasts for decades and is mutually beneficial for both people.  That is a blessing worth far more than a $10,000 raise.  The absence of suffering is one of the greatest blessings God gives.  And think about how much suffering costs us in monetary terms.  Bailing someone out of jail.  Divorce.  Lawsuits.  Extreme medical bills.  These things cost thousands of dollars.  If I never have to pay for those kinds of things, I am blessed.  And the faithful one abounds with blessings such as these. Or consider Paul’s declaration to the Corinthians:

I Cor 1:5, 6
Because you were enriched in everything in Him–in all speech and knowledge, even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you.(NT Transline)

He says they were enriched–there’s that word again–and not just enriched, but in everything.  But then look what he means by “everything.”  Speech and knowledge.  If we abound in excellent speech and fullness of knowledge (the knowledge of God), then we are rich.  Christ’s testimony confirmed in us through our speech and knowledge of the truth–these are true riches.

In contrast, the one who wants to get rich quick will suffer.  Have you ever heard about the suicide and bankruptcy rates for lottery winners?  It’s shocking.  So shocking, in fact, that even a trashy cable channel (E! Entertainment) did a special on lottery winners and the suffering that followed.  It was the best thing ever to come from that channel.  Yet that same channel (hence the ‘trashy’ label I gave it) is one of the more fervent supporters of the instant gratification culture.

Pornography is the epitome of instant gratification.  It costs you very little, but costs the victim their dignity, their self-respect, their self-worth, and the gift they can give a future partner.  I say ‘victim’ because the adults who prostitute themselves in pornography are not much different than the children who get victimized by it.  The only difference is they have been brainwashed into thinking this is their idea, and it’s “legal” (these days, if something’s legal, it can’t be immoral).  But the long term damage only differs in degree, if even that.  Why else would children who get abused so often be the ones who end up performing in porn?

Again in our context, the second half of Proverbs 28:20 might read, “the one who makes haste to satisfy their sexual needs will not go unpunished.”  Sexuality is a form of riches.  If we go after those riches with our high speed internet connections, we will not profit as we desire.  And let’s not delude ourselves.  These women are selling themselves.  They are getting paid to gratify you.  Everyone suffers in this exchange, whether or not they yet perceive it.

Pornography can be “soft-core” or “hard-core”–(again, these categories are put in place to reinforce the ‘not as bad’ morality.  Don’t believe me?  Then why for years have Playboy models insisted the work they do isn’t porn?  Because in their minds, it’s ‘not as bad,’ and therefore needs a different label, so we call it ‘nude modeling,’ or ‘solo,’ or ‘centerfold modeling,’ or ‘soft-core’)–but pornography in all its forms promises the exact same thing: it proposes to offer us security and satisfaction in the beauty of the woman.  And once we get tired of one, it offers another one that’s a little younger, a little more tan, a little more voluptuous, and a little more willing to go farther.  Porn is always trying to one-up itself.  What was extreme ten years ago is mainstream now.  What is extreme and hot right now will be weak in five years.

It is set up this way because the enemy knows how our hearts work.  He knows we will never be satisfied, and knows he can keep dangling before us the ultimate fulfillment, always just out of reach, and that it might come the next time, with the next girl, the next website, the next DVD, the next poster, the next swimsuit issue.  So keep coming back because you don’t want to miss out.  The lie embedded in all of this is that you will eventually, someday, have enough.

The truth is that you never will.  As it says in the story of Esther, no sin satisfies, and apart from God, no accomplishment–even good ones–will satisfy the longings of your soul.

Esther 5:13
Yet all of this does not satisfy me every time I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king’s gate. (NAS)

This is Haman talking, and by “all of this,” he refers to his wealth, the size of his family and household, and the honors and titles given to him by the king and by Esther the queen.  He has received everything a man could want in that time, apart from being the ruler of all.  Yet he is still filled with jealousy and rage over one man who refuses to honor him, because Mordecai knows Haman is not honorable.

Haman has been deluded by this tactic of the devil.  He has received what he “wanted,” and it wasn’t enough.  What do you think would happen if Haman succeeded in hanging Mordecai?  Would he then feel satisfied?  There would be nothing else that could possibly upset him. Right?

That’s the lie.  Something would arise.  Maybe the king promotes someone else equal to his level.  Maybe his wife cheats on him.  Maybe his house burns down.  Any number of things could happen.  The problem does not reside in his circumstances, what he has or does not have.  The problem lies in his heart, which has been deluded into thinking it can be satisfied by the things of this world.  I see this pervading our entire culture, from infants through the elderly, and it’s slowly destroying us.

If we desire gratification or fulfillment through some type of sexual experience, or image, or video regarding some kind of woman or women, and we seek this with persistence, what will happen?  Will God prevent us from getting it, knowing the harm it will do, or does the enemy prevent us from finding it, so we will keep looking?  I put the question this way because in either case, we will never find it.  Whatever the ultimate goal of your lustful actions, it will never be met.

The answer is this: God doesn’t prevent you from finding it; He tries to stop you from even looking.  Eventually, if you persist enough, He relents and allows you to make your own choices.  Just as He did with Israel.  They wanted to go after other gods, and to complain about not having enough food or water.  God tried to meet their needs, but after doing so, the people found something new to complain about.  Eventually, He let them have what they “wanted.”  But what they really wanted was to reach the Promised Land, and that is the very thing they never got.

Do we want the long term purpose for our lives to be fulfilled, or do we want the instant gratification available now?  One is easy, the other seems far off.  Why can’t we have both?  This is where God draws the line.  Even in the Garden, Adam and Eve had to make a choice.  They could have instant knowledge, or trust in God’s long term plan.  They could not have both.

The enemy doesn’t let you have it either, but he gives you what you think you want, just enough of it to keep you looking for something a little bit better.  He makes it just hard enough to find what you “want,” so that when you find it, you feel better and experience a moment of satisfaction.  But it’s not quite perfect, and so you start looking again.  Everything you find is never enough, even though at the time, it was exactly what you “wanted.”