What? I Can't Do That?
Here comes my confession. I am a total candy junkie. I love candy. I especially love fruity, chewy candies. Candies like this:
When I get these new look Berry Blast Mike and Ikes with the Real Fruit Juice (they really do taste a lot better. It isn’t just the packaging that changed) I go nuts.
The ritual always looks the same. I make the purchase. I tell myself I am only going to eat half the box. The whole box is gone. Sometimes it is gone before I have made it the one mile from the 99-cent store to my apartment.
We all run into situations where we want something that is bad for us. Sometimes, it’s about things a lot more serious than a box of delicious candy.
I really want that extra beer.
I need that new shirt.
I am curious about a sexually explicit website.
I work hard… I deserve it.
What does it matter if I have one more piece of cake?
With all sorts of thoughts like this, we convince ourselves that we are entitled to the things that we want, and that we never have to tell ourselves, “No,” about anything.
When we hear about the commandments of God, they feel like straitjackets set up to keep us away from the things we really want and need. God seems like the killjoy Satan accused him of being in the Garden, leaving us there to starve.
The truth is we have all sorts of desires that are bad for us. There are tons of things that you and I really, really want that are only going to destroy us. That is why we are in desperate need of one thing:
We need it bad. We need to control our appetites, distinguishing the good from the bad. Without it, we are in a host of trouble. Proverbs puts it this way:
"Like a city breached, without walls, is one who lacks self control." (Prov 26:28)
In other words, the person without self control is in terrible danger. Saint Augustine also knew that. He addressed people that believed Christians were to blame for the fall of Rome for steering people away from the ancient God. Look how he distinguishes the true God from the others:
"Our Christ has issued so many precepts inculcating virtue and restraining vice; while their own gods have done nothing whatever to preserve that republic that served them, and to restrain it from ruin by such precepts, but have rather hastened its destruction, by corrupting its morality through their pestilent examples." (City of God, 2.25)
To summarize, Saint Augustine said that the way to tell the true God (Christ) from all the other gods, is that the true God protects people from doing all the destructive stuff they want to do.
You can tell our Christ is unique because his commandments lead people away from their destructive vices. If we gave into all our appetites, they would destroy us completely. When God gives us commands, His intent is to protect us from the destruction that comes from not showing restraint.
Praise the God who calls us to be something more than slaves to our appetites.