Passions are powerful. They are the deep desires which stir our imagination, motivate us to action and seem to want to control our thinking. But we are not animals, unable to understand our impulses or unable to control them. We are made in the image of God, and He is the Master at choosing how and when to express His deep desires – His desires are always right and He always makes right choices.
When we received the grace of Christ, we accepted that His death was because of our sins. In accepting His new life we have to reject our old sinful life. In the same way that Jesus' body became lifeless and unresponsive when He died, so our sinful, fleshly desires and passions need to become powerless to speak wickedness into our lives. In part that is the work of the Holy Spirit giving us an appetite for good new objectives: in part it is our choice to crucify that old nature which is opposed to God. But if it does not happen, either we do not have Christ’s life or we are being rebellious.
It is not always easy to deal with persistent bad habits because we still want whatever benefit we see in them. Like fire-fighters who may have to ‘damp-down’ a fire for hours or days, we will have to keep on rejecting deep inner ‘wants’ which conflict with God’s agenda. Changing our behaviour alone is not really a solution if our heart is unwilling to let go of some cherished goal. It starts with an honest view of ourselves and continues as we place God’s priorities higher than our own. We pray about our need for a changed heart, and we practise deliberate choices to put the new ambitions way ahead of the old ones. It is a necessary struggle.
© Dr Paul Adams