Question 4 of 15 from the Q&A in David Powlison’s essay, “I Am Motivated When I Feel Desire,” Seeing With New Eyes: Counseling and the Human Condition Through the Lens of Scripture.
4. Why don’t people see this as the problem?
Consider a second adjective that Scripture attaches to the phrase “lusts of the flesh”: deceitful lusts. Our desires deceive us because they present themselves as so plausible. Natural affections become warped and monstrous, and so blind us. Who wouldn’t want good health, financial comfort, a loving spouse, good kids, success on the job, kind parents, tasty food, a life without traffic jams, control over circumstances? Yet cravings for these things lead to every sort of evil. The things people desire are delightful as blessings received from God, but terrible as rulers. They make good goods but bad gods. They beguile, promising blessing, but delivering sin and death.
Some sins are high-handed, done with full awareness of choice (Ps. 19:13). Other sins reflect the blind, dark, habitual, compulsive, hardened, ignorant, confused, instinctive insanity of sin. One of the joys of biblical ministry comes when you are able to turn on the lights in another person’s dark room. People usually don’t see their desires as lusts. Souls are cured as the ignorant and self-deceived are disturbed by the light of God’s analytic gaze and then comforted by the love that shed substitutionary blood to purchase the inexpressible gift.
I have yet to meet a couple locked in hostility (and the accompanying fear, self-pity, hurt, self-righteousness) who really understood and reckoned with their motives. James 4:1-3 teaches that cravings underlie conflicts. Why do you fight? It’s not “because my wife/husband . . .”—it’s because of something about you. Couples who see what rules them–cravings for affections, attention, power, vindication, control, comfort, a hassle-free life—can repent and find God’s grace made real to them, and then learn how to make peace.