“For when their sensual desires overcome their dedication to Christ, they want to marry. Thus they bring judgment on themselves because they have broken their first pledge/faith.” (1 Tim. 5:11b-12)
Paul includes these alarming words in his pastoral epistle to young Timothy. 1 Timothy 5 devotes the bulk of its space to the proper care of widows in the church and the family. Young widows are not to be put on the list of widows to be honored as such. The verses cited above provide the reason. We might even state this in a mathematical formula:
Desire > Dedication = Destruction (judgment)
Our level of desire tells us about our devotion to Jesus. If there is something that we want more than Christ… that something is our “god.” It’s an idol that will control us rather than Christ. If it controls us, it will destroy us.
How can we know if our desire to marry is masking a deeper sensual desire that is now an idol? How do we apply this? Here are some questions that may help us diagnose our hearts:
- Am I devoted more to my desire than to my God?
- Do I expect God to grant all my desires?
- And if He does not am I angry or displeased or dissatisfied with God?
- Do I think hard thoughts toward God when He doesn’t grant what I want?
- Am I tempted to put Jesus second to my desire?
- Have I already put Jesus second to my desire?
- Am I considering or am I already in a sexually and emotionally compromising relationship in disobedience to the Lord?
- Am I planning to continue in the compromising relationship even though I know it’s wrong and dishonors Jesus?
- Do I shrug at God’s judgment because I’d rather have the relationship and face the consequences later?
- Is my “dedication to Christ” limited to religious activities like going to church, or can my dedication be seen in how I control my desires and what decisions I make? Especially “personal,” “intimate,” “private” decisions?
Most apostasy happens gradually. Very few people wake up and decide, “I’ll leave the faith today.” Most drift quietly toward Gomorrah as their desires take greater control of their lives. Our desires become demands. Pretty soon our desires make demands upon us. When we don’t feed our idols, they attack us with fear and threats of various sorts.
There is one solution to the problem of idolatry: Abandon ourselves and our desires for the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus. As the apostle models and teaches,“whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I man gain Christ and be found in him…” (Phil. 3:7-8).