Hindsight is 20/20, especially if you’re the people of Israel.
Twelve spies go on a secret mission to explore the Promised Land. Ten come back terrified, warning the people not to proceed. Two beckon the people onward to embrace the promise of God. The people listen to the majority of the spies, and as a result, the nation of Israel spends 40 years in the wilderness.
The next day, the people of Israel say, “Here we are. We will go up to the place that the Lord has promised, for we have sinned” (Numbers 14:40). Then the people of Israel go up, and they get creamed.
Because We Want To
Why did the people of Israel sin? The answer is simpler than you think.
Because they wanted to.
Israel didn’t go into the Promised Land because they didn’t want to – there were giants there! Israel rose the next day to fight the giants because they wanted to – they didn’t want God to punish them!
Desire is the source of sin.
But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
The idea is this – disobedience comes from our hearts, resulting in our actions.
It’s All about the Heart
We need to start being more honest with ourselves.
We disobey God because we want to. And when we feel frustrated and vow to never fall into that trap again, we do anyway. Why?
Action is the product of desire.
No one says this truer than James:
What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.
The same way we pursue sin could be said of the way we don’t pursue God.
If you don’t want God, you won’t follow Him. If you aren’t pursuing God, it’s probably because you don’t desire Him.
And we need to admit that.
Leaving it at that would be a pretty crummy thing to do. So let’s ask: How can we change our heart to desire God?
You can’t do anything. Paul says that pretty straightforward:
For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.
A couple chapters later, Paul says this:
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind….
The action is passive. Being transformed by God is something He does to us, not something we could ever do to ourselves. Without the Author of life, we can’t breathe. Without God’s work, we can’t desire Him.
Cry out to God. You can’t do anything to change your heart, but that God has done everything required to change your heart.
Francis Chan shared a simple prayer: “Dear God, help me to love you more.”
When we ask God to increase our love for Him, He answers! And when He gives us a greater desire of Him, we’re only led to ask again for an ever-increasing love for Him.
Ask, and be transformed.
On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”
Why do we disobey? Because we want to.
Why do we desire God? Because – by the mercies of God – we want to.