Theology 101

Do Your Passions Enslave You?

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“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” (Gal 5:1)

We are passionate people. God created us that way.

God has created each of us for a unique purpose. He has equipped us with distinctive passions, temperaments, abilities, experiences, spiritual gifts, education, and spheres of influence in order for us to do the good work he intends us to do (Eph 2:10).

Obstacles to Obedience

Yet the things that often obstruct our obedience to God are our passions. These God-given gifts, whether they be passions for freedom, justice, or security, can enslave us. Tim Keller writes:

Sin isn’t only doing bad things, it is more fundamentally making good things into ultimate things. Sin is building your life and meaning on anything, even a very good thing, more than on God. Whatever we build our life on will drive us and enslave us. Sin is primarily idolatry.

No one understood this better than Martin Luther. Luther wrote that the Ten Commandments begin with a commandment against idolatry, “You shall have no other gods before me” (Ex 20:3), because we can’t break any of the other commandments without first breaking the first commandment. Luther goes on to say that when we disobey God’s law, we are saying that something else is more important than God. That is idolatry.

Another great reformer, John Calvin, writes, “Man’s nature, so to speak, is a perpetual factory of idols.”

Making an Idol of Our Passions

How do we make idols out of our passions?

One of my great passions is freedom. This passion drives my concern for both the religious freedom of others and my desire to see greater levels of economic freedom. It also can be seen in the way I work and manage others.

But there was the time in my life when freedom became an idol. I wanted to be free to do what I wanted to do, when I wanted to do it. I took a good thing, my passion for freedom, and turned it into an ultimate thing. I became a slave to my passion when I did that.

I didn’t experience true freedom until I realized I had to take my passion for freedom to the foot of the cross and become a slave to Christ. Only then could I use this passion in my life as God intended.

A Higher Passion

Our passions can only be controlled by a higher passion. That higher passion must be our passion for Christ, to love and serve him above everything else.

In his book The Pursuit of God, A.W. Tozer writes:

If we cooperate with Him in loving obedience, God will manifest Himself to us, and that manifestation will be the difference between a nominal Christian life and a life radiant with the light of His face.

The Psalmist writes, “Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Ps 37:4). I pray that God gives you a passion for Christ, and that we take great joy in pursuing him above and beyond everything else.

Editor’s Note: On “Flashback Friday,” we take a look at some of IFWE’s former posts that are worth revisiting. This post was previously published on Aug. 25, 2014.

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