Article III, part 2

Truth or Dare (Article 3)

In part one, of Article III, we began looking at what can happen to us when we allow wanton, hedonistic pleasure to rule our lives. We learned, just as the fabled character Pinocchio did, that there are consequences to satisfying our ungodly pleasures. God, however, has provided a way for us to be free from such wrongful desires. All we need do is believe in the LORD, Jesus Christ, and live according to His plan. Pleasure 5 In this article, we will look into the various types of pleasure.

There are pleasures of the mind, which consist of:

Solving the unknown (appeasing ones curiosity)
Using a unique skill to its full potential
Nurturing someone or something, or being nurtured by someone or something
Being apart of a community (a.k.a.: sociality; finding companionship, etc.)

There are pleasures of the body, which include any stimulation of the five senses:

Sight
Smell
Sound
Taste
Touch

And, there are the pleasures of the soul, which incorporate the nine “fruit of the spirit,” found in Galatians chapter five, verses twenty-two and twenty-three:

Faithfulness
Gentleness
Goodness
Joy
Kindness
Love
Patience
Peace
Self-control

Our pleasures can be to our advantage, and promote a healthy lifestyle. It can also bring about disastrous consequences, when acted upon without discretion or outside of God’s boundaries.

One example of a healthy pleasure is proper sleep. A lack of sleep has been found to cause anxiety, depression, and weight gain. You see, our bodies use sleep to perform important routine maintenance at a cellular, and metabolic, level. Proper sleep boosts our body’s immune system, and our brain’s means to store, and recall, details from our memories. Approximately seven to nine hours of sleep, each night, is necessary. Too little or too much sleep and our health begins to decline.

A second example of a healthy pleasure is consuming foods that you enjoy, and that also have healthy benefits to them. Something like chocolate. Yes, chocolate. Did you know that chocolate contains powerful antioxidants? It seems that cacao, which is taken from the cocoa bean during the manufacturing process, has been shown to improve the flexibility of blood vessels. This flexing of the blood vessels help us reduce our risk of heart disease, and heart attack, but note: not all chocolate is going to be beneficial. You must choose only dark chocolate, and make certain that it contains a minimum of seventy-five percent cacao, and you must limit yourself to one or two squares a day.

A third example of a healthy pleasure, and one in which I will focus the remainder of this article on, is sex. Healthy, monogamous sex is probably the most incredible experience that humanity will encounter in a life time. When men and women, by way of the marriage relationship, participate in regular, monogamous sexual relations, they experience an amazing form of pleasure that appeals to their entire beings. Rarely can a pleasure, other than sexual pleasure, appeal to a person’s body, mind, and soul. Though human sexual relations primarily function as a means of procreation, God also carefully and concisely designed it to be a deeply satisfying form of pleasure.

Healthy, monogamous sex, between a married man and woman, is also a special kind of physical work out; a beautiful act of tandem exercise that can burn as much as eighty-five calories per coupling. Pleasure 4 This physical exercise is unlike any other, as it results in the intermingling (or combining) of two bodies into one, and it results in the release of “feel-good” endorphins through out the human brain. When these endorphins release, the couple becomes less likely to experience depression, individually, and they are less likely to experience dissatisfaction with their marriage relationship, due to their deeply intimate connection with their spouse. A healthy, monogamous sexual relationship, within the confines of marriage, will not solve all the problems that a couple will face in their lifelong alliance, but it does bind them in such a way as to help strengthen their resolve to work through these issues.

Another benefit for married couples who participate in healthy, monogamous sexual relations, at a minimum of once or twice a week, is that their immune responses are improved. According to the Oxford Journals, and other medical magazines, our sex hormones positively affect our immune response toward such illnesses as the common cold, flu, and other more serious infections. It’s a pretty interesting arrangement, isn’t it?

Our bodies actually produce higher levels of an antibody (a.k.a.: immunoglobulin, or IGA) that can thwart colds, and flus, where those very germs most often enter the body. Ironically, our bodies can use the very act that can transmit germs and disease (sexual intercourse) to help prevent such illnesses from manifesting. This ultimately allows men and women, who are married, the freedom to enjoy more intimacy. God wants us to enjoy our spouses, passionately. He designed us that way; it’s only when we abandon God’s design for human sexuality that sexual intercourse becomes painful, and dangerous.

Did you know that the number one way to get a sexually transmitted disease (a.k.a: STD) is by having sex with multiple partners? Sounds odd to have to say, but societies all around the globe live as though this were some type of myth, or fairy tale. In fact, ninety-five percent of U.S. citizens under the age of thirty are sexually active. Thirty-three percent of the men polled, and nine percent of the women, stated that they had more than ten sexual partners in their lifetime. It is also believed that one out of every four non-married, sexually active Americans, by the age of twenty-four, will have contracted an STD. Furthermore, about sixty-five million people in the U.S. are now living with an incurable STD — sixty-five million! Bottom line, STDs such as Bacterial Vaginosis, Chlamydia, Genital Herpes, Gonorrhea, Human Papillomavirus, Hepatitis B, HIV/AIDS, Syphilis, Trichomoniasis, as well as other life-threatening conditions (ex.: prostate cancer, cervical cancer, and oral cancer), are more common among people who have sexual intercourse with more than one person in a lifetime.

Sexual relationships affect more that just our physical bodies, though. As stated earlier, they also affect our minds and souls. Many psychologists, and religious counselors, have found that having multiple sexual encounters with a variety of partners places men and women at a higher threat of making risky choices on a regular basis. This cycle of making dangerous choices can lead to a life filled with unhealthy and risky sexual experiences (a.k.a.: homosexuality, pornography, prostitution, and other perverse sex acts), multiple unsuccessful relationships, which can nurture a lower self-esteem, and even lead to manic depression. Again, when we abandon God’s design for human sexuality, sexual intercourse becomes painful, and dangerous.

King Solomon, known as the wisest ruler in the history of the world, wrote this concerning uncontrolled, physical pleasure:

I [King Solomon] thought in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good.” But that also proved to be meaningless. “Laughter,” I said, “is foolish. And what does pleasure accomplish?” I tried cheering myself with wine, and embracing folly — my mind still guiding me with wisdom. I wanted to see what was worthwhile for men to do under heaven during the few days of their lives. I undertook great projects: I built houses for myself and planted vineyards. I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. I made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees. I bought male and female slaves and had other slaves who were born in my house. I also owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem before me. I amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces. I acquired men and women singers, and a harem as well — the delights of the heart of man. I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me. In all this my wisdom stayed with me. I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my work, and this was the reward for all my labor. Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 2: 1-11)

To gain worldly pleasures, of any kind, will never bring about real contentment, or gratification. No amount of excessive laughter, drinking of alcohol, or reckless abandon will ever fully appease us. Completing some great project, for yourself, won’t satisfy; owning a successful business, or some huge ranch, or farm, won’t fulfill. Access to the world’s richest treasures can’t gratify, nor can the world’s greatest library of music. Not even multiple sexual encounters with the world’s most beautiful people can quench what you long for — No. True fulfillment only comes through experiencing pleasures, not as the world defines them, but as God has defined them.

Worldly pleasures look similar to many of the pleasures God provides us. They appeal to our minds and bodies, but what the world can’t gratify is our souls. Only God can supply that kind of gratification. Note Proverbs chapter ten, verse twenty-three:

A fool finds pleasure in evil conduct, but a man of understanding delights in wisdom.

You see, when we seek to please ourselves, and ignore God’s plan for us to be rightly satisfied, we become nothing more than ignorant jerks. Dumb as a wooden stump with no true happiness to be found. This is what King Solomon was trying to say. Though he sought after foolishness, God allowed Solomon to remain wise enough to know it was indeed foolishness. Though he looked to gratify his own selfish desires, God allowed Solomon to remain wise enough to know that self-gratification always comes with a consequence and those consequences can never be avoided. Sexual pleasure, that is intended to please one’s self, will never really satisfy. Sexual intimacy requires two people, one male and one female, for a reason. That reason is for the man to gratify the woman, under the blessing of marriage, and for the woman to please the man. This is as our Creator intended.

I’m reminded of an interview from 1975. In this interview, Phyllis George, from the old CBS NFL Today show, asked Roger Staubach — then the starting quarterback for the American football team Dallas Cowboys — to reveal what he felt about his image as an “All American, straight guy” (he was very well known as a “clean-cut,” family man). Roger’s image was in stark contrast to another very popular American football quarterback, named Joe Namath. Joe, who also had been recently interviewed by Phyllis George, had become just as famous for his playboy lifestyle as he had become for his ability to quarterback the New York Jets. Roger Staubach responded by saying:

Roger Staubach You interviewed Joe Namath — everyone in the world compares me to Joe Namath. You know, as — you know, the idea that off the field he’s single, bachelor, “swinging.” I’m married, and family, and — you know, he’s having all the fun, [a smile crosses Roger’s face] and — I enjoy sex as much as Joe Namath [Phyllis begins to laugh], only I do it with one girl. You know, I mean it’s still fun.

A monogamous relationship is not a life sentenced to lamentation and sorrow; not at all. Sexual intimacy, as God intended, is free of disease, despair, danger, and worry; it’s both exciting and healthy.

True pleasure — the kind that really brings joy to a person’s whole being — can only exists when we experience it God’s way. And if we will, then we can also bring pleasure to our Creator, and others. You see, genuine pleasure is not about self-gratification at all, but about gratifying God and the other people in our lives. Let’s all strive to drink from the cup of Christ, and let’s all live merrier lives.

Truth or Dare by J. Scott Harden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://www.jasonmin.wordpress.com.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

The “NIV” and “New International Version” trademarks are registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by International Bible Society. Use of either trademark requires the permission of International Bible Society.

If your church or organization would like to talk with J. Scott Harden about a speaking engagement, or a writing project, please get in touch with Mr. Harden through Jason MinistriesTwitter account or Facebook page.

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Article IV, part 2


We have begun looking into how we as believers can experience true joy in our daily worship, even in the midst of serious suffering and strife, but to do this there are some things we must first understand about the word joy. So to understand fully what joy means, and to correctly apply it to our everyday life and worship, we will have to dissect the word; cut into what we said joy is and look around inside it — find what lies at its core. To do this we will literally take the word “joy” and examine it letter by letter. When we are done, the acrostic we end up with will be a simple and applicable tool with which you can allow God to bring real joy to you daily.

The first meaning we can find at the core of real joy is in the letter “J.” And that is true faith in the Lord, God Jehovah via a relationship with His Son, Jesus Christ. (Jehovah is one of the forms of the Hebrew name for God.) As we studied earlier, all of us are sinners. To be a sinner is to be an arrow that has missed its mark or center, or to put it more clearly, missed the bull’s-eye. All of mankind was intended to exist in the center of God’s will and purpose. Sin, which was introduced into our lives via the “fall of man” in the garden of Eden (Genesis 3:1-24), disrobed and removed God’s glory from mankind. Sin left us naked, vulnerable, and dying. There was no way the human race would ever be living in the center of God’s will and purpose ever again without divine intervention. A deep and true faith in God, via a relationship with His Son, Jesus Christ, is the only way humans can return to living in the center of Jehovah’s will and purpose. Let’s look over how we can have such a faith in God, before we move on.

First, we must recognize that sin has removed us from God’s glory (this is our current “fallen state”) and then realize that we need to be restored to the center and purpose of Jehovah (Isaiah 59:1-20). Remember the five orders of worship (confession, gathering, giving, rejoicing, and studying)? We can’t experience true worship if we can’t exist in God’s presence. Sin prevents us from being in the presence of the Almighty, and confession is the first step toward being in His will; returning us to the center of His will.

We must also realize that we do not deserve Jehovah’s grace, but deserve death. “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23a). Everything in life costs us something; nothing is free. Some costs we eagerly pay and others we are reluctant to pay, but life is a costly thing. Life costs us, male and female alike, something of each other in order to conceive a new life (child). The creation of the human race cost God, as well. Life cost Him, in the beginning, a piece of Himself — the breath of life and His image or spirit (Genesis 1:26-27). Life also cost Him the loss of our companionship when we sinned in the garden, as sin ushered in death, and death costs us our own lives as payment and prevents us from living with God eternally (again, see Romans 6:23a). But it’s because the Lord God, Jehovah, loved life — human life — so very much, it ultimately cost Him the life of His only Son, Jesus Christ. This truth is another aspect of experiencing a true faith in God. You can’t fully enjoy a relationship with God the Father until you understand fully the relationship we are to have with God the Son.

God longs to see mankind return to Himself and He knew humanity would never be able to do so on its own. Thus the reason God chose to pay our debt to sin (the wages of sin is death) by allowing His only Son, Jesus Christ, to die (John 3:16). Christ’s blood paid our debt (Hebrews 9:22b), and His sacrifice became God’s free gift of eternal life to all of mankind (Romans 6:23b). God never intended to condemn us (John 3:17), sin did that on its own. Jehovah only wanted our love and worship. Remember, death is what we deserved but eternal life can be ours, free of charge, if we will only trust in God, obey His will, and believe in His Son.

To fully trust in Christ we must know that just as life is costly so, too, are our relationships. A relationship with Jesus Christ costs us submission. I know the word submission in today’s equal rights world is yet another negative term, but if we will understand it and accept submission for what it really is, a willful act (choice) of servile flattery (serving/acting out of love and respect) then we will experience the eternal joy that God intended us to have in our lives. We must choose to submit to Christ’s headship over us, serving Christ not because He is our conquering hero but because we love and respect Him for what He chose to do for us on the cross. When believers do this, they become a part of Christ’s body, known as the church (1 Corinthians 12:27; Ephesians 1:22, 5:29-30; Colossians 1:18, 2:10). Quickly, let’s take this concept of the church a little further.

The church is not just known as the body of Christ but its also known in Scripture as the bride of Christ (Christ therefore being the loving Bridegroom of heaven). As the bride, we are to submit to following Christ’s perfect will for us (Ephesians 5:23-32) just as wives are intended by God to submit to their husbands. (The picture being painted here is missed by our modern society because today we have allowed both ideas of traditional marriage and spousal submission to become ugly, meaningless, and disposable. Take time to study what is being presented here. Both men and women alike should meditate on what God intended and come to understand true submission.)

Let’s ponder the definition of submission once more from the above paragraph: “a willful act (choice) of servile flattery (serving/acting out of love and respect).” If you are married, try applying this idea to your relationship. If you do, your relationships will improve beyond your wildest dreams; your life will bloom and grow beyond what you ever imagined possible, and your relationship with Jesus Christ, God’s Son, will fill you with a joy that can only come from being centered on Him.

The second meaning we can find at the core of real joy comes from the letter “O” and is in two parts: be obedient in unity and serve others. The first, being obedient in unity (meaning that we should make every effort to be at peace with our brothers and sisters in Christ), is the key to understanding the second, which is to serve others. Ken Sande, author, lawyer, and founder of Peacemaker Ministries, says in his book The Peacemaker that peace (or unity) is the “presence of genuine harmony, understanding, and goodwill between people.” Realize, it’s Jesus Christ’s sacrifice (that we just talked about in discussing true faith) which allows for real unity (or peace) with other people. Paul wrote in his letter to the Ephesians:

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two [Jew and gentile] one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. (Ephesians 2:13-18)

We are called to do all we can to live unified, as one (at peace) with each other (Romans 12:18). We cannot be restored to the center of God’s will and purpose if we are not restored to each other, which brings us to the second part of this second meaning of joy.

Serving others is a crucial part to our receiving true joy from God and to our corporate worship. Obeying Jesus Christ’s call to serve mankind over self is a core truth we must grasp if we want to become the true worshipers that God intended us to be. Christ himself came to serve us, so why should we not also serve as He commands (Mark 10:45; Gal. 5:13; 1 Peter 4:10)? Remember our (the bride’s) submission to the Bridegroom of heaven means we both serve Him as well as mimic, or imitate, Him. We can do this when we allow Christ to make His Spirit dominant within us (John 3:30; Ephesians 6:7) and when we follow His model of self sacrifice, which was to lay aside His heavenly throne to become human, live a human life, and die a sinner’s death so that we could be restored to God as holy and righteous (2 Corinthians 13:4; Philippians 2:6-8). Faith in Jehovah and submission to Jesus comes first, then obeying Christ by being united as one body (the church) and serving each other (the members of that body) comes second. So, what’s third? You!

The letter “Y” represents being at peace within yourself, and is the last meaning we find at the core of true joy. Ken Sande says in The Peacemaker that internal peace is a “sense of wholeness, contentment, tranquility, order, rest and security.” Sounds to me like a piece of heaven on earth. I can’t recall the last time I truly felt this way for more than a moment, but this type of peace can be ours daily. Real peace comes to us, via the Holy Spirit, from the Lord God, Jehovah, and is a gift that awaits all who are faithful in submitting their whole life to His Son, Jesus Christ (1 John 3:21-24).

Our internal peace is also a by-product of righteousness (Psalm 85:10, 119:165; Isaiah 26:3, 32:17, 48:18). Righteousness and inner peace are ours through our relationship with Jesus Christ. If we do not allow God’s righteousness to grow and dwell in our daily lives, then we will not only live a life of stress and unrest, but we will put the Son’s reputation at risk. How many people do you know that feel negatively toward Jesus or toward going to church or toward Christianity? Is it not because the “righteous” have bragged about how good they are, only to turn around and dishonor God by acting immorally or unethically? Have we not all talked about love, grace, and peace only to turn around and show nothing of these things in our dealings with people and daily dilemmas? Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans that “God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you” (Romans 2:24b). Christ’s reputation depends on our being genuine in our faith and peacemakers with each other (Matthew 5:9; Romans 12:18; Colossians 3:15-16).

And returning once more to our first meaning of real joy (true faith via submitting to Jesus Christ’s headship over the body) by acknowledging the Son’s headship and submitting to serving Him, we gain peace within our own spirit (Romans 15:13; 1 Corinthians 14:33; Hebrews 12:11). Then by following (submitting to; serving and mimicking) Christ’s example to serve others, we remain at peace with our brothers and sisters resulting in our own spirit being at peace with God and ourselves (Ephesians 4:3-6; 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13; Hebrews 12:14).

This is joy! And joy’s core meaning: to allow God’s real joy into our daily lives and daily worship. Did you catch the acrostic from earlier? Here it is once more:

J – True faith in the Lord, God Jehovah and submission to His Son, Jesus Christ.
O – Obedient to be unified as one body (the church) and to serve others (the members of the body).
Y – Be at peace within yourself by being faithful to submit to Christ and serve others.

Remember from Article 3 that the order of rejoicing allows us to both give and receive God’s attribute of perfect joy. J.O.Y. — Jesus, Others, and You are how we can have this eternal attribute in our daily life. This is how we can have joy in suffering. This is the real meaning of joy that no dictionary could define. Only in God’s presence can we receive true joy, and giving of ourselves in submission to Christ’s will and serving others is what ushers us into God’s presence.

This is what Joshua experienced daily in his life as he led his family and the nation of Israel in genuine worship of the Almighty. Joshua was careful to be faithful in all God asked of him, to obey every command given, and to serve his people, the nation of Israel, by keeping them united and at peace with each other (Joshua 24:31). Joshua never had to struggle to lay his head down at night and be at rest because he was at peace in his faith. This same joy, God can give to you. Now, do you really have the “joy, joy, joy, joy” down in your heart? I hope so, and let’s have no more of that asking, “Where?”

We are now ready to raise our third wall in our temple of worship. That wall is — our purpose!

The Joshua Project by J.Scott Harden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at jasonmin.wordpress.com.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at https://jasonmin.wordpress.com/.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

The “NIV” and “New International Version” trademarks are registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by International Bible Society. Use of either trademark requires the permission of International Bible Society.

The Peacemaker” © 1991, 1997, 2004 by Kenneth Sande

All rights reserved. The brief information quoted from this book appears in this article with the permission granted per the copyright statement which appears in the seventh printed publication, May 2007.

Published by Baker Books a division of Baker Publishing Group, P.O. Box 6287, Grand Rapids, MI 49516-6287; www.bakerbooks.com.

Down In My Heart (I’ve Got the Joy)” by George Willis Cooke, pub.: Unknown, Copyright: Public Domain

If your church or organization would like to talk with J. Scott Harden about a speaking engagement, or a writing project, please get in touch with Mr. Harden through Jason MinistriesTwitter account or Facebook page.