What is God's view of pleasure? Is He opposed to pleasure?
Some people view God's commands in Scripture as a way of life that opposes pleasure. However, God created all people and provides the ability to enjoy life and its pleasures. He is not opposed to pleasure; He is opposed to sinning to experience pleasure.
For example, God has created a wide variety of food for human enjoyment. Yet if a person eats too much unhealthy food, this desire for pleasure from eating food can have negative effects on our health. The same is true in many areas of life. God has created many of the things we enjoy for our benefit, yet unrestricted use of these positive things can cause much harm.
The apostle Paul addresses two areas related to this topic in 1 Corinthians 6:12-13, saying, "'All things are lawful for me,' but not all things are helpful. 'All things are lawful for me,' but I will not be dominated by anything. 'Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food'—and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.'" Both food and sexual intimacy can be beneficial or sinful. God has given biblical principles related to these areas for our benefit. He does not say to avoid certain foods or sexual intimacy completely, but to enjoy the benefits and pleasures of each within the principles of His teachings. In sexuality, for example, Paul continues in 1 Corinthians 7 to teach that sexuality is to be expressed within marriage between a husband and wife.
The apostle Peter spoke about appropriate boundaries in 1 Peter 4:1-3 in this way, "Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry." These areas of sinful living were to be ended in order to live for God and pursue His best in life. This was not to stand against pleasure, but to stand against sin.
A great biblical example of this principle is found in the account of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32. He wasted his father's inheritance in self-focused living. He soon realized his way of life did not bring joy (see verse 17). Instead, the son experienced his greatest joy when he returned to his father in humility and found loving embrace. God likewise offers a much greater joy in coming to Him rather than seeking our own way.
Ultimately, we have been created to find our greatest pleasure in God Himself. Psalm 37:4 teaches, "Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart." When we walk closely to the Lord, we find the most pleasure, not the least pleasure. God is not opposed to pleasure. He instead knows that the best for us is found in our complete devotion to Him.
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