Creflo Dollar - How To Change Worldly Desires
We're going to talk about this issue of, "How do I change my desires, how do I change my appetites, or even how do I change my focus from the world"? And so many people are engaging in different things to do to try to change it on their own, and that's just not going to happen. And so I thought we dig in to the Word of God tonight and really dig in to the things that you're going to have to allow to take place in your life if you want to see the change. Somebody said to me one time, they said, "Well, I can't change my desires". And I'm thinking, "Yeah, you're partly right, but God's already got that set up for you".
So let me just lay a little foundation from Sunday. I'm actually continuing from Sunday, and what I thought is I don't want to wait from Sunday to Sunday. Whatever I have left over from Sunday, we'll deal with it on Wednesday, you know. Amen. Titus chapter 2 and verse 11 says, "For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us". So the grace of God teaches us to deny. That word deny means to refuse. It teaches us, "Denying ungodliness and denying worldly lusts; that we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world," and notice, "looking for the blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ".
Notice that's tied in there. And so the grace of God will teach us how to refuse ungodliness; that is, refuse to ever walk without regarding God and refuse to ever live a life where we are neglecting God and not having him involved in everything that we do. That's number one. But the grace of God also teaches us to refuse and to deny worldly lust, worldly lust.
Now, let's look at 1 John chapter 2, verse 15 through 17. These are just some foundational Scriptures. 1 John chapter 2, verse 15 through 17. And so we're talking about how the Holy Spirit works to deliver us and to get us to a point where we refuse worldly lust. Verse 15 says, "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world," he says, so here's what the world is composed of: "the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life". He says it's not of the Father, but it is of the world. And verse 17, "And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever".
Now, to love the world literally is to ignore God. So what does that mean? He's talking about teaching us to refuse or to deny worldly lust. To love the world is to literally ignore God. Worldliness stems from...and this is so important. Worldliness stems from a heart that desires anything but the Lord first in all things. So worldliness stems from a heart that desires anything, but at the same time they don't desire the Lord first in all things. That's the first step you can tell. When you're not desiring God first in all things and now you're desiring everything else, then that's what worldliness is all about.
Worldliness is all about craving for physical pleasure. It's the desire or the craving for everything we see. It's the desire or the thing that has pride in all of the things you achieve and all of the things that you possess. And so the interesting thing about worldly lust is that you really can't see it from external factors because the desire is in your heart. Somebody could look just like a Christian; but you don't know they have that craving in their heart, you don't know they have that desire in their heart. Worldliness is turning your back on God, and what you long for in your heart is what makes you a lover of the world. So you've got to constantly ask yourself this question: "What is it that I'm longing for and desiring in my heart that makes me a lover of the world"? "What do you mean"?
You know, do you crave pleasure? Do you fantasize over sin? Do you lust over possessions and become envious of unsaved people? In other words, worldliness is wrong focus in that which can never satisfy. When you're focusing on craving for physical things, those physical things can never satisfy even though you might, you know, achieve some of them. When you're craving and have a desire for everything you see, they will never satisfy. When you have pride in your achievements and your possessions, they will never satisfy. And I thought that was so interesting, that worldliness is basically having a wrong focus in all of the things that can never satisfy. Okay?
So we've got to live in a position where we allow the grace of God to change maybe some of those cravings and those desires, the things that maybe you don't display but they're still in there. They're still on the inside of you. That's the craving, the desire that you have. And the question we're dealing with tonight is, can that change? Can that change? And if so, how do I change my desires? How do I change those appetites? How do I change those focus from the world? Now, remember if your appetites and desires are there, remember at the same time you have ignored God, at the same time you've turned your back on God. "How do I change it"? Well, I think this is the first thing that we need to recognize.
Colossians chapter 3 and verse 2. Now, this is so interesting. Colossians chapter 3 and verse 2. Here's the first thing that I would say is pretty important. We've got to live from the perspective of eternity. In other words, look at what he says here in verse 2. In fact, I want to read verse 1 through 4; Colossians 3, verses 1 through 4. This is so important. He says, "If then you be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth". Verse 3, "For you are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God". Verse 4, "When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall you also appear with him in glory".
So the thing you got to ask yourself is: Where are your affections set? Are your affections set on the things you can see and hear and touch, the things of the world; and there's absolutely no desire for the things that are above, the things of God, the things of the Spirit, the things of Christ? And so that's the first adjustment you have to make. "How much attention am I giving the world, and at the same time how much attention have I taken away from God? How much attention have I taken away from God"? Set your affections. It's like setting a thermostat. Set your affections on the things that are above. Set your affections on heavenly things. Set your affections on spiritual things.
Now, as born-again Christians, we have to do that. That's something we have to do intentionally. "I got to set my affection on the things of God, set my affection on those heavenly things. I've got to set my affection and live from the perspective of eternity". That's why the New Testament keeps talking about looking for his return. That's why in Titus it was talking about while the grace of God is teaching you you should be looking for his return, setting your affections on that. You know, it used to be a big thing in Christianity, but you very rarely really see two Christians ever talking about the affections of those heavenly things, affections of those spiritual things, excited about the return of the Lord, excited about Jesus.
So I guess you have to, first of all, identify your affection. Where are your affections set? "Are my affections set on the things of the world, the things of Hollywood, or are my affections set on eternal things, on heavenly things, on spiritual things"? Does everybody understand what I'm saying there? So I think that's where it starts right there, that, if we're going to start the change. Now, the second area, I think, we've got to notice before we really get into this is John chapter 6, verse 28 through 29 in the NLT, John 6:28 through 29 in the NLT. So I set my affections on the Word. I set my affections on Jesus. I set my affections on heavenly things. I set my affections on all of those things, and then I got to know what to believe.
I think if you believe right you can live right, and we've complicated even that whole area of belief and I really think this just settles it right down. I mean, Jesus had just finished doing miracles, and these guys followed him and they said, "Lord, we want to do the works of miracles like you do". And Jesus turned and said something to them because they were following Jesus because they wanted to perform the miracles that they saw Jesus performing. "And they replied, 'We want to perform God's works, too. So what should we do?'" So what should we do? And here's the answer. "Jesus told them, 'This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.'"
The only works that God wants from you: believe in the one who he has sent. I think if you're going to really change your desires, you got to believe in Jesus. You got to believe in Jesus. You got to believe in Jesus and his finished works. Any attempt to try to get too deep where Jesus is no longer in the equation, you've gotten too deep and off the page. If you've had a conversation with somebody who has talked you out of believing in Jesus, then they have talked you straight off the page of everything that you're trying to get. It's worldly, it's worldly for you to believe in anything more than you believe in Jesus. I mean, this is so clear. "How do we work the works of God"? He says, "The only work God wants from you is to believe in the one that he has sent you".
Boy, that got my attention. And you ask yourself the question, "Do I believe in Jesus and his finished works? Do I believe in Jesus and his finished works"? Somebody says, "Well, you can answer yes, but what's the authentication, or what authenticates whether or not that's true"? If I say I believe in Jesus and his finished work, you know what? The evidence of that is going to be me resting in the finished works of Jesus Christ. I'm not going to sweat and I'm not going to struggle, I'm going to rest when, "You know, I know he loves me, I believe in him, therefore this is going to be good. He loves me, I believe in him, therefore I have this. I'm the righteousness of God. I'm redeemed. I'm everything he says I am because I believe in him and it's evident by the rest that I have in my life".
So I think those are the two things, those are very practical, two things that you need to adjust in your thinking and in your attention if you're going to position yourself for those desires to be changed. You know, set your affections on the things above and not on the things of this world. Okay? The things above are always going to be greater than the things of the world, and then believe in Jesus and his finished works. I think that's a primary foundation for things to desire and, I mean, you just maybe ask yourself a little question every day. You know, "Where are my affections"? Locate your affection and then set it like you do an alarm clock. Keep it set. Set it and keep it set.
Now, if you'll do that, then I believe you, we're ready to rock and roll because, trust God to change your desires by believing in Jesus. But if I'm going to believe in Jesus, I can also believe that he can change my desires. Say out loud, "I believe that Jesus can change my desires". Say it again. "I believe that Jesus can change my desires". All right, now we're going to really get into this because this is an area that a lot of people just kind of say, "Well, whatever". But this is the key. It starts off with, "I believe that Jesus can change my desires".
Things are not going to change in your life until your desires change. You need to know that. If your desires stay the same, you can hope and pray and hope and pray all your life and nothing ever changes. "I believe that Jesus can change my desires". And if those desires and, you know, everybody don't need to know your desires and stuff like that, you know, somehow someway stuff start leaking out. So that's why I'm trying to say you need to go ahead and deal with that, all right? All right? All right, so let's look at this now. I want to make this statement here. I thought it was pretty cool for us to dig in on a Wednesday night Bible study the likeness of Christ, and that's what we're trying to achieve. The likeness of Christ, that's what we're trying to achieve. It's not produced by imitation but by inhabitation.
Now listen to this. I know the Scripture says imitate him. I think it's deeper than, you know, things changing by imitating him. You can imitate something and generally pick up some of the things on the outside, but if it's not rooted in you it's an act, right? All right? So I don't want you to be like Christ, that's just religious, to be like Christ through imitation. I want you to be like Christ because of inhabitation. In other words, we allow Christ to live through us, right? We want to allow him to live through us. So there's a secret to us, to this being accomplished, and the secret is Colossians 1:27. I want to read it in the NLT because it actually says this. It says this is the secret. This is the secret to being like Christ. This is the secret to being like Christ.
And verse 27 says, "For God wanted them to know what the riches and the glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too", as well the Jews, "And this is the secret," here it goes, "Christ lives in you". That's the secret. The secret to your change, the secret to your desires changing, watch this, Christ lives in you. The day you got born again and made Jesus the Lord of your life, here's the secret to the change. It's not the five things you do. It's not your willpower. It's not your great discipline. The secret to the change, the secret to your changing is Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory. Now, get ahold of that. "Christ lives in me. Therefore my desires can change because he inhabits me. He inhabits me". So the likeness of Christ comes through inhabitation. "He's in me. The secret is: Jesus lives in me".
That cannot just be a quote; that's got to be a revelation working in you, that Christ lives on the inside of me. He inhabits me and, listen, he's not just there living on inside of you, therefore no reason at all. He is there to change you. The number one work of the Holy Spirit is to change you. Look at this in the Book of Romans 5 and 5 in the NLT, that the very first act of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit comes on the inside of us. He moves in here. Romans 5 and 5, and he says, "And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love".
So the Holy Spirit is going to fill our hearts with his love. His job is to convince us that we are highly loved by God, and so what happens is your faith will work the day you start developing in this metamorphic change that's coming through him being in you, and then the Holy Spirit in you is now pouring the love of God in you. There are things changing because he's in you, pouring the love of God in you.
There's stuff that you used to do you're not interested in anymore and you trying to figure out why. 'Cause he's pouring the love of God in you. It's the Holy Spirit that's working in you to change you. He's changing your character. There's stuff going on on the inside of you that's making a difference in who you are, and it's an amazing thing. It's not like the Holy Spirit is just there so you can jiggle and shake, rattle and roll. He is working on you. He is working in you. Praise God. His main job is to transform you into the image of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen? Hallelujah.
Now, this happens in real life. This change that I'm talking about, it happens in real life through, watch this, the choices we make. Now, how does this work? This is how this works now. We choose to do the right thing in situations and then we trust God's Spirit to give us his power, to give us his love, to give us his faith and wisdom. We make a choice, "I'm going to do the right thing and then I'm going to trust that God's going to get me what I need to do the right thing".
Now, you're a free moral agent. The Holy Spirit or nobody can't make you do the right thing. But now that you're born again you make a decision, "I'm going to do the right thing and the Holy Ghost is going to provide for me everything I need to do the right thing". And so since God's Spirit lives inside of us, these things are always available for the asking. That's how it works. It's not like he's just going to come and take over and make you do something. So I'm a born-again Christian. I'm going to choose to do the right thing and then I'm going to trust that the Holy Ghost is going to give me what I need to do the right thing.
That's why you have to make sure your emotions line up with the Word of God. Because if your negative emotions begin to take charge of your life, your negative emotions will lead you away from the things of God and you will find yourself doing some other crazy thing. God lives in me. Say that. "God lives in me. I will choose to do the right thing, and the Holy Spirit in me will provide everything I need to cause it to come to pass". Listen, God's not going to make you do the right thing. You're going to have to choose to do the right thing. It starts with a choice. It starts with a decision. It starts with...remember, you know, he talks about denying, which means you have to refuse it. You have to refuse it. You have to deny it.
When you do those things, then you have access to the secret that lives on the inside of you, the Holy Spirit, which will provide for you everything you need. Now, watch this Scripture right here, this is cool. Philippians chapter 2:13 in the New Living Translation, Philippians chapter 2:13 in the New Living Translation. He says, "For God is working in you", that's awesome, isn't it? God is working in you doing what? "Giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him". So God's already working in you to give you the desire. I said God is working in you to give you the desire. You know, just help him a little bit. He's already at work in you trying to take away your old want-tos and to give you new want-tos.
Now, some of you know, you know some of the stuff you wanted to do, and it was addictive. The Holy Spirit is working in you. That's the first thing I need you to realize, is that the Holy Spirit is working in you. We just thought the Holy Spirit was for church services so we can shake, rattle, and roll; jump, scream, talk in tongues. That is the...how do I say this? The least of what he was sent to do. He has accepted responsibility of your transformation. Glory be to God. He has accepted the responsibility to transform you.
All right. "Do I believe him? Am I setting my affection on him"? He is working in you doing what? Giving you the desire. So I don't know what the desire used to be, but he's giving desires in you to do what's right. But not only the desire, he says, "I'm going to give you power". What is power? I don't know what people think about when they hear power. I mean, but power is just simply the ability to get the job done. The Holy Spirit will give you the ability to get the job done.
So when you make a decision to do this thing, he's going to give you the ability to get the job done. But not only the ability to get the job done, you're going to find yourself walking wanting to do it. You're going to start, you start making decisions to do what's right, but he's working in you. You're going to want to do what's right. Long time ago you would have cut that joker, but now you want to hold your emotions, keep your mouth closed, "Wah, see Allah".
You want to do all that stuff. You wouldn't have did all that, go see la la nothing. Cut a joker, you know. But the Holy Spirit is doing that. And when that kind of stuff happens and you get home, you look at yourself and like, "Whoa, I am not the same". Why? The Holy Spirit. See, we're too high strung. We think it's us and all the stuff we do to make it happen, but a lot of stuff that's going on with you right now is by the power of the Holy Spirit that's been working in you, giving you a desire and imparting into you the ability to get the job done. That's power, power. What power? Power to do what? To do what pleases him. You're going to want to start doing what pleases him.