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Pleasure I

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Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there He put the man He had formed. [Genesis 2.8]

A garden has one primary purpose and one primary purpose only – to be the place of pleasure.  A place that is pleasing to the eyes and nostrils, with its forms, colours and scents.  A place that is pleasing to the ears from the songs of birds it attracts to the sound of wind rustling through the leaves.  It is also a place that is pleasing to the touch and taste as one picks the flowers, touches the delicate petals and eats the fruits which ripen on its trees.

The LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food, [Genesis 2.9] so that it is very clear that God’s original plan for Adam was for Adam to experience pleasure in his senses.  And as he worked and tended to the garden, even extending it, so the garden would give him pleasure… and the reward of his work would be pleasure and enjoyment of that pleasure in the company and fellowship of God.

When Adam lost the garden, he lost pleasure and enjoyment, and instead gave himself a life of painful toil.  In fact, it would be painful toil “…all the days of your life.” [Genesis 3.17]

Driven out of Eden, Adam and Eve went from the Garden of Pleasure into the wilderness of pain.  Eve would bear children in pain and Adam would toil in pain because of one sin – they did not listen and did not obey God.

When God set Israel free from Egypt, He led them to Canaan… a land described as a land of milk and honey with a single cluster of grapes so large that it took two men to carry it on a staff.  The land God had chosen for Israel was a fertile, lush land… a latter day Eden as it were.  But again, like Adam, Israel did not listen and did not obey.  Now look at the rocky bare hills of Israel today.  Do they resemble anything like a land flowing with milk and honey?

Pleasure… good pleasure was what God had in mind from the moment He began creating in Genesis 1 when He made Adam.  Adam was to share in that pleasure.  Adam would come to know his Creator, whose image he was in, in the surrounds of the pleasures and delights of Eden… not by painful toil.

As such, if there is anything that Jesus came to restore by His work… surely it is the pleasure of the Father.  However, to many who call upon the Name of the Lord, pleasure is a sin and enjoyment is a sin.  Indeed, it is correct to say and see that Satan uses pleasure to entice and entrap many a minister and servant of God.  So much so that many are so frightened by pleasure that they stay away from it… especially pleasures of the flesh.  Whenever you make mention of pleasures of the flesh, the church thinks of sex.  In truth, the church has an obsession about sex and the avoidance and containment of sex to such a degree that this subject occupies a larger share of its rules, doctrines and teachings, more than any other.  Even though in Leviticus the law of sexual relations occupy one chapter – 30 verses – it is only one chapter out of 27.  There are 26 other chapters that need equal emphasis, such as the worship of God, the love of God and love of each other, and so on.  On the matter of adultery, Jesus devoted less than 10 verses of His entire teachings… and only two verses in the sermon to disciples out of the 107 verses in Matthew 5, 6 and 7.

As such, the fear of the pleasures of the flesh must be looked at in the correct context and relevance, and pleasures of the flesh are not related to the sexual area, but to hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting and touching.  The reason we have such problems with the pleasures peddled by Satan is because we do not have the pleasures God gave us.  The spirituals amongst us would immediately say that the pleasures of holiness, righteousness, joy, peace, goodness, kindness and faithfulness are far superior to the pleasures offered by eating, drinking and talking, even seeing and watching, so that a man’s holiness before God can be measured by the lack of pleasure he affords himself in his eating, drinking and even talking and watching.

When you have such a mindset, then boiled barley porridge for breakfast is your outward sign that you are holy with the Lord… and by forsaking the pleasures of a well made egg and bacon sandwich, that is your sacrifice unto God.  No fine fermented drink for you… be it coffee or tea.  Did you not know tea and coffee undergo fermentation too?  But just plain water to wash down your bowl of boiled porridge.  For you the good wine that Jesus made in Cana was not alcoholic grape juice and not a vintage that would have even the French turn green with envy!  As for the pleasure of talking, some religious orders even have their members take vows of silence and wear drab single colour clothing… banning the bright colours lest there be pleasure in looking and watching.

Yet we forget when Paul wrote to the church about the Kingdom of God, which neither Peter nor John or James the Younger wrote or taught about… Paul told us the Kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of joy, peace and righteousness, [Romans 14.17] and not of talk but of power… [1 Corinthians 4.20] and many take that to mean that eating, drinking and talking are excluded, forgetting that the Son of the King ate and drank so heartily that He was called a glutton and a drunkard as He feasted with the ‘sinners’ and tax collectors… whereas the food of the pharisees was not as inspiring and inviting to Him, hence He would turn those dinners with the pharisees to occasions of teaching and rebuking.

No, the Kingdom of God is the kingdom of power and of joy, peace and righteousness – things of the Spirit – and of eating, drinking and talking – things of the flesh.  For if there is one word that would describe what God really had in mind when He extended His kingdom from Heaven to Earth… it is PLEASURE.

All that He created originally was good and together they were very good.  The garden was for pleasure… good pleasure.  A pleasure that we who are born in sin cannot begin to comprehend until we are born again of the Spirit so that by that spirit the weaknesses of our flesh are overcome by the power that comes from the Holy Spirit.  That same power, which raised Jesus from the dead, when allowed to work powerfully in our flesh will give us the ability to enjoy God’s pleasure, which an unspiritual man who is not born again cannot even begin to imagine or conceive.

For Jesus came and did before our eyes that which His Father showed Him.  As He changed the water to good wine, He gave the guests the pleasure of drinking the best wine last.  As He raised the rulers’ children and healed them, He gave those fathers the pleasure of receiving their children back alive and well.  The pleasure, the joy and the enjoyment Jesus gave those three rich rulers were very tactile.  And for every sick person, blind, deaf, mute, leprous and crippled person He healed, He gave back to them the fleshly pleasures of seeing, hearing, speaking, feeling, running and jumping, even smiling… especially for a leper, for he no longer had to smell his own rotting flesh.  To the hungry He gave them bread and fish that was so pleasurable to eat that they walked around the lake to have some more.  And all these things that Jesus did… He did because His Father showed Him.  And these are the same things He meant for us to do when He said, “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in Me will do what I have been doing.  He will do even greater things than these…” [John 14.12] And we who believe and have faith in Him are given the power of the Holy Spirit to do likewise.

The very things that define the Kingdom of God – the kingdom of power – allow the dumb the pleasure of speaking and singing; allow the thirsty the pleasure of drinking good wine, not just water; allow the hungry the pleasure of eating good food, not just barley loaves and small fish.  They allow the grieving parents to have the joy of receiving back their dead children.  They allow the fearful condemned to have the enjoyment of peace as they are set free from the condemnation of the law, like the woman caught in adultery.  And they give righteousness to the worst of sinners as their flesh is healed as the evidence that their sins are forgiven, like that crippled man who was lowered through the roof.

You see, elect… there is one aspect of the Kingdom of God that Paul did not write about or teach or make mention of directly.  And it is this:  The Kingdom of God is first and foremost the Kingdom of Pleasure, for that is how and what God created this world for in the first place and which the redeeming sacrifice of Jesus has restored… if only we would listen to Him as commanded and learn from Him by the practice of His words so that by the power of the Holy Spirit we would come to know the good pleasures that our Father had prepared for us in the kingdom that He gave us from the beginning – the Kingdom of God for men.

So even now, as the power is restored to all who have listened, repented and obeyed, they will live through these days of distress experiencing the pleasures of the Kingdom of God as they heal the sick, raise the dead, change water to wine and multiply the food.  The pleasures of giving relief, joy and pleasure to others, as well as the pleasure of vengeance – avenging the blood of the saints on those who honour those who killed them… reducing the riches of the prostitute and her brood to nothing in an hour so that they can no longer buy or sell, but have to come begging for mercy that they might yet live… to serve those they had tortured and killed.

The Kingdom of God is more than the kingdom of power, joy, peace, righteousness, eating, drinking and talking.  It is the Kingdom of Pleasure, and right now there is no greater pleasure to be had in the kingdom than the participation in the work to bring justice to Jesus and His martyred saints.

Amen.

So as surely as those who build tombs for the prophets who were slain are filled up to the full measure of the sin of their forefathers, [Matthew 23.32] so those who seek justice for the prophets will be filled with the good pleasure of their Father who is in Heaven.  Hallowed be His Name.

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