Pleasure in the Wrong Things

Studies in First Corinthians

by Bob Burridge ©2018
Lesson #37: 1 Corinthians 13:6 (ESV)

Pleasure in the Wrong Things

Here in Florida we often hear about shark attacks that take place along our beaches.
Shark experts say that you’re relatively safe in the waters if you follow certain guidelines:
– Stay near other swimmers, and don’t get too far out from the shore.
– Avoid being in the water at night or during twilight when sharks are most active.
– Avoid shiny jewelry or bright colored swim wear in the water. Sharks see the contrasts as small separate targets that might be easy prey.
– Don’t swim or wade around fishermen or where bait or fish cuttings are in the water. Sharks don’t hunt humans, but they might bite a person to get at the fish, or attack them thinking they’re competing for the food.
– Don’t splash around or seem to be thrashing in the water. If you see a shark be still. You might seem to be an injured animal unable to defend itself. The splashing of pet dogs in the water can often attract sharks.
– Don’t get in the water if you’re bleeding or have an open wound of any kind. Some say sharks sense blood in the water and go into a feeding frenzy.

Predators often attack animals that seem injured or disabled and unable to put up a fight. It’s the predator’s nature. They can’t appreciate how it effects the other animal. To them it’s just fast food.

I once watched an alligator in Lake Seminole gobble down an injured duck floundering near the shore.

Humans ever since the time of Adam’s fall can be like that too. When the fallen nature senses someone doing wrong, or caught up in a scandal, there can be sort of a feeding frenzy. People get fascinated to hear all about it. The lost are like hungry sharks losing all judgment when famous people get tangled up in sin and scandals. The media goes wild with stories of such things that boost their ratings because people will watch.

What we celebrate or get fascinated with tells a lot about our character.

1 Corinthians 13:6, love … “does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.” (ESV)

There are two kinds of celebration in this verse: the wrong kind and the right kind.

Nobody should ever see things done wrong
as a cause for celebration.

The word translated as “wrongdoing” in the English Standard Version (ESV) is translated in different ways in other Bible versions.

The New American Standard Bible (NASB) has “unrighteousness” instead of “wrongdoing”. The King James Version (KJV), and the NewKJV (NKJV), and the Geneva Bible have “iniquity“. The New International Version (NIV) has “evil“.

The Greek word here is “adikia” (αδικια). The Bauer, Arndt, and Gingrich Lexicon says it means: 1. wrongdoing 2. unrighteousness, wickedness, injustice. It’s a negative of the root word “dikae” (δίκη) which primarily means justice, or the penalty deserved by the unjust. So the word here means something that is unjust, wicked – basically some kind of sin.

Right doing, or righteousness is the keeping of God’s commandments. After summarizing God’s moral principles in the 10 Commandments, Moses wrote in Deuteronomy 6:25, “And it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to do all this commandment before the LORD our God, as he has commanded us.”

Righteousness is when God’s moral principles are obeyed and honored. Unrighteousness is when people violate God’s good ways.

Those who know how to truly love don’t see morally wrong things as a reason for rejoicing. It doesn’t matter who’s doing it — sin should make us grieve, not celebrate.

When love is missing from people’s hearts, they get fascinated by sin. They look for movies, TV shows, and books about characters who violently break laws or do immoral things. Some love to spend hours reading gossip on social media, or in the tabloid newspapers and magazines. Rumors, scandals, and personal attacks attract a lot of attention and are enabled by social media to spread with awesome speed.

It’s not just a problem for the heathen. This quality of love needs to grow in all of us. We need to prayerfully root out these inappropriate pleasures we might find in unrighteousness. One of the great hopes for the Christian is that this characteristic of love can be restored.

We all want to have good times, to do things we get pleasure from. God made us to want pleasureful things. In Ecclesiastes 3:12-13 it says, “I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil–this is God’s gift to man.”

But we should remember that pleasure comes from the God who made us — it’s his blessing, not our right. We can’t really find satisfying pleasure in wrongdoing, things that are unrighteous.

But the fallen soul can be very deceptive. People can convince themselves to think that by offending God they can find real happiness. That’s an artificial kind of joy that comes more from a deceived mind than a truly satisfied one. When we appreciate things as God sees them, wrong behaviors should cause us to grieve, not to rejoice.

I worked my way through college at a commercial laundry. We had one driver who came in for work every Monday totally hungover from a wild weekend. More than once he had people drive him around at lunch time to find out where he left his car the night before. But he was always, though obviously in pain, bragging about what a great weekend he had. He couldn’t remember exactly what he’d done, or where he was when he parked his car. But he was definitely convinced that he’d had a good time. He took great pride and pleasure in having lost himself in destructive behavior.

There can be no real happiness in trying to satisfy our needs in wrong ways. This unsatisfying self-deception makes a person keep expanding his wicked horizons.

More than a hundred years ago Las Vegas became known as “Sin City”. I know there are fine people and nice tourist attractions there. But it’s tragic that it irresponsibly advertises that “what happens here stays here.” The problem is that nothing done there is hidden from God, or from yourself. Keeping sin a secret doesn’t make it ok. Nobody gets away with it. Self-deception about the consequences and seriousness of sin is typical of those who rejoice in unrighteousness.

The lost keep looking for more ways to sin rather than to stop. The old sins don’t satisfy enough anymore.

Those who love the way God teaches us to live,
rejoice with things that are the truth.

There’s a close relationship between righteousness and truth in the Bible.
Psalm 119:142, “Your righteousness is righteous forever, and your law is true.”
Romans 2:8 tells about God’s judgment which comes ” … for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.”
1 John 1:6 shows this same relationship: “If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.”
Romans 1:18 says, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.”

In contrast with rejoicing in wrongdoings, the truth of God tells how to behave:
– We should rejoice in stories about heroic, brave, and loving people who give glory to the True God.
– We should ignore personal attacks on social media, and use the “like” button where good messages are posted.
– Our time should be spent in God’s word learning his truth, and being regular and attentive in worship.
– We should rejoice in helping those who needed encouragement both materially and spiritually.

Sadly people are often more convinced by an enticing lie, than by the straight truth. They get the impression that doing wrong isn’t so bad, and it’s more fun.

One of the great lies is that you can have a more joy filled life by doing what forbidden. But lies, excess, immorality, self-serving violence, and neglecting worship are never rewarding.

We live in a world of fantasy, fiction, simulation, myths, and falsehoods. Truth is viewed as something pliable, subjective, and changing. Unrighteous ways of living lure us with evil promises of joy, but just as it was in Eden, they deliver damnation, disappointment, bondage, and injury.

Isaiah 59:14 warns, “Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands far away; for truth has stumbled in the public squares, and uprightness cannot enter.”

Instead of the lies of unrighteousness, there’s undiscovered treasure embedded in God’s truth. When we rest with confidence in the work of Christ as our sin-bearer, and sincerely repent of our sins before God, we have the assurance of the help of the Holy Spirit to enable us to learn to truly discover love in our hearts. We learn to replace the lure of wrongdoings, with the promises of God’s truth.

The person who loves, doesn’t look for pleasure
in things that offend God, or in the ignoring of his truth.

It would be very different in our world if people didn’t get fascinated with what God says is wrong, if nobody rejoiced in things that are unrighteous, if we celebrated when people do well, instead of when they act immorally.

I wonder if the supermarket tabloids would sell as many copies if the headlines were different? if instead of the stories about celebrities cheating on their spouses and getting into fights, the front page told about amazingly good things people did, or the success of the gospel?

What kind of news really gets people’s attention and makes them listen and watch? Is it when crimes, terrorism, or scandals take place? or when they hear good reports? What kind of things do people celebrate as good in their lives? Are they wild times of abandon and immorality? or seasons of worship and good fellowship?

We live in a world that’s very confused about what’s best for those who live in it, where vengeance rather than true justice drives people’s passions, where doing wrong is worth so much of people’s time, effort, and money, and doing right only gets what’s left over.

We can’t change the whole world. But with the power of Christ in us, we can change our own attitudes and behaviors.

We shouldn’t be among the predators drawn by fascination with the failings of others, entertained by seeing wrong things done, or foolishly craving imagined pleasure in disobeying God.

Our duty is to make a serious effort in prayer that this righteous way of life would grow in us. We should diligently be studying God’s truth so the deceptions stand out as obviously wrong and dangerous. God calls us to hang out with those who agree about these important values, to be influenced by them more than by those who drag us down. We’re to worship God in our personal lives and when we gather as a church.

Paul challenges us in Ephesians 4:24, “… to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”

(The Bible quotations are from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.)

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