Once, James wrote:
Remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else. Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death. James 1:14-15
God has no pleasure in your death, as he has no hand in your sin; but both sin and misery are owing to yourselves. Your own hearts’ lusts and corruptions are your tempters; and when by degrees they have carried you off from God, and finished the power and dominion of sin in you, then they will prove your destroyers.
In other words, we drive ourselves to Hell’s door, turn the handle, and lock ourselves in. Our desires lead us to sin and our sin brings us to death. If we end up in hell, it won’t be because of Satan or the world or God, but because of our own desires; because we followed our hearts. As the song sings:
I once was lost in darkest night
Yet thought I knew the way
The sin that promised joy and life
Had led me to the grave
Our Greatest Problem
I think it’s important to see that our greatest problem is not that we do or don’t get what we want, but the problem is what we want. Our greatest problem is, outside the grace of God, we only want what will kill us. As Paul said elsewhere, our problem is that we are, “slaves to many lusts and pleasures” (Titus 3:3). Our desires are our downfall. We drive ourselves to Hell’s door. Our desires are our destroyers.
God’s Loving Gift
But alas, there is hope in the gospel where we are not only offered forgiveness for sins, but new hearts that detest the sin which kills and yearn for the things of God which bring life. The gospel holds the power of God to change our very desires.
And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations. Ezekiel 36:26-27
In the gospel, God opposes and kills our deadly desires and gives us new ones in their place. He sent the Holy Spirit to us so we would obtain hearts that turn to Him. God turns our cars around and puts Hell in our rear view mirror. Praise God that He did not allow me to follow the directions of my heart to my own destruction.
Have you experienced the blessing of a new heart? Have you turned away from your sinful desires because God gave you new desires?