Many spiritual desires are found in the holy scriptures. Someone may ask the question, "What is meant by the expression, spiritual desires?" That is a very important question. We will try to answer it from the word of God.
First of all, let us look at Eph. 2:1-3. These few verses bring before us man's true state by nature. "Dead in trespasses and sins ... ye walked according to the course of this world ... fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind." In our unregenerate state our desires were the product of our corrupt nature. We may try to reform it in various ways as some have sought to do, but it is incorrigible. It is evil and can only produce evil. In Rom. 8:7 we read, "The mind of the flesh is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can it be" (R.V.). In John 3:6 the Lord Jesus said to Nicodemus, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh;" consequently in the following verse He said, "Ye must be born again." It is a divine necessity. The moment the new birth takes place in the soul's experience, the divine nature is implanted by the Holy Spirit. As men in the flesh, we may possess many moral qualities (like Nicodemus who was a ruler and a Pharisee), but the Spirit of God alone can produce in the soul spiritual desires, desires after God and spiritual things. In 2 Cor. 5:17 we read, "Wherefore if any man is in Christ there is a new creation, the old things are passed away; behold they all are become new" (R.V.). The old Adam nature is corrupt; the divine nature is pure and holy. Where there is no desire for spiritual things, irrespective of our profession, there is something lacking, something seriously wrong; and it behooves us to search our hearts and see if the root of the matter is in us. This is for eternity.
Let us look at some of these spiritual desires.
(1) The first desire is found in Psalm 73:25, 'Whom have I in heaven but Thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside Thee." This is the first of a series of eleven psalms by Asaph, ending with Psalm 83. According to 1 Chron. 16:5 Asaph was the leader of song in the house of God and a seer or prophet in the days of David the king (2 Chron. 29:30). He was a godly man. His experience as related to us in the psalm by himself proves men are only men at their best, and none of us are exempt from stumbling and failure. We do well to take heed to the exhortation, "Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall" (1 Cor. 10:12). After making that wonderful statement by the Spirit of God in verse 1, "Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are pure in heart" (R.V.), he tells us in verse 2, "My feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped." What had happened? He tells us in verse 3, "I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked." Evidently he was away in heart from God. He could not justify the truth of verse 1 by the appearance of things around him. He saw the wicked in the pride of their hearts prospering and boasting, while the people of God seemed to be in adversity and a full cup was drained out to them. In other words, the wicked or the ungodly were prospering and the people of God suffering. In verses 16-17 we read, "When I thought how I might know this, it was labour in mine eyes; until I went into the sanctuary of God, and considered their latter end" (R.V.). The sanctuary of God is where we see things in their proper perspective. In verse 28 he says, "But it is good for me to draw near to God." In the sanctuary he was caused to see the end.
Never let us be guilty of judging by the appearance of things. We have some solemn lessons brought before us in this connection in the word of God. Think of Lot in Gen. 13:10-11, "Lot lifted up his eyes and beheld ... then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan." What a sad and sordid story, yet he was a child of God (2 Pet. 2:7-8).
In the sanctuary there is confession of sin, repentance, deep humiliation and, thank God, restoration. Restored, he now cries, "Whom have I in heaven but Thee? and there is none upon the earth that I desire beside Thee." We see this spirit and cry in a number of the psalms and other portions of the word of God. In Psalm 42:1-2 David cries, "As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after Thee, 0 God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?" We have the same cry in Psalm 84:1-2, "How amiable are Thy tabernacles, 0 Lord of hosts! My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the Lord. My heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God." Is this the desire of my soul? Is this spirit mine, or am I where Asaph was? Would I rather have material prosperity than the Christ of God and all that that means? May the Lord search our hearts. We walk by faith, not by sight.
Take the world, but give me
All its joys are but a name;
But His love abideth ever,
Through eternal years the same.
To be continued