“But the time comes on when, though the pleasure becomes less and less and the craving fiercer and fiercer, and though he knows that joy can never come that way, yet he prefers to joy the mere fondling of unappeasable lust and would not have it taken from him. He’d fight to the death to keep it. He’d like well to be able to scratch; but even when he can scratch no more he’d rather itch than not.”- C.S Lewis, The Great Divorce, 72.
In C.S Lewis’ The Great Divorce, the description of a man who pursues the pleasure of the senses in worthless things is horrifying. Lewis describes a man who, though less and less satisfied by his endeavors, is plagued by an ever increasing craving. In the end, he doesn’t desire relief from the craving, from the unappeasable lust, but prefers having an unquenchable thirst over true Joy. He would rather die to keep lusting than live to be satisfied. I was rereading this passage the other day, and i couldn’t help feeling absolutely overcome. At the end of all things, it is often true that i would rather die to keep desiring filth than live and be satisfied in Ultimate Joy, in Christ. I would die not to gain filth but to keep the desire for filth. How true is this of the human race! We would rather pursue what we know is death, what we know leads to death, than lay down what we know will not bring life to gain what we know truly brings it. Is this not what “keeping up with the Joneses” is all about?! This concept tells us that our worth comes from being like the rich ones next door! Is not this how we operate? We toil and tremble to keep up the appearance of riches because we believe our worth and value come in being accepted by the Joneses, only to find that at the end of months of craving and lusting, we are thousands of dollars deep in credit card debt and more empty inside than we’ve ever been. One would think that this predicament would cause us humans to stop. It doesn’t. Our lust is unappeasable and not able to be deterred. This is true of any pursuit not grounded in finding our worth and joy in Jesus. The plague of sexual sin, living for the opinions of others, having the perfect body, living for grades, riches, and accomplishments, living to be a “self-made” man, all of these things return death and not life while increasing cravings and making the parasitic man more of a corpse than a living human being.
If we are honest, we will find in ourselves this very real, very horrifying reality. We would rather itch than not. We would rather feel the unappeasable desire and lust while never getting the object of our twisted natures than find rest from want in Christ. This is why we need a transplant, a new nature, a new man. Our natures are too twisted. Our natures are too dark. This is the only place we can find hope: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation,” (2 Corinthians 5:17-19). We need a divine rescue from the spiral of twisted, unsatisfying pursuits. We need newness. And newness has come. Christians can find hope in that they are not enslaved to their sin, but have been crucified with Christ. We can find hope that we are new, not old. Though, as Christians, our old man still lingers, we know that it must flee. It cannot stay. Let us take heart. Though Christians still desire the world, Christ has overcome the world (John 16:33). He says calmly and reassuringly to us, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst,” (John 6:35). We must cling to this promise, turning from our unappeasable lusts to drink deeply from the Fountain of Living Water.
Lord, save us from our deceitful desires.
Show us that what we truly desire is You.