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“Desire is transformed into lust when we exclude God from the picture. Without God, the natural powers of our soul become corrupt. Abba Sisoes, one of the Desert Fathers, stresses along with Saint James that “each man is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire” (Jas 1:14)…. With Saint John the Evangelist, the problem with desire is not something inherent in the order of creation. Rather, the difficulty arises from our enslavement to the things of this world and to our physical being (1 Jn 2:15-16). God made the world, forming our very flesh and our eyes, yet sin turns even our natural desires into lust…When we love created things, our love for God diminishes and “the love of the Father is not in” us (1 John 2:15). Without the life blood of God’s love, our hearts wither. Then “all that is in the world” (vs. 17) and our lust for the flesh takes over. We lust after the things we see, rather than directing our desire toward our unseen Father (vs. 16). In Christ, however, we may overcome lust and abide forever (vs. 17)!” (Dynamis 3/1/2024)

“My desires are so conflicted. Even when I know Christ, I am still tempted to listen to the whispered words of those demons rather than the true Word, which is Christ. I am still tempted to give in to the dead-end desires that underlie the polished and brightly painted masks, which miss the mark of truth and ultimately push me away from Christ and the fullness of all truth and life. Indulging these lesser desires directly is counterproductive, however—not only because it can’t fulfill the deeper need but also because the pleasure it does give forms a greater temptation to return to it.” (Andrew Williams)

“The Church calls this first stage of spiritual life “purification,” and it has this paradoxical requirement: on the one hand, we have to rouse ourselves and cultivate our desire for Christ. We can’t remain lukewarm but must instead become genuinely hot. On the other hand, we must become “cold” to all worldliness as we cleanse our eros of anything self-interested or false. Our eros must be wholly for Christ.” (Timothy G. Patitsas)

“What we find in our life, as presently constituted, is that our sins are often a poor imitation of righteousness. The passions, for example, are not inherently sinful, but are distortions of their proper purpose. We are supposed to get hungry – but at the right time, in the right measure, for the right things. Instead, our hunger runs out of control and becomes gluttony. The same can be said of all of our desires.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

“…the preparation that we make and the keeping watch that we do are not enough. They do not engage with the devil “healthfully,” that is, with sufficient vigor to withstand the greater power of the Evil One. The spirit may be willing, but the flesh is weak, and so is our ability to prevail in the ordeal of temptation. The battle is for us to wage, but the victory belongs to God. Therefore, in the time of trial, we must look to God for strength like the power that the horse once gave the ancient peoples in battle. There is no errant thought or impure desire that is greater than His mercy. And when we cry out for His mercy with all our heart, He takes away the temptation and gives relief to our soul.” (Fr. Basil) 

“Desires are blameless passions that need to be kept under control. But a slothful man refuses to control his desires. He chooses not to do anything about his spiritual laziness; therefore, his desires control him.” (Orthodox Study Bible, Proverbs 21:24)

“When the soul does not direct itself toward higher things, it lets itself run loose uncared for in lower desires. While not directed with the vigor of lofty aims, it suffers the hunger pangs of lust, and, while neglecting to bind itself up with discipline, it scatters itself abroad in its craving after pleasures. Therefore, it is written again by the same Solomon, “The idle man is given wholly to desires” [Pr 13:4].” (St. Gregory the Great)

“What strength can we rely on when we face temptation? In our reading of Proverbs 21:23-22:4, the wise sage of Proverbs writes, “The horse is prepared for the day of battle, but deliverance is of the Lord” (NKJV vs. 31). If temptation engages us in a battle, we might depend on our strength as ancient peoples counted on their chariots. However, the sage states that rescue from our foes is in the hands of God, not warhorses or human power. Today we highlight the importance of trusting the Lord and not our own devices.” (Fr. Basil)

“Man follows his desire. One can even say that man is desire, and this fundamental psychological truth about human nature is acknowledged by the Gospel: ‘Where your treasure is,’ says Christ, ‘there shall your heart be.’ A strong desire overcomes the natural limitations of man; he does things of which ‘normally’ he is incapable… The only question, therefore, is whether we desire the right things, whether the power of desire in us is aimed at the right goal or whether—in the words of the existentialist atheist Jean-Paul Sartre—man is a ‘useless passion.’ Zacchaeus…is the first symbol of repentance, for repentance begins with the rediscovery of the deep nature of all desires: the desire for God and His righteousness, for true life.” (Fr. Alexander Schmemann)

“Because we are in the image of God, we have a desire for God, and the icon will always seek its prototype; but because we are fallen, our desire regularly fastens upon inadequate objects. That is why it is so important to keep our desire alive. . . . Once our desire has attained any finite object, we will know that this was not the true country for which we yearned. We must live from the paradoxical tension of neither spurning nor being satisfied with any earthly blessings.” (Robin Phillips)

“We complicate our lives terribly by our thoughts and desires…the fact that we have desires is not the problem; our problem is that our desires have become twisted out of shape and need fixing…The more we have struggled to take even small steps toward the healing of our souls, the more our disordered desires and spiritual maladies have reared their ugly heads.” (Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica, Fr. Lawrence Farley, Fr. Philip LeMasters)

“…we are what we want. Our wants and longings and desires are at the core of our identity, the wellspring from which our actions and behavior flow. Our wants reverberate from our heart, the epicenter of the human person…To be human is to be animated and oriented by some vision of the good life, some picture of what we think counts as “flourishing” And we want that. We crave it. We desire it. This is why our most fundamental mode of orientation to the world is love. We are oriented by our longings, directed by our desires. We adopt ways of life that are indexed to such visions of the good life, not usually because we “think through” our options but rather because some picture captures our imagination. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, the author of The Little Prince, succinctly encapsulates the motive power of such allure: “If you want to build a ship,” he counsels, “don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.” (James Smith)

“Our desires are caught more than they are taught. All kinds of cultural rhythms and routines are, in fact, rituals that function as pedagogies of desire precisely because they tacitly and covertly train us to love a certain version of the kingdom, teach us to long for some rendition of the good life. These aren’t just things we do; they do something to us…you can’t just think your way to right worship. Becoming conscious isn’t the only—or even an adequate—solution to the challenge…[the] more holistic response is to intentionally recalibrate the unconscious, to worship well, to immerse ourselves in liturgies that are indexed to the kingdom of God precisely so that even our unconscious desires and longings—the affective, under-the-hood ways we intend the world—are indexed to God and what God wants for his world. Through Spirited worship, the grace of God captivates and orients even our unconscious.” (James Smith)

“Often it is in doing God’s will that we gain the desire to do it..." (Life Application Study Bible, Philippians 2:13)

“It is clear that the presence of God seems obvious to some, while remaining “hidden” to others. What seems clear to me is that God seeks to draw us to Him through (first) our desire. Though He has utterly poured Himself out for us on the altar of the Cross (and continues to do so), He nevertheless waits patiently for us to seek Him in return. More than this, in His patience, He invites us into a life of meekness as well. It is His good pleasure that we should inherit the earth. The inheritance does not come as an external award -it is a gift that can only be received by the hands of the meek. This aspect of meekness is constantly overlooked. The Scriptures tell us that: “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (Proverbs 3:34).” (Father Stephen Freeman)

“Desire is transformed into lust when we exclude God from the picture. Without God, the natural powers of our soul become corrupt…the problem with desire is not something inherent in the order of creation. Rather, the difficulty arises from our enslavement to the things of this world and to our physical being (1 Jn 2:15-16). God made the world, forming our very flesh and our eyes, yet sin turns even our natural desires into lust.” (Dynamis 2/26/2021)

“…the word for “passion” comes from a root that means to “suffer.” These universal experiences of longing, imagination, craving, and the like, were seen as alien to our well-being and afflictions to be moderated and even silenced…there is a goal, expressed in Greek as “apatheia” (“passionlessness”). Yes, that’s our word “apathy.” It does not mean “not caring,” but being free from the bondage of the ever-nagging sound of desires hounding our lives.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

“…we could say that human beings are fundamentally erotic creatures. Unfortunately—and for understandable reasons—the word “erotic” carries a lot of negative connotations in our pornographied culture. Thus Christians tend to be allergic to eros (and often set up stark contrasts between eros and agape, the latter of which we hallow as “Christian” love). But that cedes the goodness of desire to its disordered hijacking by contemporary culture. In its truest sense, eros signals a desire and attraction that is a good feature of our creaturehood. Instead of setting up a false dichotomy between agape and eros, we could think of agape as rightly ordered eros: the love of Christ that is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit (Rom. 5:5) is a redeemed, rightly ordered desire for God. You are what you desire.” (James Smith)

“As those who bear the image and likeness of God, we have two options. We may become more like our Lord in holiness as we ascetically turn away from addiction to self-centered desire and embrace His gracious divine energies for our salvation. Or we may remain enslaved to our passions as we diminish ourselves as distinctive persons and mar the beauty of our souls. That is a path that leads only to delusion and despair. It is, however, a tempting path because like our first parents we place satisfying our appetites before obedience to God. Those distorted desires are not only for food, but for satisfying ourselves in ways, whatever they may be, that can never heal our souls.” (Fr. Philip LeMasters)

“Every affliction tests our will, showing whether it is inclined to good or evil. That is why an unforeseen affliction is called a test, because it enables a man to test his hidden desires.” (St. Mark the Ascetic)

“We are consumed by what we desire…self-seeking is insatiable.” (Father Barnabas Powell, Sr. Dr. Vassa Larin)

“The proof of love is its manifestation in deeds…Our love is true if we keep our self-will in check according to His commandments. One who is wandering here and there through his unlawful desire does not really love God, because he has opposing Him, in his self-will.” (St. Gregory the Great)

“Do not think that you have a right to complain when your prayers are not answered. God fulfills your desires in a manner that you do not know…God has a way of providing. He sees our needs, our desires, and when something is for our good He gives it to us.” (St. Nectarios of Aegina, Saint Paisios of Mount Athos)

"There must be a purity to our motivation, so that even the desire for inward holiness is not the fruit of wanting to be a certain way, but for the glory of God." (Father Spyridon Baily)

“His [Christ's] desire is that we should be such noble, true, and right creatures that we never can possibly do or think a thing that shall bind even a thread round our spirits and make us feel as if we were tied anywhere. He wants us to be free—not as the winds—not to be free as the man who owns no law, but to be free by having God’s law in our hearts and by being incarnations of God’s truth…Remember these words: “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” (Mk 8:34). Our desires, our will, and our private ways must be placed on the cross now, in this life, or we shall have no fellowship with Him.” (George Macdonald, Dynamis 10/12/2018)

“Delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart (Psalms 37:4) - Many times, we read this verse as a promise that God will give us anything that we want because He wants us to be happy. In reality, this verse goes much deeper. When we truly delight in God, He plants in our hearts godly desires that He delights to fulfill.” (Foundation Study Bible, Psalms 37:4)

“Through our spiritual vision we see and know the smallest movements of the heart, all our thoughts, desires and intentions in general, almost everything that is in our soul. But God is greater than our heart. He is within us and around us and everywhere, in every place, as the Single, All-seeing, Spiritual eye, of which our own spiritual vision is but a small specimen, and, therefore, He knows all that is in us a thousand times better and more clearly than we ourselves…” (St. John of Krondstadt)

"I have many, varying desires and wants and needs every day. At times there is unfulfilled desire and unfulfilled ambition. Sometimes I can’t even identify what it is that I desire. It’s just a hole in my heart. Let me identify that it is God, the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, Who is lacking in my heart." (Sr. Dr. Vassa Larin)

"Whether, therefore, we receive what we ask for, or do not receive it, let us still continue steadfast in prayer. For to fail in obtaining the desires of our heart, when God so wills it, is not worse than to receive it; for we know not as He does, what is profitable to us." (St. John Chrysostom)

“If you are a child of God whose heart’s desire is to see God glorified through you, adversity will not put you down for the count. There will be those initial moments of shock and confusion. But the man or woman who has God’s perspective on this life and the life to come will always emerge victorious!” (Charles Stanley)

“The natural human heart wants to be king, and so it is hostile to God’s claims of lordship over us. Until we see our instinctive hostility to God’s authority, we can’t understand one of the great, deep mainsprings of all human behavior. We are committed to the idea that the only way we will be happy is if we are wholly in charge of our lives. Of course, this self-centered desire to command and control leads to conflict with other human beings. So hostilities with God lead to hostilities with others. There is no peace on earth because there is no peace with God." (Pastor Timothy Keller)

“We are indeed a mixed bag, a confusion of good and evil. Indeed, we are not good one moment and evil the next. Rather, our good never seems to be entirely pure, lacking in mixed motives, and our evil never seems to be devoid of some good desire, regardless of how perverted and distorted that desire might be.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

“Our desires are oriented toward sensible things rather than toward spiritual, and our will is prone to choose the evil over the good. We as persons are, therefore, enslaved to a nature that is corruptible and oriented away from God.” (Clark Carlton)

“We resent abandoning our own desires and we think that we can carry out both God’s wishes and our own – which is impossible.” (Saint Peter of Damascus)

“We should honor God and center our desires on him (Matthew 6:33), and we should be content with what God is doing in our lives (Philippians 4:11-13).” (Life Application Study Bible, 1 Timothy 6:6)


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