One way I have learned to change my desires by God’s grace is to realize that when I make choices, I’m also choosing a consequence. This hasn’t been easy for me. Still isn’t. Probably never will be. But I’ve found that it helps.
Willpower is a fine gift that God has given to all people through common grace. It can be cultivated and employed so that a person can make a decent choice and do the right thing in any given situation. But willpower can’t change a person’s heart. It will never teach you how to do the right thing for the right reason. Only God can do that. Only God can change the desires of your heart. But what role do I play?
Proverbs 1:20 tells us that wisdom is constantly calling out to us. It’s calling us to listen and to enjoy the fruitful results. If you turn toward wisdom, then you will understand God’s Word even better (1:23). If you don’t, then you will reap bitter consequences (1:25ff). As you come to know God’s Word better and taste the sweet fruit of honest fellowship with Jesus, you begin to desire it more. Slowly but surely your desires change and you begin to want the right thing naturally because you know that the consequence of choosing wisdom means a better understanding of God and sweeter joy in Christ.
Willpower alone looks at the initial choice and says, “You must choose this.” But it grates against your desires. You can live in this fashion for a while and make good choices, but eventually your willpower will succumb to your desires. The key is to learn to desire the right things.
This happens slowly most often. But it does happen. God graciously teaches his children not only to deny ungodliness but to live godly lives (Titus 2:12ff). They learn to love what is right because what is right is better than what isn’t. Instead of being mired down in worldly lusts, we begin to long for the blessed hope of the soon return of Christ. This becomes what you desire, and after that, good choices are relatively easy.