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Redeeming Pleasure

• Jeremy Jernigan

This week we heard from a guest speaker, Jeremy Jernigan, teach on the topic of his new book, Redeeming Pleasure. The topic of pleasure within the church has often been shied away from because of an assumption that pleasure is connected with guilt and shame. Jeremy emphasized the need to seek pleasure on God’s terms where we will experience maximum pleasure rather than seeking pleasure on our own terms which ultimately leads to less pleasure.

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Jeremy Jernigan, our guest speaker, began his teaching by emphasizing the discomfort of the topic of pleasure within the church along with the needs to expand the definition of pleasure beyond merely sexual pleasure. Jeremy defined pleasure as “a cause or source of enjoyment or delight”. Ultimately our journey for God and our journey for pleasure should be the same journey, but this has been confused and warped by our culture and our misunderstanding and mistrust of God’s character and plan for us. Within our culture we more often than need have two extremes when it comes to pleasure. We either emphasize no pleasure in our pursuit of God OR we emphasize seeking out all pleasure and abandon God. In the back of our minds most of us believe that there is a sense of guilt within the seeking out of pleasure.

The problem with the cultural understanding of pleasure is that seeking out pleasure on ones own terms drives it. We want what we want when we want it and oftentimes miss the truest pleasure in our pursuit of pleasure. Jeremy drove this point home through a story of an interaction with a banker who randomly asked him his opinion on pre-marital sex. The interaction ended with Jeremy emphasizing that the guilt she was feeling in her current relationship was driven by her avoidance of God’s design for her to experience maximum pleasure through sex in the context of marriage. This was the deepest truth of the narrative between Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:6-7). The eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was driven by a desire to have our own knowledge apart from God and it broke our dependence on God. When we pursue pleasure on our own terms apart from God we experience dangerous consequences that lead to shame.

The final story Jeremy shared was of the hot water leak in his house that flooded the remainder of the house. The leak temporarily provided a warm tile in his bathroom while being oblivious to the greater leak under the surface. Jeremy notes that the heat on the floor was not worth the leak in the house. This pleasure of the heated floor was a bad trade for the resulting pain, money, time and overall headache of a forced home renovation. This truth is easy to see in the example of a water leak, but can much harder to see in our everyday pursuit of pleasure. We ultimately are required to trust in Jesus in a way that most of us don’t do on a daily basis. We live with a default setting of skepticism or believing that God is not as beautiful and loving as He actually is in the person of Jesus. In order to redeem the beauty of pleasure we need to redeem our picture of the Jesus-looking God who is not holding out on us, but is yearning for us to experience true life (John 10:10) and true pleasure by seeking pleasure on His terms rather than our own.

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Topics: Controversial Issues, Sexuality, Temptation

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Focus Scripture:

  • Genesis 3:6-8

    When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.

    John 10:10

    The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

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5 thoughts on “Redeeming Pleasure

  1. Tom McDonough says:

    Thank you for showing the path to the fruit god has set up for us! It’s a compounding fruit that can only be found in acts of faith! Amazing message in my opinion

  2. DJ says:

    Excellent message, just what I needed!

  3. M85 says:

    Excellent message, wow.

  4. Dave Pritchard says:

    Mucho echoes! What a great message. Around 28-29 minutes, Jeremy really hits the mark with a powerful stick of spiritual dynamite –

    “You think you’re going to get something better somewhere else? Well, you’re not, because GOD IS THE SOURCE of pleasure!”

    This totally echoes Psalm 16:11 –

    “You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” (NIV)


    The only thing missing was a shot of the ‘Bathroom’ afterwards – Ha!

  5. Peter says:

    In Ecclesiastes 2:1-11 and 24-26 we read,

    “I said to myself, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good.” But that also proved to be meaningless. “Laughter,” I said, “is madness. And what does pleasure accomplish?” I tried cheering myself with wine, and embracing folly—my mind still guiding me with wisdom. I wanted to see what was good for people to do under the heavens during the few days of their lives.

    I undertook great projects: I built houses for myself and planted vineyards. I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. I made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees. I bought male and female slaves and had other slaves who were born in my house. I also owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem before me. I amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces. I acquired male and female singers, and a harem as well—the delights of a man’s heart. I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me. In all this my wisdom stayed with me.

    I denied myself nothing my eyes desired;
    I refused my heart no pleasure.
    My heart took delight in all my labor,
    and this was the reward for all my toil.
    Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done
    and what I had toiled to achieve,
    everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind;
    nothing was gained under the sun.”


    “A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment? To the person who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God.”

    At the time of creation, God said the work of each ‘day’ was good and finally the whole creation was very good. These comments were directed more so at the functionality of creation and not its appearance, as no one would deny its beauty would be consistent with its Creator.

    So with the creation of man and his dependency on food (and drink) to survive, the process of eating and drinking was made pleasurable as also the climate and the means of procreation etc. If this were not the case how could creation be described as functionally, very good?

    So the ‘by product’ of obedience or, obeying God’s laws or living consistent with the created order, are the pleasures associated with (amongst others) “wisdom, knowledge and happiness”. Where this is opposed (eg gluttony, alcoholism or incorrect sexual behaviour), man has fallen short and is disobedient and has therefore sinned against the Creator. As Jeremy has indicated, rather than worship God and experience true pleasure through obedience to His laws, they have wrongly sort pleasure as the goal and suffer the meaningless of life as expressed in Ecclesiastes above. This is also indicated by Paul in Romans 1:24-31,

    “Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

    Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

    Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.”

    So correctly understood, the pleasures that come from creation (and the New Creation to come) are not dependent wealth or status or any such human goal, but are the blessings of loving obedience (‘the path of life’…per Dave above), doing God’s will.

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