Paul graphically describes the effect corrupt desires have on human behavior. “Therefore God gave them over in the sinfuldesiresof their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another . . . 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” (Romans 1:24; Romans 1:28-32, NIV).
Second, our ingrained deviousness, including self-deception, is a major weakness of the fleshly mind. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).
Subject to Satan’s influence, we naturally look for ways to justify our lusts, our sinful desires, and the behaviors that arise from them. We deceive ourselves into believing that, since our desires are natural, they are not so bad after all. But God’s Word reminds us that “there is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12; Proverbs 16:25). Death is the end result of living that wrong way (Romans 6:23).
Third, under the devil’s influence we have developed the tendency to resenthaving our selfish desires limited by rules, even God’s rules. Paul explains: “For those who live according to the flesh think about the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, about the things of the Spirit. For the mind-set of the flesh is death, but the mind-set of the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind-set of the flesh is hostile to God because it does not submit itselfto God’s law, for it is unable to do so. Those who are in [that is, within control of] the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8:5-8, HCSB).
We see from these and other passages that Satan is a powerful deceiver and manipulator, taking advantage of our self-focused nature by persuading us to give in even more to our human wants and desires than we normally would. But we play our part. Without the positive influence of God’s Spirit, our primary inclination is to serve ourselves and resist living according to all of God’s biblical instructions.