We as human beings have three basic components of our lives: the mind, the body and the soul. Another way to look at it is to recognize we have an intellectual dimension, a physical dimension, and a spiritual dimension.
Prior to the 20th century, western civilization saw the importance of making certain that all three of these dimensions were nurtured and developed.
The prevailing belief was that the soul, the spiritual life, was of primary importance, followed by the intellect, and then the physical body. This is not to suggest the body was not important, but as the Apostle Paul tells us, “Our bodies are wasting away.” (II Corinthians 4:16) On the other hand the mind and the soul have the potential to grow and flourish over time, though the mind can begin to deteriorate in the later years of life.
Our ancestors recognized that the health and condition of the soul is what ultimately impacts a person’s well-being and the quality of their lives.
However, in our modern culture that has all changed. Today the body and its desires, what is called the sensual side of life has become of primary importance.
Think about the body and its desires: we get hungry, we get thirsty, and we get tired. When we hit puberty, our sexual desire kicks in. So think about how today life revolves around eating, drinking, rest and sleeping, and sex.
Obviously there is a proper place for each of these pleasures, particularly since they are gifts from God. But look what has happened. For most people today, sensual pleasure provides the basic reason for living. It becomes the center of our earthly existence.
What we fail to realize is that we are not one dimensional, we are more than just a body. We have a soul that yearns for love, joy, peace and security. These are yearnings of that soul that can only be satisfied by God.
Listen to the words of King David in Psalm 42:1,2
As the deer pants for the water brooks,
So my soul pants for You, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God;
When shall I come and appear before God?
And then in Psalm 63:1. He said:
O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly;
My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You,
In a dry and weary land where there is no water.
We are all like David. We live in a spiritually dry and weary land. What we are trying to do in response is to satisfy the deep spiritual yearnings of the soul with the sensual pleasures of life. It won’t work, because it can’t work. It fails us miserably and leaves an emptiness in our souls.
C.S. Lewis put it this way:
Over the centuries men have tried to … invent some sort of happiness for themselves outside of God, apart from God. And out of that hopeless attempt has come nearly all that we call human history—greed, poverty, selfish ambition, war, prostitution, classes, brutal empires, slavery—the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.
The reason why it can never succeed in this? God made us: invented us as a man invents an engine. A car is made to run on gasoline, and it would not properly on anything else. God designed humans to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to bum, the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other. That is why it is just no good asking God to make us happy in our own way, without bothering to have a relationship with Himself. God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.