The Bible tells us that one of the signs of the last days would be that people are lovers of pleasure rather lovers of God (see 2 Timothy 3:1–3). That is an accurate assessment of our culture today. We are a pleasure-mad society.
Yet the Bible does not tell us that pleasure is necessarily wrong. In fact, God promises a pleasure that comes from knowing Him and walking in His presence. The psalmist said, "You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore." (Psalm 16:11).
The problem is when pleasure is the driving force in our lives. The Bible says, "She who lives in pleasure is dead while she lives" (1 Timothy 5:6). Peter describes those who revel in their pleasures as blots and blemishes (see 2 Peter 2:13).
The pursuit of pleasure rarely brings what we are searching for. Rather, it brings emptiness. One only has to read the writings of Solomon to recognize this. Here was a man who basically went on a pursuit of every pleasure his heart desired. He said, "Come now, I will test you with mirth; therefore enjoy pleasure" (Ecclesiastes 2:1). But he concluded, "Surely, this also was vanity. I said of laughter—'Madness!'; and of mirth, 'What does it accomplish?' " (verses 1–2).
Jesus told us how to deal with this selfish pursuit: "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me" (Luke 9:23). Jesus didn't say we are to love or esteem ourselves; Jesus said we are to deny ourselves. We are to take up the cross daily and follow Him.