A message we often hear is, 'Go after what you want.' Passivity is made out to be the greatest character flaw. If the pursuit is done in a moral way that is fine but becoming more and more optional. Nothing should stand between a person and what they want (need, love, etc...). The hero is the person that steps up and goes for it. Doing this is supposed to complete a person somehow.
The religious hero is one who puts what their God wants first. That sounds better... selfless. Several questions then arise:
Who is their God?
What does this God want?
Religion has wrong answers for one or both of these questions. It can't get them right. What people want themselves always seems to get in the way. How they think they should be or think becomes a hindrance.
"Let no one say when he is tempted, 'I am being tempted by God,' for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers." James 1:13-16 ESV
"But if your heart turns away and you will not obey, but are drawn away and worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you today that you shall surely perish." Deuteronomy 30:17-18a NASB
If a person lives pursuing what they want they will be tempted and drawn away. That direction always leads to death and emptiness.
Being good doesn't help much. Trying to be good just produces evil.
"Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me." Romans 7:20-21 KJV
It is not just that I can't be good. Trying to be good is a flawed act in itself and produces flawed results.
That just brings us to religion of some kind. It is so safe. We can just honor someone else's wishes. If they are wrong for wanting what they want the blame is off of us and on them. It could be God's wishes. It could be our family's wishes. It could be our country. That way is the way of darkness.
"Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ! - assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness." Ephesians 4:17-24 ESV
Take Ananias and Sapphira from Acts chapter 5. They tried to have their cake and eat it too.
"But Peter said, 'Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God.' When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who heard of it." Acts 5:3-5 ESV
Here the word for Satan means adversary. What did the adversary do? He filled their heart with what they wanted and got them to commit (or conspire) to some outwardly religious act. Their lust made them blind to the real person they were lying to.
"The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance. I bless the LORD who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken." Psalms 16:5-8 ESV
What a stunningly simple passage. It is spiritual... not moral or bogged down in self. This is where joy and peace live.
God said this to David after lust had drawn him out into la la land.
"And I gave thee thy master's house, and thy master's wives into thy bosom, and gave thee the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would moreover have given unto thee such and such things. Wherefore hast thou despised the commandment of the LORD, to do evil in his sight?" 2 Samuel 12:8-9a KJV
The path to life is in dying to what we want and living a transparent life before God. We receive grace upon grace in freedom. What we want is dead already. We are dead already. The cross killed that life so a new person could live today.
"For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions." Romans 6:10-12 ESV
"But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." Galatians 6:14 ESV
What is the true selfless act? The thing that pleases God that we all know we should be doing but can't find in morality.
"What shall I render to the LORD for all his benefits to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD, I will pay my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people." Psalms 116:12-14 ESV
It is to receive grace! Grace makes our measuring lines fall in pleasant places. Grace gives us a cup that overflows. When what Christ has done on the cross is 'always before us' and 'at our right hand' of approval then we will not be shaken.
God knows what we want and He knows what we need. He sees things in clarity. If we go after Him it will all fall into place in time.