Tuesday, September 21, 2010 at 9:49AM
Jeff Smith in Sexuality, Worldliness

The word lust at one time simply connoted a strong desire and could have been applied to things that were holy or harmful. Over time, lust became confined in the English to things that were wicked and today it is almost exclusively used to describe sexual longing. That brand of lust has been creating conflicts in man’s natural desire to procreate almost since the dawn of time, but it is also has become a perfect arena in which to polish our spiritual mettle and strengthen our resistance of the devil.

I. All That Is In The World

    A. Inordinate Desire

        1. there are five Hebrew and five Greek words in the Bible that are commonly translated lust, each having a basic meaning of inordinate desire, whether for things that were otherwise harmless or for things that could not belong to them

        2. at first, the concept of lust probably meant nothing more sinister than a strong desire or craving, as you might suddenly be overwhelmed by yearning for chocolate cake when the preacher uses it as an illustration; lust could even have meant a strong desire for spiritual satisfaction and thus would have been an ethically agnostic term

        3. of course, we think of lust today in entirely negative terms, where something forbidden is strongly pursued, usually something or someone sexual

        4. maybe we can understand lust better with an example from the Old Testament

            a. during the long Exodus, the Hebrews often craved the foods that they had enjoyed while slaves in Egypt, occasionally criticizing Moses for bringing them out in the wilderness to starve (Numbers 11:1-6)

            b. because they craved meat that Moses could not provide, he appealed to God for help (Numbers 11:13-15, 18-20)

            c. what they discovered when their craving was satisfied was that their spirits were soured (Numbers 11:31-35)


    B. Desires of the Flesh

        1. lust is often an inordinate desire to bring immoral pleasure to the flesh; it is a thing of this world that threatens our fidelity to God (First John 2:15-17)

        2. now, desires of the flesh might describe many things, but clearly one of them is sexual gratification, perfectly acceptable within marriage, but always sinful outside

        3. some Christians feel as though they can dabble in fleshly lust and remain acceptable to God, but the fact is sexual lust is exactly the kind of spiritual idolatry he wants us to overcome, not accommodate (Galatians 5:16-19, 24)

        4. indulging the inordinate desire for fleshly gratification is supposed to become a part of the past, not a sideshow of the present (Ephesians 2:1-3)

        5. surrendering to the passions of the flesh, mentally or physically, is an insult to the savior


    C. Desires of the Eyes

        1. lust is also a matter of the desire of the eyes, especially when lust is expanded to include yearning for things like money and objects, as well as attractive people

        2. the broader term is covetousness, forbidden in the ten commandments, where God said, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s” (Exodus 20:17)

        3. coveting your neighbor’s daughter’s figure or his son’s muscled physique puts you on the verge of lust or even fornication, all because of something the eyes were allowed to linger upon

        4. think of Eve, persuaded by the serpent to ponder the forbidden fruit, and then finding it to be “a delight to the eyes;” she ate and she was lost and she took someone down with her (Matthew 6:22-23)

        5. there also is King David, gazing across the rooftops to Jerusalem until he could see Bathsheba, lingering upon her bathing figure until he could stand it no longer (Matthew 5:27-29)


II. Resistance

    A. Follow Wisdom

        1. living in a society that prizes sexual attractiveness and indulges most every perverted sexual appetite, it is difficult to promote a message of abstinence and patience, even to oneself, when everybody else seems to be living it up

        2. the will of God is plain, even if a high percentage of people discard it and experiment with fornication before they’re even old enough to be entrusted with the vote or a driver’s license (First Thessalonians 4:1-8)

        3. knowing that does not make it any easier when someone is pressuring you or when your body is telling you the opposite or when everything on television or on the radio is making it look harmless

            a. as a Christian, this is one of those places where you have to accept by faith, if not observation, that God’s wisdom is higher than man’s and that indulgence might carry a price tag that is not immediately obvious (Ephesians 4:17-24)

            b. the wisdom of God implores us to be patient and to wait for our desires to be satisfied where they belong, that we don’t risk eternal satisfaction in exchange for something utterly temporary (Titus 2:11-12)


    B. Avoid Temptation

        1. temptation is difficult to resist; if it weren’t, they would call it something else

        2. how much wisdom is there in simply avoiding the places and circumstances where the temptation to lust is intensified – where bodies are on display, where passions are aroused, where darkness would seem to conceal every indiscretion?

        3. we must be as aware of our weaknesses as the devil is and he seems to know that just about everybody is somewhat susceptible to the lusts of the flesh and the eyes (James 1:12-16)

            a. sexual temptation is so strong that it can cause you to think and say strange things, conjuring up justifications that seem to allow you to sin without violating a deluded conscience; “the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful” (Mark 4:19)

            b. these “senseless and harmful desires … plunge people into ruin and destruction” (First Timothy 6:19) – sexually transmitted diseases, some of them incurable or even fatal, unwanted babies, shame and embarrassment, dropping out of school, burdening your parents – ruin and destruction

        4. what we want to do is our part in the prayer that we be not led into temptation, but delivered from evil; “So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart” (Second Timothy 2:22).


    C. Discipline Yourself

        1. resistance depends upon self-discipline – to avoid problem areas and to survive when caught up in them anyway (First Corinthians 9:24-27)

        2. self-discipline might require walking out of a movie, throwing out a CD, tearing down a poster, unsubscribing from a magazine, “unfriending” a tempter, avoiding places where people walk about in states of undress, breaking off steamy relationships that are moving too fast, but heaven will surely be worth it all (First Peter 2:11, 4:1-5)

        3. the key is in not giving the devil any more opportunity than is already there because of our natural desire for sexual intimacy (Romans 13:11-14)

        4. discipline yourself because your mind might be a secret place where only God sees the images and intentions that dwell there; you must be the censor and the selector of its influences and imaginations


    D. Keep Integrity

        1. if you instead indulge the evil and appease your cravings with images and fantasies and even sinful behaviors, you risk ending up with your nostrils filled with something that is not as satisfying as you predicted; about those Israelites, the psalmist wrote, “But they soon forgot his works; they did not wait for his counsel. But they had a wanton craving in the wilderness, and put God to the test in the desert; he gave them what they asked, but sent a wasting disease among them” (Psalm 106:13-15).

        2. sexual sin is addictive and the more you enjoy, the more you crave until it takes over; sexual sin is desire that enslaves and if that is what you show God you want, he will oblige you; “But my people did not listen to my voice; Israel would not submit to me. So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts, to follow their own counsels” (Psalm 81:11-12).

        3. your spiritual integrity is as important as your reputation among others (Job 31:1-4, 9-12)

         a. wars and fights, sometimes of the internal kind, come from the passions of our desires that seek to dominate our lives; integrity depends upon resistance every time


         b. “But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband.” (First Corinthians 7:2-3).




Sexual sin is all around us and most who are tempting us either do not care or enjoy the spectacle of our fall. So does the adversary, but we’re not about to give him such an easy victory.


Questions For Review

  1. In biblical language, is lust inherently evil? Explain.
  2. How did God punish Israel’s hungry lust in the wilderness?
  3. What distinguishes lust of the flesh from lust of the eyes?
  4. What did Jesus identify as being tantamount to adultery?
  5. How does sexual purity equate to sanctification?
  6. What is the best way to deal with temptations?
  7. How does one maintain sexual integrity in a perverted world?
Update on Sunday, June 26, 2011 at 12:49PM by Registered CommenterJeff Smith

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