Do you think much about sin? I don’t mean do you have sinful thoughts. No need to ask you that to know the truth. How about the "seven deadly (cardinal) sins." Ok, so it's more of a Roman Catholic thing, but identifying these sins as being some of the more dangerous and damaging crimes against God and humanity can be helpful. Certainly understanding these sins, and learning how to repent of and mortify them, is something God calls us to. SE7EN: Lust (Part 1 of a series on the Big 7)
Lust is simply a passionate desire for something. It can be bad or good, though we have come to use the term to exclusively refer to sinful desires. We can say it is wanting what we shouldn't, but it has been helpful for me to think of it this way; lust boils down to a personal dissatisfaction with God. How? Lust is blind to the God who is supposed to be our greatest boast, our ultimate comfort and source of contentment. Lust craves everything else besides God and the things He has provided for us. It misses the gifts we possess in the light of the things we lack.
Let's consider sexual lust. Jesus said in Matt. 5:28 "everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart." Why is lust such a bad thing? Why is committing sin in the heart, which no one can see, an act of adultery? It is because adultery is much more than the act of sex, and lust is much more than the private thoughts of a man.
Lust is first, a form of abandonment. When a man lusts for another woman he has made a choice to desire another woman over his wife (If single, perhaps his future wife). He has, in principle, left his wife. Though temporary and private he has given his affections to someone else. Lust is second, a form of hatred. It demonstrates that one does not love what he has. Lust reveals that we do not cherish, nor honor, nor protect the woman God has given us. It is more a form of hatred. It disregards, dishonors and puts self first.
Like most sin lust is not likely to exist in a person's life without causing serious damage, and not merely by way of exposure to embarrassment. Lust is a sin that will lead to more sin and lead us into bondage (James. 1:14, 15; 4:2; Rom. 1:24). It is our lust that carries us away into other sins. It is our lust that leads a man to fight, quarrel or even murder. It is our lusts that God will hand us over to if we persist in them. It is a man’s lust that will lead him to act upon sinful desires for another woman, despise the wife of his youth and become discontent with God. Any sinful act, when persisted in, will callous the heart, jade the conscience, and develop an appetite for destruction – because as we learn to simply lust whenever we become dissatisfied with God and his provision, we are teaching ourselves that the answer to our felt need is outside of God's will.
Some of you have been staring at women in the gym, lusting for something, someone, other than God and what he has provided. Some of you are renting porn, and surfing the web for porn attempting to find satisfaction in things that cannot ultimately satisfy. And on top of the lust, there is the fear, the looking over your shoulder, to see if anyone has caught on. Let me assure you, you have been noticed. You have been seeing walking into that little room at the video store, you have been noticed gawking at that woman, and the "cookies" you erased from your computer have not hidden your tracks. God has seen it all. And he calls us to repent of this deadly sin.
This is not a sin that is conquered with small steps. It’s not like giving up cigarettes. It is not a sin that we should attempt to wean ourselves from. Lust must be dealt with decisively, radically and immediately.
"Now flee youthful lusts and pursue righteousness…" 2 Tim. 2:22
"lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit" Eph. 4:22
"Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal bodies so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness" Rom. 6:12, 13
Beyond self-control and discipline, the ultimate cure for a lustful heart is to find our satisfaction completely in Jesus Christ and in the gifts he gives us. The medicine that will purge us of this sin is the grace of contentment. How do we become content? It begins by knowing and savoring Jesus Christ, by being thankful for the things God has given us, and by learning how to "keep the heart."
Do you need help in this area? Then do whatever is necessary to follow Christ and leave this sin behind. Talk to your pastor. Talk to a friend who is an example in this area. For additional help, check out the resources below.
- 3XWatch [Software from xxxchurch.com that will hold you accountable for your online habits]
- Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices, Thomas Brooks. Online version here - Thanks David! [One of the most important books you will read as a Christian.]
- The Art of Divine Contentment, by Thomas Watson [Very helpful in the pursuit of satisfaction].
- Desiring God, John Piper [Enjoy God]