Category: Lust


Most words in the Bible that are translated “lust” mean “a passionate desire.” Strong desire can be either good or bad, depending upon the object of that desire and the motive behind it. God created the human heart with the capacity for passionate desire so that we would long after Him and His righteousness (Psalm 42:1–2; 73:25). However, the concept of “lust” is now usually associated with a passionate desire for something God has forbidden, and the word is seen as synonymous with sexual or materialistic desire.

James 1:14–15 gives us the natural progression of unrestrained lust: “Each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”

According to this passage, sinful lust begins with an evil desire. Being tempted by evil is the not sin. Jesus was tempted (Matthew 4:1). The sin begins when the evil desire “drags us away” from where our hearts need to be. When an evil desire introduces itself, we have a choice. We can reject it as Jesus did and refocus on the path God has set before us (Matthew 4:10). Or we can entertain it. As someone once said, “We cannot stop the birds from flying overhead, but we don’t have to let them make a nest in our hair.” When temptation beckons, we need to remember that we are not helpless. We can choose to give in or to resist.

The reason we are “dragged away” by temptation is that we are “enticed.” That word in the Greek refers to bait, as on a fishing line. When a fish sees the wiggling worm, he is enticed by it and grabs hold. Once the hook is set, he can be “dragged away.” When we encounter temptation, we should immediately reject it as Joseph did when he was tempted by Potiphar’s wife (Genesis 39:11–12). Hesitation opens the door to enticement. Romans 13:14 calls such hesitation “making provision for the flesh.” Like the unwary fish, we grab hold of the tempting thought, believing it will delight and fulfill us. We savor the fantasy, imagine new and sinful scenarios, and entertain the idea that God has not provided all we need for happiness (Genesis 3:2–4). This is foolish. Second Timothy 2:22 says, “Flee youthful lusts.” To “flee” means to take off immediately. Joseph did not stick around to consider his options. He recognized sexual temptation, and he ran. When we hesitate, we make provision for the flesh and give it the opportunity to choose evil. Often, we are overwhelmed by its power. Samson was a physically strong man, yet he was no match for his own lust (Judges 16:1).

The next step in the downward progression of temptation, according to James 1, is that “desire conceives.” Lust begins as a seed, a thought packed with wrong desire. If we allow the seeds of lust to germinate, they will sprout into something bigger, more powerful, more difficult to uproot. Temptation becomes sin when it is allowed to germinate. Desire takes on a life of its own and becomes lust. Jesus made it clear that lust is sin, even if we do not physically act on it (Matthew 5:27–28). Our hearts are God’s domain, and when we allow evil to grow there, we defile His temple (1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19).

Wrong desires plague every human being. The tenth commandment forbids coveting, which means lusting for something that is not ours (Deuteronomy 5:21; Romans 13:9). The human heart is constantly seeking to please itself, and when it discovers something or someone it believes will satisfy, lust begins.

It is only when our hearts are dedicated to the glory of God that we can overcome intrusive desires and conquer lust. When we surrender to the Lord, we find our needs met in a relationship with Him. We must “take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). We must allow the Holy Spirit to keep our thoughts where He wants them to be. It helps to pray daily the words of Psalm 19:14: “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.” When our heart’s desire is to please God more than ourselves, we can keep lust at bay.

Advertisements

The phrase “lust of the eyes” is found in 1 John 2:15-17: “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” What is this “lust of the eyes”?

Simply put, the lust of the eyes is the desire to possess what we see or to have those things which have visual appeal. This coveting of money, possessions, or other physical things is not from God, but from the world around us. John emphasizes that these physical things do not last; they will pass away. In contrast, the child of God is guaranteed eternity.

The Ten Commandments addressed the lust of the eyes in its prohibition against coveting. Exodus 20:17 commands, “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.” Coveting can include a desire to have people, possessions, or status.

Satan uses the lust of the eyes as one avenue of temptation. Part of the reason Eve listened to the serpent in the Garden was that she looked at the forbidden fruit and saw that it was “pleasing to the eye” (Genesis 3:6). Satan used a visual image to help entrap her. Satan tried a similar tactic on Jesus. One of his temptations in the wilderness was an attempt to make Jesus covet earthly power. Satan used a visual: he “showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor” (Matthew 4:8). He then promised to give them to Jesus—for a price. Of course, Jesus did not succumb to the lust of the eyes, and Satan was defeated (verses 10 and 11).

We must follow Jesus’ example and, in the power of the Holy Spirit, resist the lust of the eyes. The world is full of “eye candy,” glamor, and gaudiness. Materialism beckons with its promise of happiness and fulfillment. A media-saturated society bombards us with advertising campaigns that might as well say, “Covet this!”

All that glitters is not gold, and the child of God knows that fame, fortune, and finery quickly fade (Proverbs 23:5). Our focus is not the newest product or latest fashion. Our goal is not to keep up with the Joneses or to surround ourselves with the trappings of glittering magnificence. Instead, our goal is “to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings” (Philippians 3:10). Our eyes are set on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2). Our view is to eternity.

Cecil Alexander, the Irish hymnist, said it this way:

“Jesus calls us from the worship
Of the vain world’s golden store;
From each idol that would keep us,
Saying, ‘Christian, love Me more.’”

What is lust?

The dictionary definition of lust is “1) intense or unrestrained sexual craving, or 2) an overwhelming desire or craving.” The Bible speaks of lust in several ways. Exodus 20:14, 17 (NLT), “Do not commit adultery. . . Do not covet your neighbor’s house. Do not covet your neighbor’s wife, male or female servant, ox or donkey, or anything else your neighbor owns,” or Matthew 5:28, “But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust in his eye has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Job 31:11-12 (NLT) sums up lust quite nicely: “For lust is a shameful sin, a crime that should be punished. It is a devastating fire that destroys to hell. It would wipe out everything I own.”

Lust has as its focus pleasing oneself, and it often leads to unwholesome actions to fulfill one’s desires with no regard to the consequences. Lust is about possession and greed. The Christian faith is about selflessness and is marked by holy living (Romans 6:19, 12:1-2; 1 Corinthians 1:2, 30, 6:19-20; Ephesians 1:4, 4:24; Colossians 3:12; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8, 5:23; 2 Timothy 1:9; Hebrews 12:14; 1 Peter 1:15-16). The goal of each person who has put his/her faith in Jesus Christ is to become more and more like Him each day. This means putting off the old way of life of which sin was in control, and conforming one’s thoughts and actions to the standard put forth in Scripture. Lust is in opposition to this ideal.

Nobody will ever be perfect or attain sinlessness while still on this earth, yet it is still a goal for which we strive. The Bible makes a very strong statement regarding this in 1 Thessalonians 4:7-8, “God has called us to be holy, not to live impure lives. Anyone who refuses to live by these rules is not disobeying human rules but is rejecting God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.” If lust has not yet gripped your heart and mind, ready yourself through a life lived above reproach to combat the temptations of lust. If you currently struggle with lust, it is time to come clean before God and ask for His intervention in your life, so that holiness can be a mark of your life as well.