What is lust?
In the Bible, lust refers either to coveting material goods or to sexual desire. Jesus tells us in Matt. 5:28 that so much as looking at someone lustfully is committing adultery within in our hearts. Lust is a sin of the heart which manifests itself in both thoughts and actions. The idea that “It’s okay to look but not touch” is purely a human idea that attempts to justify the sin. Thoughts, when entertained, will grow into actions, and those actions will grow into habits. Since lust is based off of pleasing ourselves and fulfilling our desires, it could quickly become difficult to overcome.
Overcoming lust: from sin to God
Lust comes from within ourselves (James 1:14-15). While it’s advisable to completely avoid things that would lead to temptation, temptation will inevitably arise. What matters most is not the fact that we are tempted, but how we respond to it. If we push it aside and do not act upon it, we have done well, but we are only halfway there.
It’s not easy to just push aside thoughts that are based on our desires. It is much more difficult to push out thoughts if there aren’t any to replace them. In 2 Tim. 2:22, we read: “So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart” (emphasis added). We must run from sin and run to God. Instead of meditating on sexual desire, we ought to meditate on godly things (Phil. 4:8).
We ought to learn self-control or else we make it easy for temptation to come in and take over (Prov. 25:28). We ought not to just practice abstaining from sin, but to continually renew our minds to align with God’s (Rom. 12:2). The continual renewal of our minds will manifest itself in the transformation of our behavior and lifestyles. As our thoughts align with God’s, so does our behavior. Once we get the right idea about sin, we will begin to understand how evil it is and see the need to repent of it.
What if I can’t resist?
You can, for God does not let us be tempted with more than we can handle (1 Cor. 10:13). It is in our nature to sin and we have no power within ourselves to overcome it; however, we are given the power by Christ who Himself has overcome sin (1 Cor. 15:57).
Our bodies were made to be instruments of God to bring Him glory (Rom. 6:12-14). Do not think that the actions we commit in this body have no greater significance. The Corinthians had a proverb that was used to justify sexual sin. Paul here, refutes it: “‘Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food’-and God will destroy one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body” (1 Cor. 6:13). What we do in this body does matter. Our actions have eternal consequences.
Remember that Jesus himself was tempted in all things and thus sympathizes with our temptation (Heb. 4:16). Our Lord is not an aloof, indifferent God like many claim he is. He is not only with us, but dwells within his elect (Gal. 2:20, 2 Cor. 13:5, Rom. 8:10). If He were so indifferent, why would He send His only begotten Son to brutally suffer and die to gift the very people who hate Him with eternal paradise?
How will you respond?
If you are struggling with this sin, lay it up to Christ.If you have accepted Christ into your life, you can overcome because He who dwells within you has overcome the world (John 16:33) and has given you this same victory (1 John 5:4-5). If you have not, realize that lust, like all sins, is a sin that will condemn you to eternal death. You are not too far gone. Turn from your sin and turn to the Lord who wants to spend eternity with you (1 Tim. 2:4). God put on flesh and defeated death so that people may spend eternity in peace and joy with their Creator. If you’d like to read more, click on this post.