Jesus Teaches about Lust: 3030 Challenge #Day 4

LUST

lust

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.

 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

 If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.  And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell. 

Matthew 5:27-30

Lust: 

a strong sexual desire for someone

a strong desire for something

uncontrolled or illicit sexual desire or appetite; lecherousness.

a passionate or overmastering desire or craving (usually followed by for):

Lust is a desire that is often (usually) followed by sexual sin. Like anger, it is an alarm. It awakens other emotions in us that may not be needed at the time.

 Three things I’ll like to point out about Sexual sin: 

First, you usually don’t realize how much sexual sin is going to cost.

It rarely comes with a visible price tag attached. The cost is hidden, and besides that, it’s pleasure purchased on credit, with unmentioned payments due for the rest of your life.

Second, sex is a powerful force. It compels people to voluntarily do things that they would never think themselves capable of doing under normal circumstances. The combination of sexual and emotional attraction is an undertow that captures people who are merely wading by the beach, sweeps them out to sea and does everything possible to drown them. Sex is powerful, but also deceptive, because those who are being swept out to sea are willing and excited about going on this adventure into deep water.

Third, sexual sin doesn’t begin with glaring and blatant transgressions.

It starts with something very small and innocent—something that looks so harmless, it’s easy to allow. It starts with a desire.

 Unrestrained Desire is Sin:

Matthew 5:27-30 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’

The OT law was clear: adultery was wrong. Sleeping with someone else’s spouse, but could refer to a broader spectrum of sexual sins.

[28] But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

Jesus says adultery is not the only thing to avoid. Adultery is an external behavior. But Jesus goes for the internal thoughts and motives.

I have had a few misunderstandings about this verse. So I’d like to take a some time to say what this verse does NOT mean.

First, this does NOT mean that desire is adultery or that desire is just as bad as adultery, i.e., as soon as you’ve desired, then you’ve already had adultery, so having the thought is the same as if you acted on the thought. It is NOT the same. Notice that it doesn’t say, “you’ve already had adultery with her”, but “you’ve already had adultery with her in your heart.” Desire for an inappropriate sexual relationship is emotional adultery, not physical adultery. What this is saying is that it is not only wrong to consummate an “off limits” relationship. It is also wrong to desire an “off limits” relationship. Both are wrong, but they are not the same.

Second, this does NOT mean that sexual desire itself is wrong. God created sex and He created us with strong sexual desires. He also gave us the perfect context to indulge those desires—the marriage relation-ship. Unfortunately, many churches have left people with the impression that sex is evil and that God is pretty upset that somehow people figured out how to do this. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. (In 1981, Pope John Paul II said that a man could violate this verse even with own wife by lusting after her. That is completely contrary to what the Bible says.) Sex is God’s invention. He came up with the idea. He made it attractive and pleasurable and fun. He wants his followers to enjoy the best sex on the planet and so he designed marriage as the perfect context for it.

Third, I believe that this verse is NOT saying that merely to have a desire for an inappropriate relationship is wrong. I believe that to entertain or nurture that desire is wrong. Remember when we talked about anger last week. It isn’t wrong to be angry. It’s wrong to leave it unresolved. In the same way, I believe that it isn’t sin to be attracted to someone besides your spouse or even to desire a sexual relationship with that person. However, to hang on to that desire, to feed it or act upon it—that is wrong.

Like anger, desire is initially a response, not a choice. We probably have desires for inappropriate relationships so often because we’re fallen—so in that sense even that initial desire is sinful. But it’s not a sin in the sense of a choice I make to disobey God. When it first strikes, I think desire is more of a temptation than a sin. It’s what we choose to do with desire and what we choose to do because of desire that makes it sinful.

It’s unrestrained desire that is sinful. That is the point that Jesus is trying to make in this verse. It’s not only the external behavior of adultery that is wrong. It is also wrong to harbor and nourish a secret internal desire for an illicit relationship. Physical adultery is wrong. But so is emotional adultery or mental adultery or attitudinal adultery.

Purity is Important

That’s why purity is important—not only purity in actions, but also purity in thoughts. Jesus goes on in verses 29-30 to explain just how important it is.

[29] If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.

Notice the parallel thought in the next verse:

 [30] And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.

These verses are not suggesting that we should fight sexual sin by literally plucking out our eyes and cutting off our hands. I’m confident that even if we had only left eyes and left hands, we would still be able to find a way to have inappropriate sexual relationships and inappropriate sexual desires.

What these two verses are saying is that sexual purity in both action and thought is very important. It’s so important, that it’s worth sacrificing some otherwise good things if they might lead us into sin.

Some Practical Advice

I’d like to close today with some practical advice about dealing with sexual. Some of these are not explicitly from the Bible, but are some practical things I have learned about trying not to let desire turn into sin.

1. Desire is an alarm.– Like a proximity alarm. Action needs to be taken to avoid a collision.

2. Recognize you are vulnerable.

3. Watch your input.

4. Dress thoughtfully.

5. Watch your circumstances.

6. Think consequences.

7. Satisfy each other in marriage.

Proverbs 5:15-20 Drink water from your own cistern, running water from your own well. [16] Should your springs overflow in the streets, your streams of water in the public squares? [17] Let them be yours alone, never to be shared with strangers. [18] May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. [19] A loving doe, a graceful deer– may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be captivated by her love. [20] Why be captivated, my son, by an adulteress? Why embrace the bosom of another man’s wife?

8. Tell someone else.

9. Run away.

10. Rely on God’s Spirit.

Galatians 5:16 Live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the [flesh]. 

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