Responsible Love with Others Part 5
"You have heard that it was said to those of old, "You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.
(Matthew 5:27-30 NKJV)
To start with a simple definition of lust, we can use the following words: to crave, starve, hunger, thirst, to have a craving appetite for something or to have a great desire for something. (These definitions come from this website.)
So strictly speaking, when a person says that they have lust, it can be a good thing. However, when the Bible speaks about the word lust, it has a negative meaning. A person has a craving appetite, or a great desire for something. Yet, this desire and appetite is misplaced. Let me explain what I mean.
Have you ever misplaced your keys? Have you ever had your keys and then set them in a place that you cannot remember? We say in English that you have misplaced your keys. Yes, you have lost your keys, but that is because you have set your keys in the wrong place. What happens when you misplace your keys? You can get into all kinds of problems. You get stressed out, you get frustrated, you get angry. Because you have put your keys in the wrong place, you will have problems using the keys in the right way. You can’t open doors like you would when you had access to your keys.
I had that experience right before we left for Prague.
The same is true with lust. Lust is misplaced desire. God says that your desire (strictly speaking) should be for Him. When it comes to social and sexual relationships, your desire should be for the spouse that God has for you.
As we have said earlier, fornication is sexual intercourse with someone who is not your spouse before you are married. This fornication can include sleeping together. This fornication can include actual sexual intercourse. Adultery on the other hand, is sexual intercourse with someone who is not your spouse when you are married. So adultery is a sin for married people and fornication applies to singles.
Lust in this case is a misplaced desire for a sexual relationship with someone who is not your spouse. This lust, or misplaced desire is something that God does not want us to have. Fornication and adultery happen because my desire for the person whom God has given to me as my spouse is misplaced for someone else.
Because I cannot find the person that God has for me, I go looking for someone else. This is the problem of lust for singles.
Because I am not satisfied with the person that God has for me, I go looking for someone else. This is the problem of lust for married couples.
Now let us look into what Jesus says about lust. He uses two parts of the body - the hand and the eye. The eye makes sense, because desire (especially for men) comes through the senses. As we said earlier, lust is a desire that is misplaced. Lust is a craving, a thirst, a hunger, a starving for something. In this case, you are craving or hungering for sexual satisfaction. You have misplaced your responsible love for God and for other people with a desire for sexual fulfillment. Some get this fulfillment from looking at other people. God says fulfill this desire in marriage. The world says to fulfill this desire in any way possible. Lust is misplaced worship. When you look at a woman and you desire her sexually, and she is not your wife, you are worshiping her body, that is wrong. The same would be true women when you look at men.
Misplaced desire is really misplaced worship. Lust is a form of idolatry. You are replacing what God wants for you with what you want for yourself. This is why pornography is wrong. This is why idol worship (especially when it is connected with sexual acts) is wrong
Jesus said not to look at a woman and desire her as a sexual object. Jesus said not to look at a man and desire him as a sexual object. Jesus said not to look at anything that causes sexual desire. This does not matter whether what causes you sexual desire is a picture in a magazine, a website, or a person walking down the street. Whatever you look at (with the eyes) and whatever you act out (with the hands) that causes you to sin sexually is wrong and dangerous.
Why is lust so dangerous? Lust is basically stealing “eye candy” from another person. When I was a child, there was a store at the end of my street. The store was run by an older couple and it was very convenient. After school, my friends and I would go by the store and buy a piece of candy. Sometimes it was chocolate and sometimes it was a sucker. But I really enjoyed the fact that I could someplace close and get something sweet.
Looking at beautiful woman or handsome man is considered “eye candy”. Your mind enjoys what your eyes are showing. That is ok. But when you start to do more than just take a glance, when you start to stare and then fantasize and undress that person, that is where lust becomes stealing. You steal the satisfaction from the person you are watching, when that person is really meant to be enjoyed by their spouse. Now you are not just looking at the candy, you are walking out the door without paying for it.
HOW TO FIND THE DESIRE THAT WAS MISPLACED
Remember our illustration from the beginning. Just as you start to search and find the keys that you misplaced. You can go about finding what God wants you to do about lust. Jesus says to "cut it off" in drastic language. You and I have to cut off the avenues of this misplaced desire. If you have been watching too much television, cut it off. If you have been seeing too many pictures of men and women who are thinly clothed, cut out the pictures. If you have been committing sexual acts because you cannot wait, you have to cut it out. You have to stop that. You have to clean out your mind and your environment.
Then you have to take that desire that you misplaced and place it properly where God wants you to have it. Where is that?
You place it on God. You take time to desire Him more. This is your only option. God will give you the proper and responsible desires that you need to overcome this lust. Worship is properly directed desire for God.
You have to learn to place your desire on God very quickly. Lust is the battle that has begun in the mind. You may have used your hands or your eyes, but the battle is in the mind. Since this is where the battle starts, you have to win that battle. How do you win the battle? You look to God to help you. You take your misplaced desire and you place it on God - at the cross.
Selfishness is the opposite of sacrifice. Christ is in opposition to carnal cravings. Desire is to be directed at God. A sign of unfaithfulness to God is when we let the "lust" or misplaced desire in our lives lead us.
You take the misplaced desire and you replace it. You take the misplaced image that caused the lust and you replace it. You have to flee lust and fight it.
HOW TO FIGHT LUST
1. Prevent yourself from seeing things that misplace your desire.
I know men who tear out all of the pictures in a catalog. They do this because they know that their mind will wander. I know some families who limit the type of movies that the family watches. You have to prevent the junk from getting in your head.
2. Replace your immediate misplaced desire with Christ - on the cross.
You cannot think about sex and Christ on the cross at the same time. It won’t work. The reason is because whatever you worship will lead your mind. If you are worshiping images of another person, that will lead your mind to lust, and then to sex. It will lead you to submit to your desires, the misplaced desires of lust. However, if you are worshiping images of Jesus on the cross, it will lead you to submit to Him.
If you have or are struggling with lust, then I urge you to take your misplaced desire and submit to Jesus on the cross.
3. You fight the lust that crawls your direction.
Satan isn’t stupid. He is going to try to tempt you. He knows that if he can help you misplace your desire, you will do less with God. He knows all the tricks to use. So you do have to pray that God keep you from lust. But you also have to fight it when it comes. There is a reason that Paul says to put on the Armor of God. He knows that you need to be ready for the battle. So you fight the lust when it comes your way. You say: No, I will not take this desire. I will submit to Christ.
Let me share with you this example. When you are overcome with lust, it is like being invited to play in the pig pen. Basically Satan comes over and invite you to play in his pigpen. Of course at the time you think it is a good idea. S/he looks good and I can start to enjoy what s/he looks like. I can get some kind of stimulation and it satisfies me for a moment. But do you know how you feel when the “feeling” is over – wasted, tired and lonely. You feel like you have wasted that time and energy on a “thing”, a picture, a person for no purpose. You will probably think things like this: “Why did I waste so much time?“ “What good did that do for me?” What good did it do for you? It made you feel dirty. That is Satan’s plan. He wants you to feel dirty. But God wants you to leave the pigpen and climb the mountain. Satan wants you to stay and play in the pigpen. Because Satan knows that more time spent in the pigpen is less time you will use exploring the mountain. But God has much bigger plans for you. He wants you to stop focusing on the small thing like this and start going to the wide adventure that He has called for you in your relationship with Jesus Christ.
So what do you want to do? Slop around in the pigpen or start to explore the mountain? When Jesus Christ calls us to stop lusting, He is calling us to better things. For us who encounter lust often, what help does God give me?
God gives you forgiveness. You don’t need to feel guilty and condemned.
God gives you faithfulness. God will come to you and help you.
You have to ask for help, and He will. He will let His Holy Spirit cleanse you and He will reveal to you the next step. He will show you how to prevent it the next time. So when Satan comes walking to your door and invites you to the pigpen, go tell Him you have better things to do. You are going to go climb a mountain with God.