Summary: Lust craves to use people for our "needs" and desires. It is the exact opposite of the love and focus on the needs of others that Jesus calls us to.
We live in a society that panders to lust. Everywhere we look—billboards, magazines, movies and television—we view provocative pictures. The goal of modern clothing fashion is to be alluring.
The idea of turning into a replica of a prudish Muslim society with cover-alls for men and women may be unappealing for us. At the same time we may want to turn back time to those days when we could watch an hour’s TV without seeing gratuitous sex and hearing filthy language. Since we can’t turn back the clock, we are faced with the challenge of living a Christian life, and dealing the sin of lust in our lives as we live in this society.
The story of David and Bathsheba teaches us a great deal about sin, lust, and how to deal with sin in our lives.
David was identified earlier in Samuel as a man after God’s own heart. David was not only a king; he was a good king and a righteous man. Still, David was confronted with temptation and fell into sin.
Sin tempts us at the weirdest times. David was tempted by sin in the middle of the night, when he couldn’t sleep.
Lust overtook David when he least expected it. The truth is, David didn’t put up much of a fight against the temptation and the sin, either. He didn’t avert his eyes. He didn’t run back into his bedroom and hide under the covers.
We are reminded by the story of David that we will always be at the same time sinners and saints. There will never be a time in our lives when we will be able to sit back and say we have it made.
The story of David also portrays the true foundation of lust. Lust isn’t rampant sex. Lust is self-centered, selfish desire. Lust wants to use another person for our own benefit. Lust is the desire to use our power to force another person to meet our desires.
JESUS AND THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT’
For centuries men and women had prided themselves on keeping the sixth commandment because they had not acted out their thoughts and desires. Storms of lust may have raged in their being, but they thought they were free from sin because they had their desires under control.
Jesus changed all of this in his Sermon on the Mount. In his teaching, he pointed out that thoughts were as wrong and as powerful as actions. Suddenly, control was not an issue; at issue was inward transformation.
Sin is the exercise of the “I.” The transformation that we are challenged to allow to take place in our lives is to move from the focus on ourselves to a focus on others. This change goes beyond control and will power. This change is empowered and accomplished by the Holy Spirit.
The church has taught, through the centuries, that the virtue that is the opposite of lust is chastity. Frankly, I think the church has been wrong in this teaching. For hundreds of years rabbis have walked into walls, priests have been celibate, and sex has been seen as dirty and off-color.
God looked over all of creation and said it was “good.” The good included sex and physical intimacy. The invitation that we have is not to ignore the gift, but to use the gift appropriately. We do that when we exchange lust for love.