Summary: Part 6 in series Freedom From..., this message gives specific ways to root lust out of our lives.
Freedom From Lust, prt. 2
Freedom From... prt. 6
Wildwind Community Church
October 2, 2009
Last week we talked about lust and I chose to concentrate on physical lust and emotional lust. I pointed out that when lust is simply defined as intense sexual desire, it is perfectly fine and that in fact we need more of that in marriages. (The perfect newspaper headline - evangelical preacher calls for more lust.) But the kind of lust we are concerned about is lust that comes to dominate us and control us, that increasingly dumps us into a world of fantasy, eventually leaving us willing to cash in all that we want to be in exchange for this thing we just want to feel. I carefully spent time pointing out the kind of lust women feel. We all know what we're talking about when we talk about male lust (although I am convinced most women don't have any idea how powerful this is in most men), but we have to give equal time to the ladies. Lust approaches you in a different way, but it's lust all the same.
Last week I did all I intended to do, which was define the term, make sure both men and women were listening, and then describe how lust takes hold of us and can render us willing to make choices that can ultimately destroy our own lives, as well as the lives of a lot of innocent people who might get caught in the crossfire. See, before I can talk about finding freedom from something, I have to make the case that we need to get free from it. Last week's message is preached, and I hope I made that case to you in a way you could hear and understand. So now I want to talk to you about finding freedom from lust.
1 Corinthians 6:12 (NIV)
12 "Everything is permissible for me"--but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible for me"--but I will not be mastered by anything.
The problem with lust (or any other kind of desire) is that it is not self-limiting. There is no place where desire ever says, "Enough is enough." With physical lust, a man might lust, and masturbate, and that is the end. Until tomorrow, or the next day. With gluttony, I might binge all night long until I can't eat another bite. At least not until a few hours from now. With greed, I will never get enough money. With selfishness, the time to put others first will never come. With a desire for approval, no amount of approval will ever fix my insecurity -- it's never enough. Desire is not self-limiting. That is why desire must be regulated by something higher -- something that is able to take our desires and subordinate them and keep them in line. As I wrote in my blog recently, we live in a time where most people are saying, "Do whatever you want to do as long as it's not illegal and no one gets hurt." So rather than subordinate our desires to something higher, many would rather just indulge them until the police come, or right up to that point. Many have given up on the idea that they even SHOULD restrain themselves at some point well before that.
But to be a follower of Jesus is to set out to order our lives in the same way he ordered his. To be his follower is to live in a such a way that everything else that might compete for your allegiance to Jesus is cast aside. Thus anything that comes to rule you, to master you, to take you over, is inherently evil. Why exactly were early Christians thrown to lions and impaled on sticks? It was not because they worshipped Jesus. It was because they understood that worshipping Jesus necessarily meant NOT worshipping Caesar. The Romans didn't care who you worshipped, as long as Caesar was in there somewhere. But we understand Jesus as King of Kings, and Lord of Lords. To say that as an early Christian was to say, "You insist that I bow the knee to Caesar, but there is someone greater -- someone to whom CAESAR will one day bow the knee -- and it is him alone that that I worship."
So lust must be kept in its place. It must be confined to marriage, where lust CAN be set free, and where it has an appropriate object, and those desires can be satisfied without harm. Wherever lust can threaten to take us over and master us, it must be put in its place. I will not be mastered by anything, except the one who is the Master overall. But there's a problem with getting lust under control. The problem is that a lot of times we don't want to. You can't be free until you want to be free, and a lot of times with lust, we just don't want to be. Now this can be true also with finding freedom from words that kill, and with finding freedom from anger, but because lust is something we feel so deeply and powerfully, and because it immerses us in these fantasies that feel so wonderful, one of the biggest problems in dealing with it is bringing ourselves to truly want to be free from it. If you do not want to be free from lust, but you want to want to, drop me a note. There are ways of getting there. By the way, if you have been saying for years that you want to be free, but as of now you still aren't, this is the place I'd recommend you start. Ask yourself if you truly do want to be free. After all, if you truly did, chances are good you'd be free by now. There's a good chance part of you likes the rush you're getting and doesn't want to give it up.