Summary: One of the deadliest of the seven sins, lust can destroy the soul. Here is how it works and how we can deal with it.
Before we begin talking about lust, we need to talk a little about sex. Hugh Hefner didn’t invent it. Neither did Hollywood. Nor the authors of the Kama Sutra. God created sex, and like everything he made it was beautiful.
He didn’t waste any time getting to it either. Merely two chapters into the Bible we find Adam and Eve walking around naked, feeling no shame, at total ease with their own bodies and each other’s. There was no reason for shame. They were the handiwork of God, created in his image and likeness.
Then the devil got into the act and messed it all up. That’s his special talent: messing things up. Our special talent is that we let him mess them up so easily. He got Eve to lust after the fruit without too much effort, and then he got the rest of us who followed to lust after everything—and everyone—else, again with hardly any effort at all. All we need to do is take a look at our lives and see how easily we open the door of our hearts to temptation, especially sexual temptation.
And it is insatiable. Dangerously so.
How an Eskimo kills a wolf
I am reminded of a story I read about how an Eskimo kills a wolf. The account is grisly, but it offers an insight into the all consuming, self-destructive nature of lust.
First, the Eskimo coats his knife blade with animal blood and allows it to freeze. Then he adds another layer of blood, and another, until the blade is completely concealed by frozen blood.
Next, the hunter fixes his knife in the ground with the blade up. When a wolf follows his sensitive nose to the source of the scent and discovers the bait, he licks it, tasting the fresh frozen blood. He begins to lick faster, more and more vigorously, lapping the blade until the keen edge is bare. Feverishly now, harder and harder the wolf licks the blade in the arctic night.
So great becomes his craving for blood that the wolf does not notice the razor-sharp sting of the naked blade on his own tongue, nor does he recognize the instant at which his insatiable thirst is being satisfied by his OWN warm blood. His carnivorous appetite just craves more—until the dawn finds him dead in the snow!
This is what happens to us when we give in to lust. A man I met during one of my travels told me the story of his rapid progression into sexual degeneracy. “It began with stuff I read in books,” he confessed. “The descriptions of sexual encounters would arouse me and I would masturbate. Then I began spinning my own fantasies, each one wilder than the one before. Soon, this wasn’t enough and I wanted the real thing. I got into one relationship, then another, and another. None meant anything beyond the sexual acts, which grew increasingly perverted and warped. I began despising myself and my partner and the sex began to reflect that, getting cruel and degrading. It makes me feel sick, but I can’t stop. I feel like I am dying inside ....”
He was dying, like the wolf, a victim of his own lustful appetite.
The story is common to many of us. Strangely, though, the devil has managed to convince us that these depravities are as natural as eating or drinking or sleeping. It isn’t. Author and preacher Richard Exley writes: “Lust is not the result of an overactive sex drive; it is not a biological phenomenon or the by-product of our glands. If it were, then it could be satisfied with a sexual experience, like a glass of water quenches thirst or a good meal satisfies appetite. But the more we attempt to appease our lust, the more demanding it becomes. There is simply not enough erotica in the world to satisfy lust’s insatiable appetite.”
What scripture says about lust
Scripture is very clear about what God thinks of sexual immorality and the consequences thereof. Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians, warns them to flee from sexual immorality. “All other sins a man commits,” he writes, “are outside his own body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple to the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God. You are not your own” (1 Corinthians 6:18-19 NIV).
In his letter to the Galatians, he warns of the consequences of such immorality: “Those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God” (cf. Galatians 5:19-21). Most of us pay little heed, accelerating on our path towards self-destruction. How do we stop?
Lessons from King David
We can learn a few lessons from people in the Bible who gave in to their lust. One was King David. The second book of Samuel tells us the sordid story of how David gave in to his lust when he saw a beautiful woman named Bathsheba bathing. It was an act that eventually led to the murder of Bathsheba’s husband and other even more horrific consequences, but what is educational are the circumstances that led to the act.