Summary: When sexual desire is twisted into lustfulness
Deadly Sins and Transforming Virtues Series - 2
I had some fun with people this week. When asked what I was studying for today’s message, my answer was ‘I am spending time with lust.’ Inevitably the surprised look gave way to a laugh that was an implied question asking what I meant! Probably some of you are wondering, “What can he say for 20 minutes about lust?”
We all know what it is, sort of. If we are alive, we have longings, desires.
So, are all those feelings just lust? Are they wrong?
Is the guilt and/or shame that finds us from time to time a good thing or a bad thing?
Let’s talk about it. Lust - here we come!
There are a couple of different words used in the original text of the Bible, Koine Greek, that are translated ‘lust.’
· One is “pathos,” a word for desires, not just sexual, but those of the body - for food, for comfort, for ease - to name a few.
· Another is “epithumia” a word for desires that are stronger, cravings of our various appetites.
Several texts will help us to set a context this morning:
· "It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God;" (1 Thessalonians 4:3-5, NIV)
· "These men are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them. For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error." (2 Peter 2:17-18, NIV)
· "Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived." (Colossians 3:5-7, NIV)
Though LUST is not exclusively about the sexual part of our humanity, I’m going to focus on that.
Other messages in this series will deal with gluttony, anger, and sloth - which are other expressions of ‘desires that are disordered’ which is another way to define ‘lust.’
Human sexuality has stirred plenty of opinions among Christians through the centuries. Some appear to declare all feelings and expressions of sex as wrong; the ultimate expression of holiness somehow attached to a celibate life. Others take the extreme opposite view lauding our sexuality as the highest expression of love and insisting that where there is love there is no sin!
We start our discussion about lust with some basic understanding about ourselves.
First, we need to remember that we are created BODY and SPIRIT (some say, BODY, SOUL, and SPIRIT)
and that both are valuable to God who made us!
An ancient heresy spread like a plague among Christians that told them that since the BODY was part of this temporal world, destined to die and decay, how a person ate, what was done sexually - was unimportant in spirituality. Specifically, these teachers insisted there was no sin in feeding the appetites! It is something of an over-simplification, but basically the teaching said that IF you knew the right things, IF you grasped the mysteries of faith - you were right with God because the so-called the ‘sins’ of the body died with it.
The heresy may be dead, but there are echoes of it leftover in Christianity today. Far too many of those who sit in churches take comfort from the fact that they are baptized, that they can say the creed, that they receive Communion, ... while living mostly as they please. The act of faith is not always followed by the choice for discipleship!
Jesus is quite clear that the choices we make in our daily lives are closely connected with our relationship with Him. “If you love Me,” He said, “you will obey what I command.” Part of His command was that we subjugate the appetites of the body to the rule of the spirit.
Our body and spirit are connected inseparably in our Christian faith.
Jesus’ resurrection was not just His spirit, He was raised bodily. This body will die and decay, but the NT is clear that it will also be raised to life. And, there will be an accounting given to Christ Jesus as to how we lived.
"So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad." (2 Corinthians 5:9-10, NIV)