Summary: Love focuses on others, lust focuses on self. There is no such thing as “acceptable lust”.
Many of you know of C.S. Lewis from his Narnia book series. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and its sequels have been made into multiple movies that together have grossed over 1.5 billion dollars worldwide. However, Mr. Lewis is also very well known for his books discussing Christianity and what it means to be a Christian. One of his most popular and well-known books of this type is Mere Christianity, which I highly recommend you read if you get the chance.
Tonight, though, I want to discuss another book by C.S. Lewis: The Great Divorce. In this book, the main character is transported to a vast, gray city populated entirely by ghosts -- the souls of sinners who have died on Earth. One such ghost has a large, red lizard on his shoulder named “Lust”. This lizard whispers tempting things in the ghost’s ear. The ghost doesn’t like what the lizard says, but when an angel offers to kill the lizard for him, he says no -- even though he doesn’t want the lizard around. See, this ghost is so conflicted because he can’t remember a time when he didn’t have that lustful lizard whispering in his ear, and he’s afraid that he can’t exist without that lizard. He doesn’t want the sin, but he’s afraid of what will happen when he gets rid of it. He is afraid that by killing his sin, he will die as well.
After a long conversation, the ghost finally agrees to let the angel kill the lizard. The angel grabs the lizard, breaks its neck and hurls it to the ground. Now that the spell of lust is broken the man begins to transform. Instead of a ghost, he is now a solid, real, living man again! To top it off, the lizard doesn’t really die either -- it is transformed into a mighty horse. With great tears of joy and appreciation the man gets on the horse and rides off into heaven.
This is a pretty weird story, I will admit. However, the point remains valid -- we are all dead, but only by killing our sin (in this case, lust) can we truly live. The only way that we can kill our sin is through the love of Christ. In other words, only Love can defeat Lust. But before we can really learn what Love is, we need to first learn what Love isn’t. Love is not lust.
Now, let me be clear -- when I say “lust”, I’m not necessarily referring to something sexual. Sexual lust is a thing, and that is sin, but lust is much more than just something sexual. There are many types of lust, affecting some more than others. You can have a lust for power, or fame. You can lust after wealth or some possession, like a car or a pair of shoes. You can lust after beauty; you can even lust after ministry. All are sinful. In short, lust is what happens when you set something as more important than Christ and your relationship with Him.
Turn with me to 2 Samuel 11. Here King David is at war with the Ammonites, and they have the city of Rabbah under siege. King David, though, stayed in the palace in Jerusalem. Let’s start with verse 2, until the end of the chapter.
2One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, 3and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” 4Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her. (Now she was purifying herself from her monthly uncleanness.) Then she went back home. 5The woman conceived and sent word to David, saying, “I am pregnant.”
6So David sent this word to Joab: “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” And Joab sent him to David. 7When Uriah came to him, David asked him how Joab was, how the soldiers were and how the war was going. 8Then David said to Uriah, “Go down to your house and wash your feet.” So Uriah left the palace, and a gift from the king was sent after him. 9But Uriah slept at the entrance to the palace with all his master’s servants and did not go down to his house.
10David was told, “Uriah did not go home.” So he asked Uriah, “Haven’t you just come from a military campaign? Why didn’t you go home?”
11Uriah said to David, “The ark and Israel and Judah are staying in tents, and my commander Joab and my lord’s men are camped in the open country. How could I go to my house to eat and drink and make love to my wife? As surely as you live, I will not do such a thing!”