Summary: Being in lust is like eating eye candy and playing in the pig pen. God can help us overcome our misplaced desires for someone else.
Responsible Love with Others Part 5
"You have heard that it was said to those of old, "You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.
(Matthew 5:27-30 NKJV)
To start with a simple definition of lust, we can use the following words: to crave, starve, hunger, thirst, to have a craving appetite for something or to have a great desire for something. (These definitions come from this website.)
So strictly speaking, when a person says that they have lust, it can be a good thing. However, when the Bible speaks about the word lust, it has a negative meaning. A person has a craving appetite, or a great desire for something. Yet, this desire and appetite is misplaced. Let me explain what I mean.
Have you ever misplaced your keys? Have you ever had your keys and then set them in a place that you cannot remember? We say in English that you have misplaced your keys. Yes, you have lost your keys, but that is because you have set your keys in the wrong place. What happens when you misplace your keys? You can get into all kinds of problems. You get stressed out, you get frustrated, you get angry. Because you have put your keys in the wrong place, you will have problems using the keys in the right way. You can’t open doors like you would when you had access to your keys.
I had that experience right before we left for Prague.
The same is true with lust. Lust is misplaced desire. God says that your desire (strictly speaking) should be for Him. When it comes to social and sexual relationships, your desire should be for the spouse that God has for you.
As we have said earlier, fornication is sexual intercourse with someone who is not your spouse before you are married. This fornication can include sleeping together. This fornication can include actual sexual intercourse. Adultery on the other hand, is sexual intercourse with someone who is not your spouse when you are married. So adultery is a sin for married people and fornication applies to singles.
Lust in this case is a misplaced desire for a sexual relationship with someone who is not your spouse. This lust, or misplaced desire is something that God does not want us to have. Fornication and adultery happen because my desire for the person whom God has given to me as my spouse is misplaced for someone else.
Because I cannot find the person that God has for me, I go looking for someone else. This is the problem of lust for singles.
Because I am not satisfied with the person that God has for me, I go looking for someone else. This is the problem of lust for married couples.
Now let us look into what Jesus says about lust. He uses two parts of the body - the hand and the eye. The eye makes sense, because desire (especially for men) comes through the senses. As we said earlier, lust is a desire that is misplaced. Lust is a craving, a thirst, a hunger, a starving for something. In this case, you are craving or hungering for sexual satisfaction. You have misplaced your responsible love for God and for other people with a desire for sexual fulfillment. Some get this fulfillment from looking at other people. God says fulfill this desire in marriage. The world says to fulfill this desire in any way possible. Lust is misplaced worship. When you look at a woman and you desire her sexually, and she is not your wife, you are worshiping her body, that is wrong. The same would be true women when you look at men.
Misplaced desire is really misplaced worship. Lust is a form of idolatry. You are replacing what God wants for you with what you want for yourself. This is why pornography is wrong. This is why idol worship (especially when it is connected with sexual acts) is wrong
Jesus said not to look at a woman and desire her as a sexual object. Jesus said not to look at a man and desire him as a sexual object. Jesus said not to look at anything that causes sexual desire. This does not matter whether what causes you sexual desire is a picture in a magazine, a website, or a person walking down the street. Whatever you look at (with the eyes) and whatever you act out (with the hands) that causes you to sin sexually is wrong and dangerous.