Saturday, August 19, 2006

Lust--A Biblical Definition

On my other blog, I talked about modesty and its opposition to lust, primarily sexual lust. But here, I want to define lust in the broadest Biblical terms. The Apostle Paul said, "I had not known lust except the law had said, 'Thou shalt not covet'," so it is pretty clear that "the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life" aren't always and only about sexual matters. The actual commandment reads, "Thou shalt not covet...anything that is thy neighbors," not just his wife, or her body.

This is one of the most often overlooked commandments of the Ten. Most people who define themselves as good never think of this one. Covetousness, or lust, actually initiates one into breaking all the other nine. I'll show you how. But first, I want to define lust.

Simply put, lust is a desire for anything that is not yours and is forbidden by God. A married woman, an unmarried woman's body (it's not yours!), a car that's too expensive, etc. In short, lust is a desire for something that is out of the revealed will of God for you. How do you know what He wants for you? By reading His Word. That's where God speaks most audibly to those who are willing to hear Him.

Truthfully, lust, by its very nature, places something above God in your life. It makes getting what you want more important than obeying God. When God says that you can't have this, lust says to obtain it by however you can, which usually includes lying, stealing, doing hateful things (remember 1 John 3:15 says that whoever hates his brother is a murderer), disobeying parents, etc. When God says to be content with this, lust says to pursue something else. When God says to pursue this, lust says to settle for that, because it's "easier. "

In short, lust leads directly to disobedience, if indulged. "But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death." (James 1:14-15, NKJV). That is why Paul urges us to "clothe {ourselves} with the Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah), and make no provision for [indulging] the flesh [put a stop to thinking about the evil cravings of your physical nature] to [gratify its] desires (lusts)" (Romans 13:14, AMPL).

Thus, the very nature of lust is a violation of the First Commandment, as well as leading to breaking the Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eight, and Ninth.

It also leads to breaking the Third Commandment, because there is no more fear of God when He is not viewed as being on the throne. Not only using His name as a curse Word, but also pretending to be one of His, which is taking His name to yourself in vain--in vain, because it has no effect; or as Paul says, "For [although] they hold a form of piety (true religion), they deny and reject and are strangers to the power of it [their conduct belies the genuineness of their profession]" (2 Timothy 3:5, AMPL).

Another problem with lust is that, in order to indulge it, you have to create your own God. Why? Well, think about it. If you know that the true God hates what you want to do, then you have a choice: crucify it or crucify Him. Most people choose to crucify Him.

Paul says, "For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. " (Romans 1:18-25, ESV)

See the progression? Jesus said that this is why people go to hell, "[because] light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed" (John 3:19-20, NKJV). This is why "they did not like to retain God in their knowledge" and therefore why "God gave them over to a reprobate mind" (Romans 1:28)--because they would rather serve a new god than give up their lusts.

Paul says that, in doing so, they actually make life harder on themselves, "to do those things which are not convenient" (the end of Romans 1:28, KJV). This would constitue a breaking of the Fourth Commandment in spirit, whether or not they observed it in the letter (which most Christians don't because the real Sabbath is Saturday, not Sunday). How? Jesus said that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. The Sabbath was given to us to give us rest from our labors, just as God rested from His.

Most lust-buckets don't really get a break, because they spend all their time trying to get what they want. They forget about the rest that God has given them, because they can't take that break and still pursue their own goals. (I know--I used to be one of them.)

Steven Curtis Chapman thoroughly illustrates this with his song "Land of Opportunity", from his Signs of Life project:

"Another day is off and running/And I hear somebody pounding on my door/It's opportunity knocking/Says what I need is just a little bit more
"Every time I turn around I'm finding/Another chance to climb a little higher up/But it's never what I thought once I get there/And I'm left wondering "How much is enough?"

"I can live like a prisoner to all that could be/I'm living in the land of opportunity/But a heart pure and simple/Is a heart that stays free/Living in the land of opportunity/I'm living in the land of opportunity

"This is a world full of options/It's like a never ending buffet line/While all that I'm really needing/Is living water and the bread of life
"So as I'm walking through this life making choices/There is one thing I must never forget/This land of opportunity has one God/If I seek Him first He'll take care of the rest!

"I can live like a prisoner to all that could be/I'm living in the land of opportunity/But a heart pure and simple/Is a heart that stays free/Living in the land of opportunity/I'm living in the land of opportunity

"Seek ye first the kingdom of God...Seek ye first the kingdom of God

"I can live like a prisoner to all that could be/I'm living in the land of opportunity/But a heart pure and simple/Is a heart that stays free/Living in the land of opportunity/I'm living in the land of opportunity

"(Seek ye first the kingdom of God)So many choices, so much it could be/(Seek ye first the kingdom of God)Living in the land of opportunity/(Seek ye first the kingdom of God){And His righteousness!}/(Seek ye first the kingdom of God){He'll take care of the rest!}"

Having that perpesctive makes life a lot easier. And it precludes all lusts. If you are focusing on the Kingdom of God, you will not walk in lust. Paul says, "walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh" (Galatians 5:16, KJV).