Of the last few weeks and months we’ve been working through a series of messages called Still Deadly: Ancient Cures for the Seven Deadly Sins. These well known sins have the potential to destroy our lives and our relationships. After all, sin is choosing to live life contrary to the way God designed it. Ultimately, it will damage us and those we love. Sin is STILL DEADLY! So far we have covered the sins of pride, gluttony, anger, sloth and envy. Today we want to talk about LUST.What is LUST?
We all have desires on the inside of us and they motivate us to pursue certain things. Some of our desires are good, especially those directed by the Holy Spirit, and they need to be fostered and pursued. Some of our desires are wrong, especially those emerging from our sinful nature, and they need to be controlled and avoided. This is what ‘lust’ refers to.
The Bible defines ‘lust’ as a strong desire for something inappropriate, something God has forbidden, and something that can bring damage to our lives. Inappropriate lusts can include lust for things such as power, money, position, or possessions. However, the primary use of the concept of ‘lust’ the Bible refers to is sexual sin.
In the Bible, we are told to run from (‘flee’) sexual sin, understanding that it affects us like no other sin (1 Corinthians 6:18). Sex was created by God as something sacred and beautiful but only within the marriage relationship between a husband and wife. Sex before or outside of marriage is seen as inappropriate and ultimately leading to pain and heartache (1 Thessalonians 4:3-5). In contrast to lust, God urges us to develop the qualities of self-control and faithfulness.LUST: A Common Human Struggle.
For thousands of years human beings have struggled in the area of sexual lust. Think of Samson, David (2 Samuel 11:1-5), and Solomon. Being a godly person doesn’t make you immune to lust.
In today’s society, pornography is a multi-billion dollar industry and it is founded purely on the lust of the eyes. Because of technology – there is greater opportunity to struggle with lust than at any other point in history. Contributing factors to the problem of lust include: our sexually charged world, depression, curiosity, and the search for intimacy.The Potential Negative Effects of Lust
How to Overcome Lust
- Guilt. God has placed a ‘conscience’ on the inside of each human being. Our conscience provides us with an inner sense of right and wrong, kind of like a moral code. It encourages us to do what is right and then affirms us when we do so. It also discourages us from doing what is wrong and it condemns us if we feel it’s promptings. Guilt and shame are emotions that are designed to get our attention and to let us know that we need to stop what we are doing, otherwise we cause damage to our lives. Guilt damages our relationship with God, our peace with ourselves, and our relationship with other people. Thankfully, with God there is forgiveness and cleansing, along with a fresh start, IF we repent of and forsake our sin (1 John 1:9).
- Addiction. Some scientists believe that because sexual images can be easily recalled, pornography is more addictive than heroin. Pornography produces a chemical high and can become addictive. The more you use it the more you need it and the further you drift from reality. More and heavier pornography is required for excitement. Pornography is like ‘junk sex’.
Like all sin, lust never fully satisfies. We get caught in the pain-pleasure cycle. There may be momentary pleasure but then the pain kicks in (guilt, shame, regret and even self-hatred). However, once the pain resides we can easily be drawn in through temptation once again.
- More serious sexual sin. Not all people who view pornography go on to commit more serious sexual sin, but all those who have committed serious sexual crimes usually began with pornography. One thing can easily lead to another. Like any drug, sexual lust can lead us down more perverse and even dangerous paths. Sexual sin is rarely the result of a blow-out. Almost always, it's the result of a slow leak. It's a slide, not a sudden fall. Every person caught in adultery said, “I never thought it would happen to me!” We need to understand the process of sexual sin, see the wisdom of God's ways, and the consequences of disobedience.
- Distorted Thinking. Pornography usually causes people to have a distorted view of the opposite gender. Christian psychologist, Arch Hart says that pornography leads to people living in a fantasy world, it can be a substitute for intimacy, it dehumanises the opposite sex, and damages relationships, especially marriage.
Our battle with lust can be quite frustrating. If we’re struggling we can tend to believe that it is not a winnable war. We begin to doubt ourselves and maybe even our salvation. We can feel very alone and very helpless. It’s easy to get stuck in the same sinful cycles year after year. Being pure is not an easy task but IT IS POSSIBLE. God offers us freedom from the slavery of sin through the power of Jesus Christ. He created our eyes and minds with an ability to be trained and controlled. We simply have to stand up and walk by his power in the right path (2 Peter 1:3-4. Romans 6:11-14). We aren’t short on power. What we often lack is a sense of urgency.
Sample Discussion Questions
- Repent of Lust. Genuine ‘repentance’ is an acknowledgement that you are doing the wrong thing and that you are heading in the wrong direction. Confess and ask for forgiveness from lust, if this is an issue for you. God’s grace can wash away any sin and set us apart as holy to the Lord (1 John 1:9). Genuine repentance also involves a decision to ‘turn around’, to stop what you are currently doing, and to begin heading in the right direction. Make a commitment to purity and to developing healthy relationships. Believe that God’s ways are best. Renew your mind.
- Run from Temptation. Temptation is not sin, nor is having lustful thoughts come into our minds. We can’t always block out objects of lust or even lustful thoughts, but we capture them, evaluate them then eliminate them from our minds. Establish a ‘customs area’ in our mind, ensuring that no dangerous lustful attractions enter. When temptation comes, take the ‘way of escape’ God always provides (1 Corinthians 10:13). Run from lustful desires (Genesis 39:12. Job 31:1. Romans 8:1-14. 1 Corinthians 6:18-20). Avoid placing yourself in vulnerable positions. Be wise in your relationships.
- Refuse to Give Up. Pray and ask God for help. When will-power is not enough, we have the help of the Holy Spirit to give us the power to do what we are struggling to do in our own strength. Be persistent. Don’t give up. A godly person may fall seven times but they get up again (Proverbs 24:16). Habits take time to change. If you are stuck, get help from a mature Christian or counsellor.
- What do you think of when you hear the word ‘lust’?
- Why do you think lust is such a ‘deadly sin’? How does it damage us?
- Read 2 Samuel 11:1-4. What were some of the factors that led to David’s vulnerability to lust?
- What are some ways we can avoid making ourselves vulnerable to lust or sexual sin?
- Discuss the concept of sexual sin being like a ‘slide’. What are some ‘early warning signals’ that we can develop to prevent becoming inappropriately emotionally attached to people?
- Pornography is on the increase. What do you think can be done about this?