Wednesday, August 31, 2016
But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Matthew 5:28(NLT)
The woman….saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. Genesis 3:6a(NLT)
It’s pretty clear that lust is a term which describes what happens within when either the physical eye or the imagination entertains someone or something that connects with the inner, lower nature.
And it may be worked out in different ways for women or men, but the principle of lust connected to our lower nature is the same.
Lust began in Eden with a suggestion by the evil one that the fruit provide something really great for Eve. She saw with her eye and it stimulated her craving to have it; her want blinded her commitment to be obedient.
Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount that the roving eye of a man is connected to his heart, which is where adultery is first committed; the physical act may or may not follow, but desiring, planning and being ready to act on that lustful desire is adultery. Being stopped short of the act by conscience or circumstance can’t change the blackness which lust has already created in the heart.
We often imagine we can be unaffected by the little temptations. Pastor Tom Welch tells about the clown fish that lives on the ocean floor off Australia's Great Barrier Reef. The clown fish are found around the poisonous sea anemone. The clowns attract larger fish, and then dart toward the anemone, hiding within its long, deadly tentacles. It lives like this for a while, with a temporary immunity. However it eventually loses its immunity; the tentacles close in on it, and it too dies.
Just like the foolish Christian, who flirts with sin and thinks he can remain unaffected by it; at first it seems only other, weaker disciples are hurt...but soon his spiritual health declines, and at last, he is completely overcome. The apostle James put it this way:
These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death. James 1:15.(NLT)
Lust begins a progression that eventually destroys all it touches.
So what is the Biblical way to combat lust? Paul gave invaluable advice here; he told his young pastor protégé, Timothy:
Run from anything that stimulates youthful lusts. Instead, pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love, and peace. Enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts. 2 Timothy 2:22(NLT)
Paul also shared his simple formula with the Galatian believers:
So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. Galatians 5:16(NLT)
Here the Bible leaves nothing wanting for instruction. The idea is two-fold:
1. You make a commitment to run from that which will trip you up.
2. And then, know that running from will create a vacuum, and so you run towards the positive, Christlike ways of living, including the fellowship of those who can strengthen you in living a Spirit-led life. Get busy serving and it will overcome the desire to sin-away your relationship with God.
Just like someone prone to give into substance abuse stays out of the neighborhood with pushers and bars, the Christian who is attempting to flee temptation that provokes lust leaves that neighborhood…and leaves no forwarding address!
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