It seems strange but true that this ministry will celebrate 25 years of work to set the captive free in June of this year, and this is the first article I have written on lust. It was inspired by God through the hearing of a man at the Apologetics Conference in Charlotte, North Carolina, say to me, “I have lust for my wife.” This was in reference to the lust issue in homosexuality. Also Bettina Schaeffer suggested that I write about this subject. These two impulses began my thinking, seeking, asking and finding what I will put down on these pages in regard to lust.

My first thoughts were, “It is not right to lust after anyone, even a wife or a husband.” Lust must be defined as sinful, selfish desire and appetite. Lust is a desire to have our way regardless of God’s truth or another person’s will. It is making a person an object to be used and not a person to relate to and learn to love. This ought not to be and we will see, causes very serious consequences.

Because of the preponderance of the sexual sin and indulgence of this age, lust have become equated with sexual desire. This makes for a light approach to a very serious sin. We downplay lust as simply sexual desire, even on the marriage bed. How important it is for us to see that seeking our own selfish desire and appetite on the marriage bed or with someone we are not married to, is a defilement.

Love is an expression of desire to bless and fulfill another person by choosing to put away this selfish desire and appetite. Many people feel this would make for a bland sexual experience. But, just as the Israelites had to eat manna for a while to break the power of the fleshly Egyptian practices, we must go through a transition and purification into true sexual delight, based on loving and obeying godly truth.

As I read more and more scripture on lust, I realized it did not pertain only to sexual sin but also to many other areas, such as food, work, money, success, power, control, wisdom, knowledge, coveting what others have, lack of submission to God, lusting after evil things. wanting false teaching to give ease to itching ears. In other words, lust is not limited to a single area of sin. Rather it is an approach to life and the world which extols one’s own selfish desires and appetites and makes others the means for their gratification, regardless of God’s commands or other people’s wishes.

Getting rid of lust and purifying ourselves does not mean getting rid of sexual desire. It means having that desire in a godly context of “containing our vessel or body”. I Thessalonians 4:3-7 tells us: “For this is the will of God, that you should be consecrated — separated and set apart for holy living: that you should abstain and shrink from all sexual vice. That each of you should know how to possess {control, manage} his own body (in purity, separated from things profane, and) in consecration and honor.

Not {to be used} in the passion of lust like the heathen who are ignorant of the true God and have no knowledge of His Will. That no man transgress and overreach his brother and defraud him in this manner or defraud his brother in business. For the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we have already warned you solemnly and told you plainly. For God has not called us to impurity, but to consecration {to dedicate ourselves to the most thorough purity.}

The first recorded account of lust in the Bible is the story of the temptation of Eve by the serpent. She sees the fruit of the tree from which God has forbidden them to eat and she finds it good for food, pleasing to the eye and desirable for gaining wisdom. She took some of the fruit and ate and it and gave some to her husband and he ate it. This is a perfect picture of man having lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes and pride of life and, ignoring God’s will, does his and her own will.

Yes, they had been urged on by the serpent who had put questions in their minds about the consequences of eating this fruit. “You will not surely die.” But if Eve had not been near the forbidden tree she would have not seen the fruit, touched the fruit or been tempted to make her own decision about it being good when God had said, “Don’t eat it or you will die.” And they did die—sin brings death. They lost their innocent state of living with God in paradise and were cast out of the garden to toil among thorns and thistles. She was to bear children in pain and her husband would rule over her.

David did the same thing with Bathsheba. He looked on her with lust of the eyes. He took her sexually with lust of the flesh. With the pride of life, he commanded that her husband, Uriah, be killed in battle. This sin brought horrible repercussions on his life and children.

Do you see what lust can do in your life? As we look at the scripture in regard to the effects of lust on us, it is evident there are extremely serious consequences.

In Job 31:9-12, Job speaks, “If my heart has been enticed by a woman, or if I have lurked at my neighbor’s door then may my wife grind another man’s grain and may other men sleep with her. For that would be shameful, a sin to be judged. It is a fire that burns to Destruction. It would have uprooted my harvest.”

In Jesus’s parable of the sower and the seed comes this outcome of lust:

Mark 4:19 ” And these are they which are sown among thorns, such as hear the word and the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the Word and it becomes unfruitful. (How many of us, when under the ungodly power of lust have been unable to read the Word.)

I Timothy 6:9 And those who desire be rich fall into temptation and a snare and into many foolish and hurtful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.

James 1:14 But every person is tempted when he is drawn away, enticed and baited by his own evil desire (lust, passions). Then the evil desire when it is conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully matured brings forth death.

II Timothy 4:3 For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.

James 4:1-4 Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

I Peter 2:11 Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul.

II Peter 1:4 According to His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that has called us to glory and virtue.: Whereby are given to us exceeding great and precious promises that by these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

Jude 16 These are grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage. But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: how they told you that there would be mockers in the last days who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts. These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit.

As we see from these scriptures, there are many serious consequences to walking in lust. But as we know, consequences do not stop addictive tendencies and behavior, because the mind is turned off and the ungodly emotional reactions rule until the person works to uproot the ungodly emotions and replaces them with truth in the inward parts. (Psalm 51:6)

In I John 2:15-17 we see the complete view of lust as John, the beloved sets forth the three major dimensions of lust:

Do not love or cherish the world or the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. for all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, (craving for sensual gratification) and the lust of the eyes greedy longings of the mind) and the pride of life (assurance in one’s own resources or in the stability of earthly things)—these do not come from the Father but are from the world (itself). And the world passes away and disappears and with it the forbidden cravings, (the passionate desires, the lust) of it; but he who does the will of God and carries out His purposes in his life abides (remains) forever.

As we look at these words and consider how much we have lusted after sensual gratification, how much we have stared in mindless gaze at the object of our lust, how much we have trusted in our own wits, talents, resources and put our trust in money or our job, it could be daunting to think how deeply we have gone into the sin of lust. How we have wanted other people’s bodies or muscles or hair. How we have rejected the bodies God gave us to desire another’s characteristics.

But, dear ones, please remember the mercy and grace of our Lord who desires that all come to Him to be washed, sanctified (made holy) and justified (cleared of all sin). He understands why you stare, lust, feel you have to do everything and cannot trust anyone, want acceptance and connection. You have been rejected, abused, left out, felt you were ugly and unacceptable, name-called, laughed at, abandoned, made fearful and lonely. He is touched by your pain and ungodly reactions.

But He is the God of redemption and restoration. He wants to take you from the pit of indulgence and wanton lustful ways and cleanse you with His blood, wash you with the pure water of the Word and bring you into His marvelous light, truth and freedom. He wants you to put off the lies about yourself, the put-down of your body, your mind, your talent and take the gifts He has given you and grow in purity so you can be a fit vessel for His use. Come to Him every day in hope and faith and He will be with you to strengthen you to say no to ungodliness and worldly passion. He wants a people that are His very own, who are eager to do what is good. If you have accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you are His treasured possession and He is always working for you to be an oak of righteousness, a planting of the Lord. Do not give up. He loves you and rejoices over you with singing.

Practical Suggestions for Turning from Lust

Obviously, lust is in direct opposition to love. Lust wants its own way–love wants to bless others. Lust wants to get—love wants to give. Lust kills—love makes alive. So in order to get rid of lust we need to learn how to love. Begin by looking at people walking down the street as God’s creation and ask God to let His love pour through you to them Get involved in a godly church and pray for friends that will love you and whom you can learn to love in return. Read I Corinthians 13 and work it into your daily thinking and relating.

If your eyes start to go into lust, look at the ground, look the other way and choose not only to turn from sinful desire for that person, but also to turn from wanting to be part of Satan’s plan to steal, kill and destroy. We want to bring light and truth to people—not darkness and defilement. Be the sweet aroma of the knowledge of God wherever you go. Learn to see yourself as a person who brings blessing and joy.

If your flesh begins to crave old sinful sexual connections, go home and ask God to reveal the ungodly emotions beneath those cravings. Is it anger, bitterness, hatred, vengeance? If so, begin to write out what you feel and work to renounce old held-in resentment and hatred. Let God take vengeance and you choose to love and forgive. This will help to neutralize the lust. You may need prayers for casting out the demonic spirit of lust.

It would be a good idea to get our syllabus and work through the lessons contained there so you can turn from homosexual sin and ungodliness. The cleansing and freeing aspects of this work are sure to bring you into a new life of godliness and peace.

Always believe it is possible to turn from a life of lust to a life of purity and godliness. Keep turning from sin and reaching out for God who is full of mercy and forgiveness. Get close to God and tell Him what bothers you and ask for Him to give you His view of the situation. He will bless you with truth and love as you let Him into your life. God told us in Isaiah 30:15 “In returning to Me and resting in Me you shall be saved; in quietness and in (trusting) confidence shall be your strength. So return to Him and rest in Him. Have confidence in His love and provision for all you need. He will strengthen you.

Remember to flee fornication. You cannot fight this sin by staying in the place of temptation. You have to get out of there and go home so you can get close to God and get your bearings centered on His truth and purity. Do not stay there to see if you can resist. Get out of there! Do not go near a place where you know you will be tempted. Do not speak to the one for whom you have lust. Go to God who will be gracious and merciful. You can come boldly to His Throne of grace and find help in your time of need.

Here are five resolutions for the New Year taken from I Corinthians 10:6 (Amplified Version). These are examples, warnings and admonitions for us taken from the experiences of the Israelites when they came out of Egypt and began to crave the evil and carnal things of Egypt. These will be very helpful for us all to take as our own for 2008.

Do not desire, crave, covet or lust after evil and carnal things. Choose to be eager to do good. Titus 2:11-14

Do not worship false gods. Worship the Lord your God and Him only.

We must not gratify our evil desire and indulge in immorality. Purify yourself by obeying the Truth.

We must not tempt the Lord, try His patience, become a trial to Him critically appraise Him or exploit His goodness. Believe the Lord is good and all His ways are righteous.

We must not discontentedly complain or grumble. Give thanks in all things for that is the will of the Father.

by Joanne Highley