Overcoming Lust – Part One
Jesus taught the people: “You have heard that it was said, `Do not commit adultery,’ but I say to you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” – Matthew 5:27-28
One of the things I just love about Jesus is that he was fearless when it came to tackling tough issues. Jesus never dodged the bullet or softened the truth. He just said it straight. And that’s exactly what he does in his Sermon on the Mount as he tackles issues of sexuality and fidelity. These are hard words, but words we need to hear in a sexually charged culture bent on doing what feels good and what is convenient, neither of which is a good measure of God’s best for us.
According to U.S. News & World Report, Americans spent no more than $10 million on pornography in 1973. By 1999, we Americans managed to spend over $10 billion per year. That’s a one thousand percent increase in 26 years… and that was nine years ago. Imagine what that number is today! Let me share some thoughts with you from the Bible about dealing with lust.
First, be careful what you allow your eyes to dwell on! What are you allowing to light up your imagination? Your fantasy world? Job once said, “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a girl” (Job 31:1). We can’t always control what we see, but we can control what we allow our eyes to linger on.
Second, be careful where you go! One of the reasons that Billy Graham was able to maintain his sexual integrity throughout his ministry was that he established a rule early in his ministry never to be alone with a woman other than his wife. That may sound extreme to you, but it’s great wisdom. Putting yourself into a place of temptation is just foolish.
Third, run away from temptation! Sometimes you can avoid going to temptation, but other times temptation comes to you. When that happens, run away! Remember the story of Joseph when Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce him? What a temptation that must have been! What an opportunity to “stick it to the man”! But instead he literally ran away. Wise move. Do you know the three second rule? Studies show that if you entertain the idea of giving in to temptation for more than three seconds your chances of giving in grow dramatically. If you resolve to resist in the first three seconds, your chances of standing firm soar.
Maybe you’re reading this today and you’re struggling with Jesus’ words. Or maybe you’ve failed in the area of sexual purity or marital faithfulness and you’re feeling guilty. Don’t fall into the rut of condemnation. Fall instead into the arms of Jesus. Experience the grace of confession and repentance. Experience the freedom of forgiveness. Hear the word of the Lord for you this morning, “Behold, I am making all things new.”
Bringing It Home
1. Decide today where your boundaries are in terms of what you will allow yourself to look at. Ask for God’s grace in helping you to keep your commitments.
2. If you don’t have an accountability and prayer partner, get one! It’s one of the best things you can do for your spiritual health.
Lord, thank you for the gift of sexuality. Help me to treat this gift with respect, and to use it according to the heart of the One who gave the gift. Save me from the time of temptation and deliver me from evil! Surround me with other believers who will love me enough to speak the hard truth to me when I need to hear it. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, Burnsville, MN