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Lust in the Bible: Its Consequences and Solutions

Updated: Dec 3, 2023

In our journey to understand complex emotions and desires, lust stands out as a powerful force. It’s something most people have experienced at one point, but everyone has their different triggers and causes. Jesus spoke on the subject of this sin suggesting that it is better to enter heaven blind than hell with two eyes (Matthew 5:29). This sin is serious as with all of them and let unchecked can lead the heart down a wicked path that entangles and causes damage beyond repair, especially to those with families. Lust is so destructive and heinous that even the unchecked presence of it is adulterous in the heart. For information on struggling with lust and helping others look at, "Overcoming List" by Jim Vander Spek This blog post seeks to explore lust from a biblical perspective, unraveling its implications, consequences, and the guidance provided in Christian scripture to navigate this potent emotion.

Section 1: The Biblical Definition of Lust

In biblical terms, lust is often considered an intense desire or craving, usually for sexual pleasure, but it can extend to other objects of desire as well. Scriptures address lust in various contexts, showing its deep roots in human nature and its potential to lead away from spiritual fulfillment.

Old Testament Perspectives

The Old Testament provides numerous accounts where lust led to downfall and tragedy. In the Old Testament, teachings on lust are often intertwined with broader concepts of fidelity, covetousness, and moral behavior. One of the Ten Commandments, found in Exodus 20:17 and Deuteronomy 5:21, explicitly addresses coveting, which can include lust: "You shall not covet your neighbor's wife." This commandment emphasizes the importance of respecting the relationships and boundaries of others. Sexuality is a sacred thing to be shared between a married couple and this sins gift from God. To intrude on this, or be a perpetrator yourself of the sin, is to begin to violate something sacred placed by God for us. We not only practice destructive behavior amongst ourselves but against God. In the wisdom literature, such as in Proverbs, there are warnings against lust and adultery, often highlighting the dangers and consequences of such actions. For example, Proverbs 6:25 says, "Do not lust in your heart after her beauty or let her captivate you with her eyes." The narratives in the Old Testament also sometimes illustrate the destructive consequences of lust, such as in the story of David and Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11). This account shows how David's lust led to a cascade of sin. David, captivated by Bathsheba's beauty, succumbs to lust, leading to adultery, deceit, and even murder. This narrative highlights how lust can cloud judgment, leading even the most devout individuals astray. These teachings collectively underscore a moral framework where self-control, fidelity, and respect for others' relationships are highly valued.

New Testament Perspectives

Lust, as addressed in the New Testament, is a topic of profound ethical and spiritual significance, transcending mere prohibition of certain actions and delving into the realm of thought, intention, and heart condition. This paper aims to explore the New Testament’s multifaceted teachings on lust, examining the teachings of Jesus Christ, the apostolic instructions, and the broader theological implications. Understanding the New Testament's perspective on lust is crucial for contemporary Christian ethics and personal moral development as every section of the New Testament speaks on this. The teachings of Jesus on lust include The Sermon on the Mount, particularly Matthew 5:27-28, marks a pivotal moment in the understanding of lust. Here, Jesus extends the commandment against adultery to include lustful thoughts, emphasizing that sin begins in the heart. This revolutionary teaching suggests that righteousness is not merely external compliance with the law but internal purity of heart. Similarly, in Mark 7:20-23, Jesus lists evils, including sexual immorality, that defile a person, originating from within. The Apostle Paul offers extensive teaching on lust, primarily framing it within the context of Christian freedom and sanctification. In Romans 1:24-27, he discusses how turning away from God leads to sinful desires and sexual immorality. 1 Corinthians 6:18-20 urges believers to flee sexual immorality, underscoring the significance of the body as a temple of the Holy Spirit. In Galatians 5:19-21, Paul contrasts the works of the flesh with the fruits of the Spirit, categorizing sexual immorality and impurity as fleshly works. Furthermore, Ephesians 4:22-24 and 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 reflect on the need for believers to live holy lives, controlling their bodies and desires. In the General Epistles, lust is also addressed. 1 Peter 2:11 speaks of abstaining from sinful desires that wage war against the soul, illustrating the internal struggle against lust. 1 John 2:16 mentions the lust of the flesh and the eyes as contrary to the will of God, framing it within the broader context of worldliness versus divine will. The New Testament teaching on lust has profound theological implications. It redefines sin, placing equal emphasis on thought and action, and calls for a transformation that begins in the inner being. This aligns with the New Testament's theme of the heart's transformation through faith and the Holy Spirit’s work. The teachings on lust also relate to the concept of the body as sacred, upholding sexual morality not just as a legalistic rule but as a part of holistic spiritual wellness.

Section 2: The Consequences of Lust

Lust, when left unchecked, can lead to a multitude of spiritual, emotional, and societal issues. The Bible is replete with stories and teachings that illustrate these consequences. First, as all sins, it can lead to spiritual alienation.

Spiritual Alienation

Lust can create a barrier between individuals and God. In James 1:14-15, the process of giving in to sinful desires, which then lead to sinful actions and eventually to spiritual death, is outlined. We cannot be on the fence with the Lord. We are with him, or we are not. We walk in the Spirit or the flesh. Lust in particular requires constant conscience decisions because when the thoughts enter our head we are faced with immediate decisions - entertain it or crush it and leave it. These Choices will affect us. We choose to view this world God created not in its complexities, but as lust shapes our mind, that. Becomes one of the main parameters through which we view the world. We rob ourselves of the spiritual and emotional joys God set out for us to encounter with him and a good church community. This passage vividly illustrates how lust can lead a person away from spiritual harmony and into chaos.

Destruction of Relationship

Lust can have a profoundly destructive impact on relationships, both romantic and otherwise. Its effects range from eroding trust to causing emotional pain and fostering unhealthy dynamics. Anyone with a partner knows that they want their eyes on them alone. When we consciously give into to other men or women, we are not only failing to give our spouse everything they deserve from us, but a seed of division is plated. God commanded unity and unity cannot grow in an environment of being discontent with the blessing of our spouse. In romantic relationships, if one partner engages in lustful thoughts or actions outside the relationship, it can lead to feelings of betrayal. Trust, once broken, is hard to rebuild. The security and stability of the relationship are compromised, causing significant emotional distress. Lust often leads to Objectification. Lust often involves objectifying another person, seeing them primarily as an object of sexual desire rather than as a whole person. This perspective is inherently dehumanizing and can prevent the development of a deeper, more meaningful connection based on mutual respect and understanding. Anyone who has struggled with porn and then come off the addiction by the grace of God has likely experienced a significant reality check in this area. People are not objects but focusing on the object of pleasure void of any emotional depth, spiritual commitment, personal connection in the context of marriage we distort the person of their humanity given by God.

Lust can fuel unrealistic or idealized expectations about physical appearance or sexual performance, which can put undue pressure on a partner and lead to dissatisfaction with the real, imperfect nature of intimate relationships. Those whose lust is fueled by porn will often have their fantasy within something that is not real, involves no communication or process, and for lack of better terms is executed by experts. Those individuals are performers in the business of entertainment and to get expectations from that will ruin a marriage. Sexual relations within marriage involve communication, trial and error, closeness and intimacy, messing up, a vulnerability that is unique, all of the traits our fantasies do not have as the movies played within our heads are flawless executions of adulterous conditions of the heart. Sin tries to entice us and in this is does not show the reality of sin or the effect of sin. Our hearts need to be anchored in the Lord and fed into our spouse as we elevate them. Every part of us belongs first to God then to them. Unrealistic expectations destroy the encounters with our partner. Beyond romantic relationships, lust can damage friendships, professional relationships, and family dynamics, especially if it leads to inappropriate behavior or breaches of trust. The impact of lust on relationships is significant. It can erode trust, lead to betrayal, and ultimately destroy marriages and families. The Bible cautions against the adulterous path, not only as a sin against one's partner but also as a sin against one's own body (1 Corinthians 6:18).

Section 3: Overcoming Lust with Biblical Guidance

While the Bible outlines the dangers of lust, it also offers wisdom and guidance on how to overcome it. Before getting too invested I would encourage you to at least look at, "UNMUZZLED: Escaping Sexual Sin - Satan's Grip on Men" by J.S. Shelton. We can see prayer and scripture as a necessary resource for Christian growth. The Bible advocates for prayer and immersion in scripture as tools to combat lustful desires. Psalm 119:11 says, "I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you." This indicates that knowledge of and meditation on God's Word can help in resisting temptation. This goes for all temptation, but sexual sin holds a special bind in people. We are told that every sin a man commits happens outside the body, but the sins of sexual immorality happen within and against the body and mind (1 Corinthians 6:18). Consequently, we must turn to prayer and scripture reading to fill our mind and body to combat the temptation against our mind and body. Prayer and scripture are not something we can go without for inward sanctification and conviction. Second, we can see a lifestyle molded by the Spirit as a great means for overcoming lust. Galatians 5:16 advises to "walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh." This scripture teaches that a life focused on spiritual growth and guided by the Holy Spirit can rise above the fleshly temptations of lust. Walking in the Spirit is not a one-time event but a continuous process of growth and transformation. It requires a daily commitment to seeking God's presence, relying on His strength, and allowing the Holy Spirit to guide and shape our lives. By doing so, believers can experience a deeper relationship with God and bear spiritual fruit that impacts both their own lives and the lives of others. Our human nature is separated from God and in opposition to God, and to indulge in the flesh is to ignore the Spirit, the Spirit of God which proceeds from his righteous and good nature. However, living by the Spirit is not some concept of ambiguity that we can’t understand practically. When we are guided by the Spirit we are inclined to righteous behavior, and we choose to respond to it or ignore it. Every Christian has felt this internal conflict of choices. If we struggle with lust walking in the Spirit includes praying and scripture, but it also includes setting up barriers to prevent stumbling. We can use internet blockers, we can use friends for accountability, we can step away from smart phones to flip phones, we can avoid situations which promote lust as some believers refuse to go to beaches, we can avoid certain environments. There are lots of things which will promote righteous living as avoidance from sin. Of course, these actions alone will do nothing if the disposition of the heart are not proper. However, sometimes as Christians we are obligated to make decisions we may even hate, or the flesh hates that we recognize as living in this sinful body in trust that God’s word and rule is right and true and despite how we feel or any urges we will press on in righteousness.

Lust, as viewed through the biblical lens, is a complex and challenging emotion that humanity has grappled with since ancient times. The Bible does not shy away from discussing its realities and consequences but also offers hope and guidance for overcoming its power. By understanding the biblical perspective on lust, believers can find the strength and wisdom to navigate this aspect of human experience towards a path of spiritual integrity and fulfillment. If you would like to support the page further, then check out our store!

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