For more than sixteen hundred years, lust has been identified as one of many seven classical deadly sins. This list also contains greed, gluttony, pride, sloth, anger and envy. Like these different vices, it does not command much of our attention. In reality, lust is usually misunderstood and ignored although its impacts ravage the lives of many around us.
What is lust? Most would simply describe lust as an amazing sexual desire. Nevertheless, this will not be the meaning it has for Christians. For us, intensity is less of a concern than the direction in which our need is pointed. When our focus is directed towards that which is forbidden, then it is lust. Engaging in lust have to be recognized as more than mere desire, since it provides an illicit type of gratification by itself. By it, our thirst is briefly quenched.
Granted, day-after-day, common lust is regularly looked at as nothing more than a natural human appetite and a harmless, passive source of pleasure. This just isn’t the Biblical view, where lust is strictly condemned. If we were hardwired to lust, as some consider, we might be powerless to remove it. We would also not know what to do with the teachings of Jesus. Consider His words:
You have got heard that it was said to these of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a lady to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. In case your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and forged it from you; for it is more profitable for you that considered one of your members perish, than on your whole body to be forged into hell. And in case your right hand causes you to sin, minimize it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one in all your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. (Matthew 5:27-30)
Although this passage is well known, it is mostly misunderstood in one way or another. In truth, many consider it to be so harsh and unreasonable that they simply set it aside. Thus they ignore, to their peril, particular teaching a few problem that’s plaguing our society and the Church. Voyeurism is epidemic. With the rise of Internet utilization and the privacy it affords, the practices of viewing pornography and masturbation are increasingly prevalent. Jesus is unmistakably addressing these practices directly when He suggests amputating our proper eye or our right hand if they cause us to sin.
Sadly, without appropriately understanding this passage, we would come to one in all two mistaken conclusions. First, we might assume that Jesus considers self-mutilation to be a viable answer to lust. Being blind and without hands will surely intervene with our ability to sin in this way. But, instinctively, we know that this shouldn’t be His intention. It’s impractical and outrageous on the face. Besides, blind, handless males still lust.
On the other hand, it is just as improper to conclude that He is exaggerating or speaking allegorically. It might seem odd being told to maintain full abstinence from lustful ideas, especially in such graphic, shocking language. Nonetheless, rather than smoothing over what Jesus says, we had higher think hard about learn how to obey. Clearly, He leaves no wiggle room. Lust should be eliminated from our lives or the results of constant in it are too terrible to bear.
The Greek words for lust are epithumeo and epithumia (as a noun), which come from root words meaning, “to feel upon.” It is usually frequently translated “to covet.” Jesus in Matthew deliberately makes use of language from the Greek Old Testament translation of the tenth commandment. There, we are forbidden to “really feel upon our neighbor’s woman” as one of many ways we should always not covet. Any girl who has been “felt upon” in an unwelcome manner would respect the root meaning. Jesus elevated this particular kind of coveting to a level unlike any other. He plainly taught that feeling upon a lady who shouldn’t be your wife is a sexual sin equal to physically committing adultery.
Maybe this is what rubs us wrong. Lust consists of a type of sexual pleasure that is readily available, intensely private and generally not resisted. It’s that internal buzz that draws one to an advertisement or to a particular television show. Such casual objects of lust, or “eye candy,” are of a type that we merely don’t wish to consider as improper.
Of course, giving in too much is a recognized problem. Many make lust their major thought meditation. Using fashionable technology, objects of want could be thrust in entrance of the eyes with a range and intensity that has by no means been imagined before. Sexual sin has led to sad marriages, broken households and devastated lives. As they become consumed by what they devour, some need to get the genie back in the bottle however don’t know how. Internet filters, accountability, twelve step programs, intense prayer and Bible examine are beneficial but generally fail.
Many counselors, including some who come from a Christian perspective, see their job as helping others to achieve “sexual sobriety.” This secular term, which is used by Sexaholics Nameless, describes the state where one does not masturbate, view pornography or have interaction in illicit sex. Sadly, the foundation problem of lust gets no mention. Sexual sobriety may be readily described as cleansing the outside of the cup while on the inside remaining filled with self-indulgence.
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