In my little study of the teachings of Jesus, I found there were 83 key topics. Having covered the top ten in previous blogs, today’s topic is to ‘Do not lust’.
Is Divine Blessing upon your actions? A life of blessing. A life where we truly grow Should be the normal life of a Christian In no way ought we to obstruct that blessing’s flow. If it is withheld there is a cause It may be hard to rejoice and sing But the explanation is not to be sought In looking to any outward thing. We may feel there is nothing wrong when we speak Or in the thing that we have done But what does it profit if it lacks The blessing of the Father and the Son? By the late Andrew Feakin (passed away 16th March 2019)
Lust is defined as ‘An uncontrolled or intense illicit sexual desire or appetite; lecherousness. To have a yearning or desire or to have a strong or excessive craving’. We can lust for many things, money, power, position, a new car, a new house etc. But the general definition is to do with sexual craving. Jesus addressed this in Matthew 5:26-28 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart”.
Who has not lusted after another? Is anyone innocent? The world we live in does not make it conducive to obeying this particular command. Everywhere we look we are bombarded with visuals generated to creating lust within us to purchase a product or service. The advertising world have realised that sexual imaging creates demand for their products and is more likely to generate more sales. What a sad and degenerate world we live in.
“I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Rom 7:23.
Our eyes and ears are gateways to our soul
Yet we are commanded to not lust. Jesus would not have command it if it were not possible. So how do we swim against the tide of this world? By not partaking in its perversions. Our eyes and ears are gateways to our soul. What we view and what we hear influence our thoughts initially and then our actions. We are to prevent anything from taking root in our hearts and minds and choose wisely what we look at and what we hear. It is becoming ruthless with sin. We seek to prevent others from sinning and seek to demolish any strongholds of lust within ourselves.
Henry says – We have here an account of the seventh commandment, given to us by the same hand that made the law. He is therefore the fittest to be the interpreter of it. It is the law against uncleanness. It lays a restraint upon sinful passions and appetites, both which ought to be governed by reason and conscience.
The command is laid out (Matt. 5:27), You shall not commit adultery. This includes a constraint on all other acts of uncleanness, and the desire of them. But the Pharisees, in their explanation of this command, extended it no further than the act of adultery. This suggested, that if the iniquity was only regarded in the heart, and went no further, God would not regard it (Ps. 66:18). Therefore they thought they were able to say that they were not adulterers, Luke 18:11.
The lusting after the forbidden object
It is explained here the strictness of it. We are taught that there is such a thing as heart-adultery, adulterous thoughts and dispositions, which never actually proceed to the act of adultery or fornication. However they still defiled the soul. Whoever so much as looks upon a woman (not only another man’s wife, as some would have it, but any woman), to lust after her, has committed adultery with her in his heart, Matt. 5:28. This command forbids not only the acts of fornication and adultery, but all appetites of them, the lusting after the forbidden object. For this is the beginning of the sin, it is conceived in lust (Jas. 1:15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death). Where lust is dwelt upon and approved of, it is a bad step towards the sin. The wanton desire is rolled under the tongue as a sweet morsel. It is the commission of sin, as far as the heart can do it. It wants nothing more but a convenient opportunity for the sin to manifest.
Lust is a conscience confused or biased. Biassed if it says nothing against the sin and baffled if it does not prevail in what it wants. The feeding of the eye with the sight of the forbidden fruit looks till it lusts, or looks to gratify the lust. The eye is both the inlet and outlet of a great deal of wickedness of this kind, witness Joseph’s mistress (Gen. 39:7), Samson (Jdg. 16:1), David, (2 Sam. 11:2). We read of eyes full of adultery, that cannot cease from sin, (2 Pet. 2:14 With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning).
Hedges around the law of heart-purity
We have a need to make a covenant with our eyes. Just as holy Job did. To make this bargain with them that they should have the pleasure of beholding the light of the sun and the works of God, provided they would never fasten or dwell upon anything that might lead to impure imaginations or desires, Job 31:1.
This forbids also the using of any other of our senses to stir up lust. If ensnaring looks are forbidden fruit, much more unclean conversations and flirting, the fuel and bellows of this hellish fire. These precepts are hedges around the law of heart-purity, Matt. 5:8. Those who dress and expose themselves, with designs to be looked at and lusted after (like Jezebel who painted her face and tied her head, and looked out at the window) are no less guilty. Men sin, but devils tempt to sin.
Such looks and flirtatious behaviour are so very dangerous and destructive to the soul. Christ says it is better to lose the eye and the hand that offend then to give way to the sin, and perish eternally in it, Matt. 5:29-30. Corrupt natures object against the prohibition of heart-adultery, “It is a hard saying, who can bear it? Flesh and blood cannot but look with pleasure upon a beautiful person. It is impossible to avoid lusting after and flirting with such an object.” Such arguments cannot be overcome by reason, and therefore must be argued against with the terrors of the Lord.
We are to live a life of self-denial
In the prevention of these fleshly lusts it is prescribed a severe operation. If your right eye or hand offends you, or cause you to offend, by wanton glances or gazing upon forbidden objects. Or if the eye and the hand have become so accustomed to these wicked practices and there is no other way to restrain them (which, blessed be God, through His grace, there is), it is better for us to pluck out the eye, and cut off the hand. This even though the right eye and the right hand are the more honourable and useful. If this must be submitted to, at the thought of which startles us, how much more must we resolve to bring it into subjection.
We are to live a life of mortification and self-denial and keep a constant watch over our own hearts. We need to suppress the first rising of lust and corruption within us and resist the beginnings of sin. Even to decline the company of those who will be a snare to us, though ever so pleasing. For it will keep us out of harm’s way. We are to seek unto God for His grace, and depend upon that grace daily, and so to walk in the Spirit, that we may not fulfil the lusts of the flesh. This will be as effectual as cutting off a right hand or pulling out a right eye. It is against the grain of flesh and blood and the destruction of the old man.
If we care about our own bodies
Because we are loathe to hear such rough things. (Isa. 30:10 They say to the seers, “See no more visions!” and to the prophets, “Give us no more visions of what is right! Tell us pleasant things, prophesy illusions). It is profitable for you that one of your members should perish, though it be an eye or a hand and not that your whole body should be cast into hell. It is not unbecoming for a minister of the gospel to preach of hell and damnation. In fact he must do it, for Christ Himself did it. We are unfaithful to our trust, if we do not give warning of the wrath to come.
There are some sins from which we need to be saved with fear, particularly fleshly lusts. These are such natural brute beasts that cannot be controlled except by being frightened. They cannot be kept from a forbidden tree, unless by a cherubim with a flaming sword.
When we are tempted to think it is hard to deny ourselves, and to crucify fleshly lusts, we ought to consider how much harder it will be to lie forever in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone.
He knows what will be to our advantage.
Those who do not know or do not believe what hell is would rather venture their eternal ruin in those flames, than deny themselves the gratification of a base and brutish lust. In hell there will be torments for the body. The whole body will be cast into hell, and there will be torment in every part of it. So that if we care about our own bodies, we shall possess them in sanctification and honour, and not in the lusts of uncleanness.
Even those duties that are most unpleasant to flesh and blood, are profitable for us. Our Master requires nothing from us but what He knows will be to our advantage.
Adapted from the Matthew Henry Commentary
Prayer for the Day
Father I come to You. Help me to swim against the tide of this world and not partake in its perversions. Cause me to guard my eyes and ears and to prevent anything from taking root in my heart and mind that leads to lust. May I choose wisely what I look at and what I hear and be ruthless with sin. Urge me to seek to prevent others from sinning and to demolish any strongholds of lust within myself and that of others.
Prevent me from heart-adultery, adulterous thoughts and dispositions. May I never dwell upon or approve of lust. Cause me to make a covenant with my eyes never fasten or dwell upon anything that might lead to impure imaginations or desires.
May I be serious in living a life of mortification and self-denial and keep a constant watch over my own heart. Cause me to suppress the first rising of lust and corruption within me and so resist the beginnings of sin. Convict me to decline the company of those who will be a snare to me and me to them.
May I continually seek You for Your grace, and depend upon that grace daily, and so to walk in the Spirit, that I may not fulfil the lusts of the flesh. May I be faithful to my trust to give warning of the wrath to come. When I am tempted to think it is hard to deny myself, and to crucify fleshly lusts, may I consider how much harder it will be to lie forever in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone. In the name of Christ I pray. Amen.