The Heart of the Matter: Love or Lust?








Sexual scandals continue to be in the headlines this year:

Bill Cosby

Jared Fogel

Joshua Duggan

Ashley Madison

Dennis Hassert

Charlie Sheen

The issues of temptation, sex and lust are still not often talked about among Christians in church, and is certainly mostly ignored by many. Unfortunately, we are widely known for what we are against,  rather that what we are for, which is: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

What we need to know ourselves and teach our children is that the difference between choosing to love or lust another person is tremendous. Here’s a challenge: Show me one verse in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation that says “Sex is sinful.”

There are none.

There’s not one single verse from Genesis to Revelation that says “Sex is sinful.” But there are many regarding the misuse of sex. It tells us to avoid sexual immorality, for it’s the one sin you commit against your own body. That’s not about sex. That’s about the misuse of sex. I define sin as something that is hurtful to your relationship to another human being or God. It’s a form of Spiritual adultery that separates us from His love and presence. As I’ve shared before, the Bible is not a rule or history book, it’s a love story about the ultimate relationship and intimacy God designed to have with us.

I share what I know about these subjects because I truly want God’s best in your life.

First, let’s look at the difference between Love and Lust in this video.

Lust is when we say, “I need you because I love you” and love is, “I love you, so I need you.” Lust only cares for itself. It is focused totally on the object of its desire in order to fulfill its own selfish desires. On the other hand, love is completely unselfish. Love has compassion for the object of its affection. Love does not expect anything in return. Lust is part of the material world attempting to satisfy one of the five senses. Lust’s sole aim is to satisfy the flesh. Love’s sole motive is to bestow affection. Love is when you devote yourself completely; Lust is when you abandon all feelings.

Here’s what I have learned:

  • Lust isn’t just a guy problem – it’s a human problem.
  • Unless we totally and honestly confront it, lust will destroy both our relationships and our lives.
  • I see sex now as a beautiful and powerful gift from God.
  • Sex is good and should be discussed because God invented it.
  • True intimacy with God is the starting point for having closer relationships with other people.

I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Matthew 5:28 (NLT)

For most Christian men this is an “Ouch! Been there, done that.” This is one of Jesus’ teaching about adultery and he raises the standard to include “mental infidelity.”  He is saying our motives, our thoughts and our fantasies matter. We need to be mentally monogamous as well as physically monogamous. This is such a high standard and it removes the option for destructive (yet very common) things like porn in a marriage.  Jesus’ teaching on sexuality shows us that there is something wrong with all of us – something that can only be fixed by what Jesus did for us on the cross and in His resurrection. The good news is that Jesus set the bar so high, we simply can not overcome lust by ourselves, so we need his help.

Because He died for me, I owe Him my all. And as a follower of Jesus, I’m bound to what He says about sex and morality.Jesus went to the heart issue and intensified the commands against immoral behavior in the Old Testament. So Jesus doesn’t just condemn adultery, for example, as does one of the Ten Commandments. Jesus condemns even the lust that leads to adultery, all with the purpose of offering us transformed hearts that begin beating in step with His radical demands.For example, He chose not to condemn the woman caught in adultery, but He did tell her to “go and sin no more.” you can’t be a genuine Christian without repentance. Everyone – including me – is guilty of sin, but Christianity hinges on repentance. We agree with God about our sin, and we turn from it and turn toward Jesus. When it comes to Christianity, this debate is not about sex versus other sins. It’s about whether or not repentance is integral to the Christian life.Joshua Harris wrote a great book called Sex isn’t the Problem, Lust is. In it, sexuality is utterly Biblical; but rooted in grace. He acknowledges and even celebrates the fact that God made us as sexual beings. He doesn’t trample on attraction as a sin. He thanks God for his goodness in making men and women to be drawn to one another in complimentary ways and points to the precious gift of marriage as God’s intended setting for the fullest expression of our sexuality.

Harris also reminds us of the Bible’s clear teaching that lust (which he defines as “craving sexually what God has forbidden”) in any form is a sin, which, like all sins, must be punished by the God who created us. The good news of the Gospel then is that Jesus Christ has paid in full for all of our sins by taking our punishment on the Cross, and that He rose from the dead to give us new life in Himself provides the foundation for this book.

He states “We can work to destroy and put lust to death work with all of our hearts and all of the strength we have in Christ because He has set us free already from sin’s penalty, which is death. And because Christ’s Spirit now is at work within us, we have true hope for progress against our sin in this life and the promise of perfection in the next.”

So lust is really the sin of putting your desire in something other than God. It’s not lust to be attracted to someone or notice that he or she is good looking. It’s all about letting creation point you back to the creator, not yourself. So please know that neither sex nor sexuality is our enemy. We just need to rescue our sexuality from lust so we can experience it as God intended. The consequences of sex outside of God’s best may be more noticeable than other sins, but in the eyes of God, sin is sin. All of it offends and all of it impacts our relationship with Him. It’s really a form of idolatry. Lust is neither a sexual addiction, nor a disease or merely brain functioning. Lust is a sinful rebellion that refuses to make God the center of all existence. The lack of self-control is brought by the refusal to honor the Creator as God.

In fact, any sexual activity that takes place outside of the marriage covenant between a husband and wife is sinful. What’s more, Jesus takes this sexual ethic a step further and goes to the heart of the matter. That means that any time I even lust after someone else, I am sinning. Jesus’ radical view of sexuality shows all of us up as sexual sinners, and that’s why He came to die. Jesus died to save lustful, both homo- and heterosexual sinners and transform our hearts and minds and behavior.

If you still don’t think that lust is a problem, bad for you, or that Porn is a form of “legalized prostitution” etc… please watch and consider this:

The truth is that lust and addictions are never satisfied, and Porn kills love. Please read “7 Lies Pornography Wants You To Believe.”

Ignoring this issue is a grave mistake. Labeling it a “not harmful to anyone” is worse. As Christians we are not called to pass judgment on things that are “passable” for society. We are called to be followers of Christ, and become more like Him.

The church should not stop teaching that sex is designed for marriage. But I do think there is something seriously wrong with the way we’ve handled the conversation.  If our reason for saving sex until marriage is because we believe it will make sex better or easier for us, we’re not only setting ourselves up for disappointment, but we’re missing the point entirely.  We hold certain beliefs about the sacredness of marriage and about God’s intentions and wishes for humanity, and we honor these regardless of whether they feel easier or harder. In the meantime, we have a lot of work to do correcting the distorted ways we talk about sex and sexuality, especially to our youth.

“Between the pervasiveness of sex on the internet and all the entertainment media available to young people today, we dare not ignore the devastating impact on our kids. We owe our children relevant answers as to why God’s plan for relationships and sex protects and provides for their future.” ~ Josh McDowell

Both men and women can and are finding hope in God’s grace and learning the secrets to lasting change. When you are not bound by pornography or past sexual experiences, you are free to love without restraints. Today’s culture may disagree, but self control and discipline will produce good fruit in your marriage as well if your are single. The fight for purity can be long and difficult but I have learned that it truly matters.  Remember that your external actions are an overflow of your heart’s desires. So, having sex is simply an outpouring of a heart and mind filled with lust and impure thoughts. There is no distinction between adultery (having sex) and porn, masturbation, or lust (other means). What matters is the condition of your heart.  So the goal for Christian purity isn’t physical abstinence as much as it is a heart free from impurity and lust.

With God’s help, you can close the gap between the person you are and the person you want to be. He sees and knows your potential, and desires His best for you.

So if you struggle with sexual sins, lust and/or pornography, know there is hope, healing, help and freedom available through faith in Christ and with these resources:

There is also a new book by Tim Chaddick called The Truth about Lies: The Unlikely Role of Temptation in Who You Will Become  

In it he shares: “Temptation has a revealing effect, uncovering the heart’s desires, proving both the depth and direction of your conviction. It shows what you’re really committed to, what you really care about, what has captured your deepest affections. The type of person we become—courageous, fearful, paranoid, brave, stingy, generous—is shaped by what we love the most. The trouble is, according to the Bible, our loves are all out of order. Will I be willing to admit a wrongdoing when I am convicted by God’s Spirit or will I choose to bury it because I love appearing faultless in front of people? Will I be willing to admit my need for correction or will I choose a façade because I love appearing right before others? Will I say no when I am asked to overwork or will I say yes because I love to be needed? The greatest temptations lure us by replacing truth with lies, authenticity with appearance, and love of God with love of self.

Like it or not, these choices must be made daily. And our choices have consequences not only affecting our own souls but the souls of those around us for good or bad. But this reality should neither lead us to denial nor leave us in despair. Because the topic of temptation raises the issues of the heart, it’s not enough just to have some good principles in place hoping that through our rule-keeping or image-management we will actually bring inside-out change. Temptation is a battle but it’s not just about winning or losing, it’s about discovering who you really are. And what you love most. This devotion is about how the gospel so transforms us that even moments of temptation become the training ground for a life of abundance as our hearts are radically reshaped and reordered by the love of Jesus for us.  Because ultimately, the key to facing temptation is not a principle. It’s a person.

Temptation isn’t merely about winning or losing a battle. It’s about discovering who you truly are. And what matters most.On a daily basis, we are all tempted to enjoy the gifts of this world while making the Giver optional or irrelevant in our quest for life. But what if, in God’s purposes, temptation is not merely an obstacle to overcome but an opportunity to flourish in faith?Living in the truth exposes lies and turns moments of temptation into character-shaping opportunities, powerfully displaying our true identity as followers of Jesus.”

No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it. 1 Corinthians 10:13 The Message

Thank you for taking the time to read this, and I hope that this will bless and encourage someone going through a similar struggle. I just want to say that lust is a VERY dangerous sin that you will only overcome with God’s grace and help, and you need to put your trust and confidence in Jesus that he will connect you with the right person for you to spend your life with.

A point to ponder: Have we really tasted the goodness of God to the degree that we want nothing less than satisfaction in Him?

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