The Truth about LUST
by Travis Bookout
The word “Lust” is used numerous times in the New Testament. It is basically a word that means a strong desire or craving. It is similar to the word “covetousness” in the 10 commandments. And it is extremely dangerous. Lust created Gollum. Sure, you can lust for good things (Luke 22:15; Phil. 1:23; 1 Thess. 2:17), but in Scripture, overwhelmingly the word for “lust” is used in a negative way. It is either a sin (Matthew 5:28), or it leads to sin (James 1:15). Whether it is lust for money, possessions, another person’s life, or another person’s wife, lust has the potential to kill you. So, before giving in, remember the truth about LUST.
Lie: Lust lies to you. Lust promises far more than it can deliver. Lust told Adam and Eve that they will “not” surely die when they ate the fruit. Lust told them that it will make them wise like God. It told them that the beautiful garden and provision from God was not enough. And it tells us the same things. Lust tells us we don’t have enough to be content, we need more. It tells us our house is not big enough, our spouse is not good enough, and our car is not fast enough. It tells us the lie that satisfaction and “the good life” is always just out of arms reach. We always need a little bit more money, sex, entertainment, and stuff to reach it.
Unsatisfying: Lust is unsatisfying. You might enjoy the momentary pleasure of that video on the internet, that evening with a woman that you’re not married to, or that recent impulse purchase at Sam’s Club. But soon enough, buyer’s remorse begins to arise. Guilt and regret spread throughout your soul. You do not see yourself as the person you want to be. You return to the empty, shallowness that you tried to fill with some forbidden fruit. And your lust returns stronger than ever. You begin chasing the high that you so desperately long for, only to be disappointed every time. It steals your satisfaction (and gratitude) with what you already have, and replaces it with an unsatisfied craving for more.
Selfish: Lust is not about satisfying or helping others. People usually don’t sit at home and crave mowing a widow’s lawn, or helping their spouse clean the bedroom. Lust is all about us. Jesus said that lusting after a woman is the same as committing adultery with her in the heart (Matthew 5:28). This is the ultimate way to devalue a person. A Princeton psychologist conducted an interesting study that showed men view scantily clad women as objects rather than humans. When you are in lust mode, you are not seeing a human being with goals, purpose, and intrinsic worth. You are seeing a means to satisfy your craving. You are seeing a tool that you can use to accomplish a task. A selfish, demeaning task.
Terrible: Lust does terrible things to you and others. How many people have been raped, killed, dehumanized, insulted, cheated, abandoned, impoverished, evicted, fired, and used because of lust? Lust devalues others and leaves you feeling empty, regretful, and dissatisfied. It harms your heart (Matthew 5:28), and it leads to your death (James 1:14-15). Over time it robs you of your humanity and decency. It is a terrible plague that is destroying the entire world (1 John 2:15-17).
The next time you begin to feel strong sinful cravings arising in your body and mind, change your environment. Fill that craving with something else. Give a friend a phone call, go for a run, stand outside, build a chair, read your Bible, do gymnastics, go to the store, put an ax through your computer, pray, give thanks for the blessings you already have, do something! Find hobbies, find help, and strive for satisfaction and contentment. Leave lust behind, because the truth is, lust is a terrible, selfish, unsatisfying, lie.