Perhaps one of the areas of life most prone to difficulty in our society today is the struggle to overcome lust in our lives. Lust is a selfish, consuming, counterfeit for love. It has been reported that at a Promise Keepers meeting two-thirds of the men admitted to having periodic struggles with sexual lust. When this is added to the problems in our society over a quest for money, eating, and buying things, the magnitude of this problem becomes readily apparent.
But what does this word lust mean? In the Greek three words can be translated lust. Orexis is translated lust in conjunction with homosexuality and means, “a desire, longing, craving for, an eager desire, lust, or appetite.” Pathos can also be translated as inordinate affection or lust. It means, “whatever befalls one, whether it be sad or joyous.” But it can also mean a passionate deed, either good or bad. Epithumia is translated as lust, concupiscence, desire, or to lust after. It means a “desire, a craving, a longing, a desire for what is forbidden, a lust, and it denotes a strong desire of any kind, both good and bad.” It is many times preceded by a descriptive term indicating the type of desire.
1. When our basic needs of the self for worth, significance, security, and acceptance are not fulfilled in life, the can lead to strong desires or lusts. A desire becomes a lust when we attempt to meet it through the flesh. Since meeting our needs through the flesh can never fully satisfy us, we enter a never-ending cycle of wanting more and more.
Ge 3:6 And when the woman saw that the tree [was] good for food (physical needs), and that it [was] pleasant to the eyes (wanting things that make us feel secure) , and a tree to be desired to make [one] wise (worth and significance) , she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. (love or acceptance)
2. Our basic lusts are for sensuous desires (love), things (that make us feel secure), and worth and significance.
1 Jo 2:15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, (sensuous desires) and the lust of the eyes, (desire for nice things) and the pride of life (striving for worth and significance), is not of the Father, but is of the world.
3. Lust resides in the heart of a man who wants to run his own life and meet his own needs.
Ps 81:11 But my people would not hearken to my voice; and Israel would none of me. 12 So I gave them up unto their own hearts' lust: and they walked in their own counsels. 13 Oh that my people had hearkened unto me, and Israel had walked in my ways!
4. Lust can bring dire consequences.
Ro 1:27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.
5. Lust becomes stronger when we are told not to do something.
Ro 7:7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.
Ro 7:8 But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead.
6. God commands us not to lust after evil things.
1 Co 10:6 Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.
7. Those who do not know God try to meet their needs through lust, which results in taking advantage of others and abuse.
1 Th 4:4 That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; 5 Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God: 6 That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified.
8. Lusts dissipate our lives and makes us unfruitful for God.
Mark 4:19 And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.
9. Lusts make us vulnerable to temptation and threaten to destroy the quality of this life and the life to come.
1 Ti 6:9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.
2 Ti 3:6 For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts,
10. Lust results in a loss of spiritual discernment.
2 Ti 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
11. The devil, who is filled with lust, can take such advantage of our vulnerability to lust, that it can even lead to lying and murder.
Jo 8:44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.
Tit 3:3 For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.
12. Lust wars against our very soul: mind, will, emotions, and spirit.
1 Per 2:11 Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;
13. Those who continue in lust become more and more corrupt as time passes.
2 Pe 2:10 But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, selfwilled, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities. 18 For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error.
Jude 1:16 These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men's persons in admiration because of advantage.
14. Lust can result in God giving us up to our own uncleanness so that we will learn from our consequences.
Ro 1:24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:
15. Lust eventually leads to sin and death.
Jas 1:14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. 15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.
16. Our vulnerability to lust is based on the ignorant belief that fulfilling our lust can really meet our needs.
1 Pe 1:14 As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance:
17. The antidote for lust is believing and acting on the promise of God that He will meet all our needs. Since God’s love and provision truly meets our needs, we are fully satisfied and are no longer motivated to seek to meet our needs through the flesh.
2 Pe 1:4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
Jas 4:2 Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.
18. We must put off all lust from our lives.
Eph 4:22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;
Col 3:5 Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:
Tit 2:12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;
19. In addition to putting off lust and any provision to fulfill our lust, we must seek God, purify our heart, and replace our lust with an intimate relationship with Jesus.
2 Ti 2:22 Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
Ro 13:14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.
20. Either, we will live in lust or in the will of God; we cannot have both!
1 Pe 4:2 That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. 3 For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries:
21. We are to do whatever it takes to eradicate lust from our lives.
Mt 5:28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. 29 And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. 30 And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.
22. The ultimate answer to overcoming lust is to walk according to the spirit.
Gal 5:16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
1. We must view lust as poison. The client will not usually be victorious over lust until he realizes that he must confront lust before it has taken hold in the mind, will, or emotions. Consequently, I suggest the analogy to clients that lust is poison. We can not take even one drop of it or we will eventually die. Just as one drink leads to another, so one taste of lust brings us into a bondage that will destroy our spiritual discernment, our desire for God, and our motivation to accomplish His will in our lives. Lust really brings death to all that is good in life.
2. Life has only two modes or experiences: freedom or bondage. I explain to the client that he will either experience complete freedom or he will be in bondage. It is not true that he can have a small taste of lust and return immediately to a life of freedom from lust. Even one taste will so affect him that it will take a significant recovery effort to escape again from the bondage that he has brought upon himself. This is because lust affects our will and our desire to do what is right and undermines our ability to do it.
Sometimes I use a skit our drama team performed at an outreach concert as an illustration. In the first scene, a man walked onto the stage with a small monkey on his shoulder. A second actor tried to warn him about “monkeys” but he liked this one and it could not hurt anything since it was so small. In the second scene the monkey had grown to significantly but the man explained that he had it completely under control and it did whatever he wanted it to do. Again he was warned, but he refused to listen. Finally, in the third scene a huge ape lumbered onto the stage holding the man upside down by the ankles. He said, “Now I see what you were warning me about.” Unfortunately, many of us will not listen until we first have to experience the bondage that results from entertaining a little lust in our lives.
The word lust means, “a strong craving or desire, or an intense sexual appetite.” (The New Webster’s Concise Dictionary of the English Language, 1997, edited by Sidney Landau) Lust is the flesh’s counterfeit for love. It is a strong selfish desire that leads to addiction, takes a man captive or is the basis for besetting sins. It is usually associated with sexual sin, which is an attempt to meet needs for love through the flesh. Lot’s first-born son, through incest with his eldest daughter, was Moab. The Moabites were those who lead the Israelites into fornication. Therefore, I believe that Moab represents lust.
Love and lust are very different. Love is personal, lust is impersonal. Love is focused on a particular object; lust is unfocused and capable of fixing on almost any object. Love tends toward faithfulness, lust is a wanderer. Love seeks stability, lust is short-lived and mercurial. Love is an affair of the mind and heart, lust is an affair of the emotions and hormones. Love is a matter of giving, lust is a matter of taking. Lust is increased in strength by a lack in other areas. Lust is not the same feeling or drive as love and, therefore, is not satisfied or resolved by married love. Lust depletes our drive, makes married sex less stimulating, and relationships less needed. Lust is like a drug and requires more to meet its need. In lust, evil provides more stimulation because it is really false intimacy. Lust destroys true intimacy. (Smalley, 1988)
The model for deliverance from lust is found in the story of Ehud. It begins in Judges Chapter 3. 10. We can use the shame of our past as motivation to completely defeat lust in our life.
1. Entertaining evil opens a door to lust.
Jud 3:12 And the children of Israel did evil (wickedness; to do hurt) again in the sight of the LORD: and the LORD strengthened Eglon (calf-like or idol of food and profit) the king of Moab (lust) against Israel, because they had done evil in the sight of the LORD.
2. No matter how long we have been controlled by lust, we can have a new beginning. The number eighteen is a combination or ten and eight. Ten stands for human infirmity and failure and eight stands for a new beginning. It is our choice.
Jud 3:14 So the children of Israel served Eglon the king of Moab eighteen years
3. The key to deliverance from lust comes through believing that we are so favored of God that He will meet all of our needs, thanking Him for what He has done and being willing to die to our immediate gratification in order to be fruitful. In order to win the victory over lust we will have to have an unusual approach. Ehud means, “I will give thanks or strong.” He was a Benjamite which means, “son of the right hand or favored of God” from Gera which means, “a grain,” (which must be willing to die to produce fruit). Ehud was left-handed which suggests he had an unusual approach or outlook on life.
Jud 3:15 But when the children of Israel cried unto the LORD, the LORD raised them up a deliverer, Ehud the son of Gera a Benjamite a man left-handed: and by him the children of Israel sent a present unto Eglon the king of Moab.
4. We must make the truth of God’s Word a a part of our character and strength. I believe that the two-edged dagger stands for the Word of God. It was an arms length (cubit) long suggesting that victory is within his grasp and hidden under his clothing (character) on his right thigh which stands for strength.
Jud 3:16 But Ehud made him a dagger which had two edges (God’s Word), of a cubit length and he did gird it under his raiment upon his right thigh (strength).
5. We cannot win the battle over lust by directly confronting it in our own strength and saying that we will not do its bidding any more. Doing this only make it worse. Lust must be dealt with by trusting God for deliverance. Ehud did not confront Eglon, but acted as if he was accepting Eglon’s domination by presenting him a present.
Jud 3:17 And he brought the present unto Eglon king of Moab: and Eglon [was] a very fat man. (the character of lust)
Jud 3:18 And when he had made an end to offer the present, he sent away the people that bare the present.
6. We must turn back from our secret idols or the objects of our lust. Lust itself can be an idol if we see it as a means to make our lives more exciting and fulfilled.
Jud 3:19 But he himself turned again from the quarries that [were] by Gilgal (where idols were made), and said, I have a secret errand unto thee, O king: who said, Keep silence (lust desires secrecy). And all that stood by him went out from him. (Lust wants it all for itself.)
7. Lust must be killed with the truth of the Word of God directed to the seat of the hunger. Ehud stabbed Eglon in the stomach with the dagger of the Word of God. Lust is based on inordinate desire. We must use God’s Word to convince ourselves that we do not have to have the things of this world to be happy.
Jud 3:20 And Ehud came unto him; and he was sitting in a summer parlour, which he had for himself alone. And Ehud said, I have a message from God unto thee. And he arose out of [his] seat. 21 And Ehud put forth his left hand, and took the dagger (God’s Word) from his right thigh, and thrust it into his belly (seat of hunger): 22 And the haft also went in after the blade; and the fat closed upon the blade, so that he could not draw the dagger out of his belly; and the dirt came out.
8. We must close forever the door to lust and lock it with accountability. When we realize the filth we encounter through lust, we will never want to go back to it. In the Hebrew, the word for “parlour” is better-interpreted “latrine.” To escape Ehud had to climb through and experience the filth of the latrine. This is much clearer in the New Living Translation (NLT) below.
Jud 3:23 Then Ehud went forth through the porch, and shut the doors of the parlour upon him, and locked them. (AV)
Jud 3:23 Then Ehud closed and locked the doors and climbed down the latrine and escaped through the sewage access. (NLT)
9. We can use the shame of the past as motivation to help us make a final end to lust and its allies. We can tell others that we have decided to entertain lust in our lives no longer.
Jud 3:27 And it came to pass, when he was come, that he blew a trumpet in the mountain of Ephraim, and the children of Israel went down with him from the mount, and he before them.
10. We need to block lust’s access to our life and not let any of it escape.
Jud 3:28 And he said unto them, Follow after me: for the LORD hath delivered your enemies the Moabites into your hand. And they went down after him, and took the fords of Jordan toward Moab, and suffered not a man to pass over.
11. Lust can be completely defeated.
Jud 3:29 And they slew of Moab at that time about ten thousand (the infirmity of man) men, all lusty (fat), and all men of valour (strength); and there escaped not a man.
12. You can have victory for a lifetime. Without lust, you can have rest.
Jud 3:30 So Moab was subdued that day under the hand of Israel. And the land had rest fourscore years.
Steps for Overcoming Lust
1. We must believe and thank God that He will meet our needs and we must be willing to die to our lust. It is our enemy. We must escape from our idols of lust and put as much distance between them and us as possible.
2. We must realize that God favors us no matter what we may have done.
3. We must understand that lust meets only the temporary desires of the flesh and never really satisfies our deepest needs.
4. We must make the truth of God a part of our character.
5. Victory is within our grasp, but we must use our sword (God’s Word) to get the victory.
6. We cannot defeat lust by trying to stop it in our own strength.
7. We must use the Word of God to attack the seat of the hunger (the belly) by trusting God to meet our deepest needs.
8. We must close and lock the door to lust. Accountability is necessary for long-term victory.
9. We must escape from our idols of lust and put as much distance between them and us as possible.
10. We can use the shame of our past as motivation to completely defeat lust in our life.