-- by James A. Johnson (September 28-29, 1999).
It is a thorn to many persons in the young adult generations. It preys upon the hearts of many young men in the disguise of advertisements, movies, and sitcoms. It turns its ugly head at the click of a mouse on the internet. It exercises its poisonous rituals at local bars on weekend nights. It's lust. I cannot begin to list the many Bible verses that speak out against lust. Some of them are Job 31:1, Matthew 5:28, 1 Thessalonians 4:5, and Hebrews 13:4. These just scratch the surface. Lust feeds into sexual sins such as pre-marital sex and extramarital sex, and it can lead to bondage to such things as pornography and masturbation. There are many excuses to lust and feeding a sexual sin. These excuses are out of self-deception or the enemy himself. In this article, I will mention the excuses and challenge them with the TRUTH. Next, I will list consequences to lust and benefits to purity. Finally, I conclude with exhortations and encouragement, and believe me when I say that this document is written as much for me as it is for you. Praise be to God. The following words are applicable for men and women and for more than just the sin of lust. Yet, this document focuses on lust and is written from a male perspective and geared towards men.
So, what are the excuses that are used to give into lust?
Excuse #1: It's biological, I'm made that way.
TRUTH: God supplies you His grace and calls you to holiness. See Leviticus 11:44-45, Leviticus 19:2, Leviticus 20:7-8, 2 Corinthians 12:7-9, and 1 Peter 1:13-16. God loves us too much to leave us just as we are. Leave what is behind and press on in Christ (see Philippians 3:13-14).
Excuse #2 (for those private sexual sins): I'm not hurting anybody. No one else is involved.
TRUTH: You are hurting your relationship with God. You are involved. God is involved. Your mind and how you relate to others is also involved.
Excuse #3: I can't help it.
TRUTH: All things are possible with God (see Matthew 19:26 and Mark 10:27). And again, He supplies you His grace (see 2 Corinthians 12:7-9).
Excuse #4: I don't have a wife (with whom I can exercise my passions).
TRUTH: Is that all a wife is good for? Isn't there much more to marriage than sex? Marriage does not remove sexual struggle. 1 Corinthians 7:5 speaks of how the married couple can be tempted. Seek to submit your sex drive to God before you are married and while you are married. Marriage is not a free reign to unlimited sex. Marriage is not about self-gratification, but about selfless love (i.e. A wife's submission and a husband's willingness to love the wife as himself even to the point of dying for her. Refer to Ephesians 5:21-33). A husband and wife are a model of Christ and His Church. Did Christ just see what He could get out of the Church for His own selfish pleasure, or did He nurture her and love her selflessly? Even though she would cheat on Him by entertaining worldliness in centuries to come, He died for her! A wife is worth dying for, not to be lowered to be a piece of meat used for self-gratification. Sex is reserved for marriage and sex in marriage is an act of love for the other glorifying to God, not selfish love that glorifies self.
Excuse #5: I've got to get it out of my system.
TRUTH: Does that mean when you feel like killing someone, you should just do it? Does that mean when you are mad at someone, then you are not to manage your anger? Are we to act just on our impulses and our own wills instead of submitting our wills to the way of God? There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads only to death. Refer to Proverbs 14:12 and 16:25 (Twice within a couple of chapters of one another! That calls for emphasis!). Galatians 6:22-23 lists the characteristics of the fruit of the Spirit, one of which is self-control.
Excuse #6: I'm imperfect; I have a sinful nature.
TRUTH: Yes, these are true, but just as Satan tried to tempt Jesus in the wilderness with true statements in deceitful ways, so these can be used to allow giving into temptation. There is struggle, but Christ overcomes. See John 16:33 and 1 John 4:4. Further, no temptation is so great that there is not a way out of it. See 1 Corinthians 10:13.
Excuse #7: It's OK to be attracted to women.
TRUTH: Yes, it is very much OK for a man to be attracted to a woman. Yet, attraction is not lust! Remember also Job 31:1 and Matthew 5:28.
Excuse #8 (pornography): It's just a picture.
TRUTH: Why waste time with just a picture? Do you know the woman? How lost she must be! Trust God to meet your needs and if it be His will, He will provide a real relationship. God created sex and it is only fulfilled as He intended in a Christian marriage. If a spouse is not God's will, He can and will meet your needs. He's God! He has your BEST interest in mind!
Excuse #9: I've messed up already, so I might as well go ahead and sin.
TRUTH: Why should you not go ahead and sin? Because of the CONSEQUENCES! Consequences may be disease, guilt, hardened heart, hurt fellowship with God, self-condemnation, unwanted pregnancy, and opening up avenues for evil to have control in your life (bondage). It's not too late to turn to God. Even if a candle is already lit and halfway melted, it is not too late to blow it out before it sets the table on fire.
Excuse #10: I will go ahead and do it, because God will forgive me.
TRUTH: What an abuse of His grace! He gives grace that you may freely live for Him, not as a license to sin. If one is truly repentant, then he or she is forgiven. Planning to do it and just ask for forgiveness is an unrepentant heart. Repent, really, of your unrepentance and ask for forgiveness. Shall we sin more and more so that God can pour out His grace all the more? NO WAY!!!! Paul literally wrote about that in Romans 6:1-2. God deserves your devotion and gratitude, not sin in return for the gift He has given you in Christ.
So there are some of the excuses a man might use in committing sexual sins (lust), but each one is exposed by the Truth. Consider again the consequences as introduced in confronting Excuse #9. What are the potential painful consequences if one continues in lust and sexual sin?
- To future marriage (God-willing): A development of unhealthy relating and expectations. Betrayal of one's spouse (Hebrews 13:4).
- To family: Allowing shame and embarrassment to enter the family.
- To one's job: Think about sexual harassment (not to be politically correct, but really think about the consequences such as loss of trust or job).
- To mental health: Psychologically, one might become divided and tormented in his or her mind.
- To one's reputation: This should be self-explanatory. What happened to Michael Jackson and Pee Wee Herman during their escapades of alleged sexual sin?
- To one's self-image: Shame and guilt and decreasing conformity to Christ-likeness.
- To finances: For those who invest in pornography or prostitution, there is a loss of finances.
- To time due to time wasted on sexual sin.
- To one's future: It would be a painful disappointment if the any or some or all of the aforementioned consequences occurred.
Now, what are the benefits of purity? That is, what are the consequences to abstaining from sexual sin?
- To one's relationship with God: More trust in God, more freedom to serve and live for God.
- To one's spouse (God-willing): Healthier relating, better intimacy, considering the spouse's needs and seeing the spouse as a child of God.
- To one's children (God-willing): Being a true model, not a deceiver who puts up a good front. See Proverbs 22:6.
- To one's mental health: Peace of mind.
- To one's reputation: Sustenance for one's witness by saving it pure for the marriage bed (Hebrews 13:4) and walking the walk, not just giving lip service.
- To one's friends: Not fearing them and thus not withdrawing due to the sin and shame.
- To one's self-image: Self (deception and sinful nature) can be denied and instead be conformed to be more like Christ. See Luke 9:23 and Galatians 2:20.
- To one's finances: You are not wasting it, such as squandering on a picture of a surgically-produced lost woman or a phone call with a person who could care less about anything but the $2.99 you spent on the call.
- To time: A more constructive use of it -- not losing time to hours of rituals and activities centered around and leading to sexual sin.
- To the future: Encouragement, hope, spiritual growth.
With all of those potential negative consequences of lust and all of the benefits of purity, it makes sense to seek purity. Submit yourself to God and resist the devil and his temptations in lust (see James 4:7). Take every thought captive to Christ! This is only possible by walking in the Spirit (God's leading). You cannot do it on your own. This war is spiritual. Refer to 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 and Ephesians 6:10-18.
Even Paul struggled with conflict in his mind over wanting to do one thing, but doing another. Read Romans 7:7-25. Paul feels wretched. Yet, in the very next chapter, he writes that there's no condemnation for those who are in Christ; that if God is for us, none can be against us; that all things work together for the good of those called according to God's purpose; and that nothing can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus (Read all of Romans 8). God loves you as you are. You don't have to have the act cleaned up perfectly for Him to love you. Trust Him to change you. No one is worthy of God's love, but He loves you anyway. Commit to Him and rededicate your life to Him. Serve God, not your lust. He is the only One who can change you. Donít settle for cheap imitations of what God wants for you. There is a reason He is called a jealous God. He doesn't want you to squander your efforts, time, and emotion on cheap imitations. "Sinful sexual behavior always leads to despair" writes Bill Perkins in When Good Men Are Tempted (p. 133). Call on God to help you stop the sin at the rituals that lead to it. What God offers is much better! Confess and repent now. You don't have to give in. Even if the door to your girlfriend's or boyfriend's bedroom is open, it is NOT too late to say, "NO." Have a date where you don't leave feeling guilty. Offer your body to God and be transformed by the renewing of your mind (See Romans 12:1-2). A mindset is one thing, but a heart sealed by the Holy Spirit is another. Call on the Name of Jesus!
If you have already sinned or are in a state of sinning, read the above paragraph again and then read this one. God does not want you to walk around defeated. If you are a Christian, you have victory in what Christ offers you. Trust God to supply the grace in your striving for repentance. You cannot do it on your own accord. Repentance and short accounts are needed now, yet change may take time. No change and lack of conviction are problems. Remember not to sin with the motive of increasing grace. Yet, know that even after the sin, the conviction you feel is the work of the Holy Spirit. Know that there is one unforgivable sin -- blasphemy of the Holy Spirit (Mark 3:29) which in context implies denying who Christ is (which means leaving this life without knowing Christ). That is not the sin of lust. Lust is not the unforgivable sin. That is not to make light of lust. Sin is still sin, but remember God's forgiveness. Remember the blood of Christ. Don't make light of His sacrifice by sinning or by saying it is not good enough to cover your sin. A co-worker once asked me if being a Christian meant I felt guilty all the time. By no means! There's freedom in Christ. Use freedom not to sin, but to know you can walk in victory because of the work of Christ! Jesus has set the Christian free. You don't have to serve your old master any more. You don't have to give in to lust (None of the excuses above seem valid!). Take the following with you:
"I remember my affliction and my
the bitterness and the gall.
I well remember them,
and my soul is downcast within
Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:
Because of the LORD's great love, we
are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness"
-Lamentations 3:19-23, NIV.
New International Version (NIV). (1988). The Holy Bible. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Corporation.
Perkins, Bill. (1997). When Good Men Are Tempted. Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530: Zondervan Publishing House.