"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" (Matthew 5:27-28).
With these words, Jesus is challenging the hearts of his followers. You see, many of us read these words and profess to agree with them, but do not obey them. Instead, we let lust permeate our hearts and our thoughts, causing us to live in a high-light reel of fantasy, which has the potential to cause us to fall into illicit behavior. It was lust that drove Herod Antipas to murder a prophet (Matt. 14:6-12) and it was lust that led David to have an affair with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11).
So then, what is lust? In his commentary on Matthew’s gospel, Greg Keener defines lust as the deliberate harboring of desire for an illicit relationship. Lust is in opposition to love; it dehumanizes another person into an object of passion. Love values, respects and seeks to serve others, but lust is a selfish passion that leads us to commit adultery in our hearts. Lust has the power to persuade us that we will be happier if we embrace it, and it may be true that in the short run things may be more pleasant. But, the affects of lust are harmful to you and to your spouse, because, as long as you lust for another, you will not be the same or feel the same with your spouse. It degrades your partner and cuts right across the self-esteem and worth of them.
Lust gets its power by lying to us in order to deceive us. It preys upon our ignorance of God’s promises and claims to offer pleasures beyond what we are currently experiencing in our lives. By believing in these lies and superficial pleasure, lust has the power to destroy the things that matter the most to us. How do we prevent this from happening? How do we fight lust? John Piper writes, “The fight of faith against lust is the fight to stay satisfied with God.” The psalmist writes, “you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand” (Psalm 16:11). So, unsheathe the sword of the Spirit, which is God’s word (Ephesians 6:17), and find joy and satisfaction in the promises of God.
This Week’s Challenge: When left unchecked, sinful desires are just as damaging to our righteousness as sinful actions. What sinful (lustful) desires are affecting your righteousness? This week, find one promise from God’s Word that can replace the superficial joy that lust brings. Some examples are: Philippians 4:8-9; Romans 8:6; Psalm 84:11; Matthew 5:6. What promise from God’s Word strengthens you?