Sometimes you read a blog that must be responded to. Below is a link to a blog on The Christian Myths of Lust. After the linq below, you can read Peter Martin rebuttal of the article.
1 Peter 1:22 “Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart.”
Recently I read an article entitled “Christian Myths: Lust” which focuses on Matthew 5:28 and how we are to deal with this passage as Christian men. “But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Now there were good things in this article that I would like to mention first. The article does condemn the idea of using the “law” to beat our fleshly sinful nature. There is a thought in the church today that in order to have purity and righteousness with Jesus, we need to focus on the law, meaning a list of things that we can or can’t do in order to gain that righteousness. So in regards to this particular sin of sexual lust, what this mindset would tell me to do in order to deal with this is that I need to force myself to not think about lustful things in my own strength because I know that it is wrong. This mindset is what led Paul to write Romans 7:15 “For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.”
In this chapter Paul expresses the pain of struggling with controlling his thoughts and his heart that constantly rebel against God, and this chapter is one that I can most definitely relate to in my own struggles. For years I struggled in the darkness of porn addiction, constantly yearning for freedom, not wanting to lust, not wanting to fantasize about or objectify women, but finding that what I willed to do, I couldn’t do, but that which I hated, I was practicing. This mentality of trying to change myself for the sake of God, led only to more failure, deeper addiction, and mind numbing amounts of guilt while walking in the darkness of un-confession. Understanding the law and trying our hardest will never give us freedom from our sin, at best all we will find is a physical abstinence from sin, but in our hearts we will still be thinking our impure thoughts and lusting after our old life; and Paul makes this abundantly clear in Colossians 2:20 “Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations- do not touch, do not taste, do not handle, which all concern things which perish with using- according to the commandments and doctrines of men? These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.”This is also true of the churches’ attempt to chain lust in the church through rules and regulation. I would also agree with this article, that segregating men and women, sticking to ridiculous dress codes, and constantly fearing affairs between church members is not the way to deal with our flesh.
So while the article does show the failure of our own flesh to set us free, it makes a crucial error in denying the purpose of the law and the power of Christ working in our hearts toward wonderful purity. The primary focus of the article is actually on the idea that, since we can’t fight our lustful desires, we should instead not resist them and eventually that sin will lose it’s negative appeal over us. Unfortunately this logic doesn’t stand up in light of the word of God when it comes to dealing with your flesh, Proverbs 27:20 “Hell and Destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied.” The idea that indulging my flesh will make it better simply doesn’t hold water, and it is the same twisted logic that keeps addicts in bondage, always repeating the phrase, “one last time, or one last cigarette, or one last drink… and then I’ll get it out of my system and quit.” Now I do not doubt the sincerity of the author of this article in that him getting rid of the “wrongness appeal” of lust he now doesn’t focus on it as much, but what this hasn’t done is give him a genuine purity of heart. And for someone like me who has been an addict, if I took this mentality I would sink deep into my sin again.
Not to mention the fact that as I read the words that he used about women calling them “sexy”, “hot”, and things like that made me physically cringe because I know my own heart in using words like this. What I learned from growing up in this lustful world that is saturated with porn, is to be selfish toward women and to objectify them and to only enjoy them based on what they could do for me. One argument against the evil of lust that this article uses is that the Greek word for lust that Jesus uses is a word that means to “covet”. I really didn’t understand this argument since I firmly agree with that definition, lust is coveting, or wrongfully and selfishly wanting something that isn’t yours for your own use, after all, love doesn’t seek it’s own, while lust can only seek it’s own. And this is the exact mentality that I lived in for so many years, seeing everyone lustfully, always seeking my own in all my relationships. In all the years I spent lusting after the beauty of women, I never once thought about honoring them, serving them, or bettering them in any way. Even the nice things that I did were only an extension of my own selfishness and desiring a particular response or return of favor from those I was serving. I simply knew that it felt good for me to objectify women and to fantasize about them, I was completely self seeking, not at all like the selfless love that Jesus demonstrates to us. He then also makes the point that it isn’t wrong because God created women beautiful and he is simply admiring this beauty and admiring their intelligence that God gave them as he sees these women and talks to them. Not one porn addict would tell you that he doesn’t see beauty in these women, and even atheists can enjoy the beauty of a woman and enjoy her intelligence in a conversation, but their admiration is manifested in lust and doesn’t bring one ounce of glory to God.
I believe that God did create women to be beautiful, and I would agree with him that the church trying to ignore this beauty or cover it up has led to more harm than good. But there is a balance, like in all things, and that balance is found in Romans 1:24 “Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.” God’s creation is truly beautiful, but notice the mistake that these people fell into, they saw the beauty of the creation and stopped there and worshiped the creation, instead of seeing this beauty as a sign pointing to a far more beautiful Creator. And understanding the beauty of the creation in a God glorifying way is the path to purity that we as Christians should be on. But this still leaves us with a problem, how do we gain this new purity if not through the law or indulging our flesh?
1 Corinthians 12:31 “And yet I show you a more excellent way….”
This verse is the end of chapter 12 of 1 Corinthians and leads us right into chapter 13 which is all about God’s perfect love. We as Christians need to understand, that there is nothing wrong with the law, Jesus’ statement about lust wasn’t meant to just be ignored, but at the same time it was never intended for us to try to fulfill in our flesh. The purpose of the law is to convict us of sin, in order to show us our own inability to make it to God in our own strength. So in the beginning of the article when the author expresses his frustration with Matthew 5:28 because he had these uncontrollable desires to lust but then was told not to, was actually the intention of this law. Galatians 3:24 “Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” If we look to the law to set us free than we missed the point, the law shows us all as sinners, and that is what makes Jesus so beautiful to a sinner like me. Jesus fulfilled the law, was tempted in all ways and yet without sin, laid down His perfect life on a cross, and has set me free from the condemnation that the law brings. Now that I am justified by grace, and am now a child of God, by His grace alone, I have freedom from guilt and shame, and I also have the ability to gain freedom by the power of the Holy Spirit working in me. Colossians 1:27 “To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory,” My hope as a Christian rests only in the work of Christ in me alone, to do in me what I could never do in myself. Freedom in the Christian life doesn’t happen by saying “I think I can” but instead in knowing that we can’t, but Jesus always can. This is how we can glorify God even in our weakness, freedom from sin comes through humility and surrender, not in strength and willpower.
I am so unbelievably thankful for the purity that God has been giving me these past couple years, daily renewing my mind from all of the garbage that I put in it over the years, and daily training me in how to love out of a pure heart as opposed to lusting out of a corrupt heart. And all praise, honor, and glory goes to Him alone who broke my chains and set me free; you see my freedom didn’t come by me valiantly going out and slaying my flesh, but it came by Jesus washing my feet, and so for that all I can do is honor Him. Now, God is showing me how to love women out of a pure heart, no longer looking at every girl and fantasizing about her, or being nice to girls while secretly thinking about how I could be in a relationship with them if I wanted to. But now I truly see the unbelievable value that my Father has placed on each and every one of them, and I no longer yearn to objectify them with my eyes, but to honor them in purity. But this is a product of God’s perfect love working its way through me, not in me somehow mastering my thoughts. I also want to emphasize though, I don’t always see girls in this purity, I still do daily fight with my flesh in this way. On the days that I can see girls in purity, I don’t let my eyes linger in order to respect these girls and I thank God for the purity that He is giving me; but I certainly don’t fantasize about them and call that respect. And on the days where it is harder for me to not lust, I tend to avert my eyes and I keep in prayer with Jesus taking these thoughts captive unto Him and thanking Him that He enables me to do that. And every day I fight, I know that more and more of my flesh is dying, and the closer I get to Jesus, the more I enjoy Him alone, and the more I see I need to grow, I am certainly not perfect but my joy is in pursuing Christ, Philippians 3:12 “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.” I haven’t attained yet, but I will daily press on toward my prize and treasure in Christ, daily seeing how much greater His perfect love is, and how much more joy comes from serving rather than being served. Oh how I pray we would be brothers and sisters in Christ who desire to love one another fervently and with a pure heart, not abstaining out of fear of the law or giving into our lustful natures and saying that we are honoring God, God’s way is so much more beautiful and pleasurable.
Psalm 36:8 “They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house, and You give them drink from the river of Your pleasures.”