What is Lust?

A question came up during our men’s study on purity this week. What is considered lust? It seems that this would be pretty cut and dry when thinking about the subject. Is there a difference between admiring someone’s beauty or handsomeness and is there a point when such admiration crosses into lust? Let’s look at a couple of things. First, what is the definition of  lust? According to Webster’s there are two.

  • Lust (verb): to have an intense desire or need : crave; specifically : to have a sexual urge
So right off we see that lust is tied to sexual pleasure, intense sexual desire or the craving of sex. To find out the truth we must look at Scripture’s viewpoint of lust. There are two Greek words used frequently.
  • Epithumeo which means: to lust after, covet or of those who seek things forbidden
  • Epithumia which means: desire, craving, longing, desire for what is forbidden, lust
One of the best examples of how lust works is found in the Old Testament. In 2 Samuel 11:1-6 we find King David falling into this trap. That’s right David, the one who slew Goliath, wrote the Psalms, was a “man after God’s own heart.”
  • Then it happened in the spring, at the time when kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab and his servants with him and all Israel, and they destroyed the sons of Ammon and besieged Rabbah. But David stayed at Jerusalem. 2 Now when evening came David arose from his bed and walked around on the roof of the king’s house, and from the roof he saw a woman bathing ; and the woman was very beautiful in appearance. 3 So David sent and inquired about the woman. And one said, “Is this not Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite ?” 4 David sent messengers and took her, and when she came to him, he lay with her; and when she had purified herself from her uncleanness, she returned to her house. 5 The woman conceived ; and she sent and told David, and said, “I am pregnant.”

So how did this happen? Several things lead up to David’s sin. First, he was at the wrong place, at the wrong time. David should have been in battle instead of back home in Jerusalem. Second, he came upon a woman, Bathsheba, bathing, and did not turn away. We are told she was “very beautiful in appearance.” so he obviously looked at her long enough to arouse lust because we see that he inquired about the women. Now, even fully knowing she is a married woman, David sends messengers to bring her to his palace where he has sex with her. We later learn Bathsheba becomes pregnant, and to cover it up David work’s out to have her husband killed in battle.  That is a mind blower!

So how does this lust occur, when does it transpire, and how to we know if we are lusting or coveting.  Jesus tells us,
  • “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, 22 deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy , slander, pride and foolishness. 23 “All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.” (Mark 7:21-23)
  • “but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”(Matthew 5:28)
It occurs due to the heart of man, and our fallen, sinful nature. Also, by God’s standard, if you look at woman with a intense desire or sexual urge then you have broken the Commandment to “not commit adultery.” One could argue “I can’t help it…it’s not my fault they are so attractive or wore that outfit.” However, we have no excuse for falling into the temptation of viewing another person, other than your spouse, with sexual desire.  This includes sexual images, and pornographic material. James 1:14-15 further tells us “But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin ; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.” There lies the problem, sin. It comes from the world, and our sinful nature or flesh. 1 John 2:16 warns, “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.”

We will never fully escape the temptations of lust that may come our way. Thankfully, we in Christ, can depend on Him for self control, and the strength to avoid falling into sin. We also have the immense grace of God to forgive if we fall, repent, and seek forgiveness. We should guard our eyes, and to protect our heart. We should be wise, and avoid situations that may cause us to fall.
  • The eye is the lamp of the body ; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. 23 “But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness ! (Matthew 6:22-23)
  • Do not desire her beauty in your heart, Nor let her capture you with her eyelids. (Proverbs 6:25)
  • A prudent man sees evil and hides himself, The naive proceed and pay the penalty. (Proverbs 27:12)
  • Therefore , take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. (Ephesians 6:13)
  • if we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)

So what happens to David? Is he ever forgiven for his sinful act of lust? 2 Samuel 1-15 tells us that the Lord uses Nathan the prophet to confront David about his sin. God pronounces judgment upon David, Why have you despised the word of the LORD by doing evil in His sight ? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword, have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the sons of Ammon. 10 ‘Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’ 11 “Thus says the LORD, ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you from your own household ; I will even take your wives before your eyes and give them to your companion, and he will lie with your wives in broad daylight . 12 ‘Indeed you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, and under the sun.’ “
Then David repents, Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” And Nathan said to David, “The LORD also has taken away your sin ; you shall not die. Although David may not have been killed, there were still consequences. Soon after we learn that the child Bathsheba bore with David was struck with an illness by God, and dies. Later, David is not allowed the honor of building God’s temple.

I have read Psalm 51 many times, and like David used it as a personal plea to ask God to forgive me for my pornography addiction years ago. I can rest now for the forgiveness found in Christ Jesus. Like David my life has been spared but there were still painful losses, and consequences as a result of my lust. Through Jesus, and the power of the Holy Spirit I can live in victory, not fear over the lusts of the world. Ultimately, I know God is in control, and trust that He will use all things for good.

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