While there may be other things we can lust after, in our minds lust is most strongly associated with sexual sin. And the dictionary and the Bible confirm what we think. My dictionary defines lust as “an intense or unbridled sexual desire.” One of the Greek words in the Bible for lust is epithumia, meaning “a strong desire for what is forbidden.” Lust is based on the age-old lie that forbidden pleasures are the best.
The serpent used this lie in the Garden, when he tempted the woman by telling her that eating the forbidden fruit would make her “be like God” (Gen. 3:3-7). The fruit’s appearance, quality and power appealed to “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life” in Eve (1 Jn. 2:16). But she discovered that the fruit did not deliver what Satan said it would. The consequences of her sin were separation from God and curses that still touch each one of us today.
The Bible tells us that lust is a serious sin. Jesus said, “I say unto you that whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Mt. 5:28 KJV). And it also says that “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). When we entertain lustful desires, engage in fantasies and look at pornography (which is more available today than ever) we sin with our minds. Jesus said that the sin of lust is as real as committing the physical act of adultery. James described the temptation process and its end this way: “Every man is tempted when he is drawn away by his own lust and enticed. Then, when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin … death” (Jas. 1:14-15).
Lust has many destructive effects, but the most serious is that it messes with our ability to love God and relate to Him without shame. Lust makes us ever more selfish, and diminishes our ability to give and receive real love. Finally, lust forces us to live with ever-increasing guilt – because we know in our hearts that God did not make us to lust after, but to love one another.
To learn more about lust and its impact on us, read this month’s Features.
By Larry Ondrejack
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org