Lust, a strong sexual desire for another woman in the improper context, is so common in today’s society that no one gives it a second thought anymore. Today we are told that it is completely normal. In fact, it is so normal that almost every TV show, magazine, advertisement, and immodest dress is literally inviting us to lust. Their very function is to incite lust, to praise lust, and then to fulfill that lust. Men are like stupid fish: every time a bait arrives, they open their pants and get hooked over and over again. Far easier to pretend that there is nothing wrong with lust, or to play with lust, than it is to fervently resist it. But the Bible commands us to do what seems impossible in our day and age. Joseph fled from lust (Gen 39:1), Job swore to keep his eyes pure (Job 31:1), and Paul tells us to direct our burning desire for marriage (1 Cor 7:9). To be clear, in my experience it is possible to strongly desire a woman without sexual thoughts. That’s not wrong and is not what I mean by lust.
As Christians, we already know lust is wrong, but we do not treat it as serious as we should because we are so consumed with our desire for another woman that we play with lust. We think, “How far can I go without sinning?” rather than asking, “How far away can I keep away from the temptation to sin?” If you play with fire, you will burn in fire. We do not fear the LORD as we ought to, and because we do not see how great of a sin it is, we do not hate the sin as we ought to. We may even tell ourselves, “Well as long as I do not have sex, then it’s okay!” But the Bible says if we lust in our hearts, we have already sinned. We have to stop the thoughts, but we dwell on such lustful thoughts instead. Sometimes these thoughts occur in us uninvited such that the thought itself is not a sin, but it is the act of dwelling upon such thoughts that makes it a sin.
However, we create all kinds of excuses for our behavior. Imagine someone said, “As long as I don’t actually murder, it’s okay to want to murder someone!” Suppose this person even started shopping for murder weapons, touched them, and felt a sensation of great pleasure. We tell ourselves there’s nothing wrong with the gun in itself, nor is there anything wrong with touching, and surely there is nothing wrong with feeling pleasure. The only action that is wrong is murder. However, does this sound right to you? Of course not. Yet this is exactly what we do when we defend our lustful thoughts and actions. We think there’s nothing wrong with kissing a girl, touching her, and justify the pleasure as a part of loving her. After all, she wants it too and she feels loved when you want her so desperately! So what happens is you inevitably start touching her private parts.
Now you may start getting defensive: “How dare you say it’s wrong to kiss her! Now you’re being legalistic!” But just imagine a potential murderer responded to me by saying, “How dare you say it’s wrong to touch a gun!” Have they not completely missed the point to justify themselves? Of course it’s not wrong in itself to kiss or to touch a gun, but it is the flesh that is weak. No action is without context. If you have a history of lustful thoughts, then an action that may otherwise be harmless in itself can in fact be wrong for that person. Alcohol is not wrong in itself, for example, but people who have a tendency to get drunk should stay away from it altogether or only drink in situations where they’re not allowed to get drunk. The same applies to kissing. It really depends on the individual. If kissing leads to lustful thoughts, you need to stop it. For almost all men, they should only kiss either in a public location while there’s sunlight or should not kiss at all if they lack self-control.
Before you say, “But I’m not like most men,” please don’t fool yourself with such prideful self-righteousness. Have you ever watched porn? Have you ever unclothed a woman in your mind? And do you really want to find out just how weak you really are? Watch your pride because it will be your destruction. God hates the proud and you can count on Him to humble you. And do not dare to put to the test your self-control by thinking, “If I can be in control while kissing in public, I can be in control in a more private location!” Over and over again I see these kinds of justifications from guys and it needs to stop. Be honest with yourself. You need to (1) determine what lustful desires you have had and can have, (2) determine how vulnerable you are to such desires, and (3) figure out how to avoid situations that encourage such desires. Self-deception is such a dangerous thing in men that we must ask God to help us see our weaknesses so clearly that we can have no excuse.
All of this is of course easier said than done. I could yell, “Stop sinning!” to Christians all day but that’s not going to stop anyone from sinning. Commands (or God’s laws) are not in themselves going to stop us from sinning. The law rather reveals sin for what it is, for we would not recognize it as sin if it were not for the law. It is therefore very important to start by recognizing sin for what it is, so that then we can see our need for a remedy. That includes destroying any excuses that we offer in defense of sin. But some Christians may agree that lust is a sin and still wonder, “Why do we make such a big deal about lust?” That is a question that we will deal with another post. After that is addressed, we will be able to provide biblical remedies against lust. To all you guys out there, I understand the struggle, I really do. I’m not speaking to you from a place of righteousness but the exact opposite. Because I know my weaknesses and how wretched I am, I am in a sad way qualified to talk about it just as a murderer is qualified to talk about his own sin.