LUST AND ITS CONSEQUENCES (BIBLICALLY)
Lust is every man’s problem. “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed”. (James 1:14) Even those we tend to put on high pedestals or those we perceive as being pure experience these cravings. Kings, Princes, Presidents, Rulers and even Priests have yielded to lust so yes, it is every man’s problem. Lust is essentially craving something, usually associated with worldly desires of sexual intent or material possessions. Lust focuses on gratifying self, and it often leads to toxic actions to fulfil one’s desires without considering the consequences. Lust springs forth from selfishness and greed. Lust controls us only when we submit to its authority.
We are constantly exposed to sexual stimulations in our lives. It is natural to have sexual reactions to such stimulations. This is because of sexual desire which is a part of who we are and how we were created. We are not permitted, however, to take the next step in cases when this sexual attraction is misdirected. Jim Vander Speak once said, ” Our desires aren’t the problem, it’s what we do with them.” Sexual desire in itself is good. God made it in the beginning. It has its proper place. But it was made to be governed or regulated or guided by two concerns: honour toward the other person and holiness toward God. Lust is what that sexual desire becomes when that honour and that holiness are absent.
SOME PEOPLE WHO STRUGGLED WITH LUST IN THE BIBLE
1. DAVID– The very man after God’s heart David, did not escape lust. King David led Israel into numerous battles. However, on this occasion, he stayed home and sent his troops to fight. That day, David wandered out to his balcony and noticed a neighbour woman bathing. David’s sexual desire for the woman, Bathsheba, was so great that even after he discovered she was the wife of one of his most loyal soldiers, he called her and seduced her. The story didn’t end there. Bathsheba became pregnant, he had her husband Uriah, one of his most loyal men murdered on the battlefield in an attempt to cover up his sin (2 Samuel 11:9-15). God responded to his action by saying “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. Now, therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me and have taken the life of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.” (2 Samuel 12:9-10.). Bathsheba gave birth to a son who died as a result of David’s sin.
2. PAUL– In Romans Chapter 7, Paul spoke about his personal experience with lust. He said,
“But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind…So then with the mind, I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin” (Romans 7:23, 25) The battle is between the renewed mind and the old sinful flesh. Paul tells us how he found victory: For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:2) In Christ Jesus, we are set free from the law of sin and death. We are no longer trapped. The suffering of Jesus satisfied the Law’s demands. The debt had been fully paid. “Walk in the Spirit and you will not fulfil the lusts of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16)(Romans6:12-14).
3. JOSEPH- Attracted by Joseph’s looks, Potiphar’s wife desired to be intimate with him. To her disappointment, Joseph continuously refused.” One day he went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the household servants was inside. She caught him by his cloak and said, “Come to bed with me!” but he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house (Genesis 39) But Potiphar’s wife turned the tables on Joseph, telling her husband that it was Joseph who had tried to entice her. The angry master reacted by placing his trustworthy assistant in prison. Joseph could have yielded to Potiphar’s wife’s demands for sex with the excuse that she was his boss’s wife and he had to obey her but he didn’t do that. He knew that by doing that, he will dishonour God and his body. If Joseph had succumbed to this temptation, he might not have attained the level of greatness that he did in his lifetime.
4. AMNON– Amnon the son of David was lusting after his half-sister Tamar to the extent that he pretended to be sick. When his father came to see him, he told him to tell his sister Tamar to come over to his house and make food for him. She came over kneaded dough and baked some bread for him. He insisted that she served him in the bedroom.” But when she took it to him to eat, he grabbed her and said, “Come to bed with me, my sister.” “No, my brother!” she said to him. “Don’t force me! Such a thing should not be done in Israel! Don’t do this wicked thing. What about me? Where could I get rid of my disgrace? And what about you? You would be like one of the wicked fools in Israel. Please speak to the king; he will not keep me from being married to you.” But he refused to listen to her, and since he was stronger than she, he raped her. (2 Samuel 13:11-14). Absalom, Tamar’s brother later killed Amnon because of his evil act.
5. ANANIAS AND SAPPHIRA– It is lust for material and worldly possessions that led Ananias and Sapphira to be dishonest to the apostles and also to God. After selling their piece of land, instead of giving the apostles all the proceeds as it is normally done in the early church, they didn’t. Ananias to the knowledge of his wife Sapphira kept part of the money and gave the part to the apostles. Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God. ”When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died.” ( Acts chapter 5) His wife also died in the same manner when she came before the apostles.
6. ACHAN– The tragic story of Achan’s sin is contained in Joshua 6 and 7. Achan, one man, sinned by stealing a garment, 200 shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold during the heat of battle after having been instructed that all the goods from Jericho were devoted to God. His selfishness and desire to acquire wealth had the best of him. He had no accomplices, and no one saw him in the act. Israel’s army became paralyzed with fear when they attacked the little city of Ai. Joshua faltered and became confused also. Thirty-six men died—wives were widowed and children lost fathers. In the end, Achan’s entire family was destroyed, even though they were innocent of his These all happened because of his lust for material things and possessions which made him disobey God’s instruction and caused a lot of disasters. His singular act affected the whole nation. He was driven by his selfish ambition.
Consequences of Lust
Lust brings into our lives consequences that are never pleasant because God detests it.
- Lust leads to sin, destruction and death. Taking the people we discussed above, for instance, all of them who succumbed to their desires experienced some form of disaster in their lives. Death also came after their families. “Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. (James 1:15) Taking David for instance, he lost the baby born as a result of his adultery, he killed Uriah to cover his sin and he experienced spiritual death because that sin made him out of tune with God. Both physical and spiritual death occurred. The people of Sodom and Gomorrah committed all forms of sexual immorality which displeased God and they faced his wrath. “Just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire.” (Jude 1:7). Galatians 5:19-21says “When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarrelling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.”
- Those who act on their lustful desires will not inherit heaven. “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)). Galatians 5:19-21 also says “When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarrelling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.”
- Lust affects even the innocent people around us. Like in the case of Achan, he committed the sin alone, but the soldiers were weakened and his entire family was also destroyed. (Joshua6).
The consolation we have in Christ is that whenever we come to ask for forgiveness of sin, God forgives us and restores us as though we have never sinned. “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.” (Hebrews 8:12) We have to confess our sins not hide them for God to forgive us. David killed Uriah in a bid to keep his sin a secret but he further displeased God.
Although we may fall into the iniquity of lust, we can repent and turn from our selfish ways. We are called to love others as ourselves, not to use others for our own desires. The Christian faith calls for selflessness which can be achieved if we have love.
Yes, we can have victory over lust like Paul and Joseph. It is evident from his words that Paul feared God, and that was his victory over lust. He said, “Walk in the Spirit and you will not fulfil the lusts of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16).