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Matthew 17-18: Jesus On Tempting and Being Tempted

Christian Living, Matthew, Obedience, Overcoming Satan, overcoming sin, temptation

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I Corinthians 12-13: The #1 Way to be a Man

Christian Living, Growth, I Corinthians, Love, Relationships

1 Corinthians 12-13 (ESV) by Wordle*

Today’s reading is 1 Corinthians 12:1-13:13.

“When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways” (1 Corinthians 13:11).

I’ve often read this and talked about putting away the childish thing in this passage. However, today the other side of this passage struck me. What must I embrace in order to put on manhood? Love. “The greatest of these is love.” No wonder Peter caps off the list of Christian growth in II Peter 1:5-8 with love.

That’s right. The #1 way to be a man is to love. No, not to have sex. That’s what the world says. God’s way for manhood is to love. To see people as people, not objects of lust. To know they have hopes and dreams, fears and doubts, failures and victories. Then to seek their best and help them accomplish those things. To freely sacrifice self for others, not to gain anything from them or because of a sense of obligation, but simply because their good is our goal.

That’s what Jesus did for us by growing to the cross. He was a real man. I need to follow in His glorious footsteps.

Grow up! Be a man! Love!

Keep the faith and keep reading,

ELC

PS. What struck you in today’s reading? Click the following link to add your input: Click Here.

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*Today’s illustration was generated by the creative tool at Wordle.net. You can find all my wordles here.

 

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Romans 13-14: I Can’t Pack My Bags for Lust

Christian Living, Growth, Honesty, morality, Obedience, Overcoming Satan, overcoming sin, Powerlessness, Romans

packing by iversToday’s reading is Romans 13:1-14:23.

Paul gives me some very practical help today. I need to read Romans 13:14 every day. “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.”

Today, I must not make provision for the lusts of my flesh. Whenever I go on a trip, I have to make provision. I gas up the car. I pack some bags. I check maps. I print out directions. I run through the ATM. I pack snacks and purchase food. None of these things is the same as going on the trip. They are making provisions for the trip. 

Sometimes I make provisions for the lust of my flesh. Making those provisions is not the same as pursuing the lust of the flesh, but I’m preparing the way for it. I heard a great phrase to describe this. A friend of mine called it making “lust based decisions.” Making these decisions themselves may not be sinful. I can even justify making them because no one can prove they are wrong, but they are packing the bags and paving the way for sin.

Consider an alcoholic. Walking into a bar is not the same as drinking alcohol. I’m not sure anyone can actually prove that walking into a bar is wrong. Sitting at the bar when the restaurant is crowded is not the same as drinking alcohol. I’m not sure anyone can actually prove that sitting at the bar is a sin. But if I’m an alcoholic, what am I doing? I’m making lust based decisions. I’m packing my bags to drink. I’m making provision to sin. I must not be surprised when I actually do what I’ve committed not to.

Consider sexual lust. I’m thankful that alcohol has never been a problem for me, but lust has. I am learning to take God’s way of escape long before I get to the point of lust. I can’t walk down magazine aisles in grocery stores or book stores. I’m not saying that is a sin or that you can’t. I’m simply saying I’ve learned I can’t. For me, that is packing bags and providing to lust. That is a lust based decision because I know the magazines my eyes will find and what my mind will do with them. Is walking down that aisle the same as lusting? No. But for me it is providing for it. As much as I wanted to see it, I had to pass on watching the second Transformers movie. I had seen a trailer and learned very quickly that there was at least one scene that I simply couldn’t handle. Is it a sin to watch that movie? I doubt it. Can others watch it and not be bothered? I’m sure. But for me, going to that movie would have been packing my bags and making provision to lust. There are certain search terms I simply can’t put into Google images no matter how badly I need an illustration picture for a powerpoint presentation or blog post. There are certain streets I simply can’t drive down because I know the billboards that are there. I’ve learned I can’t drink coffee on the sidewalk of the downtown Starbucks in Franklin. You’d be amazed what some women wear down there. (I know some of you are saying, “Man, Edwin, you just need to buck up and get stronger.” I’ve tried that and it hasn’t worked for me. Instead, I’ve got to learn not to even pack those bags because I’m not strong enough to make provision for my lusts and then decide not to lust.)

What about other fleshly lusts? What about hanging around in conversations that have turned to gossip? What about going to lunch with those who slander the boss? What about continuing to listen in on conversations that belittle the church’s elders? What about listening to music or watching shows that increase wrath, vengeance, hate? 

Too many times I get caught up in arguments about drawing lines of what is actually a sin. I become convinced something is not a sin so I think I can pursue that, but eventually it leads me to sin and I wonder how it happened. The fact is, if I pack my bags to sin, if I study the map to sin, if I gas up my car for sin, if I make provision to sin, I’m probably going to sin. 

Today, I need to remember that half-measures will avail me nothing. I’m not trying to be good enough to get into heaven. I’m hungering and thirsting for righteousness and I don’t want to do anything that will turn me from that. So, for today, I’m going to put on Jesus Christ. I’m going to pave the way, pack my bags, and make provision to pursue faith in Him. That is part of why I’m doing this reading every day. I hope it is helping you as well.

Keep the faith and keep reading,

ELC

P.S. What struck you in today’s reading?

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1 Thessalonians 3-4: God Has Called Us to Holiness

Christian Living, I Thessalonians, Love, morality

Today’s reading is I Thessalonians 3:1-4:18.

I Thessalonians 4:3-8 says:

For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.

Sex is a great thing. Sexuality is a natural desire. Sexual immorality is an abomination. There is no greater way to have intimacy than to commit your life totally to another person, getting to know them emotionally, mentally, spiritually and then celebrating that union physically. There is not greater cheat or destructive force than to take that great celebration and waste it on just a few moments of physical pleasure with someone to whom there is no commitment or union. Therefore, abstain from, avoid, flee sexual immorality. 

But do not stop there. It is not enough to simply say, “Well, I won’t have sex unless I’m married.” We have to know how to control our bodies or possess our own vessel as some translations say. We need to present our bodies in a way that befits holiness and honor. We must not present our bodies in a way that says, “Look at me, I’m sexual.” We must not present our bodies in a way that says, “Look at me, I’m aroused.” We must not present our bodies in a way that says, “Look at me, I want to arouse you.” We must shine forth holiness in the way we dress these bodies, in the way we walk with these bodies, in the places we go with these bodies, in the way we allow our bodies to interact with other people and their bodies. 

But do not stop there. It is not enough to simply say, “I’m going to present myself in a modest way.” We must not live in the passion of our lusts. We must work on our minds as well. We may follow the strictest of rules about bodily modesty, but if our minds are filled with lust and thoughts of sexual immorality for those around us, we are still not living in holiness. Men, we need especially think about this as we walk through the mall and the Victoria’s Secret store. We need especially think about this as we pass the magazine rack at the grocery store. We need especially think about this when we are firing up our computers and heading to the internet.

Then I notice the reasons why. First, so we won’t transgress against our brother. I think this is an interesting statement and perhaps I’m missing the point. However, since I see the issue being discussed as mostly a male problem, I think what Paul is saying is when I look at a woman to whom I’m not married to lust after her, if I present myself in a way to purposefully arouse a woman to whom I’m not married, or if I even pursue a sexual encounter with a woman to whom I’m not married, I’m not only transgressing against me and against her, I’m also transgressing against her husband or future husband.

Additionally, I should avoid these fleshly sins and attitudes because God has called me to holiness. He hasn’t called us into a special club in which we can mentally trade wives because we are all becoming spiritually intimate and vulnerable with each other in Christ. We may greet each other with hugs and even kisses, but they are to be holy hugs and kisses. They are not to be attempts to satisfy fleshly lusts. God has called us to holiness, not to cop a feel in the name of Christian greeting and relationships.

Finally, Paul says if we disregard this, we aren’t disregarding him, we aren’t merely disregarding the men and women against whom we are perpetrating our sins, we are also disregarding God. No matter how far down the path of lust, immodesty, and immorality we have traveled, we need to get back to God’s call of holiness. He will work with us if we will surrender to Him.

Keep the faith and keep reading,

ELC

P.S. What did you get out of today’s reading?

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