You have heard that it was said by them of old time, “you will not commit adultery.” But I say unto you, that whoever looks on a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.
-Matthew 5:27, 28
One of the primary goals of any young man or young woman is to find a mate to spend the rest of their life with. A godly marriage is one of the most powerful weapons God’s people have, because a marriage combines and magnifies the spirits of two spouses in a relationship that is exemplary of the church’s joining to Christ. So naturally one of the enemy’s main goals is to counter that: specifically, to use cheap imitation of God’s perfect plan to keep God’s people from realizing their full potential in marriage. That imitation is lust. But lust seems so natural and even harmless sometimes. Why does the Bible say not to so much as lust after someone? What harm does it really do, especially if there’s no actual contact between the luster and lustee?
Lust is the bear trap of the soul, especially the part of the soul that longs for romantic love. All you have to do is lightly touch it and SNAAPP… it’s clenched into the meat of your emotions, right through to the bone, and its effects are a part of you for a long, long time. Dictionaries define lust as a longing that is uncontained and uncontrolled; it is an opposite of self-control, which is listed as one of the “fruits of the Holy Spirit” in Galatians 5:23. God has given us a sexual nature, which he will allow us to fulfill with a mate in his good timing. Until that time, we must learn to control our sex drives, because Christ came to set us free, not leave us in slavery to fleshly desires.
Proverbs 5:18-19 (NIV) says “Let your fountain be blessed: rejoice with the wife of your youth. Let her be as the loving fawn and the pleasant roe: let her breasts satisfy you at all times, and be ravished always with her love.” God has created us to have sexual pleasure in a member of the opposite sex, but not with just any member: only with a wife or husband. Proverbs 15:20 (NIV) goes on to say “And why will you, my son, be ravished with a strange woman, and embrace the bosom of a stranger?” God hasn’t made his children to wander in their desire from person to person. The Bible doesn’t say to be satisfied by the body of someone walking down the street, or someone in a magazine or in a movie, and not even the body of a girlfriend or boyfriend or fiancÃ©. Desiring the body of someone who doesn’t belong to you in marriage produces frustration and, worst of all, deviance from the course that will lead you to a happy marriage.
For a godly young man or young lady who hasn’t married that special someone yet, the hard part is waiting. His or her sex drive is at full blast, and the fire is only fueled by the constant onslaught of public sexuality in our society. Lust and sexual desire for other people feels to them like a natural need that they are being held back from experiencing. But the Lord only wants what is best for his children.
Whoever finds a wife finds a good a thing, and obtains favor from the LORD.
What God wants for a Christian is true love and true intimacy. Intimacy means to be as close as physically and spiritually possible to a person who you’re going to be with for the rest of your life. Intimacy cannot happen with a picture, a stranger, or a boyfriend or girlfriend or fiancÃ©, someone who could legally just walk out of the relationship and never come back. This pre-mature attempt at intimacy is lust. Lust is a manifestation of one of the deepest needs God has given to us; but it comes about through lack of self-control and giving into fleshly desires over God’s will. Sex, as God intended it, is the result of true love, not the cause of it or a path to it.
So what’s the solution to overcoming lust? How do godly men and women control their sexual desires and stay true to what the Bible says? There are many things one can bare in mind to fight lust, but sometimes the desire is too strong to be foiled by rules and ideas. The only thing that works… and I can testify personally that this is the only thing that is guaranteed to work 100% of the time… is for a Christian to get to the point in his life where he wants to please God more than he wants to fulfill his own desires. James 1:14 (NIV) says “each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” All the devil has to do is get a Christian’s sight off of what God wants and onto what his flesh wants. Then, the next time he is tempted by lust, he will start to be so strongly drawn in that he feels he can’t escape, then he will start to rationalize giving into lust, and the next thing he knows he’s so deep into lustful sin he’s ashamed of himself.
God is our source of strength, and the only defense against the enemy’s attacks of lust. After I started to trust God and seek him more than I sought my own will, God shared with me several points that gave me much strength in the fight against the devil’s temptations. (But I had to seek God above my own desires first!) Now I hope these points will help you just as much.
- Making love is neither what society constantly portrays it as nor what the enemy entices us to imagine that it is. We are made to think that sex, even with a spouse, is mostly about seeing someone nude, getting physical sensations, and fulfilling animalistic needs. But God made sex to be the deepest consummation of true love that there is. When a man and woman have loved each other so much that they have worked long and hard at a relationship that has lead to marriage, the marriage bed is where they can physically and spiritually consume each other in love, not lust.
- There is much more to nudity than the world lets on to. When you disrobe in front of someone, you are giving yourself completely to them: everything good and everything bad, everything you like or dislike about yourself, you have given into the hands of that someone. This is why you only want to reveal yourself to the one you’re joined to for life, and also why you should never lustfully look at someone who isn’t joined to you for life. These facts are true on physical, emotional, and spiritual levels. Nudity goes beyond just the physical revealing of the body, and goes deep into the soul and inner being.
- When Satan tries to entice you with lust, he is attacking your marriage, either current or future. Many Christians who used to be into pornography or pre-marital sex will tell how on their wedding night, when they saw their wife or husband nude for the first time, they couldn’t get the mental images of all the naked people they had seen before out of their minds. It was like there was a harem that was pressing in on them while they wanted to be with just each other. For the unmarried person, exposure to lust and especially blatant pornography makes the wait for intimacy with that special someone much harder, since he has been exposed to sexual images. This pre-mature excitement of intimacy makes him impatient and hopeless as he longs for something which he has already tasted of, and weakens his resistance to further lusting — it’s a vicious cycle. All things told, it is important that a Christian keep his mind pure so that the intimacy that God intended can be fully realized. The devil will try to stop your real intimacy with your spouse in the future by enticing you into pseudo-intimacy now. (This does not mean that someone who has fallen into lustful sin in the past is doomed to have trouble in their intimacy with their spouse. When people repent and turn from their sin, God can and does heal them from damaging memories and past experiences.)
- God wants the best possible marriages for his children, ones that will be magnificent gifts from him to us, and ones based on true love that will last through the hard times and still be passionate after decades of marriage. God will draw two Christians together who are “right” for each other as they seek him, both individually and together. There is a whole lot more to marriage than sex, and anyone who’s married happily will tell you that love and passion are great, but it’s dedication that keeps a marriage together through the hard times. Many marriages that are based on sex turn sour after a few years when, once the love making isn’t that great any more, one spouse regrets marrying the other because the relationship isn’t really good but they have to stay together anyway or face a divorce.
One subject that is faced by young Christians every day that particularly involves young women is the current girls’ fashions. The trendy clothes and especially swimsuits these days are very revealing and sexy. Many girls wear these styles because that’s what’s “in”, or they feel that the more sexy they dress the more they can stand out in a world full of other girls trying to be the most beautiful. While there’s nothing wrong with wanting to be attractive, when a man sees a woman in risquÃ© clothing, he thinks that she is out for sex, because that is the whole point of dressing in sexy clothing. If a young Christian woman wants to attract a man who isn’t out for sex, she should dress modestly and make a man earn her body by treating her lovingly and righteously right up through marriage. God has given women a wonderful beauty. If you’re a woman, don’t devalue the mystery of your body by putting it on display for just anyone to see! It’s a treasure meant for only one person, namely your husband. (Here’s a rule of thumb: if a piece of clothing is something that you can’t sit or bend over in without giving people a good view, or if it’s something you’re going to tug at all the time, you might want to consider not wearing it.)
I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety… with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.
-1 Timothy 2:9, 10
And let me add this note: ladies, men are not really attracted by the “Twiggy” look. In other words, you don’t have to be skinny to be pretty! I’ve heard guys comment on attractive girls before, but I’ve never heard “hey, look how skinny she is!” or “hey, check out the ribs on that chick!” Most men are attracted by a healthy or athletic look, as far as initial attraction to looks goes, not by a look of under eating. A flat tummy is one of the last things most men notice physically.
One important step in conquering lust is to avoid exposure to it. If you have a weakness with lust, then don’t watch movies and tv shows that have lustful things in them. If you can’t go to the beach without getting hooked into staring at the girls, go to the mountains. It may seem silly or even demeaning to limit yourself in ways that you might not see many other people doing. But if your goal is really to live like the Lord wants you to, these seemingly drastic measures must be taken until you have strong enough self-control to either endure the temptation if you must or decide not to not be around it at all. Watching things that are meant specifically to be lustful is definitely to be avoided, and isn’t a godly thing to do even if you don’t have a weakness with lust.
In conclusion, God wants us to be happy, and has given every person a deep, inner need for intimacy with a mate. This need is very powerful and should be channeled and controlled until finally it becomes what God wants it to be. When it is allowed to run loose, contrary to the word of God, it is a very destructive force that can be taken advantage of by the enemy. God will bring true love to those who seek their ultimate intimacy with the Lord. Just as a husband and wife are one with each other and dependent on each other, so we are made one with God through Christ and realize our dependence on him for all things, present and eternal. The ultimate marriage will happen at the marriage supper of the Lamb, when the bride of Christ (the church) is joined to the Lamb of God forever. A marriage on earth is exemplary of this and just a foretaste of the divine love to come in eternity. So be strong in the Lord! Study God’s word and seek the will of the Father. Remember that the devil’s enticements are always deceitful: he may offer you pleasure now but it comes with a horrific price payable sooner or later.
I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
-John 8:34-36 (NIV)