Biblical Keys to Overcoming Lust
“Lust not after her beauty in thine heart.” Proverbs 6:25.
Lust is a function of the inner cravings in our bodies; it’s a function of the physical attraction and desire we feel for the opposite sex. Even though lust is essentially a strong appetite or craving, it’s not out of our control. With a little understanding, it can be dealt with.
The Bible says, anyone who commits adultery lacks understanding (Prov. 6:32). When you have a certain kind of understanding about something, no matter how strong your craving is, that understanding helps you deal with it instead of letting your craving hold sway your action.
If I saw an I-Phone with a fellow that I liked and wanted to have, because of my understanding that it’s his own and not mine, it's easy for me to say no. Why? My rational understanding overrides my irrational cravings.
If you’re struggling with lust you need to understand that the purpose of a thing determines its function, and:
- Your physical body was meant to serve a specific purpose sexually.
- Your perception of the opposite sex as pertaining to sexual intercourse must be within the parameters of the creator’s intent, not your selfish foolish desires.
- Your desires must be put in subjection to God’s will and purpose.
Anyone who’s struggling with lust is simply oblivious of the spiritual understanding God has about sex, hence his mind finds a personal or a different way of perceiving sexual matters, and as a result of his ignorance of God’s spiritual understanding—there’s no way he can successfully fight back the cravings he has. Lack of understanding is really bad in this area because where the purpose of a thing is not understood, abuse is usually inevitable. Where there’s no foundational guiding principle, there’s no protection from silliness.
Understanding the Physical Body and Sex
Sex was created by God. The devil, however, perverted God’s creation and corrupted its use. When God’s use of something is altered it becomes an abnormal use. However, when the normal use is clearly understood and followed, abnormal use will become hard to do.
In 1 Corinthians 6, Paul made some clear statements about the body, and its purpose as relating to sexual matters. First, in verse 12, Paul, knowing fully well that he’s a free moral agent, and has the prerogative to choose whatever ever he wanted, said these words: “All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.” He was distinct about the purpose of the human body as pertaining to sexual matters, and that warranted him the ability to make such sensible statement—he had the guiding principle of God’s Word. Let’s look at his thinking.
From 1 Corinthians 6 and 7, we’re able to adduce that:
- The human body is not meant for immoral sexual acts (6:13).
- The Lord owns the human body and he knows how best it could be used (6:13).
- Indulging in sexual immorality is an abuse of the body—it destroys the human body (6:18).
- Since God owns our bodies, we ought to do only what he wants with it (6:19-20).
- Sex should only be between married couples (7:2).
- Each person is only entitled to marry one partner of the opposite sex (7:2).
It’ll make a whole world of difference when one allows God’s Word to be his ultimate judge and final authority in the use of his body. When you're able to grasp the creator's intent, your thinking will be fixed like a monolith, knowing fully well the purpose behind the beauty you see in the bodies of the opposite sex.
Now, when you're able to identify the purpose behind a thing, it's normal for that to cancel out the possibility of an abusive use of that thing, hence, if knowledge of purpose is not still good enough for you to adjust, then you must recognize that selfishness is in your heart. Did you know that all sins are a product of selfishness. And lust is as a result of selfishness. When a man is selfish, all he wants to do is to please himself, not God.
If you discover this in yourself, it's a sign that your will isn't in submission to God's will, therefore, when you discover within yourself that there's selfishness in your will, you'll have to take conscious actions to align your will with God's will both mentally.
Aligning your will with God's will is the key to mental transformation. When your mind is transformed, your selfishness, in this area dies, and you win over lust.
Jesus said in Matthew 12:33—“either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree corrupt and its fruit corrupt, for the tree is known by its fruits.” This connotes that to change one’s behavior (fruit), you have to alter his thinking (tree).
The Inner Drive
Whatever one does on the outside is simply a reflection of what’s going on inside. According to Ephesians 2:3, an unbeliever is prone to gratify the desires of his sinful nature and mind. However, when he gets born again, he’s given a new nature—the God-kind nature that doesn’t sin at all.
However, this doesn’t mean the mind was also altered; there’s no guarantee that he’s not going to sin again after he gets born again, unless, he’s quick to alter his mental state with the Word of God. His spiritual nature has been altered but he’s still got the same mental state he had before he got born again. Hence, to change the behavior, the ingrained thought processes also needs an alternative.
There’s a distinction when a believer and an unbeliever is being confronted with sexual provocation. The former, if he allows his spirit rule him—controlling his decisions—he will be able to survive in the face of lust-eliciting events. However, the latter doesn’t have any protection—he has nothing to defy or oppose his fleshly desires—hence he’ll give in more easily to temptation.
As a result of this, if a person is going to be free from lust, he is first required to develop an opposition to the fleshly desires lurking within him. That is achieved by him being, firstly, born again. Next he has to let his mind conform more and more to the sinless nature of his already recreated spirit.
Opposition to the Flesh
Wrong believing about yourself is the reason for yielding to the lust of the flesh. If you’re born again, when you’re tempted by the devil to partake in an ungodly act, if you believe what he’s trying to affirm to you about your nature as a ‘sinner’, and that since you’re one, you should also act like one. If you believe that, you will easily deign to what he’s telling you to do. However, if you believe you’re far better than what he’s trying to tell you about yourself—a sinner, a fornicator—you have a better chance of overcoming that temptation of yielding to the flesh.
When the devil throws a picture into your mind, if you believe and accept it as a fact, you will ultimately act out what he’s showing you about yourself. When you have a wrong self-perception, your actions will also be wrong. When you think you’re worthless, for example, you’ll act worthless. But when you think upon and believe your true worth in Christ, you’ll end up acting that way. The whole battle is won or lost in the mind.
You need to understand that, even if you’ve sinned before, your past sins doesn’t change your nature. You don’t have a sin-nature—you have a cannot-sin God-nature. And the reason you still act like you have a sin-nature is because your mind is un-renewed. We can say you have a mind that is prone to sin, yet not naturally a sinful mind.
The flesh is described by Andrew Farley as ‘policies of the former administration.’ This is analogous to a scenario where a new government is in power (i.e., having a newly elected President), And it occurred that this new government was left with the policies of the former administration. Now, the new President might not like the policies left behind by the former administration, hence, he has to come up with his own. Otherwise, the former policies will inevitably be used in running the new government. Because a government cannot be run without policies.
A Christian Mess
Now, lets connect that to a Christian who just got born again. His mind is not any different than it was before he got born again, however, his spirit is. The mind remains the same, but the spirit is perfect. In such a scenario, we’ll describe such a one as a Christian mess.
Although in Christianity, you’re not required to be clean first before God accepts you. Because, after all, it’s impossible to be clean outside God. When you get born again, God makes your spirit perfectly, clean and holy. However, you’re required to equally make your mind perfect, clean and holy through the use of his word.
To deal with lust, you need the word of God. If you don’t agree with me, then let us go to the scriptures to find out. Proverbs 6:20-24 makes it clear for us: “My son, obey your father's commands, and don't neglect your mother's teaching. Keep their words always in your heart. Tie them around your neck. Wherever you walk, their counsel can lead you. When you sleep, they will protect you. When you wake up in the morning, they will advise you. For these commands and this teaching are a lamp to light the way ahead of you. The correction of discipline is the way to life. These commands and this teaching will keep you from the immoral woman, from the smooth tongue of an adulterous woman. (NLT).
And the very next verse, which is our golden text, verse 25, “Lust not after her beauty in thine heart; neither let her take thee with her eyelids. (KJV)” To deal with lust you surely need the word of God. Come to think of it, why do some people struggle with lust? It’s because they had exposed themselves to the wrong information. They exposed themselves to stuffs like pornography and all other kinds of things that could make them sexually provoked.
Like I hinted earlier, when you got born again, your spirit became perfect, but your mind isn’t. Now, the tool you’re going to need to help you make your mind perfect is information. Not just any kind information, but the right type of information, the information that aligns with your spirit-nature—the information from God, in his word.
Your head has to catch up with the perfection that’s in your spirit already. And for that to happen, you have to repetitively download the information of God’s word into your mind.
Let’s examine the word information. It has two parts: ‘in’ and ‘formation.’ That describes an event when something is thrown into another for it to form itself out of it. It‘s like throwing a red paint into water. In no time, the water will also be red in color. That’s what information does: it forms itself into what it’s entering.
The same way a red paint can turn colorless water into a red substance, is the same way God’s word can change you. If only you will give it time. Some people actually think they’re a hopeless case, but just give the word of God time, and you’ll come to find out that nothing could be further from the truth.
The reason why you’re not a hopeless case is because the hope of glory is already inside him, if you’re a Christian—Christ is your hope for a life of glory. And there’s no better place to be if you want to be confident of hope—in Christ.
By the way, if you’re not born again, you’re a hopeless case because the Bible says you’re without hope (Eph 2:12). Hence, you’ll have to get born again first before you can begin to think of dealing with lust.
The Bible and Your Thinking
Lust starts from the mind, with a thought. Did you know that a vast majority of what you do, you do without premeditation? Perhaps you didn’t know. To be precise, 95 percent of what you do is without premeditation. And that includes your thoughts, attitudes, and actions; they’re all spontaneous.
That means if you want to deal with lust, you cannot resort to self-determination. It just doesn’t work. As we have seen, what works is applying the word of God in dealing with your thinking. Because if the thinking is good, the action will follow.
The key to dealing with lust is therefore seen in Romans 12:2, it says, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
What’s the will of God? Simply put, it’s the Word of God. The will of God is revealed in the scriptures, what God wants is for you to renew your mind. He wants you to immerse yourself in his word until the written will of God is seen in your life as being practiced without premeditation.
Give yourself to this Word. Immerse yourself in the written Word of God; saturate your mind with it. And pray that the Holy Spirit would make you so new on the inside that there will be a spillover of that newness on the outside. Then you will begin to prove in practical terms, the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God.
© 2017 Matthew Joseph