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Life's "Little" Temptations (Part 2. Lust Of The Eyes)
This article is part of a series of independent studies. (Part 2 of 3 in series)
* all [bracketed] words in Scripture verses are mine *
This is the second of three installments in a series about the realm of our current existence, this fleshly body. While we reside in this "earthly house" as the apostle Paul called it, we have fallen prey to three types of sin from three sources that have never changed, namely the World, the Flesh, and the Devil. In the first installment of this series, we considered 1 John 1 and the first listed type of sin, lust of the flesh. We spoke of the frailty of our sinful bodies, of the ease with which we sin, even when our spirit wants to never sin again. We spoke of how our born-again relationship makes it possible to say no to the flesh, to find a way away from the temptation. In this second installment, we will speak of lust of the eyes which is the gateway of temptation.
Information and data come into our minds by way of the eyes and what one allows in by the eyes may become sin to him. Consider the example of Lot who looked to the plain of Jordan and lusted after it. He knew of the city of Sodom was there as well and just pitched his tent "toward Sodom" where he could see it. But then, a few verses later, he is living in Sodom with his family and he is sitting at the gate, which means that he had become a sort of town "justice of the peace" or judge for the city so that he would judge matters as a city official. What came into the eyes trapped him and then condemned his family. His sons ignored his plea to come with him as the city was to be destroyed. He lingered, and the angels had to take them by the hand and set them outside. They warned them not to look back but Lots wife could not resist giving in to the lust of the eyes and she looked back and became a pillar of salt.
"And Lot lifted his eyes and saw all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt as you go toward Zoar...Abram dwelt in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelt in the cities of the plain and pitched his tent even as far as Sodom. But the men of Sodom were exceedingly wicked and sinful against the LORD...Then the men said to Lot, "Have you anyone else here? Son-in-law, your sons, your daughters, and whomever you have in the city - take them out of this place! For we will destroy this place, because the outcry against them has grown great before the face of the LORD, and the LORD has sent us to destroy it"...And while he lingered, the men took hold of his hand, his wife's hand, and the hands of his two daughters, the LORD being merciful to him, and they brought them out and set them outside the city. So it came to pass, when they had brought them outside, that he said, " Escape for your life! Do not look behind you nor stay anywhere in the plain. Escape to the mountains, lest you be destroyed." Then Lot said, "Please no, my lords!"...But his wife looked back behind him and she became a pillar of salt." (Genesis 13:10, 12-13; 19:12-13, 16-18, 26)
"Do not love the world, or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world - the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life - is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever." (1 John 1:15-17)
"For we know if this earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the LORD, for we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the LORD. Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing in the LORD." (2 Corinthians 5:1-8)
The energy of life is everywhere if you open your eyes and look around. It's a great big world out there with so many things to see. Look over there - someone's got a fast, red sports car and it looks so sexy, so hot. And over there, a nice big house with a manicured lawn, a guy mowing the lawn and someone beautiful sunning herself in a lawn chair, probably his girlfriend or wife. Ahh, Life. And then comes the thought that added to what is seen makes it become sin: "I wouldn't mind having that life. Why should that guy have a life like that when all I got is this humdrum existence in which I live? I want that life. I want that red sports car to drive up to that house and mow my nice lawn while my "significant other" suns herself in the yard for me to see. Heck for everyone to see! I want that and that - and that and that and that. (Like the song, though I date myself for mentioning it.) "Gimme dat t'ing, gimme dat t'ing, gimme, gimme, gimme dat t'ing!"
Of course, I speak of the lust of the eyes. Things that come into the eye-gate of your consciousness. This includes the literal eyes and also the figurative eyes, where visualization meets imagination. (Lusting and sin take place in the mind so this figurative sense makes it possible for those without sight to succumb to the lust of the "eyes" as well.) For the seeing population, the world and Satan oblige by sprinkling sparkle and glitz on everything. In generations past, people would look at the "wish book" which was the term for a mail-order catalog and dream. The women would gather and speak of what their lives should be and the things they should have, and then why others had no business living the lives they led. Guys would get together and speak of things they lusted after as well. They would speak of women and compare their woman to them while they postured over what their conquests would consist of, how they would be different than what they now lived, then compared it to how others would handle the same situation.
The main types of sin have not changed since sin invaded the garden. Lust of the eyes was there in Eden with our first two parents. There was the fruit hanging on the tree... and then a thought given by Satan... A promise of some glory that they didn't experience in the life given them by God. They saw, they lusted, they sinned. No, sin doesn't change, but times sure have. Technology and society have made it seem that sin has changed, but it hasn't. What used to be whispered in groups of two or three is now trumpeted from the rooftops. The Internet brings the lust of the eyes right into your home. Now one does not need to go to find a prostitute - one can get as much eye candy and sexual tension that they can handle and it is free for the taking. One can dream of wealth and riches and glory and be free to lust and covet as much as their sinful minds can take in.
"So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her and he ate." (Genesis 3:6)
Consider the example of a place designed especially for this weakness in mankind, the great Las Vegas, Nevada. It is just one of many such places that have been purposely designed to appeal to the eyes and to pull one in with its sensual allure. As one looks at the skyline it looks like Christmastime in summer. Everything sparkles and is surreal in its splendor. Enormous shapes that titillate the eyes and overwhelm the senses. Excitement is in the air and seeming fun everywhere. In the casinos, the ringing of bells, the advertised events, and shows, the hint of the forbidden and the promise of fortune, all mingle with the dreams of wealth and the supposed respect that such things bring. One forgets principles of hard work for reward and focuses on immediate gratification, and sensual pleasure. The machines eating up everyone's money have pictures depicting sensuality and violence. The look of seriousness on the faces of many people speak to their seriousness in the service of their gods: money and hedonism. Add to that the stigma that some consider the very existence of such a place sin and the partaking of such things as wasteful debauchery, and you have a powerful lure to partake and see what all the excitement is about. Each year millions of people do.
But one doesn't have to go to Las Vegas or Reno or any other specific place to have this false allure and the empty promises of the lust of the eyes. They can stay right at home or just look around their own circle of life. The whole world is in a state of flux so that the result will be a temptation in every place you look, no haven for spiritual renewal.
There is a Bible character that has been a hero of mine for years and years. He wrote the chronologically oldest book of Scripture, the book of Job. Job is not my hero for the same reasons that most admire him. I note and appreciate the fact that he was tested and came out with the stamp of approval from the LORD. I note that God was so confident in him so as to confront Satan head on about what the evil one wanted to do to him. God knowing that the devil desired to tempt, test, and to try to mentally destroy Job, allowed him to do it. It was fascinating to see how God had power over how far the devil could go. Most see this test and how Job behaved as the best part of Job and the great lesson for us. Though I don't want to minimize this event in Job's life, I admire something else about him entirely.
Job is one of my heroes because he had similar failings as I, and dealt with them. He had worked out with God ways to stave off his sin. He had a problem with fear and worry, dealing with this by worship and sacrifice to a holy God. The ways he used to walk a straight path have become some of the best lessons I have incorporated into my life. His life, and his reasonings have become a reason I can be stronger when I face the same sin. Let me explain. I have a problem with lust of the eyes, as did Job. How do I know that Job lusted? Because he met it head on and made a covenant with his eyes that he might not look on the maidens that surrounded him so that he could guard his sight and remain pure in thought. He was a man similar to myself and with like failings and he still was enough of an example that God said to Satan, "Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?" (Job 1:8) Job respected and honored marriage and understood that God did not wish men to multiply wives to themselves. Many men, many examples in Scripture, tried to handle their sexual lusts by having many women, multiple wives. and concubines. (This tactic never works by the way.) Job loved his one wife and knew that he must not even gaze upon another woman in lust. He knew how easy this would be and knew his own predilections, so he made a covenant with his eyes to be pure before a holy God.
"For the thing I greatly feared has come upon me, and what I dreaded has come upon me [He also dealt with worry and fear, as do I.]." (Job 3:25)
"And his sons would go and feast in their houses, each one on his appointed day, and would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. So it was, when the days of feasting had run their course, that Job would send and sanctify them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, "It may be that my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts. Thus Job did regularly." (Job 1:4-5)
"I have made a covenant with my eyes; why then should I look upon a young woman? For what is the allotment of God from above, and the inheritance of the Almighty from on high? Is it not destruction for the wicked, and disaster for the workers of iniquity? Does He not see my ways, and count all my steps? If I have walked with falsehood or if my foot has hastened to deceit, let me be weighed on honest scales, that God may know my integrity. If my step has turned from the way, or my heart walked after my eyes, or any spot adheres to my hands, then let me sow and another eat. Yes, let my harvest be rooted out. If my heart has been enticed by a woman, or if I have lurked at my neighbor's door, then let my wife grind for another, and let others bow down over her." (Job 31:1-10)
So Christian reader, search your heart. What are your lusts and weaknesses that threaten you and would so easily beset you? Are they monetary lusts, such as seeing or hearing of money others possess or have won and you wish you could have the same? Do you visualize it, so that is what comes first in your heart? You realize that what comes before God, you have made your god, don't you? Is imagining yourself in a certain lifestyle becoming sin to you? Do you constantly struggle for things or gadgets or conveniences or comforts of life? Does your mind sin while striving for honor and prestige, notoriety among men? Is your god the god of education and you put amassing knowledge before service to God? Are you one striving to be seen of men and or to gain a name for yourself? What do you allow to enter your eye-gate thinking on it until it becomes sin to you? For these things are not necessarily evil of themselves. After Job's trial he became famous, wealthy, had many blessings, but I am sure that it did not become sin to him. The sin comes when lust and temptation conceive. It's not what comes into your eyes but what your mind does with it once it's in there. So what is it dear reader? Know you can make a covenant with your eyes and a promise before the LORD to limit that stimuli. If you know you are easily swayed to sexual things, you may need to make a covenant with your eyes to limit anything that may cause you to stray from purity. If it is money, you may need to limit or eliminate certain shows you watch or certain things you may do for entertainment. You can meet the sin head on and fill your mind with worship and meditation on the LORD until there is no room or time for dalliance in lustful gazing, whatever that lust would be.
"Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the LORD out of a pure heart." (2 Timothy 2:22)
"Do not lust after her beauty in your heart, nor let her allure you with her eyelids. For by means of a harlot a man is reduced to a crust of bread; and an adulteress will prey upon his precious life. Can a man take fire into his bosom and his clothes not be burned?" (Proverbs 6:25-27)
Each person will be different in their lusts and in their tolerances. One person will be able to handle a ministry in a bar where he witnesses to the patrons, another may never be able to look at anything having to do with alcohol, even a hint. Some may not be bothered by going to the beach with all the bikini-ed babes there, while others may have to avoid beaches all together. I suggest a realistic reckoning of what you need may be in order. Fear God and avoid evil, like Job.
"But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death." (James 1:14-15)
It may be that you, the reader, are not Christian or are Christian in name only. Maybe you've not really taken the time to consider God seriously or thought God was just "religion" and not for you. Well beloved one, you will fall prey to the very things we spoke of, only you will not be able to stop yourself from lusting with your eyes. This world has a grip on folks that don't know Jesus as their personal LORD and Savior. It could be you have secret addictions or obsessive thoughts about money, or power or sex. Maybe drugs or substances are what your eyes seek out. Well Jesus wants you to know that in Christ you can have power over those obsessive thoughts. You can have the Spirit that will guide your life but only if you receive Him as Savior.
What must one do to be saved? God made it easy to get saved if certain conditions exist. First one must believe God exists and that He sent His Son to die for all mankind. You must also believe that you are a sinner. For how could you ask Jesus to save you if you didn't believe you need saving in the first place? Then just cry out to Him to save you. It really is just that simple.
The Bible says:
"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23)
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16)
"For all who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved." (Romans 10:13)
Pray this with me:
Dear Jesus, I know I am a sinner and I deserve Your judgment. I believe that You came to earth in human flesh to die for my sin and that You hung on the cross for me. I believe that You spent three days in the grave but the grave couldn't hold You and You rose from the dead. I ask You to forgive me of my sin and save me. I turn now from my sin to Jesus as the only way of salvation and I promise to follow You all the days of my life. Thank you for saving me. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Others in this series of independent articles: