I want to begin my sermon this morning by telling you a story about a young man that showed lots of promise, but who's life ended tragically all because he could not control his lust.
He was a young man who, seemingly, had everything going for him. His birth was literally an answer to prayer. His parents desperately wanted a child and they petitioned the Lord to bless them with a baby. To their joy a boy was born and they dedicated that young man to God. They gave him a name that means A Little Bit of Sunshine.
This young man grew up in a Godly home, with loving parents who dotted on him and spoiled him almost beyond belief. He was strong and handsome and courageous. He had wit and a sense of humor and enjoyed a good riddle. He was undoubtedly the life of the party anywhere he went. He was a rugged outdoors-men and would probably be considered a ‘man's man.' There were times in his life when he showed flashes of true spiritual strength, but they were usually short-lived.
This young man had everything going for him, but his life was tragically cut short in the prime of his life. At the end, he found himself betrayed, enslaved, blinded, and mocked by his enemies. His name? Samson!
Samson is considered a ‘hero of the faith' in the Old Testament. But the very same Scriptures that lift him up as an Israeli hero also paint a very sad picture of a man who's life never measured up to what it could have been. The Bible is very honest about Samson's short comings. He was irresponsible, short on personal holiness, and a man who's uncontrolled sensuality ultimately brought his downfall. Samson could not get a handle on his lust.
Thousands of years later, as we sit here this morning, lust is a sin that is still as serious and still as deadly as it ever was. A bumper sticker on a car I saw in Jefferson City last week is a commentary on our culture and the grip that lust has over the hearts and minds of our citizens. It read: Wanted: A Meaningful Overnight Relationship.
Let's take a look at what the Scriptures say about this deadly sin.
I. LUST IS PASSION GONE WRONG
- most people have come to equate lust with sexual desire
- in many cases in the Scripture, lust does indeed refer to illicit sexual desire
- consequently, if we are not struggling with illicit sexual thoughts or behavior, we assume we are free from lust
- nothing could be further from the truth
A. THE COLOR OF LUST
- ILLUS. Throughout most of Western history, red is often used as the color symbolizing lust, as it is a ‘hot’ color, usually interpreted as sexy, strong, powerful, and sensual. Christian artists often painted their devil as being red since he was seen as lustful and the father of lust. There was a time when many cities had their ‘red-light’ districts where prostitution was confined to. Two years ago, researchers at the University of Rochester concluded a scientific study that underscored what most women have known for a long time. If you’re looking to catch a man, wear something red. The research concluded that men aren't all that complicated when it comes to attraction toward the opposite sex. The test subjects, all undergrads, judged women as sexier and more attractive if they wore red clothes or even appeared in a photo with a red border. One of the researchers commented: "As much as men might like to think that they respond to women in a thoughtful, sophisticated manner, it appears that at least to some degree, their preferences and predilections are, in a word, primitive." On the other hand, the experiment showed that the color red didn’t do a thing in attracting women toward men. So guys, save your money—the red sports car ain’t necessarily gonna be a babe-magnate.
- in the New Testament, the word most frequently translated lust simply means strong desire
- the word can be use to describe a legitimate, godly desire
- Jesus said to His disciples: “ ... I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.” (Luke 22:15, NIV)
- the Apostle Paul, told the Philippian believers that he strongly desired to depart this life to be with the Lord (Phil 1:23), and in 1 Thess. 2:17 he strongly desired to be with his friends
- desire, even strong desire—or lust—is not inconsistent with God’s purpose for our lives
- we see this most clearly in what the Hebrews call the Shema—their daily call to worship
- Deuteronomy 6:4-5 "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God [is] one LORD: 5 And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might."
- Romans 6:12-13 “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. 13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.” KJV
- a passionate sexual desire for you spouse is in bounds
- but a passionate sexual desire for your neighbor’s spouse is out of bounds
- sexual lust toward anyone but your spouse is desire that is out of balance with God’s will
- a passionate desire for leadership that pursues a life of service is in bounds
- but a passionate desire for leadership that pursues individual favor and personal enrichment at the expense of others is out of bounds
- lust for power or leadership that is not characterized by a life of service is out of balance with God’s will
- a passionate desire toward fellowship with one’s friends is inbounds
- but a passionate desire for fellowship with one’s friends at the expense of study or personal integrity or commitment to family is out of bounds
- lust for acceptance that never says no to friends is out of balance with God’s will
B. THE CALAMITY OF LUST
- desire when unleashed and uncontrolled becomes a lust that consumes our entire personality
- just ask Samson
- ILLUS. Detrich Bonhoeffer is one of my heros of the faith. He was a German pastor who resisted Hitler was ultimately executed by the Nazis. His manuscript entitled Temptation gives a vivid description of our tendency to turn off the warnings of our conscience when sin's allurements wink at us. He writes: "In our members there is a slumbering inclination towards desire which is both sudden and fierce. With irresistible power desire seizes mastery over the flesh. All at once a secret, smoldering fire is kindled. The flesh burns and is in flames. It makes no difference whether it is sexual desire, or ambition, or vanity, or desire for revenge, or love of fame and power, or greed for money, or, finally, that strange desire for the beauty of the world, of nature. Joy in God is... extinguished in us and we seek all our joy in the creature. At this moment God is quite unreal to us, he loses all reality, and only desire for the creature is real; the only reality is the devil. Satan does not here fill us with hatred of God, but with forgetfulness of God. And now his falsehood is added to this proof of strength. The lust thus aroused envelopes the mind and will of man in deepest darkness. The powers of clear discrimination and of decision are taken from us. The questions present themselves: "Is what the flesh desires really sin in this case?" "Is it really not permitted to me, yes – expected of me, now, here, in my particular situation, to appease desire?" The tempter puts me in a privileged position as he tried to put the hungry Son of God in a privileged position. I boast of my privilege against God. It is here that everything within me rises up against the Word of God."
- power ...
- popularity ...
- prosperity ...
- and the list goes on and on
- ILLUS. Hugh Hefner, editor of Playboy magazine, openly embraces the hedonistic philosophy that has overwhelmed our culture. In a Larry King interview Hefner once said, "Sex is a function of the body. A drive which man shares with animals. Like eating, drinking and sleeping. It's a physical demand that must be satisfied. If you don't satisfy it you will have all sorts of neurosis and repression psychosis. Sex is here to stay. Let's forget the prudery that makes us hide from it. Throw away those inhibitions, find a girl who's like minded and let yourself go."
- and that is exactly what our culture has done
- the movies, the TV, the music you hear on the radio, and Madison Avenue advertisers have convinced Americans that sex brings happiness
- too many of our teenagers and young adults have bought the lie and assume that the message is true
- the Roman culture that predominated the world in which the apostle Paul preached and ministered was famous or I should say infamous for its lasciviousness behavior
- ILLUS. In 79 AD Mt. Vesuvius erupted and buried the city of Pompeii. The city lay forgotten for centuries until it was rediscovered in the mid-19th century. As archeologists began to excavate the ruins they were amazed at the state of preservation of thousands of frescoes and mosaics. What amazed them more were the scenes of sexual carnality and debauchery depicted in many of them. Because they are so old, archeologists consider them ancient treasures. If the scenes from many of those frescoes and mosaics were recent photographs, we would consider them obscene. They comprise the world's oldest known pornography!
- we like to think that this sin is not a problem in the Body of Christ, but if you think it is not a problem you're only fooling yourself
- ILLUS. In 1992 Josh McDowell commissioned a nation-wide survey of Christian teenagers. It was one of the largest studies ever done of young people. What it discovered is disturbing. By high school graduation 43% of kids in evangelical, fundamental churches have had sexual intercourse. Of those 12-18 years of age, 65% have been involved in some other kind of serious sexual content such as direct caressing or petting. 36% did not believe that premarital sexual intercourse was morally unacceptable!
- they are not the only ones who must deal with the sin of lust
- ILLUS. The sale of pornographic literature in the U.S. amounts to over $8 billion dollars annually. Psychologists tell us that addiction to pornography is one of the strongest addictions there is. It builds a mental stronghold and creates a bondage that many in our society struggle with – especially men and teenage boys.
- Galatians 5:17 "For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would."
II. LUST INDULGES IN SELF-GRATIFICATION WITHOUT REGARD FOR OTHERS
- it's obvious that Samson rarely, if ever, thought of how his actions affected others
- Samson confused lust with genuine love, but discovered too late that lust serves as a cheap imitation of passion
- lust is the one night stand, but love is making a life long commitment
- lust can't wait to sexually express itself, but true love waits
- love knows that there is a right time and a right place
- that right time and that right place is called marriage
- ILLUS. Chuck Swindol, a popular writer and radio preacher, tells the story of a young man seeking wise counsel from his grandfather regarding sexual behavior. He says to his grandfather, "Grandpa, in your day you didn't have all of these serious sexually transmitted diseases. What did you use to have safe sex?" Without batting an eye, the old man shot back quickly, "A wedding ring!"
- but love understands that there is not only a right time and a right place, but also a right person
A. UNCONTROLLABLE LUST IS DESTRUCTIVE AND HEATHENISTIC
- ILLUS. David and Bath-Sheba, Ahab and Jezebel, Herod and his step-daughter, Ananiras and Saphira, Jimmy Swaggart, Jim Baker.
- lust, uncontrolled, destroys your character
- lust, uncontrolled, destroys relationships
- lust, uncontrolled, destroys families
- lust, uncontrolled, even can destroy your life (AIDS)
- the New Testament testifies that, within the human experience, if sinful desires are gratified instead of crucified they become a consuming fire
- Colossians 3:5 "Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:"
III. GOD CAN GIVE US THE VICTORY OVER LUST
- lust is a powerful drive
- ILLUS. Frederick Beuchner writes that lust is the craving for salt by a man dying for thirst.
A. WAY OUT #1—EXPERIENCE THE GRACE AND FORGIVENESS OF GOD
- “But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—” (Romans 3:21–25, NIV)
- knowing God is basic to living a holy life
- lust is a sin that cannot be overcome outside of a relationship with the living God through Jesus Christ
- if you’re here this morning and you’ve never been born again, give you heart and life to Jesus
B. WAY OUT #2—FLEE IT
- 2 Timothy 2:22 "Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart."
- it's interesting that he says flee youthful lusts
- as we get older our lusts change
- the lusts of a 20-year-old man may not be the things a 40-year-old man lusts for and the things a 40-year-old man lusts for may not be the things a 60-year-old man lusts for
- the best illustration of someone fleeing a situation where lust might have prevailed is Joseph in the Old Testament
- Potopher's wife kept insisting that Joseph have sex with her
- Joseph kept resisting
- Joseph teaches us that when it comes to temptation, we must think long term
- the characteristic of lust is: "I want it and I want it now"
- I have no doubt that Joseph was emotionally and spiritually stealed against this woman's advances when they came because he knew they were coming and he prepared himself
C. WAY OUT #3—CRUCIFY IT
- Galatians 5:24 /"And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts."\
- dead men can't sin
- if you are dead to sin, sin no longer has to be master over you
- Paul insists that we are, by faith, to so associate ourselves with the death of Christ, that we become immune to the temptations of the world
- every morning, our first act of faith ought to be to reckon ourselves dead unto sin and alive unto Christ
D. WAY OUT #4—WALK IN THE SPIRIT
- Galatians 5:16 "[This] I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.”
- the verb used here literally means to keep on walking
- as a believer walks through life he or she should depend on the indwelling Holy Spirit for guidance and power
- when we are under the Spirit's control, we will not, we absolutely will not, gratify the desires of the sinful nature
CON. Samson is considered a hero of the faith' in the Old Testament. But the very same Scriptures that lift him up as an Israeli hero also paint a very sad picture of a man who's life never measured up to what it could have been. The Bible is very honest about Samson's short comings. He was irresponsible, short on personal holiness, and a man who's uncontrolled sensuality ultimately brought his downfall. Samson could not get a handle on his lust.
Christians must flee the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes and instead walk in the Spirit.'