Lust. A word that makes us squirm, one that we want to skirt around and avoid. It is the scene in the movie that we peek at between our fingers. It is seeing someone as an object of desire. It is sexual thoughts, pornography, adultery, and so much more. It is what we all fight to resist in our mind every day (although most of us won’t ever reveal the amount of energy we are spending avoiding it). But for most of us our understanding stops there, and we quite honestly don’t want to think about it in depth anyways. I want to uncover to you that there is so much more to lust then what meets the eye (literally), it is a matter of the innermost parts of your heart.
Lust is present where love is absent.
(Warning: If the word lust bothers you, you should stop reading, because there will be more words that rub you the wrong way in this blog. Body of Christ, it is time to start speaking up about uncomfortable issues and I hope to be able to make the journey a little easier by first going there myself.)
Lust is the opposite of love. Where love protects, lust exploits. Where love feels, lust numbs. True love is eternal, lust is temporary. Love cherishes, lust uses. Love costs us our lives, lust is cheap.
When I suggest that lust is the opposite of love I’m not suggesting that if we have gushy feelings for someone then we won’t lust. Or that if we’re married we will be free from sexual sin. Instead, what I want to put on the table today is that when we experience love and acceptance in the deepest levels of our heart, there is no room for lust. When we make ourselves vulnerable in loving God and loving others the way He loves them, there is no longer room to objectify His children.
Hebrews 12 tells us that to indulge ourselves in sexual immorality is to be like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. In the same way, when we lust we sell away our heart, piece by piece, for a temporary pleasure. Like microwave food that can be produced in minutes, is packed with preservatives and harmful chemicals, and has become universally craved, lust is convenient but toxic. It kills us from the inside-out while we, completely unaware, continue to indulge ourselves. We have subconsciously decided that the real thing is too difficult to attain. It takes time, preparation, sacrifice, trial and error, vulnerability.
“There is no satisfaction in lust, it is the squandering of our soul that eventually shuts our heart down.” Benji Nolot
So let’s get vulnerable. I’ll go first.
For literally as long as I can remember I have struggled with masturbation. I have no idea where this sin came from or how it all began, but I began to consciously battle it the day that I was old enough to realize that what I was doing wasn’t right. However, I was already so filled with shame that I felt stuck. I would exercise self control and abstain from masturbating for some time, only to fall right back into it when I felt alone or shameful.
When love from God or others seemed distant or unattainable, I turned to what I could control. Shame kept me hiding from God and His love, so the more I fell into sin, the less loved I felt, and in-turn the more I struggled with sin. It was easier in the moment to trade in my birthright, my destiny, my God-given promises, for this temporary pleasure because true love and connection with people and with God was too hard.
Over the past couple of years I have been in the process of finding freedom from this cycle of bondage to lust and have begun to experience true love. I’ve gone through a journey of learning to be vulnerable and patient, the things that are required to take part in a love relationship, both with God and with those around me.The more I sit in the presence of God and realize that I am fully loved, the more the barriers of shame are broken, and the more I am completely filled to contentment with genuine love. I’m still growing and learning to walk in the freedom that love has paid for but the more I experience it, the less I crave the replica.
Just as sacrifice and bloodshed are required to make a real fur coat, so it is with true love. Jesus poured out His blood in an act of extreme romance, we give our hearts in pure devotion, and we are then dressed in a costly garment of love. While faux fur may be more cost efficient and look similar to the real thing, it is merely a life-less synthetic material. We have to first shed our self-produced garments to put on the one He has woven for us. Then, when we are surrendered to this true love we are able to also sacrifice ourselves for others to experience it as well.
Worldwide cultures have begun to prefer the cheap replica of the real thing, and as a result are being turned over to the mercy of the devil who thrives off of our lust. The Church is called to break the cycles of lust and shame and reveal the love of Christ to the world. So let us revolutionize the way our culture thinks about lust and love. Let us combat shame and receive the love of our Father. Let us expose the parts of our heart that have been sold for temporary fulfillment. Let us become transparent lovers who won’t allow the enemy to deceive us into believing that a life of lust is the closest we can get to love! Let us leave behind those microwave dinners and faux fur jackets and, clothed in a garment of righteousness, join our Bridegroom at the banqueting table!