When lust gains the upper hand, it's deadly. It's only when self control reigns that true emotional, physical and spiritual health (and even sexual fulfillment) are possible.
Today is a "PG-13" kind of teaching, so I want you to know in advance that I'm going to submerge the submarine of our life together and go fairly deep on this one.
Building our character house one brick at a time is starting with some counterculture ideas. As we have discussed, the Bible talks about 7 Deadly Sins, each one of which has a spiritual counterpart. Lust is one of those 7 deadly sins. Its spiritual opposite is self control. One of the most obvious arenas for self control to function is in our sex drives. Of course, if ever our society considered an idea out of date, it would be the idea that repressing our sexual drives is a good thing. We seem to think that unfulfilled or repressed desires and drives inevitably leads to great harm to both individuals and society. Yet, nothing could be further from the truth. When lust gains the upper hand, it's deadly. It's only when self control reigns that true emotional, physical and spiritual health (and even sexual fulfillment) are possible. Let's take a look at what the Bible says about lust and sexual sin. We're going to look at a passage that comes from what many believe is the first letter written in the New Testament.
"It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life" (I Thessalonians 4:3-7).
Sexual sin is a big deal to God.
Self control is an important spiritual discipline.
God wants us to sweat the small stuff in the area of sexual purity.
There is a well-known book that actually is very helpful. The title is "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff... and It's All Small Stuff." That advice might be helpful stress relief, but it is the opposite of the truth when it comes to lust and self control.
Definition: Lust is the unbridled pursuit of self pleasure through inappropriate sexual thoughts, desires or actions.
Unbridled lust: A cannibal committing suicide by nibbling on himself. – Calvin Miller in A Requiem for Love. Christianity Today, Vol. 34, no. 2.
The Truth About Temptation and Sin
A man had a sign on his door which said, “Lead me not into temptation, I can find it for myself.”
1) Temptation is not a sin.
"For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin" (Hebrews 4:15).
Martin Luther said, “You can’t keep the birds from flying overhead, but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair.”
1) Temptation does not come from God.
"When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; "(James 1:13).
2) Sin typically is a crock-pot experience, not a microwave moment.
It starts in the mind, moves to the heart, and then gets acted upon by the feet (or some other part of the anatomy). You don't go from 0 to Mach 5 in 60 seconds.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Matthew 5:27-28).
"...but 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" (James 1:14-15).
3) Sexual sin has spiritual consequences.
"Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body" (I Corinthians 6:18-20).
The Truth About Self Control & Sexual Purity
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit" (Galatians 5:22-25).
1) God gives His Spirit so that you can live free and fruitful.
Definition: Self-Control is living under the control of the Spirit so that your mind is in submission to God's purifying presence in your life.
"No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it" (I Corinthians 10:13).
2) God never allows too much temptation.
Though, to be honest, we often allow ourselves to walk into bear traps of our own making
3) God always provides a way of escape.
"Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart"(II Timothy 2:22).
4) The key is to avoid temptation, not resist it!
Developing Your Self Control Game Plan
1) Walk in the Spirit
2) Protect your Eyes from Evil
"For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world" (I John 2: 16).
3) Fill your Mind with God's Truth
"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things" (Philippians 4:8).
4) Submit to God and Resist the Devil
"Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you" (James 4:7).