“The Corruption That is in
the World Through Lust”
Introduction. (II Peter 1:1-4). Peter says in this text that the Christian “escapes” the corrupting influence that enters the world “through lust.” The word translated “lust” is the Greek word
epithumia meaning -
“desire, craving, longing” (Thayer). Unlike the way that we usually use the
word lust, here it is used in a very broad and general sense. Peter uses it in much the same way that James does, of...
- Generic desire. (James 1:13-15). Here “desire”
(epithumia) is the seed of all sin. Doing what we want, rather than what God wants.
It is covetousness. Paul in Romans 13:9 refers to the command
of the Law of Moses “you shall not covet”
(using the word epithumeo - verb form). This referred to all sorts of things that one might “desire”
(Exodus 20:17). In the Ten Commandment law it is a sin to desire what belongs to another. There are in fact...
- “Various lusts” (II Timothy 3:6; Titus 3:3). That is, different types
of desire for things that are sinful.
- “Worldly lusts” (Titus
2:11-12) Of those things which are sinful having to do with this world. The kind of things
which prompt John to say, “the world is passing away, and the
lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”(I
- “Harmful lusts” (I Timothy
6:9) Of the desire for wealth. This is what Jesus speaks of in Mark's account of the
Parable of the Sower. Those who allow “desires for other
things entering in” to “choke the word, and it becomes
unfruitful.” (Mark 4:19).
- “Former lusts” (I Peter
1:13-16) Here Peter speaks of things we might have desired before we came to Christ, but now no longer pursue. This could be many things, depending upon the person.
Yet, when we use the term “lust” in modern English
we generally refer to what the Bible calls...
- “Lust of the flesh” Which I John 2:16 says is “not of
the father but is of the world” Fleshly lusts may
concern anything that appeals to the sinful desires of the flesh,
but often they are of the sort which Jesus addresses in
the Sermon on the Mount - (Matthew 5:27-30). This is (like
the covetousness of Exodus 20:17) the desire for (or the
imagination of) physical relationships which one has no right to --
i.e. someone you are not married to, but is married to another
or someone who is unmarried and you are not married to them.
This evening I'd like for us to talk about this type of lust and consider the “corruption” which it brings into the world, the effect it has on the souls
of those who pursue it and the importance of abstaining from this type of desire.
I. The Problem of Lust.
It is clear that the world is given over to this type of lust.
- TV commercials promote lust whether selling cars or dog food!
- In magazines whether wholly devoted to this purpose (i.e.
pornography) or some other subject, one is bombarded with images of
immodesty and indecency.
- The internet, while a source of much good, has become a funnel
through which every kind of filth imaginable is available. Through “spam”and “pop-up”adds even if a person doesn’t pursue such things, without a “spam-blocker” unsolicited graphic e-mails are thrust upon us.
The world sees all of this as harmless, but it is horribly destructive. More and more you will hear about relationships destroyed by addictions to
such things. Or people moving beyond visual involvement and acting out
sinful behavior. Someone may say“well I’m not tempted by any of those
things, I’ve guarded myself against them.” That is great, but that doesn’t mean
that there are not still temptations that surround the Christian.
- Do you rationalize and allow other things? Swimsuit calendars?
That car magazine with scantily clad models? Mixed swimming?
- Immodest and alluring clothing styles are all around us.
- Young men and young women are told by the culture to dress in ways
that uncover their bodies, or present their bodies in ways that are
deliberately provocative. If challenged some say...
- “I can dress how I want, they just need to control their mind!” It
is true that people need to control their minds but how we choose
to dress can either help others to do that or make it harder for them to
- Many young men and women (who may just want to look
fashionable) fail to realize that some godless “Madison Avenue” designer
has deliberately designed some style of clothing for the purpose
of promoting lust!
I fear that we often don’t allow ourselves to realize what a problem this is. I believe it is safe to say, that in the years I have been
preaching--when speaking with Christian men (in more candid moments) I have never met
a man that did not struggle intensely with this sin! In my opinion, of all of
the sins which can rob a person of their home in heaven, on the day of
judgement more will be lost to this sin than any other!
- Jesus spoke in Matthew 5:28 of a man looking upon a woman, but
this is not wholly a male problem.
- While women generally are not as strongly provoked by
visual stimula, some women are.
- Others, may find that an emotionally stirring movie or romance
novel creates in them the same type of covetous desire that a man feels
from visual stimula.
No problem can be addressed until it is recognized as a problem. So, we as Christians must avoid the attitude that the world has which says
that allowing the mind to dwell upon sinful desires, and imagine activities
and relationship we have no right to be involved in is “just
natural”or “funny”or “harmless fun” -- it is sinful and destructive.
In what ways is this true?
- It corrupts. (II Peter 1:4). This is true in many ways. It wars against our inner man. (Galatians
5:16,17). Think about it for a moment, when someone lusts after
another person or looks at indecent material what is at issue?
- The one who lusts sins. This (as we shall see) could keep
a person from inheriting eternal life.
- The person encourages a culture of lust. Would
women wear indecent clothes if every man turned his head?
Would indecent material be produced if no one looked at it?
True, one person will not “make or break” a culture, but one
person contributes to a culture.
- One person derives pleasure from the sin of another.
i.e. immodest behavior or fornication. This is the sickest
aspect of lust. Imagine that there was a magazine or a video
that showed a person slowly putting their hand in corrosive
acid again and again. What kind of person would derive
pleasure from seeing someone else destroying themselves? The
same is true of lust. One person derives a perverse thrill
from behavior that is leading another person to an eternity in hell!
How can people do this?
- People become objectified. i.e. they are not souls -- they
are just bodies. As Christians this as much as anything
should discourage us from lust when we realize another person
is not just a body. They are a soul made in the image of God.
Further, they are someone’s daughter, or son, wife,
husband, mother or father -- and they are lost in need of salvation!
It robs us of joys God would have us to know.
Ephesians 4:22 speaks of “deceitful lusts.” This type of sin
promises what it cannot deliver and robs what God would offer to us.
Paul taught that marriage is the avenue for natural desires
of this type to be fulfilled (I Corinthians 7:1-5). The man
or women who gives themselves to lust will never be
happy with the relationships which God gives them because
they are always looking elsewhere.
Lust is in fact discontentment! Hebrews 13:5 “Let
your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such
things as you have. For He Himself has said, I will never leave
you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5, NKJV. The soul who
lusts is not content with what God has given them.
- It captivates. (Titus 3:3). Note: one comes to “serve” lust.
(Romans 6:12,13) Sin of all types calls upon us to “obey” its demands.
How ironic it is that people in this world who demand “freedom”
place themselves in the greatest type of bondage of all.
- It condemns. (James 1:15) Desire conceived brings forth sin and
sin leads to death. Matthew 5:29 speaks of the eye “causing you to
sin” and leading to being cast into hell. Ephesians 2:3 teaches us
that those who walk according to the “lusts of the flesh” thus
“fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind” are “children of wrath”
The soul who gives themselves to the lusts of the flesh
and mind (whether they act upon those desires or not) is
at enmity with God and can be lost because of it.
We should note that sinful lust is not the unsolicited
thought that pops into the mind and is quickly dismissed. Rather it
is that thought which lingers, sets up “house” in our mind
and is pondered over. This sin and must be avoided.
II. Abstaining from the Sin of Lust.
The text we began with spoke of “escaping” the corruption that is in the world through lust. (I Peter 2:11) This teaches us that we are
to “abstain from” these lusts which “war” against the soul. How do we
do that? Sometime back I heard preacher on the radio who had come
up with an group of suggestions for overcoming lust which he
organized using the word ANTHEM. He said one should...
A - AVOID as much as possible things which pose temptation.
N - Say NO to every lustful thought within 5 seconds. More than
that and it becomes immovable.
T - TURN the mind forcefully towards Christ and what He offers you.
H- HOLD the promise and the pleasure of Christ in your mind until
all other images are pushed out.
E - ENJOY a superior satisfaction that is found in obedience to Christ.
M - MOVE into a useful activity away from idleness.
(John Piper, www.desiringGod.org)
This is some good advice, and organized in a way that is easy to remember, but God has told us the same things all along.
- “Flee youthful lusts” (II Timothy
- “Resist the Devil and he will flee from you”
- “Set your mind on things above”
- “I have made a covenant with my eyes”
- “Always abounding in the work of the Lord”
(I Corinthians 15:58).