Thursday, August 9, 2018

Stronghold Starter #6 Lust: I Deserve to Get My Needs Met, No Matter The Cost

I know, I know.  We all think of sex when it come to lust.  But, if you check the word in Greek, you will get:  “to set one’s heart upon.”  You desire it.  You long for it.  You can also long for something forbidden.  (Strong’s)

We are all familiar with the words of Jesus: “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Matt. 5:28)  Obviously, Jesus rightly discerned how what we think in our minds can quickly come to fruition and become action. 

But He also looked deeper into the human heart and saw how our longings can become our consumings, to coin a word.

Of course, we can be tempted to long for sex.  We think that another relationship, another encounter, another kind of experience will fill that deep void in us once and for all.  There’s the rub: lust is the one appetite that is never satiated.  We moderns call it “sex addiction.”  Addiction, by definition, is an never-ending pursuit of that high.  Why?  That high, for now, makes us forget our lives.

But, let’s look at the deeper picture.  "Lust” in Greek can be translated in different ways, although it’s the same word:

“For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.”  (Matt. 13:17)

“And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.” (Luke 22:15)
Do you see it? This word carries a meaning of a heart deeply immersed in longing, desiring, wanting; clearly, this can be seen in a positive way.  Jesus told His disciples that the prophets of old wanted desperately to see what they then saw: the Messiah, the Deliverer of God’s people, the very Son of David, whose kingdom is forever.

Jesus used the word of Himself; He knew His days were numbered.  He wanted to share a meal that represented deliverance and His impending death would do just that for His disciples and the world. 

But the darker side of longing, blended with our pride that puts us at the center, creates a longing that moves us as far way from God as we can get: 

“For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.” (Gal. 5:17)

So, with our flesh in the lead, the longing for God gets derailed into a longing for anything but Him; we are trapped by our longings, because they will never satisfy us.  Ever.  Why?  We were made for God, pure and simple.  No one or nothing else will fill the God-shaped void in our heart.  

So, how to maneuver this choice between longing for the dark and longing for the light? 

Do not set foot on the path of the wicked
    or walk in the way of evildoers.
Avoid it, do not travel on it;
    turn from it and go on your way.
For they cannot rest until they do evil;
    they are robbed of sleep till they make someone stumble.       
                                                                                  (Prov. 4:14-16)

Don’t get into the arena of sin in the first place.  If I don’t want to go three rounds with Mike Tyson and get pummeled to a pulp, I don’t climb into the ring in the first place.  If he pounds me on the street, that’s assault and battery.  But if he pounds me in the ring, that’s a sporting event carried on national television and the winner gets a prize and prestige. 

My task?  Again, look at the advice Proverbs gives:

Above all else, guard your heart,
    for everything you do flows from it.
Keep your mouth free of perversity;
    keep corrupt talk far from your lips.
Let your eyes look straight ahead;
    fix your gaze directly before you.
Give careful thought to the paths for your feet
    and be steadfast in all your ways.
Do not turn to the right or the left;
    keep your foot from evil.      
                                                                                      (Prov. 4: 23-27)

Ultimately, because of pride, we will rationalize our sin as meeting a need (regardless of the cost) because we deserve it:

Hey, it’s online!  It’s not like I am having an affair or anything!

When I  verb of choice,  I feel better.  Don’t deny me that.  I have earned it. 

I have been good for  fill in the amount of time,  so I deserve a break to indulge a little.  I promise it’s only a little.

Who are you to judge?  You don’t know the struggles I face.

God may help you, but He’s checked out on me.  Guess I will try to overcome this myself.

I can still hang out with my ex- fill in the addiction  friends.   Yeah, they tempt me, but I gotta stand strong.  If I fail, God is there to forgive me. 

At the core of these statements is, I will get my needs met—now.  The consequences?  I am not worried about that now, just get me to Distraction Junction as soon as possible, so I can board that train and forget my life for a while. 

Lust in us is longing, yet the road we are on distracts us from our true calling--residing in Christ--and drives us deeper and deeper into sin.  

Trust in Him, however, is true fulfillment.

God will fill every corner of our hearts, if we allow it.

This is key.  Jesus will not trespass.  He must be invited in.  If you leave a door locked, with your  guilty pleasure tucked inside, He won’t break the door down.  But Satan will, and will add more and more pleasure and guilt for you to hide in that locked room.  He loves the dark corners of your heart, and blackmail you with shame and guilt.

Guilt says, (with Satan’s voiceover) What you did was bad. You can't help yourself.  Others do the same thing and get away with it.  Just forget about it.  

Shame says, (with Satan’s booming voiceover) You are bad. You were born that way.  You are who you are.  Take pride in it, 'cause that's all you've got.  Make the best of it.  

But what does God say to those who accept His Son, with guilt and shame washing over their hearts in drowning waves of emptiness and hopelessness: 

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:9)

You are chosen in Christ, arrayed in His robe of righteousness and a bride, inestimably loved.

You are a priest, allowed to walk into the very throne room of God, arrayed in Christ and speaking to the Father without fear.

You are part of a holy nation, made up of those who walk in Christ, not in their own power, but in His.

You are special, held in His hands, never to be let go. Ever.

You are His messenger. You tell of the Light as you walk in the light and you announce to the Darkness that you are free in Him. Whoever is free in Him is free indeed.

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