Lust Verses Love A Biblical Perspective

Most people know the difference between lust and love so what are they? What does the Bible define as love and as lust?

A Definition of Lust

Lust is an emotion or feeling of intense desire in the body and it can take nearly any form such as the lust for knowledge, the lust for sex or the lust for power. It is an overwhelming self-absorbed desire or craving for an object, person, or experience that might be good but in most cases, is not. For example, a man or a woman can lust after their spouse and since they are legally married, there is no sin in this, however lusting after someone else’s spouse or someone who’s not married is sin, so clearly, lust and love aren’t the same at all and in many ways, they are actually opposites of one another, for example we can lust after riches, for drugs, for alcohol, and for any number of things that are detrimental to our wellbeing.

A Definition of Love

The way the world defines love and the way that God defines love are not even close to the same thing. As far as the world sees, love is a strong and warm affection that someone has for another or others or for something. It could be like that of a parent for a child or a spouse for their mate or it could be a love for reading, eating, drugs, alcohol, or even shopping. Some of these are good and well, but others can lead to ruin. Love can certainly be a strong feeling of affection and concern toward another person, as that arising from a kinship or close friendship, which I have for my own spouse and children and grandchildren and even for my friends but from the biblical standpoint, love and lust are no co-equals since one can be good, while the other can lead to harm.

But-I-say-to-you-that

A Biblical Definition of Lust

I like what C.S. Lewis wrote many years ago. He wrote “If you look upon ham and eggs and lust, you have already committed breakfast in your heart.” This is a very good, biblical definition of lust in the heart. If you covet something or someone, that is lusting in the heart. Exodus 20:17 lists the tenth commandment as “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor” so lust is not just about looking at someone of the opposite sex, or for some, looking at someone with lust of the same sex, it is coveting what you don’t have. It is a passionate desire to have what someone else has.

What Lust Can Lead To

David let his lust carry him away as “One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful” (2nd Sam 11:2) and so he lusted after her in his heart. This led to adultery and later, to the murder of Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah. This is why James wrote that “after desire (or lust) has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death” (1:15). The proverbs say “Do not lust in your heart after her beauty or let her captivate you with her eyes” (6:25). Jesus said that it was “out of the heart come evil thoughts–murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander” (Matt 15:19). Solomon understood this connection, writing that as a man “thinks within himself, so he is” (23:7a). You can commit adultery without ever committing the physical act. Jesus said that “that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matt 5:28) and of course the same thing applies to women.

A Biblical Definition of Love

There are so many places that define love in the Bible that it will be hard to select only a few. Paul writes that “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1st Cor 13:4-7). The love of God is not about feelings or words but “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8). Love is a verb; it is what you do more than what you say or what you think. We know that Jesus did not feel like taking on all of the sins of humanity, but His great love for us on the cross proved what the love of God is like. He died for us while we were still wicked sinners and His enemies (Rom 5:8, 10).

Conclusion

The differences between love and lust are that we don’t covet what we don’t have. We shouldn’t covet (lust after) our neighbor’s spouse or their goods (Ex 20:17). Love, on the other hand, “does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law” (Rom 13:10) and this means “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt 19:19) but above all “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matt 22:37). The difference for believers is that we are told “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matt 5:44). The greatest display of love was not what Jesus felt or what God feels but it was revealed at Calvary. Jesus said “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13) and that’s just what He did. Lust harms, love sacrifices.

—————-

**By Jack Wellman at what Christians wat to know / Photo by Mark Stebnicki at Pexels

How to Get and Keep a Good Conscience

I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man. (Acts 24:16)

Conscience gives you the ability to evaluate your own thoughts and desires, to discern what is right and wrong, and to distinguish between what is good and what is best. 

To help us get a handle on conscience and how it functions, I want you to think about an alarm clock. A good alarm clock does two things: It stays quiet when you should be asleep, and it makes a noise when you need to wake up! 

That’s how your conscience is supposed to work. When you are on the right path, a good conscience will be at peace (Colossians 3:15). But when you are tempted towards the wrong path, a good conscience will sound the alarm. The problem with the conscience is that, like every other part of your soul, it has been disordered by sin. 

Like an alarm clock, conscience can malfunction and stay silent when it should go off.

My Alarm Didn’t Go Off! 

The corrupt conscience 

To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted. (Titus 1:15) 

Acting against your conscience will bring a change in your inner life. It will change how your conscience functions. A corrupt conscience approves the wrong things. 

An easy way to see this is to picture a teenager using drugs for the first time. He knows that drugs are addictive and destructive, and his conscience tells him that taking them is wrong. But his friends are encouraging him to try them. He wants his friends to like him. So he over-rides his conscience.

In over-ruling his conscience, he diminishes its power. His conscience is weakened. It is less sensitive, and therefore less effective. Next time, the decision to take the drug will be much easier. If the boy repeats this choice again, the boy’s conscience changes. After a while he will feel that there is nothing wrong with what he is doing.

The important point to grasp here is that the conscience is corrupted whenever a person acts against it over time. When a person’s conscience is corrupted over time, it can become seared.

The seared conscience 

Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. (1 Timothy 4:2) 

In the ancient world, doctors would use a hot iron to cauterize a wound. It hardly bears thinking about what this must have been like before anesthetic, but if you had a wound and the bleeding could not be stopped, your best hope was the hot iron pressed on your flesh.

Once you recovered from the pain, you would discover that the bleeding had stopped, but you would also find that you had lost all feeling in the area that had been seared. The hot iron killed off the nerves so that you no longer had feeling where the iron had been applied. 

Paul says, “That’s how it is with some people’s conscience.” They have been “seared as with a hot iron” (Ephesians 4:19). Their conscience has lost all sensitivity. When that happens, a person can lie, cheat, or steal without their conscience raising any objection. They feel no guilt because their conscience is seared.

As he was on the road to Damascus, that’s exactly what Saul of Tarsus thought. Do you think he was worried about doing something wrong? The seared conscience calls evil “good” and good “evil” (Isaiah 5:20). 

How to Get and Keep a Good Conscience

I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man. (Acts 24:16) 

If a conscience has become corrupt, so that it is no longer functioning correctly, how can it become pure? If a conscience has become seared, it has become insensitive, like thick skin. How can it be made sensitive again? 

A good conscience is powered by the Spirit: If I take the batteries out of my alarm clock, it will not work. It is also set by the Word and cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ. 

A good conscience is powered by the Holy Spirit 

When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment. (John 16:8)

Jesus is speaking about the Holy Spirit. When he comes, when he begins working in your life, what you can expect is that he awakens your conscience. When the Holy Spirit comes, he wakens you up to reality. Jesus describes that reality in three ways—sin, righteousness, and judgment: 

The Holy Spirit convicts of guilt in regard to sin

The first work of the Holy Spirit is deeply disturbing—he activates your conscience. He brings you to a place where you see your own sin.

The Holy Spirit convicts of guilt in regard to righteousness

You don’t know what righteousness is until you know Jesus. When you get to know him, you see that his righteousness is so far beyond what you have at your best that you haven’t a hope of getting near him.

The Holy Spirit convicts of guilt in regard to judgment

The Holy Spirit convinces of sin and righteousness and judgment. A true Christian wants more of this, not less, because that is what authentic godliness is looking for.

It wants to know more of its own sin and more of God’s righteousness, so that it might embrace God’s mercy even more. 

A good conscience is set by the Word of God 

I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. (Psalm 119:11) 

If the alarm clock is to function, it has to be powered, but it also has to be set. A good conscience is powered by the Spirit and set by the Word. Hiding God’s Word in your heart will train your conscience to sound the alarm and keep you from sin. 

Are you, like David, hiding God’s word in your heart? Or is it just flitting across your brain? When You hide God’s Word in your heart that Word shapes and strengthens your conscience. And a good conscience is your best defense against sin and temptation.

A good conscience is cleansed by the blood of Christ 

How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! (Hebrews 9:14) 

This is an amazing promise! Christ cleansing our consciences from acts that lead to death! 

How does he do it? By the blood of Christ, because on the cross he offered himself unblemished to God! He offered himself—his unblemished, perfect life—as a sacrifice to God for us on account of our sins. Therefore, he alone is able to cleanse our consciences through his blood. 

Your conscience may have been corrupted, even seared. Christ can make it good. That’s what redemption is all about. It is powered by the Spirit, set by the Word, and cleansed by the blood.

————-

*** By Colin Smith at Unlocking the Bible / Picture by Chandra Elancher

The Lord Doesn’t Wink At Sin

“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?” – Romans 6:1-2

Sin. It’s something most of us would rather not think about. For the unsaved person, sin is something that separates them from God, due to his perfect holiness. Yet for the Christian, their sin has been paid for. When God looks at them, he doesn’t see their sin, but instead righteousness.

How can that be? The answer is Jesus.

Jesus took the place of us on the cross. He paid the price of our sins with his very life and his holiness was accounted to us (2 Corinthians 5:21). God made it possible for us to be with him through the blood of his holy Son. Instead of condemnation, we receive grace. Instead of rightful punishment for our sins, God sees us as his sons and daughters. Indeed, this is the miracle of the Christian faith for all who believe.

But this brings up an important question. If our sin is already paid for, why should we stop sinning? In fact, doesn’t the vastness of our sin just make his grace more beautiful? Shall we sin that grace may abound?

Shall We Continue in Sin?

Paul demolished this dangerous line of thought in Romans 6. Christ died to free us from sin, not enable us to sin. When Jesus died, he was releasing us from our bondage to sin, because that is what sin is — slavery. Sin is what separates us from God. It’s damaging, and for the unredeemed, it is damning (Romans 6:23).

 

“For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin — because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.” – Romans 6:6-7 

So, shall we then continue in sin that grace may abound? Paul replies with a resounding “God forbid” (Romans 6:2). To desire to continue in sin shows a misunderstanding of this abundant grace and a contempt for Jesus’ sacrifice. Either we believe what God says is true or we don’t. Either we take him at his word when he equates sin to death, or we do not believe him at all (Ephesians 2:1).

What is the point of the Christian faith if we get to pick and choose what we want to believe? Do we think God is that small, insignificant or somehow uninformed? Do we trifle with the very thing that God sent his Son to save us for? Do we misuse the grace that he gifted us with in his death and resurrection? Surely not.

Sin and Grace

Grace is a gift. Forgiveness of sins and his salvation are gifts. Grace is not, however, a license to sin. Throughout the Bible, fathers of our faith are seen distressed, tormented by their sin.

Consider David after his adultery with Bathsheba or Peter after denying Christ (Psalms 51:17 and Matthew 26:75). They did not discount their sin as simply something atoned for. Just because the Christian’s sin is paid for by Jesus, sin is still damaging to the believer and their relationship with God.

When David tried to ignore his sin, his “bones wasted away through my groaning all day long” (Psalms 32:3). He did, however, find freedom in confession.

 

“Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD’ – and you forgave the guilt of my sin.” – Psalms 32:5 

A Christian who pursues sin despite claiming Christ as their Savior is living outside the blessing and fullness of the relationship that comes with an obedient life. We cannot equate grace with freedom to sin. Instead, we should be thankful that grace provides freedom from sin and its eternal consequences.

Doesn’t that kind of grace make you want to obey the one who set you free?

What Is Sanctification?

 

“If you love me, you will obey my commandments. I will ask the Father, and he will give you another helper who will be with you forever. That helper is the Spirit of Truth. The world cannot accept him, because it doesn’t see or know him. You know him, because he lives with you and will be in you.” – John 14:5-17

The Christian’s spiritual journey doesn’t begin and end at a one-time prayer of confession. When we truly see our need for God, his grace and Christ’s sacrifice for us, we will want to obey him. Why? Because we will overflow with love and gratitude that the God of all creation cares enough to save us from ourselves. And if we love him, we trust him when he calls us to higher things. This pursuit toward Christ, and refining of our faith, is sanctification. Sanctification is progressing toward Christlikeness. A Christian cannot pursue both Christlikeness and sin.

So Christians, remember his abounding grace toward you. Turn from sin and embrace your new life as a vessel of light. You are dead to sin, alive in Christ.

Now go live it.

———

***By Lizzie Hoover at Grand Canyon University: gcu.edu

Sovereignty of God

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
~ Isaiah 55:8-9

The total sovereignty of God over all people and circumstances, is a matter concerning which many believers remain in doubt. They may give lip-acknowledgment to it, but they don’t believe it “works” in the situations of daily life. Yet the Scriptures are full of examples of how God worked sovereignly on behalf of His people – and often in the most unlikely ways.

Many of us are familiar with the obviously miraculous ways in which God worked on behalf of His people – such as the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt etc. But we have often missed seeing the greater miracles by which God turned the tables on Satan when Satan attacked God’s people.

The case of Joseph is a classic. God had a plan for that eleventh son of Jacob to make him the second ruler in Egypt by the time he was thirty. Joseph was a God-fearing lad and therefore he was hated by Satan. And so Satan instigated his elder brothers to get rid of him. But God ensured that they didn’t take Joseph’s life. They managed, however, to sell him off to some Ishmaelite traders. But where do you think those traders took Joseph? To Egypt, of course!

That was the fulfilment of Step One in God’s plan! In Egypt, Joseph was bought by Potiphar. This too was arranged by God. Potiphar’s wife was an evil woman. Taking a fancy to Joseph, she tried to entice him again and again. Finally when she found that she could not succeed, she accused Joseph falsely and had him cast in jail. But who do you think Joseph met in the jail? Pharaoh’s cupbearer! God had arranged for Pharaoh’s cupbearer also to be jailed at the same time so that Joseph could meet him. That was Step Two in God’s plan.

God’s third step was to allow Pharaoh’s cupbearer to forget about Joseph for two years. “Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him. It happened at the end of two full years that Pharoah had a dream…. Then the chief cupbearer spoke to Pharaoh…(Genesis 40:23; 41:1,9). That was the time, according to God’s time-table, for Joseph to be released from prison. Psalm 105:19, 20 says, “Until the time that His word came to pass, the word of the Lord tested him. Then the king sent and released him and set him free.” Joseph was now 30 years old.

God’s time had come. And so God gave Pharaoh a dream. And God reminded the cupbearer also of Joseph as the interpreter of his dream. Thus Joseph came before Pharaoh and became the second ruler in Egypt. God’s timing of events in Joseph’s life couldn’t have been more perfect! We would never have thought of arranging things the way God did. If we had the power to plan Joseph’s life, we would probably have prevented people from doing him any harm. But the way God did it was better. It’s a far greater miracle when the evil that people do to us is turned to fulfill God’s purposes for us! God takes great delight in turning the tables on Satan, so that all things work together for the good of His elect.

Let us look at one more example from the Old Testament, so that our minds can be firmly established in this truth. In the book of Esther, we read of how God rescued the Jews from being slaughtered as a race. But it is amazing to see how God did it – through one small incident – that the king could not sleep one night. Haman and his wife had been plotting one night to get the king’s permission to hang Mordecai on a gallows the next morning, as a prelude to destroying all the Jews.

But while Haman and his wife were making their wicked plans, God was working on behalf of Mordecai too. “The Keeper of Israel never slumbers or sleeps.” (Psalm 121:4). God prevented the king from sleeping that night, “During that night the king could not sleep so he gave an order to bring the book of records, the chronicles, and they were read before the king” (Esther 6:1). The king listened to his nation’s history for many hours, until the day began to break. Then the reading came to the place where it was recorded that Mordecai had once saved the king from being assassinated. The king asked his servants what honour had been bestowed on Mordecai for this, and they replied that nothing had been done. God’s timing of events was again perfect. At that very moment Haman walked in, planning to ask the king for permission to hang Modecai. Before Haman could open his mouth, the king asked Haman what he thought could be done for one whom the king desired to honour. Haman, conceited man that he was, thought that the king was referring to him, and so suggested a great parade of honour for such a man. “Go and do that for Mordecai, quickly,” the king said.

How wonderfully our God can turn the tables on Satan. Haman finally hung on the very same gallows that he had made for Mordecai. As the Bible says, “He who digs a pit (for another) will fall into it (himself). And he who rolls a stone (at another) will find the stone rolling back (to crush him)” ( Proverbs 26:27). Haman, in this story, is a type of Satan who is always planning some evil against us. God won’t stop him, because God has a far better plan. He wants to turn the tables on Satan. The pit that the Devil digs for us will be the one that he himself falls into finally. Zephaniah 3:17 says (in one translation) that God is silently planning for us in love, all the time.

While Mordecai was sleeping peacefully that night, quite ignorant of all the wicked plans that Haman and his wife were making against him, God was also planning to protect Mordecai. So Mordecai could have slept just as peacefully, even if he had known of Haman’s wicked plans. Why not? If God was on his side, who could be against him?

Once we have seen the sovereignty of God, we will stop blaming people for anything. We’ll no longer be afraid of Satan, fearing that he might harm us in some way. We won’t be afraid of sickness or disease or anything else in this world.

—————

**Copyright – Zac Poonen. No changes whatsoever are to be made to the content of the article without written permission from the author at cfcindia.com / Photo by Johannes Plenio at pexels

Needing the Flow of Oil

The Church needs the power and filling of the Holy Spirit

In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit is pictured as oil. The oil made the lampstand burn in the tabernacle. The priests needed to make sure that the oil was always there.

You know that in the parable that Jesus spoke about his second coming, it was the lack of oil in the lamp that prevented some virgins from being ready. They were virgins. They were all virgins. It’s not five virgins and five harlots. All ten had a lamp that was burning. We know that all ten had lamps that were burning because when the bridegroom came at midnight what the foolish virgins said was: Our lamps are dying out. It’s not that they were never burning. External light speaks of what Jesus said: Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works (your external works) and glorify your Father in heaven. Lamp speaks about our external testimony. Here are virgins that had a good external testimony like most people in the church. But among virgins with a good external testimony, five were not ready for the coming of Christ because they lacked something.

Five of them, in their garments, maybe in a pocket in their garments, they had a hidden flask of oil. That was the only difference. They had a hidden life which the other five didn’t have. That is what ensured that their lamps would still be burning when the bridegroom came. So what the Lord was emphasizing there was their hidden life before God.

External testimony does not necessarily make us ready for the coming of the Lord.

He answered and said to those five virgins in Matthew 25:12: “I do not know you” . What does that mean? It means “I do not have that intimate, personal relationship with you”.

Knowing is used in the Old Testament for the most intimate relationship in marriage. Adam knew his wife. It speaks of that close, intimate relationship between a husband and wife. Spiritually, it speaks of a close, intimate relationship with Jesus.

In secret and private, Adam knew his wife. Others knew their wives. It is always in private and secret. It is that secret of Jesus knowing me spiritually, very intimately. Jesus could say like: You did a lot of things for me but I didn’t know you intimately. You didn’t have an intimate walk with me in secret. So Jesus said: Be on the alert.

This light is also described in Revelation 1. He said: The lampstand is the church.

The ultimate goal of the Lord and of the Holy Spirit is to bring together a whole lot of people who are gripped by the challenge of this inner life and who want to have a vessel or flask full of oil and to bring them together and make them one in a church and not just as individuals who have an inner life. There were five wise virgins and they were meant to be one. This is a picture of a church. There were a number of people who had this inner life who were together ready for the coming of the Lord and that is God’s ultimate goal.

The ultimate goal of God in this day and age is to build a church. Not a bunch of holy individuals, even if they have an inner life, who float around but holy individuals who come together, five of them or ten of them, wise virgins with flasks of oil in their hidden life, who come together and are a corporate testimony for the Lord. The main thing that the Church needs is that flow of oil that keeps it burning all the time.

————————-

**Transcript adaption of the message: The Church – The Pillar of Truth – Atlanta 2013 by Zac Poonen © Copyright – Zac Poonen. No changes whatsoever are to be made to the content of the article without written permission from the author. https://www.cfcindia.com/  / Photo by Burak Kebapci