As many of you may know, I’m in the process of writing a book on the struggle & purpose of single seasons of life. Every so often, I share an excerpt from what I’ve been working on. This month, the excerpt comes from a section called “Our Counterfeit Solutions to Single Seasons of Life.” I treasure your prayers as I work through the challenging process of writing a book, and I welcome any feedback or requests you might have for the book. As always, thank you for your graciousness in taking the time to read my blog.
Lust is such a “bad” word. A “scary” word. We’ve been taught all our lives that lust is something to stay away from – to be ashamed of. We’re taught to recognize it in its most vile and vulgar forms – and we edge away from it, disgusted and pretending like that’s not something that ever enters our minds – except to judge it.
All the while Satan is slipping it in the back doors of our hearts in its most subtle of ways. Because if you can distract the masses with revulsion at the common understanding of lust, they won’t notice the silent coils of desire being laced into their most vulnerable parts.
And Satan is a master of studying all our vulnerable parts. And without warning, the unexpected compliment – the warm embrace – the accidental connection of eye contact – can send electrical volts of longing to lonely hearts. A slow, innocent friendship builds without warning until the gong of wanting more sounds over aching denial. The smallest hope is turned into a raging fire, a once-patient waiting into a violent wanting – and the beauty of love into the screaming beast of lust.
The craving for human connection – for emotional attachment – for soul love – is so good and so right. But when it becomes a craving that displaces all other desires, it’s become lust. When it replaces sound judgment and makes us sacrifice our convictions, it’s become a monster let out of its cage.
Lust – unless we catch it in its infantile roots and slay it – will grow like a vine, wrapping its tendrils around our hearts and making us believe we deserve what we crave. And if we give into that lie, it will destroy us. Slowly and then all at once. The lust for emotional attachment will weave its way into hearts that have been denied and souls weary of waiting. The lust for physical touch will ache in lonely bones until the slightest gesture can awaken cravings instantly. It will cause our hearts to cling to the next one who shows signs of emotional attachment or physical touch, until we have fallen prey to lust’s silent, deadly strategies.
But if lust is so deceptive and slow-moving, how will we learn to combat it and defeat its strategies?
It is not an easy battle. But then when is fighting sin ever easy?
It requires us to have our constant guards up.
It requires us to have strong recognition skills of when lust is sneaking up on us.
It requires us to not harbor the tempting thoughts and emotions that would otherwise linger, whispering to us that there is no harm done in wanting it.
It requires us to fight uncompromisingly with prayer and the Word of God. Every single time.
Not as exhausting as a life ruined by giving in to lust time and again because you didn’t feel like fighting it. Because it felt better to enjoy a tiny taste of what you couldn’t have. Because you indulged your emotions instead of inviting in the satisfaction of the Holy Spirit.
You might be wondering what the difference is between lust and simply desiring what God has created that’s good and right. It’s a fine, fine line, but one we must learn well if we want to have victory over the lurking lies of lust. Because if we don’t learn the line, then we will be led across it time and again.
The truth is that lust and desire are not inherently the same thing. A desire for physical and emotional intimacy is healthy because that is the way God created us – and expressed within the boundaries of marriage, it is a beautiful expression of who God is.
But lust is an unhealthy obsession. A riot in your brain that screams for you to give in to sinful indulgences of your desires. It twists what God has made for His glory into a self-serving banquet of secretly sampling all that is forbidden.
And it mostly happens inside your thought life – where nobody but you and God have access. And where it’s the easiest thing in the world to pretend to everyone else that nothing bad ever happens there – or that you linger on sinful desires more than you should – or your daydreams aren’t quite as innocent as you’d have others believe. And the more you allow those thoughts to camp out, they soon overtake your heart – and once again, lust’s silent strategy has won.
Honoring God with desires that are from Him without turning them into lusts means holding them with an open hand. It means we acknowledge that we desire His good gifts, but we also acknowledge that we are not entitled to them. It means that when we feel them threatening to lead us into unhealthy indulgences of them, we stop – repent – and give them back to God, asking for His strength to fight against anything that would pervert His beautiful plan for marriage and purity.
We must be committed to faithful marriages right now, even when we are not married – faithful marriages of those around us, faithful possible marriages of our own someday, but ultimately a faithful marriage to Christ, our Bridegroom.
The most compelling reason to walk away from lust is that we are breaking relationship with Christ and faithfulness to Him when we indulge in it.
As Francis Chan says: “I have one good reason why you should walk away from temptation right now. One reason: God. Is. Better.”
I have failed at this multiple times. I have been the harlot wife of Hosea and treasured lustful thoughts in my heart that broke my faithfulness with Christ. I have been the woman at the well trying to pretend like all is fine when Christ knows full-well my wandering heart. I have been the woman breaking the alabaster jar on Jesus’ feet and weeping with tears of unworthiness.
And I have felt the weight of His love as He looks into my eyes and reminds me: “For even this, I died. And you are forgiven once and for all.”
I will fail. But that doesn’t mean I will stop fighting. And it doesn’t mean that Jesus is ever done loving me. What I do doesn’t negate His love for me. It breaks His heart and our relationship. But He always welcomes back a broken and repentant heart.
And this is the way He woos me. Because a God like that proves time and again that His love is infinitely worth more than the shallow promises of lust every day.