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Lust of the Flesh: A Root Cause of Sin

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Lust of the Flesh

A Root Cause of Sin

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Lust of the Flesh: A Root Cause of Sin

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Our purpose today is to discuss the root sin of lust and its antidote, self control.

Transcript

Lust of the Flesh

The bible is not a long list of do's and dont’s... that is a popular misunderstanding of scripture’s purpose. Listing and condemning all the possible ways a person can sin would have tens of thousands of entries... and then the human mind would simply dream up some more. How could the bible have explained the problem of addiction to prescription drugs, or cyber-crime, to people living 3,000 years ago?

Your Creator is more interested in helping you get at the root causes of sin... problematic ways of thinking that do not change over time.... then it is up to you to figure out how it applies to your situation, or your era in time.

Our purpose today is to discuss the root sin of LUST and its antidote, self control. First, by defining what it is and is not, second by looking at four ways lust can lead to sin: sex, drunkenness and gluttony, and laziness….finally by recommending its antidote: SELF CONTOL 

The spirit must train itself to rule over the flesh… with God’s help and guidance.

Definition: Lust is Strong Bodily Desire

Our understanding of lust based on words translated from the Hebrew language, and the Greek language. The word or words translated as lust indicate strong desire... a strong desire which can be for both good things and bad things. For example the Greek word epithoumia [meaning strong desire, impulse, or movement of the will]. 

Lust overlaps with covetousness but is different: covetousness is more a desire to have and posses… whereas lust is a desire to consume or experience.

Over the centuries lust has come to be associated exclusively with the bad desires, mostly sexual. But that is not how the original audience would have understood it. For example Luke 22:15 Luke 22:15And he said to them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer:
American King James Version×
. If English translations were consistent in translating epithoumia as lust... then Jesus would literally be saying "with lust I have lusted to eat this Passover with you".

Lust is often paired with the word flesh... the "lusts of the flesh". We occasionally also see it paired with the mind. Mostly these phrases are clearly referencing sin... but not always.

My point is this: strong desire itself is not sin. Sin comes when we exercise our strong desires for the wrong things. God designed us as physical creatures and built in strong desires/needs: for sex, for food and drink, and for rest. And God said of everything He created "it is good". It is good when used in the way and for the purpose it was designed.

Note: the idea that strong desire itself is the enemy is a teaching of human thinking: Greek philosophy, Buddhism, Hinduism and so forth.

On a physical level strong desire is necessary and good… Without a natural strong desire for food... you would die. Without a natural strong desire for sex we would die out as a species.

However, for the children of God: sex is for marriage and family life... food is to give you energy to live... rest is so you might be mentally and physically refreshed for work. The sensory pleasure built into each of these is to motivate you. When we live only to enjoy those sensory pleasures... we are abusing them.

Our desire for sex can become adultery or perversion... our desire for food and drink can become gluttony and drunkenness... our desire for rest can become laziness.

Lets take a look at key areas of strong desire: sex, food and drink, and rest.

1.Sex and Impurity

For centuries people were taught that sexual desire is all bad. They were told this teaching came from God and the bible. But that teaching was really the viewpoint of human philosophy. Then in the middle of the 20th century came a revolution... a sexual revolution... now modern man says "sexual desire is always good"… “if it feels right, it is right”

We have merely gone from one harmful, false teaching… to another.

The bible has a great deal to say about human sexuality. Sex outside the bounds of marriage between a man and a woman is 2nd only to idolatry as a major area of human sin. There is so much to say about sex that I will leave a full discussion of the subject for another day.

Whatever your question is about "what is permissible in regards to sex" the answer can be traced back to these words from Jesus Himself Matthew 19:4-6 Matthew 19:4-6 [4] And he answered and said to them, Have you not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, [5] And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall join to his wife: and they two shall be one flesh? [6] Why they are no more two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.
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...
what about same sex attraction: there's your answer, what about serial monogamy: there's your answer, divorce, remarriage, fornication, sexual fantasy, polygamy... there's your answer.

God made humans sexual creatures... He gave man and woman a part to play in the ongoing creation of new life... each potential spirit born child of God begins as a child born in the flesh brought into being by a man and a woman.

Sexual desire is a strong desire... a lust of the flesh... a strong desire meant to be expressed within a marriage between a man and a woman who build a family together. Your spirit must rule over your flesh and channel your strong desire in the right way.

2.Gluttony and Moderation

We have a strong natural desire for food... and eating feels good! Our biological self is programmed to eat a lot when food is available because who knows if we will find food tomorrow. But in a stable, affluent society where eating is a choice rather than a daily struggle... this strong desire can lead us to become gluttons [over-eating].

Gluttony is usually grouped together with drunkenness since both are sins of excessive intake and lack of control. Gluttony hides in the shadows behind drunkenness. But, here are a couple of scriptures that single out gluttony:

Deuteronomy 21:20 Deuteronomy 21:20And they shall say to the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard.
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/ Proverbs 23:21 Proverbs 23:21For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags.
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We tend to think of over-eating only as a matter of health. But, it is a matter that touches upon matters of the spirit.

A motivation for Eve to eat the forbidden fruit was “it looked good for food”… Satan tempted Jesus by appealing to His hunger “why not use God’s power to make bread for yourself”… Daniel in the court of Babylon had to become a vegetarian to avoid unclean food.

Fasting is an exercise of spiritual mastery over our natural desire for food

Your body is not your own... it has been given to you by God as a staging ground for you to build character. You have a responsibility to act as a good steward. To abuse or mistreat your body is not living  the mind of Christ.

3.Drunkenness & Clear Thinking

This is the desire of seeking pleasure simply for the sake of pleasure, it is not necessary for biological survival... and God allows it... but with stern warnings about moderation.

1 Corinthians 5:11 1 Corinthians 5:11But now I have written to you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortionist; with such an one no not to eat.
American King James Version×
 drunkenness is cause for dis-fellowshipping

1 Corinthians 6:9 1 Corinthians 6:9Know you not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
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 drunkenness can lead to us being excluded from participation in the KOG

In the U.S.A. tens of thousands of alcohol/drug related murders happen each year.... 30% of traffic deaths involve alcohol/drugs... we spend billions of medical dollars addressing the affects of alcohol and drug abuse.

Note: I am not going to discuss the very real issue of addiction here... its a serious subject worthy of more time and attention I can give it with this message.

Be it addiction... or be it mere pleasure seeking... the spiritual component is the same. The spirit must train itself to rule over the flesh. The living God does not want this temporary flesh and blood body you have been given to rule over the spirit He has put in you... and that spirit must be able to think clearly if it is to develop into a spirit born child of God.

Proverbs 20:1 Proverbs 20:1Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whoever is deceived thereby is not wise.
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 a clear head is necessary to rightly adhere to God's will for yourself

Proverbs 31:4-7 Proverbs 31:4-7 [4] It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink: [5] Lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted. [6] Give strong drink to him that is ready to perish, and wine to those that be of heavy hearts. [7] Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more.
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 a clear head is necessary to rightly administer God's will for others

Leviticus 10:8-11 Leviticus 10:8-11 [8] And the LORD spoke to Aaron, saying, [9] Do not drink wine nor strong drink, you, nor your sons with you, when you go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest you die: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations: [10] And that you may put difference between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean; [11] And that you may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the LORD has spoken to them by the hand of Moses.
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 a clear head is necessary to rightly come before God... and necessary to teach

Your destiny is to be born of spirit and to be seated together with Christ as He administers the rule of God on earth... over flesh and blood human beings. Our spirit must rule over our own flesh today... so that when we are resurrected with bodies of pure spirit we may assist Him rule over the flesh flesh  and blood inhabitants of planet earth.

Here is yet another example of faithfulness is small things now... so we may be entrusted with greater things later.

4.Laziness & Energetic Accomplishment

Our bodies are also designed to need rest... we have a strong natural desire for rest and relaxation that can be used or abused.

One of the great lies of our humanly designed culture is that work is at best a necessary evil... something to be avoided if possible... at worst a form of oppression… which it can be in the hands of sinful humans. Humanity has a false idea that the ideal state is leisure/pure thought/constant pleasure. This concept drives much of the false teaching about heaven, or nirvana, or paradise.

By contrast the true bible message presents a vision of eternal life that is active and engaged. Our first task is to serve as kings and priests working alongside Christ.

Scripture is clear that laziness is sin and hard work is pleasing to God: 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15.

Spiritual Aspects of Work:

  1. Work leads to good family life
  2. Work is serving God and serving others
  3. Work makes you self sufficient
  4. Work enables generosity

Work is not a curse to be avoided... it is part of God's original plan for human beings. Genesis 2:15 Genesis 2:15And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.
American King James Version×
tells us the first man Adam was put in the garden to work in it and take care of it.

Don't let your natural fleshly desire for rest deceive you. It's purpose is to refresh you so you continue working with energy, joy, and accomplishment. Rest and relaxation is not the goal you are working towards... rest is a feature of flesh and blood existence we use to achieve our goals.

To be diligent rather than idle requires that your spirit rules over this pull of the flesh.

Self Control: Managing Lust

Romans 8:5-14 Romans 8:5-14 [5] For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. [6] For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. [7] Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. [8] So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. [9] But you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. [10] And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. [11] But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwells in you. [12] Therefore, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. [13] For if you live after the flesh, you shall die: but if you through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, you shall live. [14] For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
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 ruling over and channeling the strong desires of the flesh is a form of self denial... not allowing yourself to be lead about by the natural desires of the flesh can feel like you're missing out... like you're not living a complete fully expressed life. But the flesh and all that it longs for will pass away and what remains will be the spiritual character you carry with you into the family of God

Self denial is not just one of the many pathways to the joy of eternal life... it is the only way Matthew 16:24-26 Matthew 16:24-26 [24] Then said Jesus to his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. [25] For whoever will save his life shall lose it: and whoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. [26] For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
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Bodily appetites can be fulfilled in God honoring ways: sex outside marriage, over-eating, drunkenness, and lazy squandering of our time must be rejected!

Ask For God’s Help

The spirit must rule over the flesh... but your spirit alone is inadequate... you need God's help... and He is eager to give it. He will not make your hard choices for you…  but He offers help through the prompting of the His spirit within you...

Plus, He offers you forgiveness when you fall... so that you might get up on you feet again, shake off the dust and get back to the hard work of overcoming.

The calling to control your strong natural desires is not a bleak and joyless crushing of your soul. Rather, it is an active channeling of life's vital forces n a manner that honors, affirms and imitates your Father Creator… Self control is preparing for the fullness of sonship in the family of God.

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