Happenings for July 28th

If there is a place we all need to counteract in our lives, it’s probably lust. Most of us want something, we want something and Jesus says to us that if we are to counteract lust then we are going to have to dig into the Word of God. (Matthew 5:27-30) Now wanting something may not be inherently sinful, but what we do with that desire and how we allow that desire to grow and be cultivated matters. At this point in His sermon, Jesus now quotes the 7th commandment in Matthew 5:27~You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ (ESV) Adultery refers to a person having sexual relations with someone other than his or her spouse. Most standing there felt pretty good about themselves. I can even hear them talking back to Him. That is right Jesus, reach up on that clothesline, put a dime in the meter and park it there preacher. To wit Jesus says, I will park it here. Matthew 5: 28~But I say to you that everyone who looks (βλέπω blepō) at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (ESV)

(βλέπω blepō) is a verb meaning to look, it’s present tense, denoting a continuous action, it’s repeated—looking. So lust begins with a look, we perceive, discern or process and then understand. See the progression of the word Christ Jesus used? Martin Luther offers us some practical advice, you cannot keep birds from flying over your head but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair. Jesus says that adultery begins in the heart as the act of lust is conceived and grows to bring harm to those around us. Just ask King David who lost a warrior, his own child, and even the Lord’s favor for a season, all because of lust. Moreover, the act of lust is more serious than our random musing of lust because it harms more people. Why? Because lust is a sin. Left unchecked, lust leads to wrong acts. Fantasy will build a desire for reality. The acting upon a thing, which will cause more sin in our lives, which in turn causes more pain, pain for us and those around us.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said: Sow a thought and reap an act. Sow an act and reap a habit. Sow a habit and reap a character. Sow a character and reap a destiny. I want to encourage you today by reminding you of Our Takeaway: Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven, Matthew 5:3.

When we set out to counteract lust, we do so by making a commitment in advance. We need to learn what our triggers are. If you are a man and yoga pants are a trigger, then do not go to a yoga or spin class. For there will be a temptation. If you know that romance novels spark you and light your fire, then do not read them. If porn is a problem cut the chord. We do this in advance. Listen to Job 31:1~I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a young woman. (NIV)

To avoid lust, make a covenant with your eyes not to ever think about it. Jesus continues his message hillside that day with some hyperbole. Saying pluck out and cutoff (Matthew 5:29). Jesus was telling us to ruthlessly root out the things in life that cause us to stumble and fall in our faith. Saying dispose of sin, by making your mind up in advance because this will radically change your life. All sin begins in the mind—as our thoughts lead to actions and which will reap habits and alter our character. Therefore, to counteract lust, we need to change how we think. Take a look at the list of eight things Paul posits for us in Philippians 4:8~Finally, brothers, and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. (NIV)

If we are righteous and not just religious, we will conform to all the commands in the Bible, as we learn better how to control our anger, and counteract the lusts placed before us. Take time today and focus in on confessing one of your shortcomings and then choose one of the eight Paul offers to replace it with.

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