Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Love Dare - Day 24

Love vs. Lust "The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever." – 1 John 2:17

Adam and Eve were supplied with everything they needed in the Garden of Eden. They had fellowship with God and intimacy with one another. But after Eve was deceived by the serpent, she saw the forbidden fruit and set her heart on it. Before long, Adam joined in her wishes, and against God’s command both of them ate.

That’s the progression. From eyes to heart to action. And then follows shame and regret.

We, too, have been supplied with everything we need for a full, productive, enriching life. “We have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either” (1 Timothy 6:7). But the Bible goes on to say that, having basics of food and clothing, we should be “content.” And Jesus promised these two things would always be provided to God’s children (Matthew 6:25-33).

God’s blessings, however, go so far beyond these fundamental needs, we could rightly say that we want for nothing. Yet like Adam and Eve, we still want more. So we set our eyes and hearts on seeking worldly pleasure. We try to meet legitimate needs in illegitimate ways. For many it’s seeking sexual fulfillment in another person or in pornographic images designed to feel like a real person. We look, stare, and fantasize. We try to be discreet but barely turn our eyes away. And once our eyes are capture by curiosity, our hearts become entangled. Then we act on our lust.

We can also lust after possessions or power or prideful ambition. We see what others have and we want it. Our hearts are deceived into saying, “I could be happy if I only had this.” Then we make the decision to go after it.

“But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction” (1 Timothy 6:9).

Lust is in opposition to love. It means to set your heart and passions on something forbidden. And for a believer it’s the first step out of fellowship with the Lord and with others. That’s because every object of your lust – whether it’s a young coworker or a film actress, or coveting after a half-million dollar house or a sports car – represents the beginnings of a lie. This person or thing that seems to promise sheer satisfaction is more like a bottomless pit of unmet longings.

Lust always breeds more lust. “What is the source of the wars and the fights among you? Don’t they come from the cravings that are at war within you? (James 4:1 HCSB). Lust will make you dissatisfied with your husband or wife. It breeds anger, numbs hearts, and destroys marriages. Rather than fullness, it leads to emptiness.

It’s time to expose lust for what it really is – a misguided thirst for satisfaction that only God can fulfill. Lust is like a warning light on the dashboard of your heart, alerting you to the fact that you are not allowing God’s love to fill you. When your eyes and heart are on Him, your actions will lead you to lasting joy, not to endless cycles of regret and condemnation.

“His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust” (2 Peter 1:3-4).

Are you tired of being lied to by lust? Are you fed up with believing that forbidden pleasures are able to keep you happy and content? Then begin setting your eyes on the Word of God. Let His promises of peace and freedom work their way into your heart. Daily receive the unconditional love He has already proven to your through the cross. Focus on being grateful for everything God has already given you rather than choosing discontentment.

You’ll find yourself so full on what He provides, you won’t be hungry anymore for the junk food of lust.

And while you’re at it, set your eyes and heart on your spouse again. “Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth … Be exhilarated always with her love. For why should you, my son, be exhilarated with an adulteress and embrace the bosom of a foreigner? For the ways of a man are before the eyes of the Lord, and He watches all his paths” (Proverbs 5:18-21).

“Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15). Lust is the best this world has to offer, but love offers you the best life in the world.

Today’s Dare: End it now. Identify every object of lust in your life and remove it. Single out every lie you’ve swallowed in pursuing forbidden pleasure and reject it. Lust cannot be allowed to live in a back bedroom. It must be killed and destroyed – today – and replaced with the sure promises of God and a heart filled with His perfect love.

"Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil." - 1 Peter 2:16

Material taken from The Love Dare by Stephen and Alex Kendrick, copyright © 2009 by B&H Publishing Group.

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