“On Second Thought” (Learning to Live Without Lust)

 

 

16 May 2016

Presenter: Ralph West, TEG, Coronado Men’s Connection Steering Committee

 

 Major Points:

  • Contemporary society is obsessed with sexuality and lust.
  • Christians (as well as Muslims, Jews, and even nonreligious, yet morally concerned people) have tried to stand against the culture and maintain the position that sexual purity, chastity, and fidelity are important.
  • We can control, or at least better manage, our fears by living in the kingdom of God.
  • The false Christian narrative: Sexual desire is inherently sinful. 
    • Dominant thought in Christian circles from the beginning of church history.
    • Rarely addressed from the pulpit or in Sunday School.
    • Our silent narrative leads to shame and denial about something that ought to be affirmed.
  • The false worldly narrative: All sexual desire is good.
    • The sexual attitudes and behaviors of the Roman emperor Caligula or some of the Greek philosophers would make us blush.
    • The implicit narrative from most media are that the good life is the lust-filled, sexually libertine life.
    • About the only restriction on sexual behavior today is that we must never harm or take advantage of another person.
  • A measure of truth: not all sexual desires and expressions are good, and not all are bad.
  • Jesus knows how important sexuality is, how it can destroy life or enhance life (Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5:27-30 )
  • Jesus’ definition of lust: “Intentionally objectifying another person for one’s own glorification” (Greek, epithumia)
    • Love values the other as a person. Lust degrades the other.
    • Lust intentionally cultivates sexual desire for the sake of the feeling itself.
    • It’s not the first look, it’s the second look.
  • What that definition looks like today: Taking advantage of someone else to fulfill my selfish desires.
  • When I live with God in his kingdom, I see who I am and am secure (God is good and desires my good). I am free to others in a new way. I no longer see them as objects to exploit but as real persons who God dearly loves.
    • I am a child of God, one in whom Christ dwells, and I am living in the unshakeable kingdom of God.
  • I must really want to change.
    • In order to find freedom from lust I must really be sick of it and understand its nature.
    • Promises, pledges, and resolutions are no match for a heart that secretly cherishes sin and merely dislikes its consequences.
    • Pray for the desire to change, to see lust for what it is, and for a strong desire for purity.
  • Jesus is most concerned about the heart, particularly with developing a good heart.
  • We cannot change our heart by changing our outer behavior alone.
    • Trying is not the answer. Training is the only answer ( 1 Timothy 4:7-9 )

 

Questions for Personal Reflection:

  1. What does it look like to seek God with all one’s heart and to train to be godly?
  2. What kind of impact would training to be godly have on one’s relationships?
  3. How do we purposefully set about to change our own character?

 

Our Charge:

  • When I am living in the kingdom of God as an apprentice, lust is conquered by training my heart to let no one or anything come before Christ. Train well.

 

Ralph's Suggested reading: