On this podcast we talk a lot about sexual temptation and sexual sin because there’s a real need for frank talk about it. And because the Bible has a lot to say, too. So, what is lust? Pastor John gives a sharp and concise definition in his sermon, “Battling the Unbelief of Lust,” preached 25 years ago. He was preaching from 1 Thessalonians 4:1–8. Here’s what he said:
It says here in 1 Thessalonians 4:1–5, “Do this” — whether it is taking a wife or controlling your body — “in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust.” Now holiness has to do with God. It has to do with being set apart for God, right? We all know that basic, biblical concept of being set apart for God. Verse 5 goes on like this: “not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God.” Lust comes from not knowing God, having no regard for God, not holding him as the supremely holy and important one in your life.
“The root issue in lust is whether you regard God with your sexual desires.”
Look at verse 8. The same point is going to be made here: “Therefore whoever disregards this” — namely this call for holiness — “disregards not man, but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.” So the root issue in lust is whether you regard God with your sexual desires. Do you have a supreme regard for God, or is God disregarded when it comes to lust or sexual desire?
Here is my definition, then, of lust: Lust is taking a perfectly good thing that God created — namely, sexual desire — and abstracting it or stripping it off from an honor toward a person and stripping it off from a supreme regard for God’s holiness. You take God away, and you take the honor of man away, and what you have left in sexual desire is lust. That is my definition of lust.