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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 verse four: “Do this — whether it is take a wife or whether it is control your body — do this in holiness, 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 five. Therefore, goes on like this. Not in passion of lust like the heathen who don’t know God. Lust comes from not knowing God, having no regard for God, not holding him as the supremely holy one and important one in your life.

Look at verse eight. Same point is going to be made here. Therefore, whoever disregards this, namely this call for holiness, whoever disregards 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?

So 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 people, a person and stripping it off from a supreme regard for God in holiness. You take God away and you take the honor of man away and what you have got left in sexual desire is lust. That is my definition of lust.

That clip was taken from John Piper’s sermon, “Battling the Unbelief of Lust,” preached on November 13, 1988. For more on the root of sexual sin, see two episodes in this podcast series, episode #396: “Why Sex Is Not the Root of Sexual Sins.” Also see episode #304: “Visualizing Christ to Battle Lust.” You can find these and another 400 episodes of this podcast in the archive. … But how do I get to the podcast archives, you ask? Well one of the easiest ways is through the Ask Pastor John app for iPhone, iPad, and Android devices. In the updated app, you can access the entire archive of episodes, and you will see a search bar at the top of the screen. From here you can search all the titles. And if you don’t see these features in your app, be sure to update. Also, you can tap and send us an email question of your own. All from the app that is free of charge to you. … Pastor John has a new job title at Bethlehem Baptist Church: Pastor Emeritus. Tomorrow he will explain what it means. … I’m your host Tony Reinke, thanks for listening to the Ask Pastor John podcast.