How do we win the war against lust? That was the question John Piper addressed in his sermon, “Battling the Unbelief of Lust”, a sermon he preached twenty-five years ago on 1 Thessalonians 4:1–8. Here’s how he ended the message:
I close with an illustration of a man who was in bondage of lust for ten years, in the grossest forms short of adultery, but who got victory. He wrote his story in an unsigned article in Leadership magazine, which any of you can read in our library, Fall, 1982. He was a religious man, and the story he tells is one of great tragedy — until something happens. And I want to just tell you from a key paragraph what happened in his life.
The Great Discovery
He discovered a book by Francois Mauriac, a Catholic, French novelist who wrote a book called What I Believe. And in that book, he had a chapter on sexuality — and lust in particular — in which he described his own war against it as a young, Catholic man. And he says that all of the guilt that he experienced, and all of the shame, did not conquer lust in his life. Rather, he came to discover that one great power exists that can conquer lust, and that is the power described in the beatitude: “Blessed are the poor in heart: for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). The man who was writing this and reading that book wrote this paragraph which describes his own discovery:
The thought hit me like a bell rung in a dark, silent hall. So far none of the scary negative arguments against lust had succeeded in keeping me from it. But here was a description of what I was missing by continuing to harbor lust. I was limiting my own intimacy with God. The love he offers is so transcendent and possessing that it requires our faculties to be purified and cleansed before we can experience or can possibly contain all of it. Could he, in fact, substitute another thirst and another hunger for the one I had never filled? Would living water somehow quench lust? That was the gamble of faith. (Unknown, The War Within)
Greedy for God
And I wrote down here: It was no gamble. The way to fight lust is by feeding faith with the knowledge of an irresistibly glorious God.
“Fight lust by feeding faith with the knowledge of an irresistibly glorious God.”
Do you know God? Are you engaged in week-by-week growth in knowing God? Do you meditate on God’s word day and night? Do you spend time focusing in on the snapshots of the imager of God, in his Son, in the gospels? Do you read great, solid books that describe the character and the ways of God? Do you associate with people who are God-besotted and God-saturated? Are you praying daily, sometimes with fasting, that God would so waken and quicken your heart that you would have the capacity to be ravished by the irresistible glory of God — with emotion, and a movement, and a joy overpowering all the passions that can go out toward pornography? Are you engaged in the warfare at that level?
If not, I invite you to make those commitments. To resolve in your heart, if this is right, if knowing God in all his irresistible glory is the way to push this junk out of my life, I want God, I want to be greedy for God. I want more of God than I have ever known if that is the way out of this bondage.