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The Problem With Lust

"Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation" (Psalm 24.3-5, KJV unless otherwise noted).

"Shall not God search this out? for he knoweth the secrets of the heart" (Psalms 44.21).

"Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled. They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate" (Titus 1.15-16).

I believe the acceptability of Christians participating in non-sexual, social nudity depends upon where their hearts are. What is in your heart? Is your heart pure? Is your reason for participation pure, or are you interested for impure reasons? Recreation or rest, for example, are pure reasons. After all, God himself rested following six days of creating the universe and everything in it. All the nudists I know, both Christian and non Christian alike, tell me that nudism is very restful, relaxing and rejuvenating, and that is the reason they participate.

God looks upon the heart of man, not the outward appearance. He knows our hearts and still He loves us enough to take care of us and give blessings to us. Christianity is a matter of the heart, which causes good works. Putting on clothes is not listed in my Bible as a "good work." Love, charity, caring, etc., are the good works that God looks for in us.

How can a Christian be around all those naked people of the opposite sex and not sin? First of all, DON'T CONFUSE TEMPTATION WITH SIN! Christ was tempted in the wilderness after fasting for forty days. Now isn't that just like satan, trying to catch us at a weak moment by putting impure thoughts into our heads. These impure thoughts do not constitute sin until you look forward in your mind and act towards their fulfillment.

The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof (Romans 13.12-14).

There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it (1 Corinthians 10.13).

For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted (Hebrews 2.18).

My Bible tells me that Jesus was the perfect atonement for all sins. If being tempted is a sin, then Jesus was (God forbid) a sinner, and therefore an imperfect sacrifice. When satan tempts you, just do as Jesus did. Quote Scripture to satan and, just as he did when he tempted Jesus, he will leave you. That does not mean he will not be back to try again. We must remain diligent and in God's will or satan may catch us at a weak moment.

Now it's true that we do have to put something on in our feeble attempts to overcome satan's temptations. We do not have the power in ourselves to resist the wiles of satan. We must put on the "armour of light" and the "Lord Jesus Christ." Then we will become like Him. Then our attempts through Him become more powerful than satan's efforts to tempt us. There will be no provision for the fulfillment of these temptations in our lives unless we let them grow in our mind. When we are tempted, God will make a provision for us to escape and we will not have to bear that which we cannot. He may provide an escape route we may never have thought of ourselves, but it will always be there. We may even resist using the way of escape for a while, not realizing it for what it truly is. We must remember that God's ways are not always man's ways. That is why we must continually seek His ways, not ours.

Remember, Jesus was God in the flesh and when He suffered temptation, He did not sin. Because He suffered this temptation, He is able to help (succour) those who are being tempted. I can think of no one better to have on our side when we are tempted by satan than God, His Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Talk about a team. WOW! With them on our side, how can we fail? We fail only when we do not heed their will in our lives!

Most traditional Christians (and maybe some non-traditional Christians) do not realize the power that they have over sin. These are promises from the Bible. I love that old hymn, Every Promise in the Book is Mine. They can be yours, too. Here are just a few of them:

Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin (Romans 6.6-7).

Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace (Romans 6.11-14).

Our old self was crucified with Christ when we accepted Him into our lives and made Him our Lord and Master. Our old sinful bodies and/or nature were nailed to the cross with Him. Sin is now destroyed in our life if our life is in Christ. We, through acceptance of Him, died to this world with Him, and like Him, we are now free from sin. Sin no longer has dominion over us, for we have the power through Christ to not let sin reign in our bodies. We are not under the law, but under grace.
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you (James 4.7).

According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall (2 Peter 1.3-10).

We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the one who was born of God keeps him safe, and the evil one cannot harm him (1 John 5.18, NIV).

Through the divine power of Him who called us to repentance and salvation we have everything needed for resisting sin. Through Him we have the promise that we may live in the same divine nature as our Savior and escape the corruption of the world which comes from man's evil desires. We are to seek to add to our faith virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, Godliness, brotherly kindness, and charity. If these things are found in us, we will be fruitful in our life in Christ. If we are born of God, we do not continue to sin but are kept safe by His Son. Satan's evil temptations cannot harm us. What power through God we have over the corruption of this world, if we will just join His team and play by His rules!

Those without understanding of these passages condemn us for the freedom we have in Christ to overcome sin. They cannot or will not accept the promises of power through God to overcome temptation and sin in this world that are found regularly in His Word. Therefore, they have to invent traditions (laws), much as the Scribes and Pharisees did in Jesus' time to justify their unbelief. I think we all know what Jesus thought of them.

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5.8).

When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death (James 1.13-15, NIV).

We must not allow ourselves to be dragged away and enticed by satan's temptations. Did you notice that we must give him permission to lead us into temptation and sin (devour)? How do we give him permission? If we dwell on his attempts (temptations) to cause us to sin, desire will be conceived in our heart and it will give birth to sin. To dwell on the things satan tempts us with is to take our eyes off of the good things of God, Who sent His Son to be a perfect example and our Savior from the corruption of this world. If we keep our eyes on the things of God, there will be no room in our lives for satan's attempts at corruption to dwell. These are promises of God to those who are born into His family through the Blood of Christ. If we accept His Word and His promises regarding our power to resist temptation and overcome sin, then lust is no problem!
Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and for ever. Amen. (Jude 1.24-25).
Editor's Note: Though the issue of lust had previously been discussed in Fig Leaf Forum, the need to revisit this important topic was heightened as a result of the emphasis it was given by the church of Christ preacher in the debate published on this Web site and in Issue 55/56 of the newsletter. This article is from Issue 59 and was written by a Fig Leaf Forum subscriber.

Next article: What A Beautiful Tree! Is That Lust?

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