The Nature of Lust

©Ievgeni / What comes to mind when you hear or say the word lust?

My favorite synonym from the KJV Bible is concupiscence. I mean, when's the last time you used that in a conversation?

An older word that conveys the popular idea of lust is lasciviousness. It just sounds lustful.

But the nature of lust is much, much more than archaic words, and it is more powerful than the strongest of wills.

A fuller view

The topic of lust tends to focus on sexual issues, but that is too narrow. A more true scope takes in many other appetites, such as the seven deadly sins.

The basic problem of lust is its power to control, at least that's how it is often seen. "I can't help myself, I just need to have...." But is that the whole issue? I don't think so.

Looking at lust from a biblical POV reveals a deeper issue. From a theological perspective, it describes any appetite of the selfish nature, or what many Bible versions call the flesh, the carnal nature. Anything tied to our selfish nature, our self-will, is subject to the power of lust.

Never satisfied

The problem with lust is this—it can never be satisfied. King Solomon knew a thing or two about this subject—

Death and Destruction are never satisfied,
and neither are human eyes. (Proverbs 27:20 NIV)
There are three things that are never satisfied, four that never say, ‘Enough!’: the grave, the barren womb, land, which is never satisfied with water, and fire, which never says, ‘Enough!’ (Proverbs 30:15b-16 NIV)

This is the heart or nature of lust—a desire or longing for something that can never be satisfied or fulfilled.

Because humans are physical, we tend to perceive and understand things from that perspective. But, the physical body we now have (as a follower of Jesus) will be changed into an indestructible body (1 Cor 15:42-44). Our self-will exists within our soul (inner nature). Our soul is connected to our body—the one we have now, and the one Christian believers have for eternity.

This is why lust is so powerful—it resides inside us and corrupts us. Here's what Jesus says—

What comes out of a person is what defiles them. For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person. (Mark 7:20-23 NIV)

Out of control

How can it be controlled? It can't. Then, are we lost to its control? No!

Many books exist on the subject of lust and some are excellent. The majority tend to focus on sexual lust, but the same principles apply as an antidote for this poison to our soul—unhealthy desire.

It's easy to blame the devil for temptation. He's certainly involved, but the blame can't just be laid with him, nor is it God's fault. Here's what James said about it—

When someone is tempted, he shouldn’t say that God is tempting him. God can’t be tempted by evil, and God doesn’t tempt anyone. Everyone is tempted by his own desires as they lure him away and trap him. Then desire becomes pregnant and gives birth to sin. When sin grows up, it gives birth to death. (James 1:13-15 GW)

Temptation, which is the carrot on the stick for our unhealthy desire, is connected to our self-will. So, the issue is dealing with our self-will, not assigning blame, nor ignoring it, as if it will go away on its own.

Jesus makes it clear (see above), and so does James, that the problem resides in us. So... what's a person to do?

Is there some silver bullet that can kill it? No! Is it even possible to resolve this dilemma? Of course.

What do you think? What is the key to resolving our struggle with unhealthy desire and passion, as well as any other compulsive behavior we have?

I'll explore that next week, but leave you with a hint with this song...