By Basilea Schlink
We all know the power of lust, which is in our flesh. Eve lusted for the fruit. David lusted for the wife of Uriah. Is there anyone among us who does not know how lust can suddenly arise in our hearts? We think, for example, that we cannot live, if we cannot satisfy our desire for the other sex, for a certain person. This lust arises from time to time in our blood. It has an overpowering force which is unwilling to be confined within the limits of the commandments of God, and through it sin upon sin is born. "Desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin" (Jas. 1: 15a): adultery, theft, murder.
The power of sensual desires, when people give in to them, can make them so blind that they completely disregard the commandments of God. The consequence is unbridled sexual indulgence, premarital and extramarital intercourse or sexual relations with members of the same sex. Such behaviour is almost taken for granted today. But the judgment of God is upon it, for Scripture says: "God will judge the immoral and the adulterous" (Heb. 13: 4b). "No immoral or impure man ... has any inheritance in the Kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for it is because of these things that the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience" (Eph. 5: 5, 6). They will weep and lament in Satan's kingdom, the kingdom of torment.
The enemy knows how to cover up the curse that lies in indulging in our lust, by trying to justify the lust in our flesh: "God, the Creator, has laid this desire in our blood; we have to satisfy it, otherwise we will not have a well-rounded personality." In reality, however, to indulge in unbridled lust leads to ruin. Certainly our sexuality belongs to the creation of God and when we practise it in the sight of His holiness, with discipline according to His commandments, we will experience His blessing. But there is scarcely any other gift of God which is so terribly misused as this one. Here the devil has found an open door. We think indulging in our desires will bring us the happiness for which we long. But apart from the Creator, and in disobedience towards Him, lust will lead us into ruin, because it brings us under Satan's dominion.
The consequences of seeking to satisfy our desires by drinking, taking drugs or indulging in sex are dreadful. If we do so, we could literally experience our bodies' decay. Many drug addicts die from overdoses, or they end up in mental institutions. People want to "enjoy" life; so they drink the cup of poison that the enemy offers them. Body and soul become poisoned; they have to suffer dreadfully and are finally destroyed-here in earthly life and then in the next world in dreadful torment.
This is a law, for sin always gives birth to death. We think we can get more out of life when we satisfy our lust, but actually we just get death. This will be revealed in a horrible way in eternity. There everyone will be able to see on our bodies just how much we have given in to our desires, and some shall awake "to shame and everlasting contempt" (Dan. 12: 2). In hell the members of our bodies that indulged in sin (for instance, the tongue of the rich man, Luke 16: 19-24) will burn, without ever being totally burned up. The desires will continue to burn in our bodies but instead of satisfaction we will experience dreadful torment.
No matter how high the price, the sinful factor in our urges, that leads us into indulgence and fornication, has to be put to death here on earth. We have to turn away from it immediately and begin to fight the battle of faith today, for we never know whether tomorrow will still come. If we are suddenly called away from this life, we may find ourselves today suffering heartache, torture and torment in the kingdom of darkness. The Word of God warns us many times about extramarital sexual relationships and sharply condemns every sexual relationship with members of the same sex. "Immorality, impurity, licentiousness ... those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God" (Gal. 5: 19, 20). "Neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals . . . will inherit the kingdom of God" (1 Cor. 6: 9, 10). "Shun immorality ... the immoral man sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God? You are not on your own; you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body" (1 Cor. 6: 18-20).
We cannot tolerate the sin of lust in any area of our lives. It must be brought into the light at once, confessed and renounced. We have to break from this sin, otherwise Satan will hold us in his chains and we will not get loose. But that is not all that is necessary. Because these urges are so deeply rooted in us, we have to begin a daily battle of prayer, and praise the redeeming power of Jesus blood over our sin-infested blood. Part of this battle of prayer is that we confront in faith the cry of our hearts; "We want to live and satisfy our desires" with a clear resoluteness; "We want to die to our lust; we want to be crucified with Jesus and arise with Him to new life and inherit glory."
Is there any other way to come to the joy-filled life that we all long for except by dying? Even in nature we can see this law at work "Die and come to life!" All life is born out of death. Should there be any other way for us men who are so laden with sin and guilt?
The first step must be taken in our thought-life. Lust has to be confronted immediately and fought against, as soon as it appears in our thoughts. People are often tormented by impure thoughts, feelings and fantasies even in their dreams. Let this be our practical guide: Do not read anything in magazines, look at anything on television or listen to anything on the radio that could nourish such impure, lustful thoughts, feelings or fantasies. If we do not leave them alone, we will not become free. We will have to reap what we have sown, by letting all these things come into our hearts and thoughts. Here they torment us and will not let us go, and one day a terrible punishment will await us.
But whoever consistently refuses to look at impure things, or listen to them, and always claims the blood of the Lamb for that which is in his feelings and thought will experience that he will be set free.
That is also true when our desires are unduly directed at a certain person. Above all we must not let ourselves be deceived by the enemy's arguments such as: friendship with a married person is allowed because his spouse cannot offer him what he needs. The needs of the person justify the situation, and so on. We must unmask the camouflage of this temptation and then in practice avoid meetings where we might possibly encounter him, even it is painful to make such a sacrifice. Or we have to tear up letters or pictures, if they bind us ever anew to a person and make us lust for him.
Jesus Himself tells us how important it is to fight a radical battle for eternity. He exhorts us to pluck out our eye, if it causes us to sin through evil glances. But after the exhortation comes an even more cutting word, "It is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell" (Matt. 5: 29). The punishment for the immoral and adulterous which the Letter to the Ephesians (5: 5, 6) so earnestly speaks of is damnation into hell where we will be dreadfully tormented by Satan, the lord of hell.
That is why, if we are chained by this sin, we have to listen to Jesus' warning, "Fear Him (God, the judge) who can destroy both soul and body in hell" (Matt. 10: 28).
We must radically turn away from all indulgence in our lust, which is a trespass against the commandments of God. In the blood of the Lamb there is power to free from the chains of sin. Jesus' name is Redeemer. Indeed He is a Redeemer and that is why He will redeem us from the fetters of sin, which bind us to Satan. Whoever makes a thorough break with his desires in faith in Jesus will experience that Jesus has come to give us life and complete satisfaction. He will thoroughly develop all the gifts of our body, soul and spirit. He will make us complete happy. He will give us the divine radiance of a loving, joyous, natural personality. Jesus is the essence of life. He alone can give us the fullness of life-only He. That is why we have to dare to act according to His words. Renounce everything; that is, forgo what we desire and what our lustful desires yearn for; leave them and hate them, insofar as they go against the commandments of God. Then we will experience that such death is the entrance gate to a joy-filled life, where we will receive the abundance of divine life, which is in Him.
In Jesus' sufferings we can see the deadly curse of all sensual lust; we can see its dreadful manifestations on Jesus' body. The picture of our Saviour, scourged and crucified, is a sermon for us; Jesus had to lay down His life for us, because we do not want to lay down our lives. We are full of desire and lust. He had to offer His body up as a sacrifice, because we so often misuse our bodies, indulge in lust and disregard the limits that God has set in His word. He had to suffer so much, because we, through such sin, disfigure the image of God, although He created and redeemed us to bear this image.
Now Jesus is asking us: "Trusting in My sacrifice, dare to lay down your life and believe that I will give you the full life!"