Tuesday, June 2, 2009
Current Study: First Peter
Today’s Topic: Abstain From Lust
Scripture Reading: 1 Peter 2:11-12 Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.
I will not be popular today. I will certainly not be politically correct. In fact, there will be those who may read this who will downright despise me. But that’s the price of truth.
In today’s Scripture reading, Peter urges those who are in Christ to live as strangers in the world. He declares two general principles – first, stay away from sinful desires; and second, live good lives. I want to address the first principle today.
The New International Version quoted above says that as followers of Christ and citizens of His eternal kingdom, we are to abstain from sinful desires. The King James Version calls it lust. Most of the time, when we hear or read the word lust, we relate it to sexual immorality. But it covers a much broader spectrum of desires that emanate from our sinful hearts. To lust is to desire anything forbidden. Unfortunately, in today’s modern society, we have chosen to believe that nothing is really forbidden. If it feels good, it must be right. If it’s available, then it must be okay. After all, who declared it forbidden anyway? It must have been Someone out of touch with who we really are.
My friends, we are in a serious predicament. It’s not a new issue, but it is serious. God has been declared irrelevant, and man has been left to his own foolishness. This problem started way back in the beginning of time. The Apostle Paul reviewed the history of lust for us in Romans chapter one.
The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them…For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened…Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.
Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.
Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
Lust is destroying the human race. I came across this incredible word picture the other day from the pen of author Calvin Miller. It has really caused me to think.
A cannibal committing suicide
By nibbling on himself.
Peter says that unbridled lust will war against your very soul. It will eat you alive. It will stop your spiritual growth and destroy your ministry effectiveness. Jesus reminded us of this truth in a parable he told about seed being sown by a farmer.
“The farmer sows the word. Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—thirty, sixty or even a hundred times what was sown.”
The desires for other things – lust – will choke out the word of God and make us unfruitful. Let us determine today, and every day, to bridle the lust of the flesh. We must choose to abstain from all that is forbidden by the Word of God, no matter what the world of gods says. Do not let the world decide for you what is forbidden. God has already declared it. Let us stand on His Word, and be fruitful. The world may accuse us of doing wrong, but on the day Jesus returns, and they must face the truth they have denied, they will have to confess that He is Lord and give Him glory for how we lived.
Stand strong. Be faithful. The Lord your God is with you.