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Lust

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(usually תִּאֲוָה, ἐπιθυμία ), in the ethical sense, is used to express sinful longings-sinful either in being directed towards absolutely forbidden objects, or in being so violent as to overcome self-control, and to engross the mind with earthly, carnal, and perishable things. Lust, therefore, is itself sinful, since it is an estrangement from God, destroys the true spiritual life, leads to take pleasure in what displeases God and violates his laws, brings the spirit into subjection to the flesh. and makes man a slave of sin and ungodliness. Lust, therefore, is the inward sin; it leads to the falling away from God; but the real ground of this falling away is in the will. It took place in the earliest days of mankind (Romans 1:21), and is natural to all in the unregenerated state; it can only be abolished by Christ. The nature of man is not changed, only his empirically moral mode and place of existence. Lust, the origin of sin, has its place in the heart, not of a necessity, but because it is the center of all moral forces and impulses, and of spiritual activity. The law does not therefore destroy sin, nay, it rather increases it, yet not in an active manner, but by the sinner's own fault. The psychological reason of this is, that the law does not destroy the lust, even while accompanied by punishment; consequently the estrangement from God can only be canceled by regeneration. This takes place in the reconciliation with God through Christ, because, in giving his Son as a ransom for sinners, God has manifested his love in such a manner as to awaken man, and give him the strength to love God again. This love of God forms the substance of regeneration, and of the operations of the Holy Spirit, and destroys sinful lust by bringing man into union with God, or by the reception of the Spirit of Christ through faith.

According to Matthew 5:28, "Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her, hath committed adultery with her already in his heart." This forcible expression is correct, for he who is regenerated, and whose heart is filled with true love of God. and who is possessed of the Spirit of Christ, cannot have such worldly lusts. He, therefore, who looks on a woman to (πρός ) lust after her, or, in other words, he in whom her sight will awaken the lust of carnal pleasure, has already committed adultery in his heart. In Mark 4:19 (Matthew 13:22; Luke 8:14): "And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful;" by lusts we are to understand the objects of desire, for lust does not enter the heart, but, on the contrary, proceeds from it, as appears from Matthew 15:19 : "For out of the heart proceed [through lust] evil thoughts [sins], murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies." In Romans 1:24 : "Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, through the lusts of their own hearts;" and Romans 1:26, it is not God who awakened the lusts, but man, who had withdrawn from God, and made gods unto himself to worship. In view of its final object, this estrangement from God is a mystery, as it is an act of free volition.

So in Romans 6:12 : "Let not sin, therefore, reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof;" it call be understood how one could be good so far as intentions are concerned, while yet sin would reign in the lower ego in the perishable body (compare with 7:19, Galatians 5:17). But the apostle considers man, spiritually and bodily, as a whole. He who lives in God through Christ, and is dead unto sin (Romans 6:11), must not let lust govern his perishable body, or listen to his desire, but, on the contrary, these ought no longer to exist in him; the body is to be made as subservient to righteousness as the spirit, for it is the temple of the spirit, and therefore is the instrument wherewith the human mind, animated by the Holy Spirit, is to act. Accordingly it is stated in Romans 7:5, "For when we were in the flesh [before being regenerated], the motions [acts] of sins, which were by the law [which were shown by the law as such], did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death." So in Romans 7:7-8 : "What shall we say, then? Is the law sin [the original source of sin]? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin [the fact of its existence within me] but by the law; for I had not known lust [that it was evil] except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. But [my natural] sin [the principle of sin, or lust], taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence [sinful desires resulting from the general lusts of the flesh]. For without the law sin was dead [i.e. not absent, but partly in the sense of not being recognized as sin or lust, and partly because the knowledge of the restrictions imposed by the law served but to increase the desire for what it forbade]." Χωρίς γὰρ νόμου ἁματρτία νεκρά is a general and popularly expressed aphorism, which is not received in theory.

In Galatians 5:16-17; Galatians 5:24, we are directed, "Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesi [sin] lusteth against [in contradiction with] the [Holy] Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary the one to the other; so that ye cannot do the thing that ye [simply] would; but they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh (in the regeneration), with the affections and lusts." The effect of the strife between the flesh and the Spirit is to prevent the evil which man desires after the flesh. The Holy Spirit helps man to triumph over lust. The image of God is never entirely obliterated, but the lusts of the flesh can lead into enormous sins, and have done so. In like manner, in Romans 1:24, etc.; Ephesians 4:22 (Colossians 3:5 comp. with Ephesians 2:2; Titus 3:3): "That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;" lust (estrangement from God), as an impulse of free volition, is the original source of error which obscures both the mind and the heart. Further, Romans 1:21-22; 1 Timothy 6:9 (" But they that will be rich fall into temptation, and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition"); 2 Timothy 2:22 ("Flee also youthful lusts"); Titus 2:12 ("Teaching us that, denying ungodliness [ἀσίβειαν ] and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world)."

Christians can and must be in the world, but not of the world, and must hold themselves aloof from its contamination. So, again, James 1:27; 1 Peter 2:11 ("Dearly beloved, I beseech you, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul"); 1 Peter 4:1-3 ("He that has suffered in the flesh [ethically, is dead unto the flesh] hath ceased from sin; that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revelings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries"); compare 1 Peter 1:4; 2 Peter 2:10; 2 Peter 2:18; 2 Peter 3:3; Judges 1:16. Once more, 1 John 2:15-17 : "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof." Finally, James 1:14-15 : "But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then, when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin; and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death (or misery)." The N.T. teaches us that man should eagerly avail himself of the power of sanctification proffered through grace to overcome lust and the consequent sin. Krehl, Neu-test. Worterbuch. (See TEMPTATION).


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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Lust'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/tce/l/lust.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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