Bible Study Discussions with Gary Panell
Question: I know it is a sin to lust after a woman. When have you crossed that line?
Answer: Yes, it is a sin to lust after a woman [or for a woman to lust after a man] and we know that from several Scriptures: Jesus said, "You have heard that it was said to those of old, You shall not commit adultery. 28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart." (Matthew 5:27,28)
All men and women have thoughts about the opposite sex and this is the way we are designed by God. This is because for most people it is God's will for them to marry and procreate. However, as you asked, "When have you crossed that line?" There is a saying that has helped me, and that is, "a bird might land on your head, but you don't have to let it build a nest."
The Lord wants us to get victory over our lusts, "I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul." (1 Peter 2:11) We see things all the time but we need to not dwell on lustful thoughts or else they will get the better of us.
One of the strongest senses of our bodies is the eye gate. The Bible says, "For all that is in the world-the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life-is not of the Father but is of the world." (1 John 2:16) Remember it was the eyes that led Eve, the first woman in the world, to disobey God. This is what that verse says, "So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings." (Genesis 3:6-7)
Why do you think stores like to display their wares? Because they know the more you look, the more likely you are to buy something. So too, Satan knows that if he can get you looking at the opposite sex and thinking about their body parts he probably has you. Realize that temptation is from the roaring lion that wants to destroy you. "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 9 Resist him, steadfast in the faith." (1 Peter 5:8)
After Adam and Eve sinned, you notice they naturally wanted to put clothes on to cover their nakedness. God also knew that for us it would be more than we could take as far as a temptation if we were looking at each other's naked bodies. That is why we are instructed to dress in modesty. "And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty, 24 but our presentable parts have no need." (1 Corinthians 12:23-24)
Satan uses this temptation of the eyes and thoughts or imaginations to his advantage. He lures men and women to expose their bodies in hopes that many will look on them and will be tempted to sin. (Look at our article on Pornography) Actually, we are told that more people are looking at pornography today than are looking at sports. So Satan has a real foothold on people who are looking at pornography on-line especially. Yes, there have always been the 'dirty magazines,' but today, just by the click of the mouse, millions are duped by Satan into temptation.
Now you say, I know all that, but what do I do about it? First, we are to flee youthful lusts, whether we are young or old. "Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart." (1 Peter 2:22) Flee, of course, means to run away from or get out of there. If you are at a place, or watching something on TV, etc, that is a temptation to cause you to lust, get away from it!
I know when I was in the Army there were those who had 'dirty magazines' I could not look at these because the images would be too much for me or anyone else for that matter. Scripture says we are to think only on pure things. "Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy-meditate on these things." (Philippians 4:8)
So remember, we all have these temptations to dwell on certain body parts of the opposite sex, but we are to realize God can give us victory over dwelling on these thoughts that pop into our minds. ".God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it." (1 Corinthians 10:13b)
I know I have gone beyond what you asked about, but I hope this helps. When we start dwelling on thoughts that we should not think about, we have crossed the line! Today the world believes you cannot control your body's desires and lusts so they just jump in with both feet, as it were, into sin. We as Christians know that God can help us overcome temptation, and we want to please Him who died for us. Jesus was always victorious over these lusts and we can be victorious also. I always like to think, "what would Jesus (or Mary) do in this situation?"
Then too, to be victorious we will need to use God's Word against Satan, as Jesus did. Satan will leave us just as he left Jesus for a time. We have to be on our guard, because when we lest expect it, there will be those temptations that the Devil will put in our pathway. Sometimes this happens in even a literal way. One day I was walking along a road and there was a 'dirty magazine' I believe it was put there by Satan to trip me up to see if I would look at it when no one was looking.
That is the way the temptations will come, you will be just minding your own business and all of a sudden a thought about the opposite sex will pop into your mind. That is when you need to shoot up a prayer to heaven and ask God for help! We have so many temptations all around us these days, so we need to be ever so careful, as you know.
Remember, we are not perfect yet, so God gave us 1 John 1:8-10, 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.
This does not give us a license to sin, because we are to resist and flee temptation, but we know that when we are truly sorry for our sins, and ask for forgiveness, that God will forgive!!
We have several other answers that might help in this area they are: Christian dating, courting, and struggles with lust; and I am a Christian teenager.
Gary T. Panell
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Keywords: lust, temptation, adultery