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Rev. Paul J. Bucknell
Purpose: ￼Can't escape from your lusts and temptations? Learn of the power of love over the desires of your lusts. 'The Power of Love over Lusts' is the fifth lesson on 'Embracing God's Love, Overcoming Lust' which provides a lot of practical advice on how to escape lustful thoughts by focusing on loving others. This lesson is the seventh in a series on "Reaching Beyond Mediocrity."
The real key in overcoming the strong lusts that live within us is to understand and value the wonderful ways of the Lord. They are so much better. We should not think that we are only speaking of heaven being better because we choose the way of Jesus. That is true. Those consumed in their lusts will not inherit the kingdom of God.
"Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. For it is on account of these things that the wrath of God will come" (Colossians 3:5-6).
|Be careful here. If a person does not believe Jesus' way of love is better and only, because it is associated with commands, is descriptive of restraint and displeasure, then he is easily sucked into the world's system. It is best to describe these advantages by specific illustrations. We will speak about love in contrast to giving into our manipulative lusts.
God's way of love, however, is not only in the remote future removed from the presence of sin but also in our present time where we like Jesus live among a sinful culture.
Love is in every way better than following one's lusts. There are many levels of greatness about the love Jesus teaches. There is the freedom of not being burdened down with shame and guilty feelings. We must not stop there, however. That only describes the benefits of love and self-control by focusing on what one does not have rather than what one does have. Jesus' way is much better than that.
Love enables a person to affirm the value of others. Instead of using a person for one's selfish purposes, one actually strengthens the worth of another person. When I remember the preciousness of my companion, whether it be wife, friend or stranger, I am able to focus on the decision to love that individual. Let me give you a few examples.
I am on a bus watching a seductively-dressed woman cross the street. A temptation comes into my mind that I should start thinking of her to be a person that I want to use for my own lusts. My mind and body are instantly tantalized and rise up and call out to me to keep thinking about her and mentally abuse her.
By thinking about the woman's person, life and needs, however, I can instead think of how she needs God's love. She probably, my guess, is trying to get the attention of others and does not know the love of God. She probably does not realize how other men will desire her body and not care for her person. This is an imitation love that speaks of intimacy but is not intimate at all.
She needs God's real love as all of us do. She needs people to care for her not for what they will get out of her but for who she has. People often find this love in families, but few have big families where this unselfish love can sometimes be found. I make it my goal to love this woman in my mind by not lusting for her, restraining my own selfish desires, and instead think of her needs. I powerfully pray that God would open her heart to find the Lord and His love.
Instead of giving into my flesh, I have loved another person.
This was a spiritual battle and the way I fought and chose to believe would affect her, me and my loved ones. I chose not in this instance to use her for my own selfish purposes. I instead chose to use my life to help and build her up. In this case I will never meet her. She, however, is blessed because of my prayer. As to myself, I am strengthened because of disciplining myself to love and care for her. The situation stops there. The bus moves on. Now let's deal with another situation where a person meets up with a woman somewhat seductively dressed.
This time let us think of a sister believer who has dressed with a low v-shaped blouse. I do not know whether she has some subtle motive to attract a man (this is the wrong man to attract!) or wears such things because of unawarely adopts the cultural norms around her. The man, however, notices her body. Everyone sits at the worship service.
He catches a glimpse of her tempting body when she turns a certain way. The brother is plagued by a fight that she is totally blind to. Shall he worship God or enjoy the feast before his eyes?
This is a sister that the brother often meets and talks with. If he indulges his flesh and thinks about her in inappropriate ways, then he will stain his relationship with her and make it superficial. He will have to pretend his honest concern for her. Lusts always destroys genuine friendships because they force a person to false words and pretenses.
He, for example, will kindly smile, but he is really thinking about trying to reposition himself in order to get a better look at her. Instead of praying for her spiritual growth, he is wondering whether she will wear that outfit again. Genuine love subjugates those lustful temptations by valuing the person he is thinking about using. When he decides to value her, he knows deep in his heart that he has does a very good thing. Of course, he still must battle every time he sees the same begging view by looking away from her way during the worship service.
The brother has genuinely loved her. That is what she needs. He treats her with respect as a father would care for his daughter. He protects and watches over her. Through deciding not to lust upon her, he deepens his brother-sister relationship with her through genuine care. He rejects chooses not to be a selfish person and therefore does not need to pretend he values her person because he genuinely does. Jesus words, 'Love one another' are implemented when we avoid giving into our lusts and instead choose to value the other person and not to manipulate a person or circumstances for our selfish purposes, whether mentally or in real life.
So love establishes the worth of others, strengthens our faithfulness to God, creates a place where God's good works are being done, and provides a place where deeper works of God can be done.
"Then Amnon hated her with a very great hatred; for the hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he had loved her. And Amnon said to her, "Get up, go away!" (2 Samuel 13:15).
"When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her, also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit, and was troubled... Jesus wept. And so the Jews were saying, "Behold how He loved him!"" (John 11:33-36).
Marriages break apart because couples equate love with lust. They focus on feelings. When the feelings are gone, they are not willing to continue to be kind. When they lust for one another, they will hurt each other and not be sensitive as they should. They will be willing to break a life-long pledge.
When love is present, a person is patient with the other. A person is willing to restrain him or herself for the other. The oneness is strengthened. Friendship grows. They are interested in the person and not just what they can get.
Pornography, open or hidden, is a largely modern phenomena that destroys marriage because they have treated lust as love. Lust, however, is really the opposite of love and only develops further isolation and independence. We need to address the issue of pornography which many consider to be a harmless form of entertainment.
Read on to see the dangers of pornography.