We do not live in a time of public silence on lust. There has been no moratorium on the noise about it, the perpetual chatter that surrounds us on every side. Enticements to lust, discussions of lust, enducements to lust, are constant. Standing against this is the clear word of Scripture: “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry” (Col. 3:5).
Men love to want, while women desire to be wanted. It is not as though men have a problem with lust and women do not. The two sexes actually have complementary problems with this sin. When men look, it is because they have this problem. And when women behave and dress to be looked at, they have this problem also. This is why the Bible tells women to be modest (1 Tim. 2:9). Consider what we learn about this from Proverbs 7:1-23. What are the characteristics of feminine lust?
The woman in that passage dresses like a hooker: we need to take care here, because much of this modern hookerware has already been mainstreamed, and is for sale at a department store near you (v. 10). Moms buy it for their daughters. Christian moms buy it for their Christian daughters. This woman that Solomon is talking about has a subtle, tangled heart: she is crafty, and knows how to set and bait the trap (v. 10). Because of this subtle approach, she also has what is called deniability. She is stubborn, headstrong. When it is pointed out what she is doing, she does not have the frame of heart to hear it. She is brash, loud, and stubborn (v. 11). What is her response if mom says her jeans are too tight? She wanders away from home; her feet don’t like it at home. Home is boring (v. 11). In addition, she is sexually aggressive. She is impudent, and she makes the proposition verbal (v. 13). The proposition, however, has already been made by this point, but just not in verbal ways. She overflows with promises. She promises him a good time, as countless popular songs put it, “all night long” (v. 18). She is also full of flattery. Her words drip with honey; she knows how to use pseudo-respect (v. 21).
She appeals greatly to men with no sense. Lust is not simply a sensation; it is a road with an established destination. That destination is always some form of sexual immorality, and in turn that is a road that winds up in hell. There are some fundamental scriptural responses to this strong lure. The first is flee –abstain. Paul tells Timothy to flee youthful lusts (2 Tim. 2:22). Peter tells us to abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul (1 Pet. 2:11). Whenever Potiphar’s wife starts to unbutton her blouse, run away. This means you should avoid girls who dress immodestly, drastically alter the movies you watch, have nothing to do with porn on the net, and so forth. Second, consider the end: the young man in Proverbs did not think or consider the results (7:7,22-23). And third, recognize that all men and all women are sexual disciples. But whose disciple? The world teaches on this subject all the time. How many of these lessons have you mastered, and how much of the Bible’s teaching on lust, sex, marriage, etc. have you studied? How can you prepare for marriage, or teach your wife, when you refuse to learn anything?
But the Christian faith does not call for a lifetime of cold showers. The greatest earthly help against sexual temptation and sin is godly sex within marriage. The grace of God is not necessarily ethereal or “heavenly.” We must set our minds on Christ, seated at the right hand of the Father, but in doing this, we heed His word. And His word calls Christians to a lifetime of making love. The marriage bed is to be honored; the author of Hebrews tells us this plainly (Heb. 13:4). This means that sexual living is to be highly esteemed among Christians. Further, the marriage bed is to be used. The world is filled with immorality, and the apostle Paul tells that one of the functions of marriage in a fallen world is to help guard against temptations to immorality (1 Cor. 7:2-3). And last, the marriage bed is to be a delight: the godly man is commanded to be satisfied with his wife’s breasts, and is to be ravished with her love (Prov. 5:19).
At the same time, as Christians, we must learn to see beyond earthly means. Under Christ, such things are helps, but not ultimate solutions. As we have seen with the other sins we have considered, the solution to temptations in this area is not new resolutions, but rather Christ. The antidote to lust is not to extinguish desire, but rather to direct it rightly. We must learn to love God, at whose right hand is pleasure forevermore (Ps. 16:11). In the grip of lust, our desires are not too enflamed; frankly, they are anemic.