Greatest Sermon in History Part 8
The Naked Truth about Lust
by Greg Hanson
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
March 14, 2004
Matthew 5:27-30 (NLT)
Let’s take a trip together. Close your eyes,
and picture yourself on vacation. Go to your favourite place in the
world. It can be someplace you’ve been before or someplace you hope to
go. Is everybody there?
Okay, how many of you are in the mountains (Mountain Goats)? In the
woods (Grizzly Adams)? Anyone taking an Arctic Cruise (Popsicles)? How
many of you are on the beach (Lobsters)? In the city (Urbanites – you
need help)? Did I miss anyone?
Now, travel back to a Christmas morning when you were a child. Can you
picture yourself opening your presents? Can you remember the
anticipation? What did you have for Christmas dinner? Can you remember
the aroma of the meal? Of the dessert?
The imagination is a wonderful thing, isn’t it? It lets you relive
happy times. When you’re going through a rough time, it helps you see
what things can be like again. It lets you dream about your goals and
lets you be creative in achieving them.
Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream. He dreamed about a society where
segregation was no longer a reality.
John F. Kennedy had a dream. He dreamed about man setting foot on the
moon and he inspired a nation with that dream almost a decade before it
J. R. R. Tolkien had a dream. He dreamed of a land called Middle Earth
filled with Hobbits and Elves and Dwarfs and Men and Wizards. We read
about his dream in The Lord of the Rings.
I had a dream. I dreamed about a church called Sunrise long before I
even met any of you. And here we are this morning.
The imagination can be a tremendous thing. But it can also be a
terrible thing. If you haven’t already caught on to where I’m going
with this, you lack imagination. The imagination can be a terrible
thing because you can imagine yourself in God-dishonouring
self-destructive scenarios. The imagination is a beautiful gift from
God, but just like most gifts it can be abused and corrupted.
This morning, we’re going to talk about the dangers of using the
imagination in lustful ways. Chris read a passage for us earlier from
the Sermon on the Mount, the Greatest Sermon in History. And in that
passage Jesus tells us that if we even look at a person lustfully, then
we may as well have committed adultery. Because lust and adultery are
one in the same. They both flow out of the same sinful desire in our
I don’t think there’s anyone here who would argue that adultery is
okay. For the most part, even our society agrees that adultery is
wrong. Yet in the book The Day America Told the Truth, we are told that
almost one-third of all married Americans have had or are now having an
affair. Are Canadians really that much different than Americans? It’s
interesting to me that we’ve even stopped calling it adultery. I mean,
that’s such a nasty word. So we’ve come to call it an affair… a fling…
an extramarital relationship.
[PowerPoint] Friends, this is a duck. I can call it a toaster, a banana
or even a walrus… I imagine it even tastes like chicken, but it’s still
a duck. And adultery is still adultery, regardless of what else we
might call it. And it’s wrong. If you’re having sex with someone you’re
not married to, STOP IT! It’s a serious abuse of the beautiful gift of
sexuality. Whether you’re married or single, stop it.
Because adultery is wrong. We all know that. But Jesus even says that
lust is wrong. So this morning we’re going to talk about what’s wrong
with lust and how we can overcome it.
Wrong with Lust?
What is wrong with lust? After all, it’s in
the mind. It’s in the imagination. Nobody sees it, so what’s the
at a Person as Property
You need to understand, God intended us for
fully-dimensional relationships. In a fully-dimensional relationship,
you care about the person. You care about there likes and dislikes,
their needs and desires, their goals and ambitions, their successes and
failures, their gifts and abilities, their family relationships, their
disappointments in life, what brings them joy… That’s a
fully-dimensional relationship, but lust reduces all that to the
Women have long complained about sexist comments and the sexual
harassment brought about by lust. Nothing makes a person feel as cheap
and used as being lusted after. It’s degrading. It’s reductionary.
When you lust after someone, you stop wondering what they’re like as a
person and start wondering what they’d be like in bed. You reduce them
to property… something to be used and discarded… something that has no
meaning beyond the pleasure it can bring you.
the Law of Love
Just two weeks ago we talked about
developing God-honouring relationships. We talked about how you and I
need to take whatever sets are necessary to restore broken
relationships all in the name of love. We even looked at a verse that
told us that the proof that you and I are followers of Jesus is found
in our love for each other.
John 13:35 (NLT)
"Your love for one another will prove to the
world that you are my disciples.”
We also saw Jesus say…
Mark 12:29-31 (NLT)
“The most important commandment is this:
‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. And you
must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all
your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important:
‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than
Love God and love others. That’s the law of love that Jesus laid out
for us. And lust undermines it. You see, lust is a counterfeit. The
currency that we’re supposed to exchange is love, and that comes
straight from God’s mint. After all, God is love (1 John 4:8). But
Satan has put the counterfeit of lust into circulation which devalues
Okay, for those of you who don’t get the economic metaphor, let me just
say that people confuse lust for love, and it tears apart the kind of
love relationships we were meant to enjoy.
You Toward Stronger Stimuli
Now that’s a sentence. What does it mean? It
means you can get bored with lust and crave something stronger. Small
doses lead to larger doses to get the same “buzz”. One of the problems
with drug use is that you develop an immunity. You may start with a
minor league drug, but pretty soon you’re not getting the same results
anymore and you need to turn to something stronger. And when lust stops
giving you the “fix” you’re looking for, you’ll turn to something
What can lust lead to?
(Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition, Victoria Secrets, soft porn, hard
porn, R-rated movies (sex scenes), X-rated movies (NC-17), adultery,
And what are the end results?
(broken relationships, sexual addictions, criminal action…)
We’ve said it before…
“Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than
you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay.”
I think the greatest strength of lust, as with any sin, is its ability
to bring pleasure. There’s no denying that there’s a level of
satisfaction from sin. There’s a level of satisfaction that you can
have from allowing your imagination to explore all kinds of lustful
possibilities. There’s a level of satisfaction to giving in to your
lustful impulses. And it’s that pleasure that seduces. But it’s
1 John 2:15-17 (NLT)
Stop loving this evil world and all that it
offers you, for when you love the world, you show that you do not have
the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only the lust for
physical pleasure, the lust for everything we see, and pride in our
possessions. These are not from the Father. They are from this evil
world. And this world is fading away, along with everything it craves.
But if you do the will of God, you will live forever.
Lust seduces. Laurie Hall is an author who described how lust seduces…
“It starts by using the desires of our flesh to lure us into its
clutches... Through the imagination it gains access to our souls where
it affects our belief systems, seeks to bend our wills to evil and
causes devastation in our emotions. Then it closes in for the kill in
our spirits. It violates our consciences, quenches our ability to know
right from wrong, and shuts down our ability to talk with God. Once the
spirit is dead, there is no real life in the body. We may be going
through the motions of living, but no one is really home inside.”
~ Laurie Hall, An Affair of the Mind
You in a Destructive Cycle
It’s addictive, and like any addiction it’s
hard to quit. Even when you know how wrong it is and how destructive it
can be to your relationships, to your perceptions of other people, and
to your own self-image… and even when you know how disgusting it is to
a Holy God… it can be hard to quit. You’re trapped. And it may even
seem impossible to escape.
Romans 6:12 (NLT)
Do not let sin control the way you live; do
not give in to its lustful desires.
Lust can control you. It can rule you. As fun and as playful as it can
seem, it can destroy you.
So what hope is there? When your imagination
is destroyed by lust, and when you’ve allowed yourself to get addicted
to all kinds of sexually inappropriate stimuli, what can you do? Can a
healthy, sexually pure imagination ever be revived? The answer is,
Let me give you CPR for reviving a healthy, sexually pure imagination.
(Reviving a sexually pure imagination)
off the sources
Matthew 5:29a, 30 (NLT)
So if your eye—even if it is your good
eye—causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away… And if your
hand—even if it is your stronger hand—causes you to sin, cut it off and
throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than
for your whole body to be thrown into hell.
Does Jesus mean for this to be taken literally? Is He advocating
self-mutilation? No. He has already told us in the Sermon on the Mount
that He’s into heart purity. He’s interested in what’s on the inside.
Cutting off your hand doesn’t change the sinful desires in your heart.
Gouging out your eye doesn’t eliminate the lustful images you can
conjure up in your imagination. So what is Jesus saying? He’s saying,
“Cut off the sources that tempt you to sin.”
I love barbecuing. I’ll shovel a path to our barbecue so I can use it
year round. I’ll turn on the propane and light the fire and throw a
nice, juicy steak on. And when it’s all done, I’ll put the fire out.
Know how? I shut off the propane. I stop feeding the fire. I cut off
What are the sources that feed our lust?
(magazines, TV, movies, beach, ads…)
I should point out that different people are tempted by different
things. One person may be able to go to the beach and have no trouble
at all while another person may not be able to handle the lustful
desires that attack him or her there. Maybe if you took that same
person who has no problem at the beach and put them in a darkened movie
theatre, there’d be a problem there. Different things tempt different
people. That’s why Jesus didn’t go into a big long list of dos and
don’ts, because what’s all right for one isn’t for another. You know
what tempts you, so cut off the sources.
I have a bit of a theory. I think men by nature struggle with lust more
than women. Now, I have done no research and I have no statistics to
back this up, but I think women are struggling with lust more and more
because of how society is programming them. That’s just a theory… thus
saith Greg. I feel that what used to be primarily (not exclusively, but
primarily) a male problem has become a major problem for women as well.
Instead of feeding our lusts, we need to cut off the sources. Joseph in
Genesis 39 understood this. When Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce him, I
believe he was genuinely tempted. So what did he do? He literally ran
from the room. He cut off the source. You and I need to do the same. It
may even be necessary to ask a friend to hold you accountable. Confide
in someone and ask them to check with you periodically to ask what
you’re feeding your imagination. Have you really cut off the sources?
Jesus told us to cut off the hand and gouge out the eye that tempts us.
In much of the Islamic world this is actually a form of punishment. If
you’re caught stealing, you could literally lose your hand. But Jesus
wasn’t prescribing this as punishment… He was prescribing it as
prevention. He’s saying cut off the sources of temptation before you
even give in to them. Don’t flirt with the temptation and don’t play
games with it. Cut it off.
for Forgiveness and Deliverance
I know the times I struggle with temptation
the most is when I’ve neglected to pray. The apostle Paul wrote a
letter to the newly forming church in Rome, and in that letter he
described his own rather personal struggle with sin and temptation.
Romans 7:18-25 (NLT)
I know I am rotten through and through so
far as my old sinful nature is concerned. No matter which way I turn, I
can't make myself do right. I want to, but I can't. When I want to do
good, I don't. And when I try not to do wrong, I do it anyway. But if I
am doing what I don't want to do, I am not really the one doing it; the
sin within me is doing it.
It seems to be a fact of life that when I want to do what is right, I
inevitably do what is wrong. I love God's law with all my heart. But
there is another law at work within me that is at war with my mind.
This law wins the fight and makes me a slave to the sin that is still
within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this
life that is dominated by sin? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ
Paul understood that he had no power in and of himself to overcome sin.
Neither do you or me. But he also understood that ultimately the power
to overcome sin is only found in God.
Romans 6:14 (NLT)
Sin is no longer your master, for you are no
longer subject to the law, which enslaves you to sin. Instead, you are
free by God's grace.
Galatians 5:24 (NLT)
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed
the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and
crucified them there.
Hebrews 9:26 (NLT)
He came once for all time, at the end of the
age, to remove the power of sin forever by his sacrificial death for us.
Jesus Himself instructed us to pray to God for deliverance when He
taught His disciples what we’ve come to call the Lord’s Prayer.
Matthew 6:13 (NLT)
And don't let us yield to temptation, but
deliver us from the evil one.
The power to overcome sin and to resist temptation comes only from God.
So don’t be arrogant and don’t be stubborn. Ask for His help! And He
will give it.
Now, it may take a while. You may still struggle with your temptation
and with your lust for quite some time. But be persistent and keep
praying. And God will take you through a process of renewal and
I found an article online from the Christian TV show, 100 Huntley
Street. In this article, it said…
“Basic human nature is not automatically destroyed as a result of
salvation. Rather, your human nature is atoned for and pardoned. This
means you still need to exercise control over lust and pride, which can
be accomplished by renewing your mind through daily reading God's Word
and communicating with Him in prayer. Self-control and obedience to God
will help you gain control over lust, rather than allowing lust to
control you (Galatians 5:22, 23; 1 Corinthians 9:25,27).”
~ from www.crossroads.ca/response/lust.htm
So pray for forgiveness and for God to deliver you from bondage to the
sin of lust. And be willing to allow Him to take you through a process
the Negative with Positive
2 Timothy 2:22 (NLT)
Run from anything that stimulates youthful
lust. Follow anything that makes you want to do right.
Don’t just run from something bad, run toward something good.
My car is 20 years old, and it’s starting to look like it. There’s some
rust that beginning to eat away at “my baby”. Let me ask you something…
If I scrape off a spot of rust and sand it right down to the metal and
then leave it, what will happen?
The rust will come back. Because it’s not enough for me to just get rid
of the rust, I need to replace the rust with primer and paint and rust
It’s not enough to eliminate lust from your life… you need to replace
it with something else. Instead of feeding your mind with all kinds of
impure images and thoughts, feed your mind with what is pure.
Here are two of my favourite verses from the Bible as they relate to
Philippians 4:8 (NLT)
Fix your thoughts on what is true and
honourable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and
admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
Psalm 119:11 (NLT)
I have hidden your word in my heart, that I
might not sin against you.
Back to that article from 100 Huntley Street:
A person's spirit is fed by what is allowed to enter. In other words,
the Bible says that what you sow is what you will reap. So, rather than
sow seeds of lustful thoughts and desires, choose to meditate on things
that are pleasing to the Lord. He has promised to reward those who
diligently seek Him and His ways.
Would you close your eyes for a minute? As
we wrap up here this morning, here’s what I want to do. I want to give
you a few moments of silence to reflect on the condition of your heart.
What are you taking in? What are you feeding your imagination? How are
you doing in this whole area of lust? Have you submitted to the
Lordship of God in your life, or are you vainly trying to make it on
your own? Take few moments for silent prayer and then I’ll close.