This week's 'thought' has to do with a struggle most all men wrestle with (every one I've ever known anyway) -- lust. And in particular, sexual lust. It comes to you from John Piper in his book, "Future Grace." If you (or someone you know) is looking for help in the fight for purity, this excerpt offers some solid, relevant, helpful truth on how to gain victory over lust.
So, if that's what you want (and if you struggle with it you should!), I encourage you to read on. Enjoy.
Faith In Future Grace vs. Lust
"Suppose I am tempted to lust. Some sexual image comes into my mind and beckons me to pursue it. The way this temptation gets its power is by persuading me to believe that I will be happier if I follow it. The power of all temptation is the prospect that it will make me happier. No one sins out of a sense of duty. We embrace sin because it promises, at least in the short run, things will be more pleasant.
So what should I do? Some people would say, 'Remember God's command to be holy (I Peter 1:16), and exercise your will to obey because he is God!' But something crucial is missing from this advice, namely, faith in future grace. A lot of people who strive for moral improvement cannot say, 'The life I live I live by faith' (Gal. 2:20). They strive for the purity of love, but don't realize that such love is the fruit of faith in future grace...
When faith has the upper hand in my heart, I am satisfied with Christ and his promises. This is what Jesus meant when he said, 'Whoever believes in me shall never thirst' (John 6:35). When my thirst for joy and meaning and passion are satisfied by the presence and promises of Christ, the power of sin is broken. We do not yield to the offer of sandwich meat when we can smell the steak sizzling on the grill.
The fight of faith is to stay satisfied with God. 'By faith Moses... [forsook] the fleeting pleasures of sin...for he was looking to the reward' (Heb. 11:24-26). Faith is not content with 'fleeting pleasures.' It is ravenous for joy. And the Word of God says, 'In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forever more.' (Ps. 16:11). So faith will not be sidetracked into sin. It will not give up so easily in its quest for maximum joy.
The role of God's Word is to feed faith's appetite. And, in doing this, it weans my heart away from the deceptive taste of lust. At first, lust begins to trick me into feeling that I would really miss out on some great satisfaction if I followed the path of purity. But then I take up the sword of the Spirit and begin to fight. I read that it is better to gouge out my eye than to lust. I read that if I think about things that are pure and lovely and excellent, the peace of God will be with me (Phil. 4:8). I read that setting the mind on the flesh brings death, but setting the mind on the Spirit brings life and peace (Rom. 8:6). I read that lust wages war against my soul (I Pet. 2:11), and that the pleasures of this life choke out the life of the Spirit (Luke 8:14). But best of all, I read that God withholds no good thing from those who walk uprightly (Ps. 84:11), and that the pure in heart will see God (Matt. 5:8).
As I pray for my faith to be satisfied with God's life and peace, the sword of the Spirit carves the sugar coating off the poison of lust. I see it for what it is. And by the grace of God, its alluring power is broken. I wield the sword of the Spirit against the sin of lust by believing the promise of God more than I believe the promise of lust. My faith is not only a backward-looking belief in the death of Jesus, but a forward-looking belief in the promises of Jesus. It's not only being sure of what he did do, but also being satisfied with what he will do -- indeed, it is being satisfied with what he will do precisely because of what he did do (Rom. 8:32).
It is this Spirit-given superior satisfaction in future grace that breaks the power of lust. With all eternity hanging in the balance, we fight the fight of faith. Our chief enemy is the lie that says sin will make our future happier. Our chief weapon is the truth that says God will make our future happier. And faith is the victory that overcomes the lie, because faith is satisfied with God."
As one can see from this selection the Bible's way of fighting sin is with faith, not with more willpower or legalistic restrictions. It is victory found in a return to believing. Believing God's promise rather than Satan's lie.
In a fascinating little book I just read yesterday, it asks (regarding Hitler's attempted extermination of the Jews in the death camps across Europe): "How Do You Kill 11 Million People?" (That's also the book's title.) And what's the answer: "You lie to them." As he shows in a fairly convincing way, you can get anybody to do almost anything if you can get them to believe a lie. Tell them that what they do believe (have believed) is wrong, what they need to believe is what you are selling, and then make the lie you are selling as convincing as possible. Say it with as much earnestness and charisma as you can (the non-biblical kind). That's Satan's ploy.
Yet faith holds on to the truth -- refusing to believe the lie while also clinging to the firm promises of God. Faith exposes the lie to the soul before we are led in temptation to comply with it.
The lie: Giving in to lust will fulfill your immediate bodily/fleshly craving for pleasure and therefore make you happy. The truth: The pleasures of sin last only for a short time and result in death, but Christ offers joy, hope, inner peace, rest of soul, an undefiled conscience, fulfillment, delight, satisfaction, and in the future -- eternal pleasures at God's right hand. And the means of overcoming: Faith -- but especially faith in God's promise of future grace.
Blessings in the battle to believe, Pastor Jeff