Continued from previous post . . .
No matter what setting you find yourself in you must battle your heart. You may say, “I don’t struggle with porn.” Praise God! But friend, you do struggle with lust. Every one of us struggles with the continual waywardness of our own hearts and our insatiable desire for supremacy, worship and glory. I believe it was John Calvin who said that the human heart is an idol factory.
The Solution: A God-Centered Lust
This is the key. God is the very source of beauty. Furthermore, he defines what beauty is. We have God revealing himself in the Scriptures to be the very pinnacle of beauty and in his beauty he eclipses all things. Contemplate the reality that God does not decay or fade, but he is just as fresh, beautiful and glorious today as he was when Paul preached the glories of Christ, when Jesus walked the earth, when David penned his songs of praise, when Moses cried out for a glimpse of his glory, when Abraham believed, when Adam and Eve walked with him in the garden, when the angels sang of his glory during creation, and when the Trinity enjoyed their eternal fellowship and worship prior to the creation of the world. Now add to that that his beauty will never fade away . . . he will always be this glorious, this beautiful, this appealing, this attractive!! He is the eternal God whose beauty is eternally untarnished.
The Father has spoken from heaven as to his appraisal of Jesus. We have read of this divine endorsement of the Savior at his baptism, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.” (Matthew 3:17)
Further, Matthew writes that Jesus is the eternal delight of the Father, with whom the he is “well pleased” (Matthew 12:18).
Friends, can we not find ourselves in agreement with God as to His beauty? We must come to the word of God to have our minds conformed (shaped) by God. He says He is infinitely beautiful and worthy to be the unceasing object of our satisfaction and delight. Do you agree?
If you do then your cravings and lust for things of this world and of your flesh will be starved out by your relentless enjoyment and pursuit of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
You can throw your computer out the window, but that won’t kill your lust. You can never go to the mall, but that won’t kill your lust. You can cut out your eyes, but that won’t kill your lust. You can move to a cave in Montana, but that won’t kill your lust. You can employ legalism, but that won’t kill your lust. All of these things fall short because they are external amputations when we need heart transformation.
In fact, in the context of a community of believers trying to employ fleshly means to tame the flesh, Paul makes a startling statement: “These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh” (Colossians 2:23).
So what do we do? What can we do?
Well, if we keep reading in Colossians, we find the answer. But before getting to the specifics of dealing with the practice of lust (v.5ff), he deals with the source of lust in verses 1-4:
“Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory” (Colossians 3:1-4).
You are putting to death lustful passions with your ceaseless passion for Jesus Christ, “keep seeking the things above” . . . “Set your mind on the things above,” for It is this seeing and savoring of Jesus Christ (as John Piper would say) that brings about the holiness that is required.
But there is more here. In Colossians 3:1 there is another “therefore” statement. What did Paul just pivot out of? Chapters 1 & 2 declare the absolute supremacy and sufficiency of Jesus over and against everything. Therefore the Christian (and everyone else for that matter) is backed up, and all of the apparent competition and rivals to Jesus are completely eclipsed by the resume of Jesus Christ. He is seen to be absolutely supreme and sufficiently glorious and therefore the only choice for your worship. He is it.
To see Jesus as supreme and sufficient is to see everything else as lacking. To see stuff as worthy of your lust (coveting, craving, etc.) is to see Jesus as lacking. To seek goodness outside of what God has called good is to appraise Jesus and find him lacking. We need to think like this. Our lust for selfish pleasure does have consequences. Whether we are talking sexual lust, material lust, professional lust, et. al., we are talking about removing the attributes of God; we are talking about imputing the attributes of supremacy and sufficiency to stuff and this is the height of idolatry (Colossians 3:5).
This is why it is so critical to be in the word of God daily. To find ourselves in subjection to the divine word, that we might have our minds transformed and renewed according to the will of God, that we would think his thoughts after him, appraising that which is excellent and rejecting that which is sinful (Romans 12:1-2; Ephesians 5:1-2). Furthermore, we are to drive the word deep into our hearts through prayer and contemplative meditation; for we are people in need of the brokenness which so reminds us of the absolute beauty and attractiveness of God that we might see and savor His supremacy and sufficiency in all things. There is little doubt that this is what Paul has in mind as he writes these words in Colossians 3:
“Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father” (Colossians 3:16-17).
How do we fight lust? We fight with a ceaseless, radical, intentional pursuit of the delight of God, which is a delight in God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
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This is a guest post by Erik Raymond. Erik currently pastors the new south campus of the Omaha Bible Church, a ministry “aiming to establish a gospel-centered, cross-boasting, expository preaching ministry” in his county. Erik was born and raised in Massachusetts and moved to Omaha, Nebraska in 1995 (while serving in the Air Force). Erik lives with his wife Christie and four children in Omaha. You can read more thoughts from Erik at his blog, IrishCalvinist.com, where he seeks to “corral Christ centered thoughts and organize and articulate them in an edifying manner.”