Since there’s been an added interest in the topic of sex and carnal desires, I figured it was high time to write another blog post about that which people can relate to and that which some cannot seem to get enough. Here is the first of the three descriptions of the “things of this world.”
LUST OF THE FLESH
It is important that each and everyone of us takes a look at our own personal daily lives and determine what takes precedence in our lives. What do we keep in front of our eyes? What do we focus our minds on? What are our hearts filled with? Is it with the things of God or the things of this world?
Once we determine what takes priority in our lives we must make a decision. Do we stay the course or do we change direction? If we’ve remained obedient to the things of God then we are on the right track. But if we’ve come to the revelation that our lives are filled more with the things of this world, what must we do then? It is then that we must turn away from the things that are destructive and turn back to God. The question we then ask ourselves is, “what are we turning away from?”
I. The Lust of the Flesh
1 John 2:16- “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world.”
I was once enlightened to an important and critical fact. We in this world must learn to transform our love for sin into our love for God. We must learn to love sin less and love God more. We must exchange our love for sin for the love of God. This is of course very difficult for many of us. We find gratification with sin. We find fulfillment. We feel as if we are whole by committing the sins that we commit. When we try and exchange our sin for God, that fulfillment may not be as tangible. We try to stay satisfied with God, but it’s difficult because God isn’t as visible or tangible as the sin we’ve been holding to.
Then eventually we feel empty. We need to be filled. God is absent. We don’t feel him. But we sure do know the feeling we get when we commit a sin. We remember how good it felt. We remember how it satisfied our longings. We could not wait for God to fill the void in our hearts. It’s much more easily satisfied by sin.
But we remember what Christ told the Samaritan woman at the well. He who drinks of the water of this well will thirst again but he who drinks of the water that I give him will never thirst. We may satisfy our cravings temporarily by committing the sins that we know make us feel good, but it is a short term gratification. We must turn away from these things and turn to God.
We are fortunate enough that the apostle John introduced us to the things that we should be wary of. In the introduction, we asked ourselves, what are the things that we are supposed to turn from? Sin, sure. But more specifically John gives us three weapons the enemy uses that we must look out for.
The first is the lust of the flesh. The Greek word for “lust” is epithumia. It speaks of “a desire, a craving, a longing, a desire for what is forbidden.” This desire is for the flesh. The Greek word for “”flesh” is sarx. It “denotes mere human nature, the earthly nature of man apart from divine influence and therefore prone to sin and opposed to God.” In simpler terms, when talking of the lust of the flesh, it talks of the humanly desires. “The lust of the flesh is, subjectively, the humour and appetite of indulging fleshly pleasures; and objectively, all those things that excite and inflame the pleasures of the flesh.”
This is the nature of man. Fleshly, carnal obsession and desires constitute the makeup of mankind. As sin permeates throughout our entire being, we are characterized by the desire to fulfill the desires of our flesh. It is our wanting, our longing, to indulge in pleasures of the earthly kind. Do we not find ourselves desiring to indulge in the appetites of that which ultimately corrupts our character, our integrity, our morality and thwarts any progress of our relationship with God?
Sensual and impure desires overtake that which we know is correct and moral. This world allows these desires to be accessible, attainable, and acceptable. They are lusts that are freely given. They are desires sought after by the majority of this world that if one desires not to pursue, they are of the minority, are looked down upon, spat upon, and called intolerant.
And yet, they are still desires that we justify. We crave it. We desire it. We need it. I’m suffering and it brings me temporary gratification. The flesh is good at the moment my lust is being satisfied. I only consider what is immediately in front of me. And what is in front of me is lust. Lust for violence, for gore, for sex, for men, for women, for alcohol, for drugs, for hate, for wrath, for envy, for jealousy, and uncleanness. For everything discussed in Galatians 5:19. There are nearly twice as many works of the flesh than there are works of the Spirit. We must be wary of what takes precedence in our lives.
We discussed earlier that we must decide to not fill our hearts with the things of this world, but rather to turn away from those things and fill our hearts with the things of God. This is necessary because we remind ourselves that to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually mind is life and peace.
We must consider our own lives and decide if the lust of the flesh supersedes our love for God. Are we overridden with sensual impure thoughts? Worse yet, are we overridden with sensual impure actions? Do we seek immediate gratification even at the expense of our soul?
With each temptation we succumb to we make a bold statement that we would rather live for the lust of our flesh than for the glory of God. We’ve heard so many times to repent and to turn away but never the specific answer of what to turn away from. With conviction we know that which we must steer clear of. The lust of the flesh keeps us far away from God.
 Matthew Henry’s Commentary
Lust. Flesh. Carnal. Sex. These are words that carry a strong negative stigma to some while to others, it carries desire, cravings, and reinforcement of a way of life. It is a thorn in the flesh for many, teenagers and adults, single and married alike. Our moth-like tendencies are being drawn to the fleshly, lust driven flame.
It is taboo. People are hesitant to speak about it out of embarrassment while other refuse to speak about it out of shame. Church’s feel it is too difficult a topic to speak about, too close to home, to sensitive an issue that it is best to keep quiet rather than offend others. Most church’s would rather preach about the spiritual, neglecting the flesh. It’s a slight nod toward dualism. If we ignore it and possibly imply various circumstantial teachings that are applicable to the taboo subject, then quite possibly, we hope that it may speak to them.
It simply doesn’t work that way. It needs to be addressed, not just in one post of a blog rant, not just one sermon series behind the pulpit, not just one week night support group, but from the very bowels of humanity’s livelihood. Parents need to get involved, pastors need to get involved, church leaders need to get involved, peers need to get involved… and BE involved. It is a constant battle. And no longer can we argue that sexual sin is simply a sin that affects the body and not the soul. Let’s step away from the application of dualistic theology when it comes to sexual matters. Sexual sins affect far more than that.
In 1 Corinthians 6:13-18, we are given explicit instruction regarding sexual sin. Verse 13: “Foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods, but God will destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.” The context here in this passage written by Paul is in regards to glorifying God both in body and spirit. Paul addresses the food that we eat. But he extends his message to engagements of sexual acts. For some of your translations, the words “sexual immorality” is translated fornication. The Greek word for “sexual immorality” or “fornication” is porneia, from which we derive the English word pornography. It speaks of “illicit sexual intercourse.” This speaks of any sexual relations that are not permitted or unlawful. This can include adultery. But it also distances itself from adultery in that adultery means sex outside of marriage whereas fornication can mean sex before marriage.
In verse 18, Paul tells us to flee fornication. It’s not a command, but rather a plea and strong wish, an urging by the apostle Paul for us to keep fleeing fornication. The emphasis is placed on the fact that we need to constantly flee fornication. It’s not a single act. We don’t run away once and feel as if we’ve escaped it. We must constantly flee. And Paul did not indicate a time when we should stop fleeing it, indicating that we must continue to flee sexual immorality even after marriage. Just because some of us are now married does not mean we are exempt from sexual temptation.
Here is the reason why we must respect these boundaries for sex, no fornication, no adultery. It is because sexual immorality is a sin against our own body, verse 18, and as we’ve been told in verse 15, our bodies are members of Christ. “The Christian’s body is a spiritual temple in which Christ lives, therefore when a believer commits a sexual sin, it involves Christ…All sexual sin is harlotry. There is a sense in which sexual sin destroys a person like no other, because it is so intimate and entangling, corrupting on the deepest human level.”
This is the reason why we must abstain from and flee sexual immorality. If you have given your life to the Lord, if you have accepted Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior, you are a Christian. And “a Christian’s body belongs to the Lord, is a member of Christ, and is the Holy Spirit’s temple. Every act of fornication, adultery, or any other sin is committed by the believer in the sanctuary, the Holy of Holies, where God dwells.” As Paul reminds us, every other sin that man does is outside the body. But any sexual immorality is a sin against our own body, the temple of the Holy Spirit, our oneness in Christ.
It involves more than our flesh. And we must consider this. It’s a battle that rages on, a sin that continues to grow and fester. It won’t end with one night of “passion.” It won’t end with magazine or video of pornography. It won’t end with one act of weakness. And it definitely won’t end because we say it will.
When we engage in sexual activities, we sin against our own body, the temple of the Holy Spirit. And definitely after this post, another one will be written. Because after reading it, many of us will have pre-marital sex, commit adultery against our spouse, look at pornography, engage in oral sex, and anything else that gets us off.
Lets call a spade a spade. Amongst ourselves and within us… this is war.
(If you need help with sexual sin, you can visit
or forums such as http://www.dailystrength.org/c/Sex-Pornography-Addiction/support-group
Lastly, visit your local church and receive counseling and support from your pastors and church leaders.)
(Picture taken from http://www.heartcompassion.org/Victoriously_Free_Bound_by_Sexual_Sin.jpg)