What is Lust in the Bible? It is a common idea that lust is something bad, sinful or forbidden, however, the Bible has a different understanding of the term. While lust is generally thought of as something shameful and dark, the Bible’s understanding of lust is far less simplistic. The Bible speaks of lust differently depending on the context, making it important to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to lust biblically.
Fleshly Lusts verses Godly Delights
The Bible defines lust in different ways, depending on the context. The ancient apostle Paul specifically distinguished between “fleshly” desires, or “lusts,” and “spiritual” desires, or “delights,” in his letter to the Galatians. Fleshly desires are driven by passion and want and are oftentimes the root of destructive behavior and sin, while spiritual desires are driven by the Holy Spirit and can bring peace, joy and true faith. In the Bible, lust often refers to fleshly desires, while delight often points to a purer, truer form of sensitive emotion.
For instance, in Ephesians, Paul writes to the believers,“For all that is in the world – the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life – is not from the Father but is from the world” (2:2). This verse implies that there are certain kinds of desires, such as those of the “flesh” and “eyes” (or appeasement of the senses) that are not from the good source, God. In the same way, James wrote, “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin; and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death” (1:14-15).
Both verses identify the way in which desires based purely in the flesh can lead a person towards destruction and the temptation of sin. The only way to steer away from fleshly desires is to instead focus on spiritual ones, or “Godly” delights, that allow a person to become closer to God rather than lead them astray. An example of this kind of delight is found in the story of David’s temptation in 2 Samuel 11. David was selfishly driven by his own desire when he saw and coveted another man’s wife, Bathsheba. This instance shows how through lust, a person can be led astray from the true path and instead be drawn away from God and towards sin.
God’s Correction Of Lust
The Bible acknowledges that in certain circumstances, it is okay to have certain kinds of desires and that God has the capacity to purify and provide guidance in these matters. In Hebrews 13:4, Paul declares, “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.” Similarly, Proverbs 5:15–19 encourages people to “drink water from your own cistern, flowing water from your own well. 16 Should your springs be scattered abroad, streams of water in the streets? 17 Let them be for yourself alone, and not for strangers with you. 18 Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth . . .” Together, these passages emphasize the idea that God recognizes humans’ desires and offers them guidance on how to fulfill such desires in a way that does not lead to sin and destruction.
Paul instructs the Corinthians with these words: “The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body” (1 Corinthians 6:13, ESV). He reminds us here that the body and desires are ultimately things that should be devoted to God and His plan, above all else. Through this, Paul suggests that God not only understands the human body and its desires, but also provides us with the word and the power necessary to overcome the temptations of lust if we just choose to turn towards Him in faith and trust.
Lust As A Test Of Faith
The Bible does not outright condemn all kinds of desires, though it does note the dangers and harms that can result from trying to satisfy certain desires outside of God’s plan. The Bible offers a more complete view of lust and its effects, one which offers hope, insight, and guidance. There are a number of biblical examples that speak to this point, such as the story of Joseph, who is driven away by his brothers because of his lust for his first wife. Yet, despite this situation, Joseph abides by God and obeys his will in all circumstances, showing us that through true faith, one can be made strong enough to overcome even the greatest temptations.
All in all, the Bible’s view of lust is one that puts faith in the center. It reminds us that desires, however powerful they may be, can be harnessed and channeled back towards God instead of towards our own ends. Additionally, the Bible offers a path towards the true understanding of our feelings and how they should not just be defined by society’s standards, but rather based on faith and truth.
Satan’s Use Of Lust
The Bible also indirectly speaks about the power of lust in the case of Satan and his temptation of Jesus in the wilderness before the start of Jesus’ ministry. Just as Jesus was tempted by Satan to turn stones into bread, so are we tempted daily with a number of desires which can lead us away from the path of God and towards sin. The Bible is clear on this matter: Jesus answered Satan with a resolute “no”, refusing to succumb to temptation and instead, steadying himself through faith and the power of the Holy Spirit. By doing so, Jesus shows us the path to victory against lust and towards true spiritual desires.
God’s Design For Marriage
The Bible speaks of lust in a positive light as well. In Song of Solomon 2:7, it says: “I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles or the wild deer of the field, that you not stir up or awaken love until it pleases.” This passage can be seen as a reminder not to be propelled towards sexual immorality, but rather to be driven to God and towards loving within a marriage relationship that is consistent with God’s plan and design.
In addition, Proverbs 5 includes supportive and encouraging wording on how to find appropriate love and sexual satisfaction, suggesting that lust should not be seen simply as a negative thing. Instead, God uses it as a reminder to be committed to marriage and to direct our desires within a healthy and fulfilling relationship that is blessed by God.
The Bible’s Complex View Of Lust
Overall, the Bible presents a complex understanding of lust. It points out the dangers of certain kinds of desires and emphasizes the importance of trusting in God in order to reject them. At the same time, it also speaks positively of certain kinds of desires and encourages us to seek a mutual and God-sanctioned sexual relationship. Through these intricate and diverse passages, the Bible makes a point to present a perspective of lust that is neither overly positive nor overly negative, instead combining both aspects in order to show that the power of God can guide us even in the most tempting of situations.
Lust As A Danger To Spiritual Growth
The Bible also warns us of the dangers of allowing temptations of lust to overcome us. In Psalm 119, it is written: “Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways” (v. 37, ESV). This passage serves as a reminder for us to keep our eyes focused on the one that matters most, God, and to not be drawn away by the temptations of lust. It is also an admonition that submitting to the temptations of lust can be dangerous not just spiritually, but emotionally as well.
In his letter to the Colossians, Paul writes: “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry” (3:5, ESV). Through this passage, Paul is warning us of the dire consequences of submitting to fleshly desires, reminding us that it can be very hard for us to do so without risking our spiritual growth. He is essentially exhorting us to use faith as the primary tool to protect us from the dangers of not just lust, but of all temptations of sin.
Lust Even In Our Prayers
The Bible further teaches us that lust is inevitable but that this doesn’t mean we should remain silent. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus commands us to “pray then like this” (Matthew 6:9). By commanding us to pray, Jesus is telling us to recognize our weaknesses and to turn towards God in prayer, not just when we face hardship, but when we are tempted by our own desires. By doing this, we are entering into a direct and personal relationship with God and allowing ourselves to be spiritually nourished.
In the same passage, Jesus further instructs: “Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matthew 6:9–12). This powerful prayer serves as an admonitions to us all; an exhortation to remain strong in our faith, even when faced with the temptations of lust. Jesus alsoi reminds us that forgiveness, for both ourselves and others, plays an important role in maintaining our walk of faith.
The Bible’s Final Message Of Lust
The true heart and aiming of the Bible is to ultimately guide us through having a strong and unwavering faith in the Lord. This faith is what propels us to reject those things that are deemed sinful and instead, to turn towards God and His plan. The Bible speaks of lust in truth but also with compassion, recognizing that while there are some circumstances in which it can be dangerous, it doesn’t have to be automatically deemed a sin. Rather, it can also serve as a reminder to draw closer to God for comfort and guidance.
The Bible acknowledges that our desires can have powerful and negative consequences, but it also adds in faith, hope, and trust as a way to overcome those weaknesses and remain on the righteous path. In the end, the Bible ultimately motivates us to remain focused on God and His plan even when we are lost and confused. It’s moral is that when faced with strong and complex emotions such as lust, ultimately faith needs to be our guide and source of power.