Matthew R. Perry

The Five F’s of Fighting Lust

In Culture, Sermons on June 29, 2008 at 3:42 pm
In Matthew 5:29-30, Jesus says:

If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.

Jesus here looks at two members of the body: the eye and the hand. We have seen this admonition from Jesus in other passages (Mark 9:42-50, for instance), but in the context of this understanding, Jesus gives us an understanding of the gravity of lust. The eye is what looks and lusts! What about the hand. D.A. Carson notes that “the hand is chosen, probably because adultery, even mental adultery, is a kind of theft.”[1]

Some, who love the church and the Scriptures, have taken these commands very literally — and even more so! But does this take care of the issue? If my right eye is removed, could not my left eye compensate? I believe we see that the issue is to deal with this issue seriously and drastically.

How are we to do this? Below will contain Five F’s for Fighting Lust. Much of this will come from the book of Proverbs. Proverbs is written from the wisdom God gave to a father in order to pass along to his young son.

Fear: Yes, that’s right: fear. Earlier, we read from Proverbs that the “fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Part of that fear of the Lord is a fear of anything that may entice us away from his paths. Men, women should scare you to death. If you are single, you must see the power of the temptation to drift away from sexual purity. So take care and listen to Proverbs 5:1-6:

“My son, be attentive to my wisdom;

incline your ear to my

understanding,

that you may keep discretion,

and your lips may guard

knowledge.

For the lips of a forbidden woman

drip honey,

and her speech is smoother than oil,

but in the end she is bitter as

wormwood,

sharp as a two-edged sword.

Her feet go down to death;

her steps follow the path to Sheol;

she does not ponder the path of life;

her ways wander, and she does not

know it.

I’ve seen too many think they can handle it. I’ve seen too many who honestly believe they can put themselves in compromising situations because they have a cavalier attitude. Some, especially teens, embrace this because it makes them feel more like an adult. But anything that we covet that lies outside the Gospel will always destroy.

Flee. Proverbs 5:7-8 says, “And now, O sons, listen to me, and do not depart from the words of my mouth. Keep your way far from her, and do not go near the door of her house.” He says, “Stay away from those who would tempt you to indulge in sin.” Don’t even go near her. Run! He told young pastor Timothy to “flee youthful passions.” He told the Corinthian church to “flee from sexual immorality” (1 Corinthians 6:18). See why Joseph fled from Potiphar’s wife after her daily advances. In Genesis 39:8-9 we read:

But he refused and said to his master’s wife, “Behold, because of me my master has no concern about anything in the house, and he has put everything that he has in my charge. He is not greater in this house than I am, nor has he kept back anything from me except yourself, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?”

Oh that David had learned that lesson with Bathsheba. Instead of running and fleeing in being busy for the Kingdom of God, he stayed behind. More on this later.

Fight. James 4:7 says, “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” We forget that the Christian life is warfare. Paul tells Timothy repeatedly that as a steward of the gospel he must “wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.”

How do we fight? Well, we fight the fight of faith which we will see in a moment. But I recommend that we fight with joy. Being joyful and content with what God has graciously given to us will sustain us. Proverbs 5:15-20 says this:

[15] 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,

[19] a lovely deer, a graceful doe.

Let her breasts fill you at all times

with delight;

be intoxicated always in her love. [20] Why should you be intoxicated, my

son, with a forbidden woman

and embrace the bosom of an adulteress?

Figure. In other words, count the cost. If Satan is tempting you with indulging in the sexual realm in thought or in action, count the cost. Lig Duncan, a pastor in Mississippi, told of a pastor friend who had been counseling this woman after her divorce. He began to help her through, even helping take care of things the husband used to such as finances and other issues. As a result, he found himself developing significant affection for her. He called Lig in a panic saying, “What am I going to do? I’m falling in love with this woman, but I love my wife and family, too!” Duncan counseled him, saying, “First, stop counseling her. But if that’s not enough, make a list of what you will gain by having her and leaving your family, and what you will gain by having your family and leaving her.” By doing this and developing good accountability, he began to see that God’s way was the right way! P.G. Mathew puts it more starkly: “The solution is to think! If you are a Christian, God has changed you and your very imagination, and now you are able to think differently.”[2]

But figure in what Jesus says, “For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.” Yes, that’s right — if this begins to control you and takes over, you’re going to hell. You may say, “Bro. Matt, wait a minute! Don’t you believe in eternal security, once saved, always saved?” I do, with all my heart. Christ’s death on the cross was sufficient, and his resurrection sealed it. And as a result, my heart was changed toward him! But if I am constantly pursuing things he has explicitly forbidden and have no twinge of guilt or no desire of repentance, then what am I saying about the reality of the change wrought in me by him? Yes, this is a serious notion.

Fall. Remember James 4 from before, well let me finish that thought. James 4:7-8 says, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” Even the passage in 2 Timothy 2:22, “So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” I mentioned earlier that we were to flee from the adulteress and the object of our lust.

But what are we to run to? Christ! Run to his work! Run to his will! Run to his Word for strength. Fall before him in prayer. Dress in a way that will not cause others to stumble with lust and adultery of the heart. Find others to help you stay accountable.

One time, I read of a man who was a missionary who kept struggling with his thoughts concerning someone to whom he was ministering. Satan would continually tempt him with impure and unholy thoughts about her. What helped him maintain was to continue to pray for his and her holiness. As long as that stayed in the forefront, he found that a great cure for lust.

If you are struggling in this area, know there is forgiveness and restoration.

One day that a woman had just come from a friend’s house where one of the children, a little boy, had been cutting something with a knife, and it had slipped upward and put out his eye, and his mother was afraid of his losing the other. Of course, after that this woman was careful that our little boy, two years old, shouldn’t get the scissors, or anything by which he could harm himself. But prohibit a child from having any particular thing, and he’s sure to have it; so one day our little fellow got hold of the scissors. His sister seeing what he had, and knowing the law, tried to take the scissors from him, but the more she tried the more he clung to them. All at once she remembered that he liked oranges, and that there was one in the next room. Away she went and back she came: “Willie, would you like an orange?”

The scissors were dropped, and he clutched the orange. God sometimes takes away the scissors, but He gives us an orange. Get both your feet into the narrow way; it leads to life and joy; its ways are ways of pleasantness, and all its paths are peace. It is the way of victory, of peace; no gloom there; all light.


[1]D.A Carson, The Sermon on the Mount (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1978), 44.

[2]P.G. Mathew, Christ Cures Lust.

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