- What’s the difference between love and lust?
- Isn’t lust normal and how can it be harmful if it’s in your mind?
- How can lust be dangerous?
These are the top three questions I am asked when I discuss lust with my Christian peers and clients. When you grow up in the world’s broken definition and design of love, the devil does all he can to make you believe lust is normal in your Christian life. If you don’t know the truth of God’s word, lust can become a stronghold in your mind. “For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.” 1 John 2:16 NIV
What is the Difference Between Love and Lust?
Because we each have our unique understanding of lust and love, let’s look at the same definitions and aspects of lust and love, to make sure we are all on the same page.
Lust is defined in the dictionary as a strong sexual desire. Lust fantasies are imagined and not real. Lust fantasies are focused on the physical and sexual parts of an image you see or an image you create in your mind. Lust focuses on sexual acts that don’t respect and honor Jesus, yourself, or the one you profess to love. Lust is sexual, and it is NOT focused on building a healthy loving, and respectful relationship.
Love is defined as emotions and a connection to a person. Christ’s exceptional love exceeds this worldly definition. Christ’s love fills you full of his love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, gentleness, kindness, faithfulness, and self-control as you walk hand-in-hand with him every day. His exceptional love flowing through you focuses on spending time with the person you love to build trust, to know their heart, and to see their character.
Exceptional love connects you with Jesus and others. Lust isolates you as it creates a never-ending and unattainable sexual desire surrounded by guilt and shame. The destructive cycle of lust can quickly become a stronghold in your life. The pleasure you perceived and desired becomes your master. You become enslaved to sin and its claws of devastation, guilt, and shame. Lust blocks the flow of Christ in you.
Isn’t Lust Normal, and How Can it be Harmful if it’s in Your Mind?
Before you accepted Jesus into your heart, your flesh desires, or sin, had power over your thoughts and emotions. Once you received Christ’s salvation, you became a new creation as he dwells in you, even if you didn’t feel different. Living in your faith requires you to choose to partner with Jesus and learn who he is through God’s word, prayer, praise, and a personal progressive relationship. As you grow close to him, you will naturally become more Christ-like.
To say lust is “normal” for Christians is to say Jesus is lustful. There is nothing sinful about Christ. As his disciple, we are instructed and empowered to think, talk, and act as he did while he lived on earth. Jesus faced every temptation we face, and he showed us the only way to overcome temptation is to demolish the thought through the word of God. If Jesus had to take action against his thoughts and temptation through God’s powerful word, what makes us think we can handle the sin of lust on our own?
The battle for living with Christ or living for your own flesh desires takes place first and foremost in your mind. What you believe and trust becomes the foundation of your heart and soul, (your mind, will, and emotions.)
As disciples of Christ, we are instructed to “demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5 NIV
Although lust starts as a thought, you must keep thinking on it for it to become a temptation. Even when it’s a temptation, it doesn’t become a sin until you act it out in your mind or body. Just because you have a thought, doesn’t mean you have to think about it. Don’t believe everything you think, because not every thought comes from God. You create some thoughts, and so does the enemy. With Christ, in you, you have the power to stop your lustful thoughts, temptations, and sins.
“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it”. 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NKJV)
Why is Lust Dangerous?
Lust is dangerous because it is a sin. All sin creates a barrier in your relationship with Jesus. “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matthew 5:27-28 NIV
When you choose to follow Jesus with your whole heart, you also choose to love God above all. He is your source of life, love, and overcoming power in this broken world. Like Jesus, you are choosing to follow the two greatest commandments.
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40 NIV
Anything that replaces God or Jesus in front of your mind, heart, and motives throughout your day has become your new idol. Whatever takes the place of God is secretly isolating you from Christ’s love, guidance, blessings, and overcoming power.
Christ’s Power in You Can Set You Free
The only power the enemy has over you is the power that you give him. As a child of the maker of the universe and heir with Christ, you are a new creation because he lives in you. When Jesus died and rose again, he freed you from being a slave or under the control of sin which includes lust. If you don’t feel free yet, seek Jesus with all your heart and enter into a deep progressive relationship with him every day.
“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Romans 12:2 (NLT)
Even if you don’t feel or believe you can overcome the stronghold of lust in your mind with Jesus, partner with him and he will show you his overcoming promises are true for you. Learn how to put on the armor of God every day to face any fiery arrows the enemy shoots at you. He will show you how to use the power of Christ living in you to flee from temptation and overcome the stronghold of lust in your life. As your relationship grows, you will slowly believe and feel free from the power of sin.
“I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” Galatians 5:16 (NKJV)