But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. – Ephesians 5:3
Not even a hint? Wow. Isn’t that asking too much from us? Isn’t God being a bit too demanding on His children? Is it realistic to expect humans to live without a hint of sexual immorality? Was Paul not going to far in his letter to the Ephesians? Would such a high standard not put potential followers of Christ off? How can one be expected to live so pure and holy in these times we find ourselves in?
These are some of the questions I once asked when I came face to face with God’s standard for my sexuality. I suspect I’m not alone in once having issues with accepting God’s demands and expectations in this area.
Not even a hint! There’s absolutely no technicality or short-cut around this all-encompassing statement. God does not want the smallest iota of lust near His children and He has good reason not to.
Instead of trying to lower God’s standards to suit ours, we should acknowledge that it is so high and impossible to reach by self-effort. Only the victory of Christ’s death and resurrection can provide the two key ingredients required to change and transform our hearts: supernatural power and the right motive. Ever tried breaking free from lust through willpower? We all know how that ends don’t we? You promise God it will never happen again if He forgives you this time. You deny the natural sexual desires that God put inside of you. Instead of embracing it and submitting it to His lordship, we try to fight it and the fact it remains leads many to shame and guilt. They feel overwhelmed about the gargantuan task and the hopelessness drives them back to the very sin they have been trying to fight in their power. It’s a trap! Get out of that cycle now. The key is not in your own ability. Only the power of the cross can break the power of sin in your life.
Some are afraid of completely letting go. “Surely, God would understand if I only dabble once in a while.” We try to make endless excuses but the scripture is very clear: “not even a hint”. God’s intention is not just for His children to sacrifice the things they desire. We sacrifice our lustful desires on the pathway to great joy. As we allow God destroy our lustful desires, pure desire emerges. When letting go of a lustful desire, at the time it would seem like we are going through a severe loss and denial. It is painful to the human nature. However, on the other side is always reward and a pleasure so deep and intense that it becomes difficult to recall that which you gave up. We must trust that God is not a spoil sport on a mission to deny us pleasure. On the contrary, He longs to see us enter into the fullness of the pleasures He created for us to enjoy.
Lust is like a monster with many arms. It grasps for things that God says no to with our imaginations eyes, hearts and bodies. I believe that one of the reasons why God’s standard against lust is that it never just remains at the level of a hint. Like I mentioned before, it keeps growing and wanting more. The scary thing I’ve found about lust is that although it usually longs for an object or a person, lust ultimately has the act of desire as its goal! The moment you get that which you lusted after, you want something else. Another desire arises almost immediately. The goal is not the object but the very act of desiring. Once lit, lust becomes very difficult to quench. It fuels itself and leaves the individual trapped in a never-ending pursuit of wrong desires. Not even a hint starts to make more sense because we can now see lust as God sees it – a thief that will rob you of your God-given ability to enjoy true pleasure.
Lust is like a consuming fire. It always wants more and is never satisfied. Allow the superior consuming fire of holy passion for God swallow up the inferior fire of lust in your heart. True pleasure can only be derived from God. We must therefore bring our sexuality under the lordship of the One who gave it to us in the first place. This is how we can truly experience its fullness and end the cycle of dissatisfaction and emptiness that comes with lust.
Have you come to your wit’s end in this seemingly endless cycle of guilt and shame? Are you tired of making promises to God only to find yourself willfully disobeying Him? Perfect! In your weakness, find strength in Him. In your despair, find hope in Him. Throw yourself on His grace and He will raise you up from the miry clay on His majestic wings.
This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. – Galatians 5:16
- How to keep our hearts pure: the power of the gospel (matthewtuininga.wordpress.com)
- Overcoming the Spirit of Immorality (Mt. 5:27-30) (raymondjclements.wordpress.com)
- Walking In The Spirit (cupofblessing.wordpress.com)