1 Jan 2000

Struggling with lust

Submitted by theshovel
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I appreciate that you have shared this struggle with me. What you may not realize is how wide-spread this struggle is, and why it is that so many messages and sermons are preached on it and why so many books are written on it. For those who are getting tough on this area of sin are mostly likely heavily caught up in it themselves!

Here is the dilemma. As you have already mentioned, if you concentrate on the sin you continue to live in it. But the other trap is that trying to ignore it STILL causes you to concentrate on it ... just in a reverse way!! Are you following? If I tell you to stop thinking about MONKEYS ... what are you thinking about? If I tell you to stop trying to stop thinking about MONKEYS ... what are you still thinking about? Yeah, it's MONKEYS either way.

As long as you and I see ourselves tied to this ball and chain we will live in view of it. I write to you as one who understands what it is to think that he is still chained to lust. While I'm under the sway of this lie I simply cannot see the thing for what it is and it will loom over me as a controlling factor of my life (and this is true of any sin) and I will find myself struggling with something that I thought I was freed from. So how am I supposed to live as a victorious child of God when I'm afraid to examine the temptation for what it is without fear of getting caught up in it? That is the dilemma caused by living according to the elemental principles of the world. That phrase is from Galatians and it simply refers to the basic functioning of man under law - the way the world works.

The way you and I attempt to keep ourselves pure is the same as the world's way. Our problem is that since we have been made alive through the Spirit of Christ we struggle because try as we may we cannot get around the fact that something is still wrong with the results of the world's solutions. We're forced into even further turmoil by law preachers who heap condemnation upon us.

I know the feeling you speak of when you write: "not like much of a good person". But do you realize that this is merely the result of comparison? The question is: What are you comparing yourself to? A better version of yourself? Those obviously better Christians than yourself? Were you thinking of yourself as being a good person otherwise? Hey, believe me, I've had to ask myself those questions MANY times!!! I have come to realize what a spider web of legalistic games I play when I'm thinking according to the wisdom of man.

Now, please realize that I'm not trying to make light of the effects of this sin in any way, but when we think like this we have had to make light of many other sins we were viewing as not so bad compared to the one we saw as defiling us. Once again, that 's the elemental principles of the world.

In Christ we have been set free from sin. This is NOT a hypothetical or theological freedom ... it is a REAL freedom. The more you and I come to realize what sin really is then we are not left in such confusion over SPECIFIC sins.

Sin comes from desires of an empty shell that CANNOT be satisfied. Man without God is constantly looking for that special something that will fill the emptiness in order to satisfy it. Realize that nothing of itself is evil, but that it is the DESIRES of the EMPTY THING in it's seeking to fill it's longing by any means possible. The flesh will use, manipulate, destroy, kill or steal in order to get what it THINKS will satisfy ... and will justify itself in the process. But as nothing will satisfy but the life of God man has left behind a trail of destruction in his path.

But we have had the emptiness removed from us by being indwelt by the very life of God. When you and I lust (in the way of the world, that is, since remember that God's Spirit also lusts) we are operating as insane since WE NO LONGER HAVE THE NEED. What is it that you are looking for? What emptiness do you think you can fill? It is only insanity that makes you THINK that it will be filled in this way because the life inside you KNOWS that it cannot be.

What is it that makes pornography evil? It's NOT naked women, that's for sure! It's not sex, either. It is the desire of empty man that will steal from or destroy another to satisfy a desire that CANNOT be satisfied.

Don't make the mistake of thinking that you can adjust your desires so that they become pure because that is merely a game. Instead, be glad that God is revealing to you how desperate the empty flesh really is ... and what it is that His freedom has really brought about. The more you understand what things are NOT the less you find yourself deceived by those things. The Father wants you to know how powerful HIS desires are, and that these desires are the truth of your new life. He is revealing to you the emptiness and futility of the old.

When Paul wrote, "Put off the old man with his desires" he was not suggesting a STRUGGLE he wanted us to enter into, but he had been making it clear that the thing to be put off was to be seen as something that is no longer us or who were are. The language is used as in putting off clothing. The old man with his desires is like decayed graveclothes still hanging on one who has been made alive from the dead - like Lazarus who had come out of the grave and was still wrapped up in the embalming clothes. Jesus had to tell the people standing around to help him get the graveclothes off of him. When we are caught up in law and therefore, sin, we have, in picture form, put those graveclothes back on. While we are perceiving sin to be part of who we are then, of course, we will only be able to hear this as an impossible struggle to be undertaken. But it is NOT part of us because Christ has removed it from us. It hangs on us in our PERCEPTIONS, and because of that it will produce destruction.

Take off those graveclothes ... you're no longer dead.

Okay, then ... this should give us a pretty good place to start! :)

Jim

Hello Jim, Thanks a ton for your message. Dude, I can't tell you how much you've changed the way I see myself and others. Your penguin analogy made a ton of sense. And...how it's like...before I lust or view porn "i was a good person"...yeah that's right too. I do that. I'll keep you updated...on what's happening...it's hard to think of myself as free from it...cause I've been trying so long...but I guess that's part of the problem...I've been trying. It's like I search constantly for that one strategy....that will end it all... you know? like as if someone has a sure fire strategy to end temptation. but in reality, it's all over already...it's old clothes... the problem is how new and attached those clothes appear sometimes. What do you think the devils role is in this? Just curious. anonymous

I can't begin to tell you how excited I am to hear such a powerful and living response from you because your eyes are obviously focused on the reality of Christ's work in this. :)

What do you think the devils role is in this? Just curious.

Excellent question. Something tells me that you already have a pretty good idea what his role is because his specialty is LIES. He wants you to see yourself as being defeated and as living in sin and he wants you to think that the human body is made for evil. He loves to see fleshly determination trying to work its way out of such a losing proposition!! If you haven't checked out the section on my site called The Deceiver it would be worth it for you to take a look. It deals with the basic manipulation of the devil's attacks.

Comments

Jim wrote: “When Paul wrote, “Put off the old man with his desires” he was not suggesting a STRUGGLE he wanted us to enter into, but he had been making it clear that the thing to be put off was to be seen as something that is no longer us or who were are. The language is used as in putting off clothing. The old man with his desires is like decayed graveclothes still hanging on one who has been made alive from the dead - like Lazarus who had come out of the grave and was still wrapped up in the embalming clothes. Jesus had to tell the people standing around to help him get the graveclothes off of him. When we are caught up in law and therefore, sin, we have, in picture form, put those graveclothes back on. While we are perceiving sin to be part of who we are then, of course, we will only be able to hear this as an impossible struggle to be undertaken. But it is NOT part of us because Christ has removed it from us. It hangs on us in our PERCEPTIONS, and because of that it will produce destruction.” Interestingly enough I had realized and even taught this very thing as I see you explaining it here when I was a young man back in the early 90’s. The delima that I ran into though was that sooner or later there is always a subtle shifting of the mind when faced with people who swear up and down that something ominous happens when you sin. Not to mention that while in the i.c. and suffering under the teaching itself, you find great comfort in moments of ‘sin’ as a reprieve from the pressure of metallic principals that are thrown at you all day long. Sin[whatever it is..drinking , lusting..whatever] represents a burden lifter. A little comfort for the body and for the heart. For we find ourselves being taught inwardly by the freedom that is in Christ Jesus while at the same time hearing condemnation preached under the guise of ‘grace’ teaching. It puts HUGE strain on us and so we become drawn to the very things that the law preachers are saying is sin to get a little relief from THEM! I realize that there is much more going on here but, this is what it seems like on the surface to one going through it. I hope someone will relate and be encouraged by this. Adam

When Paul wrote, “Put off the old man with his desires” he was not suggesting a STRUGGLE he wanted us to enter into, but he had been making it clear that the thing to be put off was to be seen as something that is no longer us or who were are-Jim Actually I see that Christ has removed the sin that we are still demanding is there! We were once living in this world seeing EVERYTHING as evil and wrong. We did not see all things as clean whatsoever. The law made things forbidden and stimulated the impulses within us.[in our flesh] But then Christ was revealed to us as having taken away the sin and making us riteous! We no longer had to strive according to the way of the world and we no longer had to be enslaved to the attempts at the elementary life that make men “right’. We were released from the bondage of sin acting in concert with the power of the spirit of the law. Don’t be fooled, with every judgment, rejection and put down you were and are experiencing the law that has the rest of the world in it’s grip. You are free from that and released in to the grace of God in Jesus.
theshovel's picture

Excellent insight, Adam! This is exactly what Paul expressed when he wrote, To the pure, all things are pure.

Jim

I just read the article and everyone’s reply. So is it wrong to now ask, “What do I do?” Because in the moment, when the urge hits, I can tell myself all day long that I am “free” but then be out of my mind crazy with lust and give in. It seems no matter what I do, or try to believe, I can’t stop! Is it jsut a matter of faith, truly beliving that I am free, that is the problem?
theshovel's picture

The natural mind poses the dilemmas you suspect might be linked to grace,like is it even wrong to ask what can you do about it. Lust doesn't start with those moments when the urge hits, for those moments are merely part of an ongoing process of fleshly reasoning that you keep buying into. No, freedom is not a technique brought about by repeating an I-am-free mantra. That whole mindset easily plays into human reasoning. The fact is that you imagine yourself as being obligated to carry out those fleshly desires, for what you are really believing is that you are a slave to sin. Your words "I can't stop" describe what you really believe, and your attempts to convince yourself that you are free pales in comparison.

The real question here is: What are you really believing while you're trying to convince yourself otherwise? What lie are you really listening to all day long? And realize this, that lie may sound very religious.

Jim

Yes the ‘slavery to sin’ that we have learned to dread thinking about as it’s written about in the letter to the Romans, is simply a full description of it means to be chained like a dog to the Law. See while we were still in the flesh and void of the Spirit we were still being carried along by the law. The law stimulates sin so that you feel COMPELLED to do what you do. I feel it too, it is a feeling that comes through the natural minds remembrance of the laws that once ruled us.

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