Do you pursue satisfaction of your desires apart from God? In our fallen nature, we lust for sex outside God’s design. We crave food beyond that which is healthy, life-giving, and nutritional. We restrict intake in order to feel thin. We pursue the rush of a drug or the escape of alcohol in attempts to make our bodies feel gratified apart from God. We even over-train, often addicted to the chemical release exercise offers. The pursuit of physical pleasure apart from God leaves us wanting more and more of our fix of choice in order to feel a greater rush.
The apostle John called this the lust of the flesh, the first of three habits of highly destructive people: “Do no love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the the one who does the will of God lives forever” (1 John 1:15-17 NASB).
Did you catch that? The lust of the flesh is not from the Father, but from the world, kosmos in Greek, meaning, “that which is opposed to God.” The world and its lusts are temporary. While a life of gratifying these desires might occasionally feel good in the short-term, it carries long-term consequences, namely death, eternal separation from God. However, those who embrace the Father’s love and do His will experience eternal life. Consequently, each of us is faced with a choice regarding our bodies: Do we pursue the world’s lusts of the flesh and its pleasures or the Father’s love?
Solomon referenced this choice regarding what we take into our bodies when he admonished: “Whoever loves pleasure will become poor; whoever loves wine and olive oil will never be rich” (Proverbs 21:17). When facing sexual temptation, Solomon taught men: “Do not lust in your heart after her beauty or let her captivate you with her eyes” (Proverbs 6:25). Men are attracted by sight; women desire pursuit and nurture that pursuit.
In our western culture, we are bombarded with the message that sexual gratification outside God’s design is normal and satisfying. The apostle Paul taught believers living in one of the most promiscuous societies in history: “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body” (1 Corinthians 6:18-20). God paid a world-record price in Christ for us to be redeemed from our plight, so we might pursue His love over the lust of the flesh.
Choose the love of the Father over the lust of the flesh. Memorize 1 John 2:15-17 and recite it every time you are tempted to gratify your physical desires apart from God’s design.