Appetites of the Carnal Heart: Lust
Updated: Nov 18, 2022
1 John 2:14-17, “I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one. Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love 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 pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.”
This passage cautions us about giving into the lusts of our carnal heart. There are many different types of lust but 1 John provides three main categories: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. Each of these enticements are used by the devil in both Genesis 3 and Matthew 4. Genesis 3 is an account of sinful failure when facing these temptations yet Matthew 4 records Word-centered victory over these temptations. Through Christ, victory can be achieved. God is faithful to provide a way of escape. (1 Corinthians 10:13). When we think of lust, we usually think of physical lust, yet there are many other types. In this article we will consider the lust for admiration, appreciation, attention, affluence, and affection.
1. Lust for Admiration
First, consider the lust for admiration. Jesus’ rebuke of the Pharisees in Matthew 6 was essentially, "Stop lusting for admiration!” They lusted to be noticed for their religious sacrifice. They desired religious adulation. They craved earthly significance and temporal importance. They were doing good things like giving to the poor, praying, and fasting, but they were doing them for all the wrong reasons. Sadly, some people get involved in full-time Christian ministry primarily because they crave religious admiration. Their heart cry is “Be impressed with me!” Beware of lusting for admiration.
2. Lust for Appreciation
Secondly, consider the lust for appreciation. Have you served someone humbly, and seemingly, they’ve taken you for granted? You sacrificed some of your time, talent, or treasure to help them, and they never said thank you. Maybe you went to your mailbox, day after day expecting to see a thank you note, but it never arrived. With every passing day, you grew more frustrated. You were craving appreciation. While certainly people should be thankful, it is unwise and unhealthy to crave the appreciation of others. Unfortunately, people are consumers. They consume one another's services and then move on. This is why we should apply the Bible’s teaching and serve others “as unto the Lord." Seeking man's approval or appreciation is way overrated, and God's approval is way under sought. The carnal heart cry of a person lusting for appreciation is “Thank me!” Beware of lusting for appreciation.
3. Lust for Attention
Thirdly, consider a lust for attention. Social media has fostered this in an extremely unhealthy way. People are often lusting for “likes” as they post their selfies. They crave attention. Especially in this age of social media, Christians should pursue a John the Baptist approach. He is the one who said, “Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.” Notice the word “Behold.” He’s saying, “Don’t look at me, look at Him! “Behold” Him! No doubt people saw John the Baptist and Christians today will be seen by the world around us, but they should be seeing us as we call them to look at Christ. John the Baptist desired that he would decrease so that Christ would increase. The carnal heart cry of a person lusting for attention is “Look at me!” Beware of lusting for attention.
4. Lust for Affluence
Fourthly, consider the lust for affluence. Sometimes people lust for the respect that comes with having wealth. Remember that the Bible explains that “the love of money is the root of all evil.” (1 Timothy 6:10). Someone once said that there are two sides to the love of money coin. "I'd love to have it,” or, "I have it and I love it." Either side of this coin is evil. Hebrews 13:5 reminds us to "be content with such things as ye have, for he hath said, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.” We may not have the affluence that others have. You may not have their wealth nor the temporal risk factor that comes with it but remember that you have Christ! In Him, we can be content with such things as we have. The song writer said, “I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold. I’d rather have Jesus than world-wide fame.” That song writer understood the vanity of worldly affluence and the serenity of heavenly contentment. The carnal heart cry of a person lusting for affluence is “Give me!” Beware of lusting for affluence.
5. Lust for Affection
We must remember that there is a distinction between healthy and unhealthy types of affection. Familial affection can be very healthy. A father hugging his child can provide strength and security in the mind of that child. A mother who kisses her son or daughter will often bring warmth and a sense of belonging into the heart of that child. Not only is familial affection very healthy but so is marital affection. The Bible describes it as "honorable and undefiled.” Contrastingly, adulterous affection and unnatural affection is not only unhealthy, but it is sinful. Any sexual intimacy outside the bonds of marriage is sinful and outside the will of God. Any same-sex sexual intimacy is unnatural affection and displeasing to God. Sadly many millions of people live their lives hooked on pornography and as a result their minds are filled with a lust for an unhealthy type of affection. The carnal heart cry of a person lusting for affection is “Touch me!” Beware of lusting for unhealthy affection.
Recognizing the appetites of our carnal heart, how can we have victory? First, obey Proverbs 28:13 and confess it and forsake it. Identify and admit your propensity towards each of these types of lust and get right with God.
Then, rebuke it! Jesus had victory in Matthew 4 over the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life because He rebuked each phase of the temptation with Scripture.
Then thirdly, if you continue to struggle, run from it. The Bible tells us to "flee youthful lusts and follow after righteousness.” (2 Timothy 2:22). In Peter’s writings we are told to “abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul.”
As you face the appetites of your carnal heart, remember you do not face them alone. Galatians 5:16 instructs us to "walk in the Spirit and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.”
May God help us all to walk in the victory that He offers and follow after His righteousness.
The above article was written by James C. Johnson and he is the Pastor of NorthStone Baptist Church in Pensacola. To offer him your feedback, comment below or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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