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Examples of Worldliness – Part 1 – the Lust of the Flesh

In a recent message, Responding to a worldly Christian, we discussed the definition of worldliness according to 1 John 2:15-17. In that passage, we saw that worldliness includes the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. We also saw that worldliness has bad results: It replaces our love for God, makes us an enemy of God, and pollutes our lives. Today, I would like us to consider some modern examples of worldliness which Christians face today.

  1. The lust of the flesh

    What is a biblical example of this?

    In Proverbs 5, Solomon gives his son a straightforward warning against the temptation of sexual immorality. In verses 1-6, he warns that the immoral woman’s lips drip with honey (she is enticing) but her path leads to bitterness, pain, and death. In verses 7-14, he warns to stay away from her house because you will regret the outcome. In verses 15-20, he encourages his son to be satisfied with his own wife and not to share her with others. In verses 21-23, he reminds his son that the Lord is watching his actions and that these sins will entrap him.

    Joseph is a good example of fleeing temptation (Gen. 39:7-20). When his master’s wife tried to seduce him, he boldly told her this was a sin against his master and against God. When she tried to force him into the act, Joseph fled the scene leaving his outer garment in her hands. While his integrity was not rewarded by his master, he did the right thing.

    King David is a bad example in this area (2 Sam. 11). He gave in to the lust of the flesh and committed adultery with Uriah’s wife. Although he had several wives already (several!), he noticed Bathsheba bathing on the rooftop and arranged for her to join him in the bedroom. This one moment of immoral passion led to deceit, murder, and the death of the child. Was it worth it? David would tell you it was not.

    Where does this confront Christians today?

    Today, there are many ways that sexual immorality confronts Christian men and women.

    A first example is pornography. Satan and the world have been using pictures, videos, or literature to promote the sinful lust of the flesh. It wouldn’t be helpful to go into much detail here. But are you aware that this type of material is readily available on your phone, computer, and television? The lust of the flesh is a tricky thing. It can start with a small temptation and then develop into something much worse. It is better to set boundaries against such things. Once you know that there is a temptation somewhere, stay away from that area.

    Psalm 103:3 – “I will set nothing wicked before my eyes; I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me.”

    A second example is relationships. There are some desires that should only be fulfilled in the marriage relationship. When a person is unmarried, this is not permissible. But when a single person gets emotionally involved with another person before marriage, it is difficult to hold back those desires as God intended. The same can be said for married people. When a husband or wife are not getting along, they can begin to seek emotional fulfillment from other people. This can often be a temptation for intimacy that should be reserved only for marriage. This is why Christians need to guard their relationships with the opposite sex. Setting limits on relationships may seem extreme to some but it is better to be careful than to regret not being so.

    1 Corinthians 7:1-3 – “Now concerning the things of which you wrote to me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband. Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband.”

    A third example is homosexuality. For those who have not experienced this temptation, it may come as a surprise that this would be on the list. Are Christians tempted by homosexuality, transgenderism, or other such sins? The answer is yes. When pornography or adultery are not enough to satisfy the lusts of the flesh, some are tempted to try deviant sexual behavior. The lust of the flesh is a strong drive. When self-control is not strong and the opportunity arises, some have given in to this sin.

    Romans 1:26-27 – “For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.”

    This passage in Romans describes the downward spiral of those who reject God’s ways. I think it is referring to those who do not know God. But the same results can come to Christians when they refuse to follow God’s plan for sexual intimacy. What God intended for good can be distorted leading to a lifestyle which does not please God.

Conclusion

There is more that could be discussed, I am sure. But we need to address one more thing. How can you keep yourself from giving in to the lust of the flesh? What kind of safeguards will you put into place to guard yourself from this temptation?

1. Keep yourself from media that tempts you.

Do you have romance novels, television programs, movies, magazines that cater to the lust of the flesh? Do the right thing and get rid of them. Stop reading those books and magazines. Stop watching those videos, movies, and television programs. If something causes you to be tempted, it is better to remove it than to have those thoughts in your mind.

2. Keep yourself from relationships that tempt you.

Do you have relationships before marriage or during marriage that are a temptation to you? It would be good to guard yourself against becoming emotionally or physically involved with someone who is not your husband or wife. Be satisfied with what God has provided you and keep yourself from anything that will tempt you to go outside of the protective walls He has designed for you.

3. Keep yourself close to the Lord.

We often want to have “how to” answers for avoiding temptation. If you do this, you will avoid temptation. The lust of the flesh has a way of getting around safeguards. But there is one thing that will always help you—a close relationship with the Lord. When you are reading your Bible, seeking to please Him, praying and submitting to His will, it will be much more difficult to give into temptation.

With God’s help, you can enjoy your life the way God designed it to be. But the temptation to do other things is often there. Will you commit yourself to the Lord and practice self-control this week. If you do, God will bless your life and help you to avoid giving in to the temptations that you face this week.