Bring Back Lust

58. Lust going away_2

Bring Back Lust

Have you noticed that the word “lust” is being purged from the Bible?

The Greek word for lust (epithemia) points to inner sin thirty-four times in the New Testament.  In the vast majority of these places it has traditionally been properly translated as “lust” or the archaic and more precise word, “concupiscence.”

Not Any More

Unfortunately, modern translations, such as the New International Version (NIV) are abandoning the word lust and frequently substituting phrases such as “evil desires” or “sinful desires.”  The NIV chooses to not use lust thirty of thirty-four times.

The Greek verb for lust (epithemeo) receives similar treatment.  In fact, the only place that it survives as lusting in the NIV is in the words of Jesus (Matthew 5:28).  No doubt His piercing teaching about lust being adultery in the heart is too well known and precise to be messed with.

This trend is carrying over into Christian literature, where entire books about sexual purity and morality are written without ever using the word “lust.”

Same thing applies to teachers.  When did you last hear a sermon or teaching about lust?

Fuzzy phrases

Admittedly, the Greek words described above literally mean “desire.”  However, that has never sidetracked translators before and it certainly does not justify them adding the words “evil” or “sinful” when these are not in the Greek at all.

That lust is sinful is written on our hearts and is recognized as such by all major religions.  The difference is that Christians are taught an effective way to deal with it.

Here is why using fuzzy phrases such as “sinful desires” or “evil desires” where the Bible speaks of lust is a mistake, especially when talking about sexual sin:

  1. It can cause us to give up. After all, we cannot effectively rid ourselves of wrongful sexual desires—the misdirected ones. That would be a hopeless task. Why then make it appear that God is looking for us to do that?
  2. It takes the focus away from what we need to do. We are taught to deny lust (Titus 2:11-13). This means obeying Jesus and not gratifying wrongful desires in our hearts. This gratification is when sin kicks in—not before.

Test it

The critical difference between merely desiring something and lusting is lost when we avoid the word lust. Here is a simple test to illustrate this point. Try inserting “evil desires” or “sinful desires” into the classic list of seven deadly vices, where lust stands tall. See how it doesn’t work? Like the other vices on that list, lust is an action word.

Overcoming Lust 

We must not forget that lust “wars against the soul” (1 Peter 2:11).

A key weapon against us in this warfare is deception (Ephesians 4:22).   Using the right words and being clear as to what we are dealing with takes away the confusion and forces us to face up to our excuses and rationalizations. Doing this, we can no longer argue that merely giving up observable behaviors is all that is expected of us or that God is looking for more than what we can do.

In Christ, we can overcome lust.

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Meet the Author

  • tkbeyond

    Good word, Jim!

  • M

    Yes, the Word is clear: “lust” is the word translated in the KJV; as well, it is the law written on my heart. With the Holy Spirit, a born-again believer, who seeks for truth, will know that lust in the heart (and of the eyes) is one root of sin (with or without the observable behavior.) Jesus couldn’t have made it any more clear.

    I have been married for nearly 15 years to a man mastered by his lust. I have never observed his pornography consumption (he’s out of town a lot, works long hours, isolates); but I have experienced the effects of it in painfully deep and myriad ways. I have seen/felt his lustful heart every single day I’ve known him. He’s always stared at women, everywhere we go, ALL the time.

    I didn’t really “know” the truth of what he was involved with until 3 years into our marriage; however the Holy Spirit kept showing me what I initially couldn’t grasp. I may still not even know everything there is to know. These have been some of the most painful years of my life.

    He’s still in Lust’s grasp. Nobody would believe it because he’s gotten so clever in his masquerading. It’s a twisted life he’s chosen to live. He knows the truth. But he doesn’t really know or trust Jesus. I’ve been forced to create a pseudo separation within our home because he is so consumed with lust and he’s so deceptive. It’s very manipulative, degrading, and provoking.

    It’s all too easy to justify sins that are hidden in the heart. But again, that’s exactly where sin is born! Something is very wrong in the church today! I see professing Christians justify the strangest things. Thank you Jim for exposing the truth in this matter.

    M

  • Rodrigo

    Lust is more than just looking at a woman and wanting to hop in the sack with her. That is just wishful thinking.

    I WOULD NOT HAVE KNOWN LUST EXCEPT THE LAW SAYS “THOU SHALL NOT COVET.”- St Paul

    So Lust is coveting, desiring what you CANNOT HAVE. It can be a neighbors wife, property, a farm or home, a neighbor’s new truck, boat, his gun collection.

    Lust eats away at your soul. The desire soon becomes an obsession. Look at what happened to AHAB when he LUSTED for the field of another man but the man would not sell it or trade it to him. Ahab became so sick with desire for the field that he took to his bed, till Jezebel got it for him through foul means.

  • CAFord

    Good article Jim. The subject of lust needs to be unveiled and talked about more openly in our Christian circles. I was introduced to lust (and pornography) by my father at the age of 12; he taught me that this lust was normal sexual desire. It wasn’t until I learned the difference between our God given sexual desire and our selfish lust that I could then identify lust and use the tools scripture has provided for us; as described in your book. I was enslaved to lust for about 40 years; I have now been victorious over lust for over 2 years. I am still tempted every day but in honesty before the Lord I can surrender to Him and He strengthens me to walk in purity before Him; instead of the pretense of the double life. Jim keep up the good work.