Wouldn’t you love to have “Expulsive Power” when it comes to lust? It sounds like a Madison Avenue slogan that could be applied to a laundry detergent or drain cleaner.
The phrase, “expulsive power” comes from the sermon—The Expulsive Power of a New Affection—written by the Scottish preacher Thomas Chalmers (1780-1840). Jared, a reader whose story I shared last week, pointed to this famous sermon as a source of help for him.
“Expulsive Power” cannot operate separately from repentance.
Unfortunately, expulsive power does not operate independently within us. It is not automatic. Though we may want our sins forcefully removed as a byproduct of seeking God, and trying to follow Him and His ways, that is not how it works.
God’s word is very clear that repentance needs to come first:
- First, we turn from our sins.
- Then, we move forward in obedience.
This truth is fleshed out by Paul in his teaching about “putting off” the “old man” and “putting on” the “new man” in Colossians 3:5-11 and Ephesians 4:17-24.
When we are overcoming lust, we are doing exactly what Paul is describing. Not only do we quit certain habits and routines, but we also take up new practices and disciplines.
“Expulsive Power” does not apply to those who continue in sin.
Sin can surprise us. We may think that we have a handle on it and then it breaks out in new ways.
One reason this happens is because we are confused. We imagine that living as God wants us to live will come automatically even though we make room for “some” sin. We leave ourselves a little “freedom” to sin. We give ourselves “a break.” After all, God’s grace and mercy will wash us clean down the road. How could sin have any “real” power over us as His children?
I used to fall into this trap. I thought that allowing a little sin in my life and mopping up later was okay. I assumed that would work. I hoped that would work. However—unfortunately—it does not work. When we allow lust in our lives, lust already has won the battle. Lust wins. Our foolish accommodation of sin allows sin to rule over us.
As a result, our lust is not expulsed, removed, displaced and banished from our lives, even though we are practicing godly disciplines and activities like prayer, Bible study, and fellowship.
Why did God not answer my prayer, “Create in me a clean heart”? The answer: I was not putting off the “old man.” The “new man” had no room to live and grow.
“Expulsive Power” comes from loving God
Nevertheless, there is abundant power available to cleanse us from our sins, including lust.
Chalmers builds his great sermon around 1 John 1:15. “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”
Your love of God—your “new affection”—provides expulsive power over sin.
However, you cannot simultaneously love the things in the world—including lust—and also love God.
What are you choosing to love?