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Sunday, July 24, 2011

What's the Difference between Lust and Temptation?

People get it all wrong. They think that lust and temptation are the same thing. Thus, they say something like, "Since I thought about it; I might as well do it." They think that thinking of something is the same as lusting after it. They think that they are guilty of temptation and, therefore, they are as guilty as having done what they are thinking about.

There is no reason to think of yourself guilty when you are merely tempted. Jesus was tempted by the devil. He had to recognize the temptation. He had to be cognizant of the temptation. He opposed the devil and fled the temptation. The difference between temptation and lust is picturing yourself as giving in to the temptation. It is in meditating on the temptation. It is not merely the desire but inviting that desire into your heart.

Therefore, seeing something which might cause you to be tempted is not the same as allowing yourself to linger on that sight with longing. Being tempted to get close to a man who is not your husband is not the same as dreaming about getting close to him. One is merely the thought. The other is desiring that thought to become reality.

The thought of revenge toward someone who has hurt you are your family might flash through your mind as temptation. Hoping for an opportunity for such revenge is lust. Lust is never accomplished in one step. It follows temptation which people try to fight rather than flee.

You cannot allow temptation to remain. It will lead you to lust if it is not removed. Thus, you cannot have that which tempts you nearby.

Many men have come to me because they have a problem with pornography. I believe they genuinely want to be delivered from this scourge. They no longer want to disgrace their wives and themselves. They want to be freed from this demon which keeps pulling them back into the pit.

Often, their problem persists because they do not eliminate that which is tempting them. They continue to carry the cable channels which show nudity. They continue to visit the websites with pornography. They continue to rent the movies and get the magazines. For some reason, they don't stop when it is merely temptation. They want to live with the temptation rather than eliminate it. They believe they can invite a hungry lion in the room without it eating them. They should know that the only answer is to keep the lion away.

Toying with a temptation will always result in lust. Lust will always take another step. It will either be acted upon or it will be meditated on. Either way, lust will beget a greater degeneration of the person.

There is no guilt in temptation. Just run as hard as you can from it. Do not flirt with the guy in the office who may flirt with you. Turn off the tv immediately when something inappropriate comes on. Walk away from someone who tries to tell you gossip. There is no shame in temptation.

Lust is another matter.

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. (Matthew 4:1)

But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Matthew 5:28

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