As sure as lust distorts the world, purity reenchants it. As lust dims beauty and hides God’s face in night; purity cleanses our vision and dawns day upon the face of Christ for us to behold him. Our eyes cannot serve two masters.
The racing heart, the watering eyes, the abrupt disinterest withering the world outside. The carnivorous appetite, the volatile urge. The hungry stare. The inner burn (1 Corinthians 7:9). The dry mouth, the blinking eyelids, the jittering hands. The hidden force. The haunting whispers. The inescapable desire. The sweet slavery. The roaring drumbeat silencing music. The fight to death, a civil war. The silent suspicion of inevitable defeat; the dark desire for your downfall. Lust.
In a world coursing with sexual temptation, who can walk through unharmed? Who wants to? This enemy, so cherished and beloved by its victims, holds such a place in our affections that when God calls us to drive the stake through our passions, many ignore the threat or laugh it off.
Sexual lust, even for those awake to their consciences, is often the tiger one wishes to leash but not kill. When told about chastity — an old word tasting of stale bread and smelling of their great aunt’s perfume — I’ve had decent men by worldly standards open their mouth and gasp, “How could anyone live without sex?” Air, food, water, and sexual gratification — the bare necessities of life.
Lay Lust on the Altar
Men should gasp at what God requires. William Gurnall puts the heavenly expectation vividly:
Soul, take thy lust, thy only lust, which is the child of thy dearest love, thy Isaac, the sin which has caused most joy and laughter, from which thou hast promised thyself the greatest return of pleasure or profit; as ever thou lookest to see my [God’s] face with comfort, lay hands on it and offer it up: pour out the blood of it before me; run the sacrificing knife of mortification into the very heart of it; and this freely, joyfully, for it is no pleasing sacrifice that is offered with a countenance cast down — and all this now, before thou hast one embrace more from it. (The Christian in Complete Armor, 13)
Truly this is a hard chapter, flesh and blood cannot bear this saying; our lust will not lie so patiently on the altar, as Isaac, or as a “Lamb that is brought to the slaughter which was dumb,” but will roar and shriek; yea, even shake and rend the heart with its hideous outcries.
Our lust shrieks when injured. It roars, shakes, angers, and gives hideous outcries. But God calls us to kill it before him, joyfully, freely, now — before we take another embrace of it.
But how? cries the weary voice of many.
Help For Sexual Sinners
Perhaps you (both men and women) have tried and tried again.
You’ve cut off hands and gouged out eyes that tempt you (Matthew 5:29–30), but they regrow like Hydras’ heads. You succeed to put to death what is earthy in you (Colossians 3:5), but only for a time. You know this sin threatens ultimate harm, waging war against your very soul (1 Peter 2:11). You know to indulge is to sin against your own body (1 Corinthians 6:18), undermine your profession (1 Corinthians 6:8–9), and contradict the explicit will of God for your life (1 Thessalonians 4:3–5). But the madness returns, leaving remorse and shame.