What is lust? Is it love or just infatuation? Can a husband or wife lust after one another and not be sin? Is lust the same as adultery in the heart?
What is Lust?
Lust is like coveting after something or someone that is not yours…it is lusting after something or someone that is another’s and to which you have no right to. I love what C. S. Lewis once wrote, and I paraphrase here; “I saw a plate of bacon and eggs and behold, I committed breakfast in my heart.” His point is well taken. Lust begins in our minds and in our hearts and then this lust conceives or gives birth to sin. That is why coveting is somewhat like lust because we want someone who belongs to another or we want something that someone else has that we don’t have. We become infatuated by it and our desires, if left unchecked, lead to coveting or lusting after something/someone and then desire gives way to the sinful thought and finally the action of either taking what is not ours or committing sexual immorality with another man or woman’s spouse or having sex outside of marriage. These are clearly sins and if a person sins they are choosing to suffer the consequences.
Lusting in the Heart?
Matthew 5:28 “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
Jesus spoke this as part of the Sermon on the Mount which contained the Beatitudes. Jesus saw that when a person is lusting, having sexual thoughts of someone that is not their spouse, then they are committing adultery in their heart. Jesus said that if they have even lusted after someone sexually they have “already committed adultery” even though the physical act was not done but we can sin in our minds without even committing the actual act. How is this possible? Jesus, in the same sermon said “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire” (Matt 5:21-22). The word “insults” is actually “raca” which in the Greek is a term of verbal abuse. When we hate someone it is the same as murdering someone in our hearts. Have you ever hated someone? Many people have and they wanted that person dead. Jesus equated that hate with murder because this hatred, just like sexual lusting, can lead into the actual acts of murder or sexual immorality. Even if the act is not done, either murder or sexual immorality, it is still equal because if we could get away with it, we likely would!
Jesus knew what the hypocritical religious leaders where thinking (Matt 9:4; 12:25). Jesus once told them that “you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God” (John 8:40). How did Jesus know this? Because “he himself knew what was in man” and that their every evil intention and the hatred that they had for Him was known to Him because He was omniscient, being both God and Man. Jesus knew that they wanted to kill Him and this was the same as murdering Him in their hearts. Their hatred for Him was equal to their wanting to kill Him…eventually they could get away with it and they did; at Calvary.
Can Spouses Lust After One Another?
Yes, spouses can lust after one another because that is within the confines and sanctity of marriage and the marriage bed is undefiled (Heb 13:4). A husband can lust after His own wife because he is entitled to have sex with her and likewise, a wife can lust after her own husband and not sin because she has a right, being that is her own husband. Paul said that husbands and wives are not to withhold sex from one another as he wrote in 1 Cor 7:3-4 “The husband should give to his wife her conjugal (sexual) rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.” The point is crystal clear. A wife and husband can lust after one another for they are not forbidden from having sexual relations with one another and so lusting and then committing the actual act is God-ordained in marriage. God created sex for same-sex marriage partners to enjoy so that they would bond together and become as one flesh. Outside of the confines of their marriage or with someone who they are not married to, this is totally forbidden.
Infatuation or Love?
Infatuation is not the same as love. Infatuation comes closer to being lust than it does love, however, a husband and wife can be infatuated with one other sexually because that is within the confines of sexual, marital relations. One couple confessed to me once that they didn’t want to get married but were totally in love with each other. They didn’t want the commitment that marriage demanded. I believe that they were sexually infatuated with one another and that they were lusting after one another. I flatly told them this is sin and makes God angry. This is not love but lust. True love waits to have sex before marriage. The lie straight from the pit of hell is often from the lips of a boyfriend to his girlfriend; if you loved me you would have sex with me. That is not love; that is selfish, instant gratification with no responsibility for their actions or having a total disregard for any of the consequences. True loves waits for marriage but infatuation or lust cannot wait and all too often the consequences are tragic; the girl become pregnant and has to drop out of school or college; the girl &/or boy (or both) contract a sexually transmitted disease, some of which may cause infertility or may even results in the deadly HIV/AIDS.
The greatest act of love ever displayed was on the cross by Christ. Paul explains this love in Romans 5:6-10: “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.”
Imagine dying for someone who has hated you, someone who was your enemy, and someone who was a filthy sinner and maybe you can imagine what true love is because that is what Jesus did on the cross. Love is not a feeling or a belief but it’s an action, a verb, it is what you do and not so much what you say, think, feel, or act like. The greatest love ever displayed was done for you and for me (John 3:16). Will you repent and place your trust in the only One Who can save you? If so, then you can embrace this truest of all loves, the Greek word used in John 3:16 for love is “agape” which means a self-sacrificing, life-giving, bodily-dying for those who least deserve it. That would be you and me.
Another Reading on Patheos to Check Out: What Did Jesus Really Look Like: A Look at the Bible Facts
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Blind Chance or Intelligent Design available on Amazon