John Piper's Biblical Antidote to Lust

John Piper's Biblical Antidote to Lust October 10, 2008

John Piper rarely gets starker than he does in the following quote. His biblical remedy for lust? Well, it’s simple really. Understand that unless you are one of those who fights lust with all your heart, you were never truly saved. The quote begins with a question from someone who heard one of his sermons:

“Are you saying then that a person can lose his salvation?” In other words, if Jesus used the threat of hell to warn about the seriousness of lust, does that mean that a Christian can perish?

This is exactly the same response I got a few years ago when I confronted a man about the adultery he was living in. I tried to understand his situation and I pled with him to return to his wife. Then I said, “You know, Jesus says that if you don’t fight this sin with the kind of seriousness that is willing to gouge out your own eye, you will go to hell and suffer there forever.” As a professing Christian he looked at me in utter disbelief, as though he had never heard anything like this in his life, and said, “You mean you think a person can lose his salvation?”

So I have learned again and again from firsthand experience that there are many professing Christians who have a view of salvation that disconnects it from real life, and that nullifies the threats of the Bible, and puts the sinning person who claims to be a Christian beyond the reach of biblical warnings. I believe this view of the Christian life is comforting thousands who are on the broad way that leads to destruction (Matthew 7:13). Jesus said, if you don’t fight lust, you won’t go to heaven. Not that saints always succeed. The issue is that we resolve to fight, not that we succeed flawlessly . . . if we don’t fight lust we lose our soul. The apostle Peter said, “Abstain from fleshly lusts that wage war against the soul (1 Peter 2:11).” The stakes in this war are infinitely higher than in any threat of World War III. The apostle Paul listed “immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed,” then said, “it is on account of these things that the wrath of God will come” (Colossians 3:6). And the wrath of God is immeasurably more fearful than the wrath of all the nations put together. In Galatians 5:19 Paul mentions immorality, impurity and sensuality and says, “Those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:21).

John Piper, Future Grace (Sisters, OR: Multnomah Publishers, 1995), 331. Available electronically from Logos Bible Software.

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  • tjaart

    I’m a reborn christian, live in the desert in south africa want help cos LUST has got me
    Big time

    Not just for my sake but I need help 4 the sake of many
    Oters whom I am resposable for! I see true in ur wrightings

    I came apon this site whilest looking for ansers! Between
    Lust and love! I relized that LUST is super powerful!

    Regards kiewiet

  • TheDevolutionist

    In his sermon on the subject, John Piper makes a compelling case for the need of every Christian to fight the lustful thoughts that plague so many in the Church today.

    Unfortunately, John does this by making an assertion that is unfounded in Scripture – and by attributing words to Christ that cannot be found anywhere in the New Testament: “If you don’t fight lust, you won’t go to heaven.”

    In supporting his assertion that Christ delivered this message, Piper takes several passages of Scripture out of their proper context. In the full text of this article, Piper quotes from the Sermon on the Mount: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell.” Further on, John cites Matthew 7 in speaking about the wide and narrow roads. While John correctly explains that lust is a very serious sin before God, he fails to explain that, in delivering His sermon, Jesus is speaking to a group of people who, by and large, believe themselves to be law-keepers. Like the rich young ruler, these people have kept up a semblance of the Law without the substance. Because they believe themselves to have kept the Law, they believe they have earned a place in heaven and that they have no need of a savior. It is to these people; people who have “performed many works in your name,” that Jesus utters the fateful words “Depart from me; I never knew you.”

    The New Testament admonishes us over and over again that it is not by works of the Law that we are justified, but by the work of the cross upon which Christ uttered the words “it is finished.” When posed the question “What must we do to do the work of the God?” Jesus replied “The work of God is this; believe in him whom He has sent.”

    Piper rightly asserts that saving faith is changing faith (after all, who cannot be changed by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that comes to every believer?), but in tying salvation to behavior, he gets the cart before the horse and leaves us with what is ultimately “another gospel” of salvation through works – a gospel that is materially no different than the gospel of the Latter-Day Saints, the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses, or the Roman Catholic Church – a gospel that “is no gospel at all.”

  • DG

    Well written. We must evaluate ourselves and those we listen/read by the standard of God Word in it proper context.

  • 7csssss

    If a so called Christians finds themselves in the same chronic sin day after day, year after year with on deliverance ,then indeed they need to be concerned.
    “Not everyone who has said Lord, Lord, will be saved”