THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT
Program Air Date - 9-30-01
LESSON TITLE: SOCIALLY ACCEPTED SINS OF TODAY: "LUST"
What a privilege we have this morning to join together in the study of God's Living Word. We are happy you have chosen to be with us today and are excited about this opportunity we have together to glorify our creator. May we each do our part to make this time acceptable in His sight and according to His Will. Now, let's approach our Father's throne in prayer.
This morning we again want to begin by mentioning one of our sister congregations which help financially to make this program possible. Today, I would like to introduce you to the Oldfield Church of Christ in Oldfield, Missouri. We are happy to have these brethren involved in this work of our Lord. We also appreciate their like-desire to do God's will, as we together reach out to this area with the Gospel of Christ.
If you have the opportunity, please take advantage of meeting with these brethren - even this morning. Today, they will assemble together for a Bible study at 10:00 a.m. This is followed by a worship assembly at 11:00. Another opportunity to worship is also offered at 6:00 on Sunday evenings. During the week this family also comes together at 7:30 on Wednesday evenings for a Bible Study. I hope you will be able to visit with this congregation very soon.
If you have any questions or need further information about this congregation, please feel free to contact me or their minister brother Herle Gardner. Their phone number is 417-278-4639. We again thank this congregation for their continued support!
It's now time to start our praise through song. Won't you join in the first hymn of the morning, as we together sing, "Higher Ground!"
(SONG # 1)
One of the greatest works of a child of God is to proclaim the message of Jesus Christ to the lost of this world. In fact, the Bible is full of commands and examples which teach us this very doctrine.
You might remember in Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus said, "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Again in Mark 16:15-16, we read, "And He said to them, 'Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.'" In both of these texts Jesus clearly instructs His followers concerning their duty to carry the gospel to the whole world. He even specifies in these verses, to every nation and to every creature.
One of the greatest examples we have in the New Testament concerning our work is found in Luke chapter 8. There we read the parable of the sower! In this parable we are told that there was a sower, the seed, and different kinds of soils. As the story goes on we are told what these things stand for beginning in verse 11. There we read and can understand that the sower is the follower of God, the seed is the Word of God, and the soil are those of this world who need the word. I hope you are beginning to see the importance of our work for Jesus Christ. As Christians we are the workers that take His Word to those of this world who will hear. Then it is up to the soil, or the hearer, as to whether they will respond and follow God or not. Are you sowing the seed of the Kingdom for your God?
This morning, we are happy to have with us brother Joe Bright, to lead us in our study of the day. Brother Joe is the minister for the Sunset Church of Christ here in Springfield, Missouri.
Today we will again be considering a lesson from our series which is entitled, "Socially Accepted Sins Of Today!" Our specific topic this morning will focus on "Lust!" So stay with us and in a few minutes brother Bright will return with this study from God's Word. Now it's time to join in our second hymn of the morning, the name of the song, "I'm Not Ashamed To Own My Lord."
(SONG # 2)
Speaker: Joe Bright
Good morning! It's good to be with you again.
Several years ago, newspapers reported an unusual story regarding a family pet. It was a Burmese Python by the name of Sally. The family purchased this pet when it was only a foot long. Over the years, it grew to be eleven feet long and it weighed eighty pounds. The story ended in tragedy one day when the 15 year old son in the family was found strangled to death by this pet snake.
You know that's the nature of deadly sin? At first it appears innocent, harmless, but it grows and it becomes more and more lethal until one day it destroys us. What makes sin so deadly according to scripture is the fact that it separates us from God, and ultimately will separate us eternally from His presence. In our society, there are a number of pervasive sins that are growing because of the sensuality of our society.
So this morning, I want to look at one that perhaps we don't talk about a lot, the sin of lust. In Matthew chapter 5, if you've got your Bibles, if you'll open them to that chapter you can follow along with me. There in Matthew chapter 5 in verse 27 and following we read this, "You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.' But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gauge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into Hell."
You know lust is a sin that is a little bit different from many of the sins that we as Christians grapple with and battle with. Lust is a sin of the mind and as such it is both pervasive and insidious. You don't have to wait for the right opportunity to arrive in order to participate in the sin of lust. The mind can sin anytime, anywhere, under virtually any conditions or circumstances. It is out of our thoughts that the deeds of our lives come. It has been said that we sow a thought and we reap an act. We sow an act and we reap a habit. We sow a habit and we reap a character. We sow a character and we reap a destiny.
Did you know that no one ever just slips into or falls into adultery? It always begins in the mind. It is in the mind that the true test of an individual's character is seen. That's true for all of us.
Do you want to know who you really are? Do you want to know who you are as God sees you? The test is your thought life. Listen to your thoughts. Consider the things that you think about.
In Proverbs chapter 29 and verse 19, the wise man there writes, "As water reflects a face, so a man's heart reflects the man." It's out of our mind, out of our thoughts, that our character is known.
You see external behavior does in some ways reflect who we are, but that's not the whole story. The thoughts of your heart reveal the true person on the inside.
In the book of Job, you remember how Job was a victim of terrible tragedy and he had three friends who came initially to comfort him. They became his tormentors because they were determined to discover the sin that Job was guilty of for which he was being punished. Job continued to protest his innocence and one of his friends, one by the name of Zophar, made some statements about this sin of the mind. While he was wrong about Job, he was right about evil thoughts. In Job chapter 20 and in verse 12, Zophar said, "Evil is sweet in the mouth. It's hidden under the tongue." Now Zophar understood that elicit thoughts are sweet in our mind. He almost likens them to candy. The person who savors elicit thoughts turns them over in his mind. He rolls them around in his imagination. He relishes evil fantasies and returns to them again and again at will.
There are at least three ways in which lust can occur. There are more I am sure, but this morning I want us to focus on three ways in which lust can come into our minds and eventually take us from a relationship with God.
Lust occurs number 1 by cherishing the memory of past sins. You may not have considered that before but lust allows us to move backward in time as well as stay in the present by relishing past sins. To bring back the memory of a bygone sin is in one way to replay it on the recorder of our minds, to enjoy it again, to participate in it all over again. Let me ask you, "Can anyone who has truly repented continue to harvest pleasure from the memory of past sins?" I don't think so.
In Ezekiel chapter 23, there's an interesting passage there. In that passage, Samaria and Jerusalem are likened to two sisters who have given themselves to prostitution. The one who represents Jerusalem is one by the name of Aholibah. And Aholibah is described by Ezekiel in chapter 23 and verse 19 in these terms. "Yet, she became more and more promiscuous as she recalled the days of her youth. She thought back and rehearsed these things." It says, "She recalled the days of her youth when she lusted after her lovers." You see, anytime we relish the thoughts, replay the thoughts of past sins, we're again enacting those things in our minds through lust. This is a real warning to our society especially in the area of pornography. Once you plant an image in your mind, you will never fully be able to remove it. At will, you can go back and remember these thoughts and rehearse the scenes that once have been introduced into your mind. Again, this is a warning in our society against premarital sex. The image that goes with those early encounters can never fully be removed from the mind even in a healthy marriage that may follow that. These things can come in and soil that which is good.
In Job chapter 31 and verse 1, Job understood himself the importance of keeping his mind free from lust. Job there said, "I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a girl."
You know lust can also come into our minds and overcome us when we as individuals plan for opportunities for sin. In the Psalms, in fact in Psalm 36, verse 3 and 4, the Psalmist there is writing about a sinful man. This is what he says. He says, "The words of his mouth are wicked and deceitful. He has ceased to be wise and do good. Even on his bed, he plots evil. He commits himself to a sinful course and does not reject what is wrong."
I just wonder how many sins, how many sexual sins begin as this man is described by allowing the mind to wander at night on the bed, by not rejecting these evil thoughts as they come into our minds. Some people love to dream about opportunities for sin. They love to play out the possibilities in their mind and to dream about where this might go and what this might lead to, and then when the opportunity presents itself, having rehearsed all these possibilities, it is so much easier to step into the sin itself. The sin thought then becomes the sin act.
Paul in his letter to the Roman Christians in Romans chapter 13 down in verse 13 has this to say about living a pure life. He says, "Let us behave decently as in the daytime not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy." Now listen to this. He says, "Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ and do not think..." (again, talking about the mind) "about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature." Paul says, "Stop it at its origins. Stop it where it begins. Don't even let yourself begin to play with the possibilities of how sin could be born out in an individual's life. If you're flirting with plans of some future sin, then one thing is certain, you have not repented of that sin.
Well there's a third way in which lust sometimes occurs in the lives of individuals. It occurs through the sin of imagination. Just pure imagination. These individuals never have any intention, probably never will carry out any of the things that they fantasize about. They fantasize about committing some sinful act or some sexual escapade, but allowing a whole sexual fantasy world to exist between our ears is a dangerous thing. The kind of fantasy world that is fueled by so many of the lude novels and by Internet pornography and so many opportunities to be involved in this exist today.
James has this to say about those who would live in a fantasy world of sin. In James chapter 1 and verse 15, James writes, "Each one is tempted by his own lust. Lust when it conceives gives birth to sin. Sin when it is full grown gives birth to death." Lust, sin, death: the LSD of Satan.
Now the question that I want to put to you at this point is this. How are you in your own struggles with the sins of the mind? Can you say that you honestly live a sincere, devoted, godly, obedient, Christian life? Or must you acknowledge that your life especially as measured by your thoughts is a life of struggle and defeat? You see the difference is determined always by what goes on in the mind. All sin originates in the mind. Now you can't tell the difference by looking at the outside of an individual. Both kinds of folks walk into churches every Sunday and sit there in the pew and you can't tell by looking but there are two kinds. One is defeated by what goes on in the mind and one is victorious by having overcome those things that go on in the mind. That is where the battle is fought and that is where the battle is won. Now one day, that difference that is not apparent to us today will be disclosed. God knows and sees and will reveal all these things ultimately.
In 1 Corinthians chapter 4 and verse 5, Paul writes of God, "He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men's hearts."
Again in Luke chapter 8 and verse 17 we're told, "For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open."
Well, what do we do? I think if we're honest, most of us will admit that we struggle with impure thoughts, that we have problems with the things that go on in our minds. What do we do when we struggle and are defeated in this area? Well let me share with you, as we close today, in this area, three practical steps.
1.) When you realize that this is a problem area for you, begin by confessing that sin and by forsaking it. In Isaiah chapter 55 and verse 7, we have this word of encouragement. "Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thought." Isaiah recognized that sin can take place in the mind. He says, "Reject, forsake those thoughts. Let him turn to the Lord and He will have mercy on him and to our God for He will freely pardon." I grew up in an area of the country where cotton was raised and I can remember periodically that there were fires in the cotton gin and that was one of the most difficult fires of all to put out because only a tiny spark in one of the cotton belts could smolder for days and then finally erupt into flames again and so the firemen had to be very careful to eliminate even the tiniest spark from that cotton. It's the same way in our mind. One tiny spark, if it is not eliminated, can be fanned into great flames of fire again.
2.) A second practical step in doing this is begin building new thought habits. This is the way to overcome the sin of the mind. Begin building new thought habits. If you slip and you find yourself suddenly thinking about something that you had no intention of thinking about, immediately confess that sin to God and replace those evil thoughts. In fact, this can even become an exercise in healthy thinking. Each time you find yourself thinking about things you shouldn't think about, use that as an opportunity to thank God for His forgiveness and to thank God for the ability to overcome these things and then immediately begin to think about things that are pure and holy. Paul encourages this very thing in Philippians chapter 4 and verse 8. He says there, "Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things." Change your thoughts. We're not victims. We're not slaves to our thoughts. We can control the things that we think about. We can banish those things that are harmful and detrimental and we can replace them with things that are pure and holy.
3.) The third suggestion on overcoming a lust of the mind. Fill your mind continually with the word of God. The Psalmist writes in Psalm 119 and verse 11, "I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you." I believe what he is talking about is memorizing scripture when he says, 'I have hidden your word in my heart.' Memorize passages that you can recall to mind instantly. Satan will attack you at the most inopportune moments and he will attack you out when you are away from your Bible or from any resources that you might have, but by having God's word committed to memory, you will be able then to recall these things. That's what Jesus did each time Satan attacked Him.
My prayer is the prayer of David and I hope it's your prayer. In Psalm 51 and verse 10 where he wrote, "Create in me a pure heart, oh God, enter a new steadfast spirit within me."
I want to close with one passage from 2 Corinthians chapter 10. The apostle Paul talks about this war, this battle that we're involved in. He says there in 2 Corinthians chapter 10 and verse 3, "For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God and we take captive every thought. Let's do that.
(SONG # 3 - "I Am Resolved!")
Let me thank you again for choosing to be with us today for the Living Word program. I hope and trust, that together we have all benefited from this service to our Lord. Let me also invite you to join us every Lord's Day morning at 7:30 as we give this time to our Creator.
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May we all acknowledge the great danger of lust to Christians, so that we may learn to stay away from this sin which is contrary to the will of God.