Conquer Lust God’s Way

Introduction

Lust provoking situations bombarded us constantly, and whether in our lives or others, we see its damaging effects, too. Despite this, most do not consider what is really going on, and because of this, we often do not deal with lust or its damaging effects effectively.

The good thing is, God helps us. Through His Word, the Bible, we learn how to overcome lust properly. As you open the scriptures and look for answers, you begin to see that, although the devil uses lust as an effective weapon against mankind, even often as his first choice, the Lord gives us what we need to overcome it. For starters, God Himself bought and paid for our salvation and He continues to stick with us in the battle.

So, lets shed some light on the subject. When done, you will better understand what lust is, what causes it — or rather where it comes from — and how to best deal with it. In some cases, the answers are really quite simple. In other cases, the answers may not be so obvious.

As you read, please keep in mind that the only truly effective way to deal with sin — any sin — is through a committed relationship with Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Jesus Himself said, “You will know the Truth and the Truth will set you free” (John 8:32, 36) and “I am the Way, and the Truth” (John 14:6). As you come to KNOW Him, He sets you free.

What is Lust?

According to Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, © 1996, 1998 MICRA, Inc., lust means, “to have an eager, passionate, and especially an inordinate or sinful desire, as for the gratification of the sexual appetite or of covetousness.” A commentary in an NIV Study Bible offers a more simplified definition…”to desire something with evil motivation.”

People generally relate lust to sex but when you think about, lust can apply to anything a person might desire. In fact, lust was the very first sin ever committed. Look at Genesis 2:17. God commanded, “You must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” Later, in Genesis 3:6, we read, “When the woman SAW that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, SHE TOOK SOME AND ATE it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it” (emphasis mine).

Some people speculate that the “fruit” and “eating” are merely symbolic, and that it actually refers to perverted sex and that this is why Adam and Eve covered their genitals in shame. That is quite an interesting idea and they might be right. That would certainly fit most people’s ideas about lust being related to sex. However, for now, let’s stick with what the scriptures actually say, and in that case, we know one thing for sure…the event did indeed involve lust of some kind. I emphasize that she “saw” and then “she took and ate” because that’s lust.

So, according to the Bible, Eve lusted after the fruit of the tree, and for power of discerning good and evil. Of course, 1 John 2:16 says, “The cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does–comes not from the Father [God].” In fact, God had already told them that eating this fruit was not His will. He warned them not to give into their desires and He required them to submit to His will.

Thankfully, the “second Adam” submitted to the Father’s will completely. Of course, the devil used the same tactic on Jesus that he used on Adam and Eve. Starting again with food, he tried to trick Jesus into sinning. Matthew 4:3-5 says that “after fasting forty days and forty nights, Jesus was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, ‘If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.'” It is important to note that food is a legitimate need, especially after having not eaten for forty days. T. D. Jakes, in his book Naked and Not Ashamed, says this: “Satan makes his attack when you are hungry. Hunger is a legitimate need that Satan offers to satisfy in a perverted way. The extreme test of faith is to stand fast when you have a legitimate need you could satisfy in an illegitimate way.” Lust is often involved.

With each temptation, the devil had twisted the truth, hoping that Jesus would give in to His desires and thus relinquish His will to the devil. Naturally, if Jesus had been subject to lust, the outcome might have been different. However, Jesus, who always sought the Kingdom of God first (Matthew 6:33, John 5:17), never sought his own good. He disciplined Himself for the good of all who might believe in Him. “For just as through the disobedience of the one man [Adam] the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man [Jesus] the many will be made righteous” (Romans 5:19). As an aside, Paul had a similar declaration in 1 Corinthians 10:33.

Thank God that “we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet [He] was without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).

The Power of Wrong Thinking

While flipping through the TV channels one day, John Hagee, a well-known preacher, caught my attention. He tried to relate each part of Biblical history to each part of our lives, and at one point, he discussed the “innocent nakedness” of Adam and Eve. He explained how the time before the Fall was like our time of innocence as children.

At that point, he interjected a comment that just didn’t sit well with me. He said, “You know…a child running around naked, that is innocence…but a teenager running down the beach naked, that is only lust…Amen?” Hearing this, I wondered, “Is that true? Is merely being naked lust?” As I thought about his point, I wondered about the implications. I mean, if just being naked means lust, then what does that mean? Does it mean that God has, by default, subjected us to lust by merely being as He created us?

The truth is, his point was really a judgment, and his judgment demonstrated what he thought lust was and what he thought nudity meant. The question is, what was his judgment based on? It was based solely on outward appearance. He is basically saying, if you are naked (aside from when its expect — I assume) and not a child, then the reason must be lust. Is that really true? Or rather, as he implies, is that *always* true? Consider this… He may judge that way, but God does not. Galatians 2:6 says, “God does not judge by external appearance” (Galatians 2:6).

My point here is, he ignores context, and yet context is the most important factor. When you judge, context is everything! When you judge, you must understand the context. Again, this preacher’s example did not offer enough context to judge. For instance, he did not mention either person’s motives, or character, and he did not mention their environments or even the atmosphere of their environments. In my opinion, he assumed the best in one situation and the worst in the other, and all of that, based solely on the external appearance of the individuals, and on what he believed about that what he saw, as well as what he believed about lust and nudity.

Let’s apply some contexts to his statements and maybe we will see how context affects our judgment…

What if the naked child is involved in pornography? I myself have read of some children who, being brought up in a perverted environment, actually enjoy having sex with adults, or others. Then again, maybe their being force into it. Either way, we know that pornography promotes lust. Alternatively, maybe this naked child is being forced to go nude by some pervert individual who is lusting after that child. Whichever of these cases may be, that child’s nudity is no longer “innocent” as it is being used to promote lust.

As for the teenager, what if that teen is a member of an ancient tribe that lives naked? Such is quite plausible, and actually very likely with ancient tribes. Such nudity is not lustful, but rather the norm. For the record, I read somewhere that studies have shown that these naked tribes have less problems with sexual sins, such as rape, incest, and adultery. Doesn’t lust play a big part in sexual sins?

Since the preacher did not mention further context, maybe that teenager is all alone on the beach. If that is so, then how would that cause another to lust? Of course, that preacher would probably say that his statement, by its wording, presumes others are present. Even if that is the case, maybe the teenager is a nudist on a nudist beach, where lust and such — even among non-Christians — is typically unacceptable.

Someone may try to argue, “Lust may not be acceptable, but I am sure someone still does it.” Does that mean that nudity causes lust? Does it mean that lust does not occur when people are clothed? Use that same logic to think about it this way… If I am sitting in a restaurant and enjoying a good meal, am I provoking someone to gluttony? And even if I am, can I never enjoy another meal in a restaurant? How about money? Does money cause greed? And if so, does that mean I can never use money again? Again, context is everything and so each situation dictates the judgment.

What is unfortunate is, that preacher’s statement seems to reflect a common belief today, that nudity equals sex and that it somehow automatically produces lust in others. Even more unfortunate is the fact that such thinking may actually lead to lust, because as Romans 14:14 says, “If anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean.” That is, if you have come to equate mere nudity with lust or sex, then you have likely set yourself up to sin. That is, in that case, the mere nude form will trigger you to think in terms of sex, too. Still worse, such thinking not only leads its followers to lust, but also to sin in other ways. For instance, by judging or condemning others who are innocent, or even by judging and condemning the human body, which God Himself says is the image of God (Genesis 1:27) and the temple of His Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19).

The Power of Lust

People who have a problem nudity seem to miss or ignore lust’s power. I mean, lust happens regardless of one’s state of dress. In fact, the truth is, if you struggle with lust at the sight of mere nudity, then you likely struggle with lust at the mere sight of clothed people, too. In the Men’s NIV Devotional Bible, Chuck Swindoll says, “Lust is persistent. If it’s knocked on your door once, it’ll knock again, and again.” Notice he does not mention state of dress.

So, let’s apply other contexts to our scenario from above to see that helps…

Let’s say this nude teenager on the beach is a girl and she IS clothed with a bathing suit. Would her bathing suit necessarily stop someone from lusting? As part of the context, consider the fact that swimsuit designers are known for designing “sexy” outfits. That means, they are meant to be sexually appealing and even lust provoking. All clothing designers know what sell — sex — and so they use that to their advantage.

Let’s go one step further… Maybe that teenage girl is a Middle Easterner who is required to cover her entire body. Would her being covered from head to toe necessarily stop someone from lusting? Maybe, but maybe not. The men who came up with those laws and traditions think so, but again, knowing the power of lust, I doubt that even that stops lust.

Why people are so quick to say that nudity causes lust, as if that’s the issue, when clothing not only doesn’t stop lust but is often actually designed to incite lust? In a newspaper article entitled, “Is it Time to Strip Santa Barbara County’s Nudity Law?” Cathy Murillo says, “Tom Geist, a Top Freedom organizer who frequents Bates Beach, raises another inconsistency in American thought. We are all appalled at Muslim customs, such as in Afghanistan, that force women to wear black veils, he said, and yet our over-your-breasts law is based on the same premise: Certain parts of a woman are too sexually tantalizing and must be hidden from men who can’t control themselves.”

It does seem that many of same people who find it appalling, and ludicrous that Middle-Eastern women must be covered up so much, are the same people who easily accept similar laws and traditions for themselves based on the same exact reasoning. The problem with these laws and traditions is that they do not take care of the problem, and they may actually intensify it while creating still other problems.

Another pastor who believes that nudity is a problem has said, “Bathsheba was naked, but she was not naked for sexual purposes. What she did was not done to entice anyone. She was merely bathing, yet the sight of her naked body led to lust and a tragic series of terrible sins by David.” His whole argument, as he stated later, was that “her naked body led to [his] lust,” thereby blaming her for being nude within David’s sight. Was it really her fault? Did she really do something wrong by simply being seen? As the pastor said, “she was merely bathing,” and her intentions were not “to entice anyone.”

Bathsheba’s nudity was not the problem, but rather it was with the one who lusted after her. He is responsible for how he reacted to her. Titus 1:15 says, “To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing [not even a good thing] is pure; their very minds and consciences are corrupted.” According to the Bible, the “corrupted” mind lusts even in clothed situations. Keeping the David and Bathsheba event in context, we must remember that she was not doing anything out of the ordinary. Bathing out in the open was a common practice for all people of that time. He could have looked at any number of people bathing from where he was. Are all of them to blame for someone else lusting, if they did?

Looking back at the story of Eve’s temptation, was the fruit of the tree or the tree itself evil? No! “The LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground–trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food” (Genesis 2:9). “God saw ALL that He had made, and [ALL OF] IT WAS VERY GOOD” (Genesis 1:31).

Furthermore, God knew Adam and Eve would lust after the fruit of the forbidden tree (“He knows everything,” 2 Samuel 14:20, 1 John 3:20), which is why He warned them not to. More importantly, remember this… The Lord did not do what others generally suggest we should to deal with lust. Despite their protentional to list, He did not cover the tree, hide the tree or take tree away. In fact, quite the opposite. Genesis 2:9 says, ” In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” Note, “in the middle.” God put the tree right in the middle of the garden where they could not miss it. He basically forced them to confront the possibility of sinning. In fact, not only did He put it in the middle, but He also showed them where the tree was, told them all about it, and even what to do about. Then He let them to decide. The point being, we cannot escape opportunities to lust but we must know what to do about it and make the right choice.

The Real Cause of Lust

So, if people can lust at any time, whether clothed or not, what causes them to lust? Is it nudity? Is it clothing? Is it something in between? Is it some other context? What is it?

Jesus Himself says, “Don’t you see that nothing that enters a man from the outside [including what he sees] can make him ‘unclean’? … For FROM WITHIN, out of men’s hearts, come EVIL THOUGHTS [like lust], sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils COME FROM INSIDE and make a man ‘unclean'” (Mark 7:18, 21-24).

According to James 1:14-15, “Each [person] is tempted when, BY HIS OWN EVIL DESIRE, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” And what is “evil desire”? Doesn’t that define lust?

My whole argument is, we can be nude around each other and yet not lust because nudity is not the problem. Furthermore, clothing is a weak deterrent against lust because the problem is within the heart of the person who lusts.

After all, consider this… God sees every person continually as bare and naked before Him, physically and in every other way, and yet He does not sin. Hebrews 4:13 says, “Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” Listen to what Jesus says in Revelation 3:17. “You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.'” He clearly tells us right here that although we are rich, well clothed, well fed, and more, it is simply not enough, that clothing is useless in dealing with sin. The truth is, if you are relying on clothing to combat sin you only nullifying Christ, the one who dealt with sin on the cross. I mean if clothing is sufficient, then Christ died for nothing, for we could simply put some clothes on and never worry about lust again.

Conquering Lust

Now that we understand what lust is and is not, we must move on to figure out how to combat it effectively. How should you deal with lust? According to the preacher and the pastor mentioned above, and to many of their proponents, the answer is to simply avoid the sight of nudity, and don’t lead others into lust by allowing yourself to be seen nude. Is that really the answer? Is that even possible? I have already explained how God dealt with it, and that was not His way. And I have already explained that using clothing as a means of dealing with sin is ineffective.

In “What Did Jesus Say About Sex?” John Ortberg, former senior pastor of a church in Los Angeles, says:

“In verses 29 and 30 [of Matthew 5], Jesus makes these very strong statements. ‘If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away…And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away.’ Jesus is not recommending self-mutilation as a form of sin management. He is showing the absurdity of the way the scribes and Pharisees understood righteousness.

The Pharisees did have righteousness. But they were very non-righteous from Jesus’ perspective. Their idea was, as long as you haven’t sinned, you’re righteous. Therefore, if looking at a woman might cause you to sin, just don’t look at a woman.

Jesus is saying, with some humor, ‘Well, if the way to be righteous is not to look at a woman, why not go all the way? If your eyes are the problem, just gouge them out.’ But, of course, your eyes are not the problem. The problem lies in your heart, your innermost being–your thoughts, desires and intentions.

Righteousness, as Jesus defines it, is not simply the avoidance of sin. The ultimate goal is to become the kind of person who, when you look at someone of the opposite sex, sees what Jesus sees. And when you extend a hand, you’ll touch and embrace as Jesus would touch and embrace. That’s what righteousness is.”

What a profound way of looking at it. Trying to avoid seeing nudity, or being seen nude, especially by wearing clothes, does not help us because the problem is our minds, which have been corrupted. Here is what the Bible says about people who teach us to avoid sin by obeying certain rules:

“They [false teachers] PROMISE freedom, while they themselves are slaves to depravity – for a man is a slave to WHATEVER has mastered him.” 2 Peter 2:19-20

“Do not let anyone take you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which DEPENDS ON HUMAN TRADITION AND THE BASIC PRINCIPLES OF THIS WORLD rather than ON CHRIST.” Colossians 2:8

“Such regulations indeed have the appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they LACK ANY VALUE in restraining sensual indulgence.” Colossians 2:23

The legalist’s false doctrine does not keep anyone from “sensual indulgence,” much less lust. Again, in the Men’s NIV Devotional Bible, Chuck Swindoll says, “Lust is persistent. If it’s knocked on your door once, it’ll knock again, and again. You are safe just so long as you draw upon your Savior’s strength. Try to handle it yourself and you’ll lose — every time.” He does not suggest clothing, but Christ. Isaiah 64:6, “All our righteous acts are like filthy rags” and that means “our righteous acts,” like clothing ourselves, are useless.

Scripture teaches, “the battle belongs to the Lord” (1 Samuel 17:47). It teaches that He already won the battle through His sacrifice on the cross. It says, “We are more than conquerors THROUGH Christ who loves us” (Romans 8:37). It’s through Christ, not through clothes.

As far as combating lust (or any sin) is concerned, you cannot combat it with physical weapons. “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not of THE WEAPONS OF THE WORLD” (2 Corinthians 10:3-4) because “our struggle is not against flesh and blood” (Ephesians 6:12). Clothing is hardly a spiritual weapon, and neither is always trying to avoid lustful situations.

In the Men’s NIV Devotional Bible, Steve Farrar comments on Job 31:1-12. He says, “Let’s observe what Job is saying here. He isn’t making a commitment to never NOTICE an attractive female. That would not only be ludicrous, but would require total blindness [like when you gouge out your eyes…as Jesus suggested?]. Good-looking girls and women are everywhere. You can’t help but see them… There is a difference, however, between seeing a beautiful woman and lusting after her. Job’s point is simply this: There is a difference between a look and a LUSTFUL look…”

Jesus says, “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). He did not direct these words to anyone who merely LOOKS at a woman, but rather to anyone who LOOKS at a woman LUSTFULLY. Additionally, He did not address state of dress…that is, it applies to any woman (or man) in any state of dress.

Can a man notice a woman’s beauty, and yet not sin? God does! “God saw all that He had made, and IT WAS VERY GOOD” (Genesis 1:31). “Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account…yet [He] was without sin” (Hebrews 4.13,15). Furthermore, His Word warns us, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil” (Isaiah 5.20). With Him we may look and say, “I praise You because I am [we are] fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well” (Psalm 139.14).

The point is this… “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17) and they now “have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16). The mind of Christ does not lust regardless the state of dress.

We are told, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2) We must “renew” our minds to the truth declared in God’s Word that we do not have to sin. “You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness” (Romans 6:18).

Even if someone tries to provoke you to lust, if your mind is renewed to the truth, you will not sin because you simply do not look at things that way. In fact, we know the devil will come to tempt us, but you must “SUBMIT yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). “RESIST him, STANDING FIRM in the faith” (1 Peter 5:9) because “the shield of faith…can extinguish ALL the flaming arrows of the evil one” (Ephesians 6:16).

As we look yet again at the temptation of Eve, we see that, instead of believing God and agreeing with Him (submitting to Him), she agreed with the devil. On the other hand, when Jesus was tempted, He said, “The Lord says,… the Lord says,… the Lord says,… Now get away from me Satan, for you do not have in mind the will of God.” (Matthew 4:1-11)

Interestingly, instead of avoiding temptation, “Jesus was LED BY THE SPIRIT into the desert TO BE TEMPTED by the devil” (Matthew 4:1). He did this because “those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires” (Romans 8:5). And the Holy Spirit desires that each person “should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable” (1 Thessalonians 4:4).

Though “God does not tempt anyone” (James 1:3), He allowed Jesus to be tempted in order that “a way of escape may be made for us who believe” (1 Corinthians 10:13). In this way, “He is able to help those who are being tempted” (Hebrews 2:18).

The help Jesus gives us is through His Holy Word (Christ is the Living Word) and His Holy Spirit. “Jesus answered, ‘It is written: “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God”‘” (Matthew 4:4) And the Psalmist wrote, “I have hidden Your Word in my heart that I might not sin against You” (Psalm 119:11) Jesus said, “The Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” (John 14:26).

Jesus was able to overcome the devil because He knew the truth and agreed with what God said. Now we must do the same.

Though “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23), God says “I will put my Spirit in you and you will live” (Ezekiel 37:14). The Holy Spirit is “the Spirit of Truth” (John 15:26) who “will guide you” (John 16:13). “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you WILL NOT gratify the desires of the sinful nature” (Galatians 5:16).

What About an “Unbeliever”?

We have already talked about how the Christian has complete and total victory over lust, and all sin, but John Kundert, editor of Fig Leaf Forum (a non-profit Christian nudist organization), raises a good question. How is it that many unbelievers are also able to overcome it?

As I wrote this article, John asked me to consider the following: “It is true that Christians who ‘live by the Spirit…will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature’ (Galatians 5.16), but what of the tens of thousands of non-Christian nudists? I have met and interacted with hundreds of them over the years, and in almost all cases have never detected anything lustful in their language or behavior, nor did I usually detect any problems in their lives that could be attributed to lust. Why?”

While the non-Christian does not have the Holy Spirit to help them resist lust, or the Savior to help them when they fall, they do have SOME power to overcome sin. I say “some” because the scriptures says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23) because “God has bound all men over to disobedience so that He may have mercy on them all” (Romans 11:32).

In the scriptures we hear God commanding Eve, “You MUST NOT eat…” (Genesis 2:17). He told Cain, “If you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but YOU MUST master it” (Genesis 4:7). Jesus later commanded the adulterous woman, “Go now and LEAVE your life of sin!” (John 8:11). Can God command us to obey if we are incapable of doing so?

These people did not have the Holy Spirit as we New Testament believers do, yet God still commanded them to obey. Referring to His commandments in Deuteronomy 30:19, the Lord God says, “I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now CHOOSE life…” God gives us the right to choose. Galatians 6:7-8 says, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man [any man] reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.”

So, what about the unbeliever who does not know what is right? How can they obey something they have never heard? The thing is, though it may not be obvious to them, they have heard it. According to Romans 1:19-20, God designed creation in such a way that man is able to clearly see his truths: “What may be known about God IS PLAIN to them [everyone], because HE HAS MADE IT PLAIN to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities — His eternal power and divine nature — have been CLEARLY SEEN, so that men are without excuse.” In Romans 2:15 we read, “They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness.”

What I am getting at is, we have built-in or “self-evident” truths, and the Lord God constantly speaks to everyone regarding them. Jesus said, “My Father is always at work…” (John 5:17) and His work, according to John 16:8-12, is to reveal, teach and remind everyone — even unbelievers — of the all kinds of truths, especially with regard to sin and righteousness.

God’s ultimate goal is to bring people to the conclusion that they need Christ, a Savior, but along the way, those who are receptive benefit from the other truths they learn. For the non-Christian nudist, they learn the truth that you can separate nudity and sex. They may also learn that the body — every part of it — is wonderful, awesome and good, as the Word declares (see Genesis 1:31, Psalm 139:14-15).

The believer and the unbeliever are both able to overcome sin in the same way, through knowing and believing the truth, and by resisting all efforts of others who want to pervert it. “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). “RESIST the devil [the father of lies], and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). These promises work for all people, even if when the person do not realize they are taking advantage of such promises.

While we know that unbelievers cannot obtain the full measure of true righteousness — because that comes only through knowing Jesus Christ (see Romans 3:22-23) — they may be able to obtain a measure of righteousness, and walk in it. An example can be found in Matthew 19:16: “A man came up to Jesus and asked, ‘Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?'” Jesus responded by basically saying, “Do what is right.” The man responded that he had always done everything right since his youth, yet he somehow knew there must be something else he needed to do in order to be saved. “Jesus answered, ‘IF YOU WANT TO BE PERFECT, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and THEN you will have treasure in Heaven. THEN come, follow Me'” (Matthew 19:21).

The unbeliever will be successful in overcoming sin to the degree that he understands truth, believes it, and walks in it. When he sees the truth of Jesus and believes Him, then he the obtains total victory found in Him.

What Jesus wants is for us to sell out to Him, and follow Him. Then and only then, will we have total victory over all sin.

Overcome Your Enemy

We know that lust is a powerful weapon of the devil used against mankind in many ways to draw men away from God and capture them to do his will. Lust is usually at the heart of sin, and something we should not play with, or take lightly. Though we may think clothing, or hiding is an effective way of dealing with it, we find that such things can serve to intensify lust’s strength. From the Bible, and Jesus Himself (who is the Living Word), we find that by knowing the truth, renewing our minds to the truth and constantly living out that truth is the only way to effectively deal with lust, or sin of any kind. Again, as the Word says:

“Live by the Spirit [and the Spirit is Truth], and you *will not* gratify the desires of the sinful nature” (Galatians 5:16).

“Put on the full armor of God [which is Christ] so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes” (Ephesians 6:11).

“For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans [unbelievers] choose to do — living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry” (1 Peter 4:3).

“SUBMIT YOURSELVES, then, to God. RESIST the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).

Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free (John 8:32).

And “you will be free indeed” (John 8:36) because “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Corinthians 3:17).

 

Special thanks to John Kundert for publishing this article in Fig Leaf Forum, Issue 76.

All scriptures NIV unless otherwise stated.

© 1997 Gregory Cook

Advertisements

Why Be Offended?

Society often teaches us to wear clothes so that we do not offend others, but have you ever really thought about what that actually implies? I mean, think about it… This idea implies that we are to be offended at the mere sight of a naked human body — something every human being possesses, something you yourself possess, and something that the Bible teaches is part of being made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27).

Should you be offended by the mere sight of another naked human or even your own naked body? If you are one who believes what the Bible teaches, that the man is made in the image of God as His divine handiwork, the answer to that question shows what you really believe. After all, the question then becomes, should you be offended by the image of God?

How We Got There

It’s no wonder people are offended at the unclad body because the same society that teaches us to be offended also teaches us to sexualize the body or use it in hedonistic ways or that there is something wrong with it. Think about it…

If you or everyone around you, even your culture, continually associates nudity with sex or perversity, then naturally the mere sight of nudity might provoke you to think of sex or perversity and thus be offended.

Likewise, if your culture continually promotes the idea of “the perfect body” — something our modern culture does — this idea that we must be fit and flawless, then naturally the nude body becomes offensive. After all, consider the many people, literally millions of them, that are so unhappy with, so offended by, their own appearance that they spend thousands of dollars to undergo plastic or cosmetic surgery just to look good and feel better about themselves. Many people suffer from bulimia, anorexia, and other eating disorders because they are trying to look good and want to feel better about themselves.

If people are so uncomfortable with their appearance that they would spend money to “fix” their appearance, have surgery, or starve themselves, it seems certain those same people would not feel comfortable with their own nudity, and might just be offended by others’ nudity.

How We Get Back

We need to see nudity for what it is — simply a state of being and our natural, normal state — and stop believing the lies — that nudity means sex or that we must look some certain way to be accepted. And we must stop comparing ourselves with some perceived standard of perfection.

If you believe Jesus Christ is Lord, consider 1 Corinthians 6:13: ” The body is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.” Your body is not meant to be seen as a sex object but as holy and pure, a home for the Lord.

When you learn to accept others and yourself, despite appearances, you will think better of others and yourself, and you will feel better. I personally believe that if our culture could embrace acceptance, things such as bulimia, anorexia and other such disorders would be eliminated or at least lessened, and it would lessen peoples’ “need” for face lifts, boob jobs, tummy tucks, and the many other “fixes.”

Who’s Offending Who?

When you are offended by something, you actually show what’s in your own heart. For instance, if you saw someone mowing their lawn nude, swimming nude or watching TV nude and you were offended, what might that say about you? They are simply engaging in normal everyday activities nude but you are seeing something more than that.

Why should this offend you? Why not rather accept it and allow them that freedom? As it is, when a nude body offends someone, that person is, in affect, judging God’s creation as offensive, unacceptable, and possibly perverted or at least only sexual. For the believer, does this honor the Lord? It dishonors Him! For everyone, does any of this honor your body, or the bodies of others? No, it does not! It dishonors them!

When you look at it this way, who should be offended, you or the person you are judging and rejecting? More importantly, do you think this attitude might just offend the Lord? (See Isaiah 5:20, Matthew 6:25-30, Luke 12:22-28.)

As an aside, this attitude does in deed offend real nudists. Why? Because it judges them and puts them in the same category as the pervert. Even more, although this attitude it likely the attitude of the minority, those in power force the majority to agreed with them, forcing others to wear clothes unnecessarily. Now, instead of clothing yourself for the right reasons, such as when you are cold or need protection, people our culture clothe themselves for all the wrong reasons like fear, shame, sexualizing of the body and yes, even simply because they feel offended by the mere sight of a nude body.

offendedbythat

Excuse the language here — I mean no offense — but I hope you get the point.

Going a Step Further

One way to help you exercise accepting others and being accepted is to allow others to go nude around you and to go nude around others. As you do this, you begin to realize more and more just how normal and acceptable the naked human body is. You begin to accept others the way God Himself does (1 Samuel 16:7) based more on character than appearance. Worth noting: God sees every person naked (Hebrews 4:13) and yet He is not offended. Why would He be since He created us?

But as you engage social nudity, you quickly realize the human body comes in many different shapes, sizes, colors and conditions. You realize that no one is exactly like another; you realize each person’s uniqueness and individuality. You realize how diverse, interesting and fun life is. You realize all the lies for what they are — lies. You no longer see mere nudity as sexual. The irony of social nudity is, by seeing the whole body, genitals and all, you eventually pay less attention to “parts” and begin to see the person as a whole person. Along with this, you may even loose the desire to “fix” your perceived flaws.

Acceptance, rather than offense, is the key to health. In Genesis 1:31 it says, “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.” Can you say that? Can you see all that God made and declare it is very good? If not, why not?

Recap

Instead of being offended by the nude bodies of others, begin to accept them for what they are, the real person and not some ideal that clothing projects in order to please you and make themselves acceptable to you. Instead of being offended by your own nude body, begin to accept it and go nude, even around others.

Learn to accept others and yourself. Then you can say as God says, “God saw all that He had made, and it was very good” (Genesis 1:31) and realize this truth, “Everything created by God is good and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving…” (1 Timothy 4:4).

At the very least, the next time you find yourself being offended by something, ask yourself why. Why does this offend me? Then ask, should it? And if it has to do with someone else, ask, would my attitude offend them or God?

All scriptures NIV.

© 1997 Gregory Cook