Tim Keller | April 25, 1999
Lust exists, it is powerful, and we must respect its power. The Bible rejoices in sex and sexual desire, but lust is an impersonal, inordinate desire and an idolatrous search for meaning. Lust can be overcome if you esteem Jesus as your bridegroom and the lover of your soul.
When you hear about Jesus’ teachings on love and relationships from the Sermon on the Mount, you might think he was against them. But if you look closer, you’ll see that Christianity’s view on love and sex is actually one of its most positive aspects. It gives us a complete picture of how love and sex fit into our lives and our society. Jesus’ teachings focus on four main points: recognizing that lust exists, understanding what lust is and isn’t, and learning how to heal from it.
1. There is such a thing as lust
Jesus warns us about the strong pull of sex and the consequences if we don’t treat it with the respect it deserves. Our society has a split view on sex. On one hand, we see it as a good thing for our emotional and mental health. On the other hand, we recognize it can harm us. Sex isn’t just a basic need. It has the power to make our lives better or worse, depending on how we handle that power.
2. What it’s not
According to Jesus and the Bible, lust isn’t the same as sexual desire. Instead, it’s a misuse of that desire. The Bible tells us to take joy in sex, like in the Song of Solomon and when Genesis says that sex is a blessing. The view that sex is dirty and the view that it’s only a basic desire both miss the mark. They don’t recognize the good, powerful role that sex plays, according to Christianity.
3. What it is
Jesus challenges the idea of lust as an impersonal and extreme desire. His teachings give us a more complete view that applies to everyone, no matter their gender or marital status. He emphasizes the importance of emotional commitment in sexual relationships. He encourages us to connect our souls and bodies and shows us the healing power of closeness, openness, and trust. Lust reduces people to objects, which is why personal commitment in sexual relationships and the deeper meaning of sex are so important.
4. How it can be healed
To heal from lust and keep it from hurting us, we need to understand Jesus as the Bridegroom who sees believers as beautiful. Overcoming lust means changing our views and actions, recognizing that lust can’t truly satisfy us. The only way to find real happiness in relationships, especially marriage, is to have a deep connection with Jesus. This was the unique approach of the early Christian church towards money and sex.
February Book Offer
In his book Counterfeit Gods, Tim Keller shows us how a proper understanding of the Bible reveals the truth about societal ideals and our own hearts — and that there is only one God who can wholly satisfy our cravings and fulfill our hopes.
February Book Offer