Lust is sin. A lot of people ascribe to a “look, but don’t touch” mentality. However, our God knows the heart of every man and He knows when we pursue Him with our whole being:
[K]now the God of your father, and serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind; for the Lord searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever (1 Chron 28:9).
So, when the God who commands us to not covet finds that in our heart, even for a second, we covet not only people, but things or life circumstances, that are not our own, we have sinned. God wants us to be content in all circumstances that He has given us (Phil 4:11).
This is why Jesus says, “I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matt 5:28). The moment we have turned our hearts away from where our God wants them, our eyes follow our hearts. The moment we turn our eyes away from where God wants them, our actions follow our eyes.
James describes the process:
[E]ach one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death (James 1:14-15).
How must we deal with temptations to lust? We must avoid it whenever possible. Job as an example says, “I have made a covenant with my eyes, how then could I gaze at a virgin” (Job 31:1)?
We must seek obedience to God more than the temptations of the heart, so when the temptation comes to lust, we reject it.
Temptation in of itself is not sin. This is an important point. Every time we are tempted to sin, that does not mean we are lusting for what God does not desire. Why? Because Jesus Himself was tempted. In fact, there is not a temptation Christ Himself has not personally experienced.
For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin (Heb 4:15).
He shows us it is possible to be tempted, but still be without sin. A picture of this is when Christ prayed to the Father not to be crucified: “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42). He did not want to die. Yet, He knew that He was going to. But, the fear of pain tempted Him with the idea of not going to the cross. However, because Christ is without sin, in the same breath He desired that the Father’s will be done and go to the cross anyway.
Another example is when Christ went to fast and pray in the wilderness. We find it was part of the Father’s plan to purposely tempt His Son:
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry. And the tempter came (Matt 4:1-3).
Christ was tempted to have bread, but He desired obedience to the Scriptures’ teachings more. He was tempted to have power over the world’s kingdoms without having to be crucified, but He desired obedience to His Father instead. In this we, we must take every thought captive in Christ (2 Cor 10:5) and seek obedience and deny our temptations.
Satan is the source of temptation. This is a quick and easy point. Satan is called “the tempter.” He tempted Jesus. He tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden and by extension her husband as well. We pray, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”
We have faith that God can give us power over the evil one. God indeed has power over our own very hearts. He can rightfully forsake us and close our hearts to him, where we will be tempted to pursue our lusts. Or, we can seek God with all our hearts and pray “incline my heart to your Law” (Ps 119:36). Incline our hearts to You, O Lord.
Jesus is without sin. Christ, though tempted by the evil one did not yield to temptation. He committed no sin and in His mouth there is no deceit (1 Peter 2:22). He did not even know sin, yet He became sin on our behalf (2 Cor 5:21). In Him there is no sin (1 John 3:5). If Christ was tempted, but did not sin, then we know it to be possible to be tempted yet be without sin in this regard.
Practical admonitions for temptation. We have a promise from God: Christians are not tempted beyond what they can bear.
No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it (1 Cor 10:13).
Those who truly belong to Christ, He will not lose. He will not forsake them. Lastly, God is more faithful than man, so if God promises a way out for temptation He will provide such a way.
The Scripture likewise tells us, “Examine yourself to see if you are in the faith” (2 Cor 13:5). So, if you find yourself unable to deal with temptation and yield to it, giving fuel to one’s lusts, then there is good reason to believe that you have not truly trusted in Christ for the forgiveness of sins and the resurrection to the new life.
This is not to mean that a Christian will not ever sin. Rather, he will not constantly give into temptation. It is the exception, not the norm.
How does this play out in every day life?
-Husbands are to guard their eyes, company, and activities. There is no excuse to fall into willful sins such as extramarital affairs, pornography, and other acts that require concerted effort. The Scripture teaches, “For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins” (Heb 10:26). The Scripture also teaches that believers, such as King David, can commit heinous sins and live with them for months and return to God. We should seek to be like David at his best, not at his worst.
-Wives are to satisfy their husbands and pray for them to not be led into temptation, and when they are, pray that God will have them overcome it. To not do this shows not only distrust of their husbands, but distrust of God’s promises to them. It also helps if wives have a Biblical understanding of the difference between temptation and lust. Lust is yielding to temptation. Temptation in of itself is not sin. It is unavoidable, as it is a weapon Satan uses to assault God’s people. A wife should help her husband overcome temptation using whatever means, not beat him down for it unless it is actually helpful in curbing temptation.