Scripture: I Tim. 6:6-12
Let’s begin with a biblical definition of lust. Lust is a sexual desire that dishonors its object and disregards God. Let me show you where I get that definition from today’s text.
Verse 4 in the RSV addresses the men at Thessalonica and says, that each one of you know how to take a wife for himself in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like heathen who do not know God.
Notice that verses 4 and 5 say to do something one way but not another way. Take a wife (or control your body/vessel) “in holiness and honor, NOT in the passion of lust.” Do you see the contrast: “in holiness and honor NOT in the passion of lust.” So the passion of lust is the opposite of holiness and honor. That’s where I get the definition of lust.
Sexual desire in itself is good. God made it in the beginning. It has its proper place. But it was made to be governed or regulated or guided by two concerns: honor toward the other person and holiness toward God. Lust is what that sexual desire becomes when that honor and that holiness are missing from it.
Take honor, for instance. God established a relationship called marriage. In it a man and a woman make a life-long covenant to honor each other with faithfulness and love.
Sexual desire becomes the servant and the spice of that covenant bond of mutual honor.
Therefore, to say to another person, I want you to satisfy my sexual desire, but I do not want you as a covenant partner in marriage basically means: I want to use your body for my pleasure, but as a whole person I don’t want you. And that is dishonoring and therefore lustful. Lust is sexual desire minus a commitment to honor the other person.
But that’s not all. The text says, take a wife (or control your body/vessel) “in holiness . . . not in the passion of lust.” Holiness has to do with God—being set apart for God. So verse 5 goes on like this: “Not in the passion of lust like heathen who do not know God.”
Knowing God and acting like it keeps sexual desire from becoming lust. Look at verse 8: “Therefore whoever disregards this [the call for holiness], disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.” The root issue in lust is regard for God. Holiness is living in supreme regard for a holy God.
Lust is the opposite. Lust is sexual desire which is not regulated or governed or guided by a supreme regard for God.
God created sexuality. He created it good and beautiful. He created it for the good of his creatures. He alone has the wisdom and the right to show us how to use it for his glory and our good. Lust is what that sexual desire becomes when we give it rein in disregard for God.
In summary then, lust is a sexual desire that dishonors its object and disregards God. It’s the corruption of a good thing by the absence of honorable commitment and by the absence of a supreme regard for God. If your sexual desire is not guided by respect for the honor of others and regard for the holiness of God, it is lust.