Had I been thinking ahead, I would have saved last Thursday's purity post for today, Thanksgiving Day. At least it's worth pointing out again today that cultivating thanksgiving year round is a powerful antidote to lust and impurity.
Observing folly and destruction can be a strong motivator on the road of life. Seeing a bad car accident can sober and slow you down, or move you to quit that occasional texting. The same goes for lust's effects. We can learn a lesson from the dark idolatry of adulterous lust. It can even shed light on the path of following Jesus.
Think about the blindness of lust when it gets to the point where adultery is first contemplated and then finally acted upon. The person who comes to this point is willing to sacrifice all for the sake of their desire.
Those of us who look on from the outside can’t understand it. We see how cheap the thrill is and how costly the fall-out: potential loss of marriage, kinetic loss of reputation and respect and trust, the damage done to the kids, the inner turmoil experienced by all involved, etc, etc. We ask, “Why would he do this and sacrifice so much?” We wonder, “How do you get to that point?”
The (increasing) blindness of lust and the sacrifices it often stimulates are proof positive of its idolatry. Lust is idolatry. It places the gratification of the flesh at the center. It says “no” to all that God is for us in Jesus. It says “yes” to all that sin is for us in the form of a man or a woman. When it grows to the point of acting it out in real life, the “no’s” and ‘yes’s” are radical and sacrificial.
This is the nature of sin. It calls for costly sacrifice, but gives us nothing more than fleeting pleasure, shame, regret, and loss.
Following Jesus out of love is the true archetype to which lust is only a deceitful anti-type. The gain promised in Christ (see Mark 8:34-38) ought to elicit a response of love-blind sacrifice that will often look like foolishness to those on the “outside.”
Running the race of faith set before you, with all the attending sacrifices, is proof positive of the surpassing value of knowing Jesus. He is Lord. He is the worthy center of life’s solar system. And when he is functionally first in our affections, the effects are radical and sacrificial.
This is the glory of God. He calls for costly sacrifice, but gives us freedom and peace and joy, and an eternal weight of glory that far outweighs the cost of the sacrifice.
Learn from the dark caricature of lust. Let is serve to turn your stomach…and then your eyes “upon Jesus, [to] look full in his wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of this glory and grace.”
Philippians 3:7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.