Monday, September 25, 2006

Battling the Unbelief of Lust

Battling the Unbelief of Lust

These are the notes I took on a lecture from a series on unbelief taught by John Piper. More of these may be posted in the future, because it would be a good idea to work through the series sometime.

1 Thessalonians 4:1-8 (1)Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to live and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. (2)For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. (3)For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; (4)that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, (5)not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; (6)that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. (7)For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. (8)Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.

Lust: sexual desire that dishonors its object and disregards God. It is a sexual desire, minus holiness and honor.

Translational Differences:

RSV v.4: that each one of you know how to take a wife for himself in holiness and honor,…

NIV v.4: that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable,…

NASB v.4: that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor,…

Greek NT v.4: to know each of you the of himself pot to acquire in holiness and value,…

Sexual desire is good, but it is meant to be regulated by holiness and honor. God established the covenant of marriage for the satisfaction of sexual desire, while still maintaining holiness and honor. To conduct yourself towards another person in a manner that says, “I want your body for my pleasure, but I don’t want you as a whole person” is lust, and is dishonoring to that person. Lust is sexual desire, minus a commitment to honor a person in covenant relationship.

Lust is the absence of holiness. Lust comes from not knowing God. Do you disregard the holiness of God with your sexual desires?

The world views lust as insignificant when there are problems of war, and famine, and political corruption, and crime. They argue that lustful thoughts/actions are what a person chooses to do in their personal time, and that we ought not tell a person what to do with that time. This is the reaction of a society who has forsaken a supreme regard for God.

v.6 God has a different viewpoint than the vast majority of the world. The Lord will avenge this unholiness. The consequence of this unholy, dishonoring conduct is vastly worse than the consequences of nuclear war, or terror attacks. The only reason to deny this is the result of unbelief in eternity. The only thing war can do is kill physical bodies. Jesus specifically speaks about this in Matthew 10:28.

Matthew 10:28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

Ponder the eternal danger of lust (Matthew 5:27-30), because it IS real. The way one chooses to handle lust is of utmost importance because it decides where you will spend eternity. The tendency of the average person who professes to be a Christian is to extract saving faith from every other aspect of their life, so that how they live has no bearing on their “eternal security.” Scripture repeatedly denies this errant belief, yet they remain blissfully ignorant, at least during their physical lives.

1 Timothy 6:12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

Are we not saved by faith? We are, by persevering, in faith. 1 Timothy 6:12. The good fight of the faith IS the fight for purity in our hearts/actions, for the honor of God.

The false doctrine taught in many churches today is that justification is by faith, and sanctification is by good works. This makes sanctification optional, because faith is viewed as what actually gets you into heaven, while sanctification, or increasing holiness, is merely what determines the degree of reward once there.

The battle for obedience is absolutely necessary for salvation because it IS the battle against unbelief; it IS the fight of the faith. There is only one battle; they are not separate battles.

The root cause of lust is unbelief, implied by v.5, which says that those who do not know God behave differently, than those who do.

Mark 1:21-28 (21) And they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath he entered the synagogue and was teaching. (22) And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes. (23) And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, (24) “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.” (25) But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” (26) And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him. (27) And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” (28) And at once his fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee.

The demons know who the Lord is, so there must be a difference in how the demons know God, and the knowledge Paul is talking about in 1 Thessalonians 4:5. There clearly is no connection between mere head knowledge and the power of godliness. 2 Corinthians 4:6 speaks of this different, proper knowledge. It’s the knowledge of His greatness, His grandeur, His glory, His power, His wisdom, His truth. It’s the knowledge you don’t have when you grumble impatiently at the end of the church service while singing praises to God.

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

This is the knowledge that liberates from unbelief.

1 Peter 2:11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. [emphasis mine]

This is serious.

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