Note to Self, Part 4: Longing for More than Everything.

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It is a good thing to jot down these notes to myself in order that I might remember that which I easily forget; BUT that doesn’t negate the fact that ultimately, not what I say to myself, but what God says about Himself, and me in relation to Himself, is the ultimate safeguard and guide. Not the ultimate, but the only: everything else is a helpful supplement only as far as they point back to the source. Psalm 119:11

As a follow-up to talking about anything that comes between yourself and drawing near to a Holy God, the one who has washed and sanctified you, I will remind you of the forms which this lust may take in your life. I am not trying to prevent you with fix-all solutions to your problems as much as a way for you to “Act the miracle” i.e., work out that which God is working in you. Striving apart from Him you cannot succeed; striving towards the goals of holiness towards which He brings you, you cannot fail.

What are the lusts?

For you as a Christian, lusts could very simply be described thus: Longing for more than everything.

Those of the flesh: the wicked, abominable, and unashamed obsession with passing physical beauty, that which most often allows itself to delight in the lowest filth above higher beauties. When you commit adultery or rape in your heart, it is extremely likely that no one will hear about it. But does that matter? Is the importance of a crime as much its outward effect, or the person against whom the crime is committed? Self will tell you, relying on what is immediate and seen, that the second glance will satisfy you. But the heart will not be satisfied with that–if you allow self the one foothold of double-taking at a girl, your heart will want to push it to the mile mark of lust. It seems so innocent! And yet the very ascendant of our Savior chose to look again. From that grew adultery, an illegitimate pregnancy that could not be covered up, which in turn could only be dealt with by murdering the husband. You know this story, but do you really? Read Psalm 51, you will understand that you cannot keep a close walk with your Father and a pleasant realization of His salvation between your eyes, if you entertain this lust. A man after God’s own heart faltered through it: think not that you will survive. Put it far, far from you. Meditate on the better reality of the once-broken, now-glorified body of your risen Savior.

Remember: every wandering thought is an affront to the Savior’s sufficiency.  More on this here.

   Lust of these eyes: making much of this world and its goods. Its latest diversions, and an inordinate desire for possessions-driven standing among men (having the right technology, right clothes, right body) rather than being absorbed in the Christ-purchased standing we have before God. Seeking acceptance in a world that should hate me. You sub- consciously allow movies, gadgets, clothing, the places you eat, or anything else become a status symbol that defines how you desire others to view you.
   And it is spiritualized. You are given absolutely everything that is necessary for life and godliness, and yet you see outward things, such as external spirituality, proficiency of gifts and talents, or popularity to draw your eyes away from this reality. They become to you as means, so that rather than run to the fountain of Grace, you try to cultivate whatever external thing you think will improve you. But no means, if it is incorrect, can be pursued without the ends themselves being altered. This is why the crucial thing is to remember that your ultimate end is Christ, not being better in whatever your favorite aspect of life may be.
    Remember, every uncaptivated thought is an affront to the Savior’s sufficiency.
   Lust of the mind: entertaining fantasies, on any number of issues or events, all which tend toward my self-advancement or pleasure, rather than thinking on He who needs no aid of the imagination to be glorious. Your imagination is a gift, as is the enormous leisure which you possess as a human in being able to think on just about anything at anytime. But oh how wasted time can be in ridiculous imaginations after something that either isn’t true, isn’t honorable, or both. Phil. 4:8. Or perhaps you travel into your memory, and set your thoughts solely on things which have been once, and you are so easily discontented with being faithful with what God has set before you to do.
   Remember: every wandering thought is an affront to the Savior’s sufficiency. Your God supplies all your needs; His grace is sufficient for you; and in Him dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily; and yet you take all of this, and discard it to think on things contrary to Him? Not to say we never think about other things; we live on earth and we are intended to be engaged in our lives. But why make God out to be so much less than He really is when we dwell on the things that keep us from Him, especially during our prayers and the worship service. (I will delve more into most crucial aspect in my next and hopefully final note on the subject).
Lusts of the heart: going from object to object seeking something which will satisfy my emotions. This is where the deepest problems lie, and often is the root of the others. This is where you are most vulnerable. Your heart belongs to a King: you simply mustn’t give it away without His consent. And why would you? Is He not enough? or do you feel the need to fill in the seeming gaps in your thought life and your emotions with something that is not yours yo cherish? “The human heart is an idol factory.” and you know as well as anyone.
    A man to whom you listen often, Paul Washer, draws out a plain but curiously elusive truth from Scripture: the Bible tells us to wrestle with Spiritual darkness, to wrestle with the devil himself (Eph. 6:12, James 4:7). This entails heartfelt, deep, harsh spiritual warfare in which most of us have never troubled ourselves to engage. But the curious thing is that when he addresses the sin of “youthful lusts” he gives a simple instruction: “Flee.” Retreat. Turn tail and run (2 Tim. 2:22. Nice number sequence. He follows with some practical instruction on what to pursue which surely have a place). Even though we are to wrestle with Satan himself, the deepest expression of Christian maturity, in regard to these lusts, is a deliberate distance from them.
This seems, perhaps at first, to have application only to the first lust. But it is bears just as much on the last as well. I must cut myself short here…and with the help of another, far more insightful author, will soon take this back up.

Note to Self, Part 3: Lust is….

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(Just so you know, I’m not writing these things to make you believe: that was another story for another time. This is what you do believe, but forget.)

Lust is just that in you which says you have a right to what you think will make you happy. Lust is just theft that doesn’t actually involve grabbing something.

Lust is not just some abstract idea of sexual sin that “other kids” commit; it is an ingrained human emotion, that the Serpent introduced to Eve. It is that which tells you what you see, what is immediate, what is pragmatic, what you subjectively “prefer” will make you happy (this is what lust does; as to what forms it takes, I may have to tell you in another note, depending on how long this one turns out). This is in complete and total opposition to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which tells you the following:

What is seen is temporal, and what is unseen is eternal. The Lord of the universe resides in Eternity, and He created sight, and by necessity must transcend it. Lust hints at what you see, but you cannot get; Christ demands what faith can see, and His promise is surer than the earth which He has created (for the Voice that calls into existence must, of necessity, transcend that which it creates). You’re not holding off of something you see now so you can get what is better tomorrow: this is the difference between time and eternity, not childish terms such as “now and later.” You have to say “No” to that which is seen, to gain the prize of Christ, who must be gazed upon by faith alone until He calls you to Himself or comes back. This is not to say that you must separate yourself from earth and live as though even good fruit of the Garden which God has given is forbidden. It is simply this: you must deny the silly notion that this is all there is, and therefore you must devote yourself (worship) this that you see; and you must assert that what we see in a glass darkly through God’s word will eventually be face to face.

This goes hand in hand with what is “immediate”. Lust  tells you to begin building your Kingdom on earth, comprised of whatever your heart desires. The Gospel is about seeking a city whose builder and maker is God: a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Lust tells you to grab whatever is in front your face, and the Gospel says to look to that which is “ahead”, pressing on towards the mark of the high calling of Christ.

Lust will tell you that which is pragmatic, or seems expedient, will bring you happiness. The Gospel makes no such promises, but it does tell you that the foolishness of the Cross will bring you holiness. God says be “Holy, for I am Holy,” making this, not happiness, our highest end.

Denying self what it immediately wants seems in total opposition to our ideas of what will fix us or make us happy.* Let me just say here, when I talk to you about lust I needn’t publicly tell you what I’m thinking. Unless you are hardening your heart, which is sadly often the case, you will immediately be able to identify the areas where lust is appearing. You are being told this because anything that you lust after, in which you place your confidence, will indeed come between yourself and your Lord. And how, oh how will you be made like Him if you do not draw near to Him? Holiness, our great end, is not achieved by schemes of “do’s” and “don’t’s”, but by drawing near to the noonday blaze of the Sun of Righteousness, a light which will shine on all that is not sanctified unto Him, and a fire which consumes all the dross that is unholiness. Do not think, oh do not think that you can walk with Christ and enjoy what is knowingly clung to through selfishness and hardness of heart. We cannot approach the Sovereign of the universe, who demands holiness of His blood-bought people, without begin changed. If there is lack of change, “unchange” (if you will) relating to your lusts, than you are not close to Him.

Don’t you dare tell me that was a rabbit trail, for I will sum it all up like this: The Gospel is not about immediate happiness, but lasting Holiness (which, just so you know, involves God’s nearness, in which there is fullest joy; you’re not losing anything). Holiness involves-no, is epitomized- in drawing near to a Holy God. Don’t let proud, selfish, unbelieving lust steal that from you.

And finally, we reach the crux of the matter: Lust tells you that the most important thing for you as an individual is what you prefer. This is the most important thing because it is in complete and total opposition to the Gospel, which has nothing to do with your personal preferences. Christ deals with a soul on a personal level (we are all dead at birth, so sorry, you can’t be born into “the right family”) but His dealings place us in a Body that constitutes His Holy Bride, a bride which is not concerned with herself but with Him. This isn’t imbalanced or unfair; the world will tell you to look at relationship from a standpoint of mutual contribution and mutual returns. It raises the objection that it is really unfair that we have to go through life laying aside subjectivism for our Husband. But in reality, we have been joined to the only Being, the One who alone possess objective worth and beauty, because He was perfect in all things before He made her, and He gives her life. But He is also subjectively beautiful, because He took the lowest and the small, and the chief of sinners, and made them His prized, priceless possession that will share in His eternal glory.

Read His book, see what He does for her, and then come and complain to me again about you preferences, if you dare. You are not here for yourself; you’re here for the purpose of making as much of Christ Jesus, the King of ages, the Bright and Morning Star, the Alpha and Omega; the One who has 280 names and descriptions in His autobiography, and they still fail to describe Him, because even they do not have limits.

Lust will tell you that what is expedient in life is: the visible, the immediate, the pragmatic, and what you prefer are all worthy of your thoughts when you pick up your iPhone to see the time early tomorrow morning. the Gospel tells you the Truth.

Now, do you think you have that? Don’t get excited. I want to get back to you on what lust actually turns up as; you might start getting mad at that point.