Love Not The World: The Lust of the Flesh, The Lust of the Eyes, and The Pride of Life

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Love Not The World: Lust of the Flesh, Lust of the Eyes, and the Pride of Life

“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passes away, and the lust thereof: but he that does the will of God abides forever.” 1 John 2:15-17

(This particular blog post was uncomfortable for me to write in a different way than in times past. I wanted to obey God and heed to His instruction, but I wanted to make sure that I did it His way – and in a way that still honored Him. So I took some time to pray on the direction of the post. This is the result. I pray that it blesses you!)

It can be difficult at times to maintain a pursuit of holiness and righteousness while being surrounded with lusts of the world on a daily basis. Every second, every minute, and every hour we are exposed to things that are not of God – and that are in complete opposition to His will. It takes a strong, mature, firmly-planted, and Spirit-filled follower of Christ to be in constant interaction with this world and the things of this world, and not be influenced by any of it. I’m currently learning how tough it is in street ministry where I am in contact with people from all walks of life with the ultimate goal of spreading the Gospel and sharing the love of Christ. Most of the time, evangelism and discipleship is fairly easy and God-glorifying; it’s even easier when you can find a common bond that serves as the perfect means for you to exalt Jesus Christ.

Yes, it’s easy…until there comes a time where the enemy seeks to disrupt and infringe upon your personal relationship with God. Now, I am not trying to scare anyone away from evangelizing or ministering to others by any means with this statement: It is our duty to spread the Gospel as ambassadors of Christ and servants for His Kingdom. However, what I am trying to do is ensure that we are all on guard and fully prepared for the enemy’s tactics. It’s more of a guarding against ourselves (our own hearts and minds) and the ways that the enemy tries to attack us through certain situations.

The Bible says that those who live righteously, stand for the Gospel, and seek to glorify God with their lives will be persecuted by the world (2 Timothy 3:12). Persecution as a result of your religious beliefs can come in many forms: it can be in the form of harassment, discrimination, and ill-treatment; mental, emotional, or physical slavery; abuse; hostility; mockery; oppression or victimization, and even the more extreme forms and what we are currently seeing in ISIS and in other parts of the world: killing, beheading, slaughtering, etc. America is not currently experiencing much of the latter, but many of us are experiencing other forms of persecution. This should motivate us to support our brothers and sisters around the world in standing as one for the Gospel and uniting in Christ in all circumstances. We must also be armed (Ephesians 6) when interacting with others for God’s glory because the enemy’s ultimate goal is to bring us down with him. His only agenda is to steal, kill, and destroy.

If we know this, then why would we willingly subject ourselves to such slavery by indulging in things that do not honor God? The enemy is slick. He knows us, and he knows how to set up devices to trick, then attack. He knows exactly where he can step in and deceive us when an opportunity presents itself. Our adversary’s schemes require us to put on the full armor of God; not just sometimes, but daily. And not just some of the armor, but every piece of armor – which is why the Word stresses the word “full” (Ephesians 6:10-20). If at any point the enemy can catch you off-guard, he will capitalize on it with the quickness. Don’t underestimate him.

But knowing this truth shouldn’t scare us; it should exhort us and motivate us. We have received boldness through Christ, and displaying fearlessness when battling against our opponents is one way to show the infinite value of Jesus and the Gospel of Jesus Christ in our lives. The Word says that we are in the world, but not of the world. We have been set apart. We have been separated from the world’s ways and consecrated for His glory. If we love the world and the things of the world…if we desire to be in communion with them just for the sake of communing with them, the love of the Father is not in us.

We have been called to minister to the world and preach the Gospel to all nations, but if it ever compromises our standards and our faith at any point in time, we are no longer effective. Furthermore, if we are not strong enough to minister to the world, it is best to build up our strength in Christ until we are able to effectively minister rather than compromise our faith or our salvation. No thing, person, or situation is ever worth compromising your standards, your faith, or your salvation. The Bible tells us that we have been set apart for His glory, and being set apart means that we are to be holy; we are not to blend in with the world under any circumstances. We are here to exalt Christ and advance the Gospel and the Kingdom of God. Period.

I want to break down the scripture passage that serves as the premise and basis of this blog post (1 John 2:15-17) before proceeding into the core of the post. The scripture passage reads again:

“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passes away, and the lust thereof: but he that does the will of God abides forever.” 1 John 2:15-17

I want to highlight a specific verse in this passage. Verse 16 says: For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. What is lust of the flesh? What is lust of the eyes? What is the pride of life? We are going to discuss this.

I was led by God to provide a personal example of each of these (versus being general and providing definitions in this post). Although I am uncomfortable with it, I am learning that it is so much more effective to be transparent when working for the Lord. I have done this throughout my blog, and also in my new book. It never gets any easier (sharing your past or present struggles, your heart, and your life); the only thing that makes it easy is knowing that our life is not our own, and that it is not for us or about us – it is for and about God.

Transparency within the Body of Christ is so necessary, and it helps to edify, encourage, and build when we understand that we all struggle with something and we are here to uplift each other up. We are strong together. It also helps to know that someone is or has been where you may currently be, and are either working through their struggle now or have already worked through it with God. Transparency, surrendering to God’s work, and being obedient to His will is how He is best able to work through us – as long as the focus remains on Him and He receives the glory. I committed to this task so that God can receive the glory, and so that you can have a better understanding of how detrimental the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life can be through real-life examples….so that you can use these examples and lessons to help guard against it in your own life. Although the scripture passage mentions lust of the flesh first, I will begin with lust of the eyes as it will allow me to tell a story. But first, let’s do some groundwork…

A lot of what has hindered many of us in the Body of Christ comes from the media and what we see and/or choose to watch on television. We are inviting sin and ungodliness into our ears and eyes; hearts and minds, expecting not to be influenced by it. This is irresponsible. The Bible clearly tells us that the eyes have led to much sin. For an example, look at the life and story of David. His affair with Bathsheba, and all of the sins he committed thereafter all began with his eyes. He desired Bathsheba when she should have been off-limits as a married woman.

Look at Eve in the Garden of Eden. The serpent beguiled Eve by convincing her that she shall not die if she ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Genesis 3:6 says: And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

Look at Matthew 5:28-30. In Matthew, there is clear, strong instruction about how even looking at someone with an ungodly and lustful intent is sin. Jesus even tells us to pluck out our eyes or cut off our hand if these members of our bodies offend us. Is this not serious? If we have not resisted sin to the shedding of blood, we have not done enough.

Many of what we are choosing to listen to and watch on television is not just entertainment. Whether we know it or not, everything we allow into our hearts, our minds, and our spirits are planting seeds there. And whether it is good or bad, it will grow. The Bible says that we reap everything that we sow. There are so many shows out here these days that are glorifying sin and ungodliness, and it is sickening. I can barely find a show on television without feeling convicted about something while watching. So I don’t watch it much. This world is so full of carnality, and they are using all means to infiltrate our minds – in every possible way that they can.

So watching a particular show on television may not be a sin to you, but hear me out: Is it contributing to your relationship and your growth in Christ? Is it honoring Him? Is it contributing to your holiness and sanctification? Anything that we do that does not stem from faith is sin. Yes. You heard me right. So if you have doubts about something, or if you know that what you are about to participate in is not honoring to God, you are sinning. And if you go into a situation thinking that you can handle it, most of the time you are deceiving yourself. These are my experiences that I hope you can learn something from.

Lust of the eyes: I thought I could handle it. I thought that after spending significant time away from my ex and building myself up in Christ, it would provide me with enough strength and resolve to say no to temptation when it arose. I missed him, and I enjoyed his company. But I loved God so much more and I didn’t want to disappoint Him. But ultimately, I trusted in my own strength instead of fleeing temptation. So on that particular night, my evening with him transpired like this: Meeting. Smiles. Laughs. Hugs. Workout at the gym. Liking what I see. Flirting. More hugs. Dinner. Back to his place. Scandal. (It was a Thursday: I can remember because the very popular show Scandal was on which always airs on Thursdays. I’ve since stopped watching Scandal: and this particular incident happened almost two years ago). Images from Scandal in my mind after the show. Movies. Talking. Dessert. Getting late…attempting to make an exit. He begged me to stay. I didn’t leave. More movies and talking. 2AM. More contemplating, but no action. Perfect setup for sin.

Lust of the flesh: Beginning with the lust of the eyes (as it did with David, Eve, and as it does the majority of the time) – seeing him again, having a great time with him, envisioning possibly having what we had before (minus the ungodliness), and allowing Scandal and my own desires to plant seeds into my mind – it led to lust of the flesh – of the body. It led to wrong desires of the heart. And both of our hearts were in the wrong place. The progression of the events that evening “built up an appetite to indulge in things that excite and inflame sensual pleasures.”

Pride of life: I had allowed my own pride, self-righteousness, and lack of discipline and self-control to put me in another position that resulted in me disobeying God. Pride can get us in a lot of trouble. The Bible says that pride comes before the fall. It will have your world spiraling out of control until you hit rock bottom. It is one of the most destructive of sins, although it is rarely talked about. This sin is one that I struggle with most (still, to this day) and God is always humbling me in this walk – and I am thankful for it. Anything to keep me close to Him. But I was so hurt after that particular incident. I failed God. I felt terrible. My feelings were involved again. I talked to my ex after that particular incident, and I told him that we can never do this again. Although my feelings were saying otherwise, things changed for good.

The Bible says to flee temptation….but are we really fleeing at all costs? Are we fleeing with what we watch, who we interact with, who we spend time with? Are we fleeing with the boundaries that we have in our relationships? Are we fleeing with our thoughts and what we choose to think and dwell on? Are we casting down vain imaginations and replacing them with the truth of God’s Word?

Our unhealthy thoughts can also hinder us if we stay in that place too long. This is why the Bible tells us to renew our minds and to think on things that are honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report (Philippians 4:8). This past week was tough for me. I decided to watch an episode of the very popular show Being Mary Jane last week – not really knowing what I was getting myself into. (I do not encourage you to watch the show.) The episode last week was so sexually charged, and images and events from the episode stayed in my mind long after the show – and had me thinking about and dwelling on things of my past. I knew right then that I could not watch it anymore. Married or unmarried, it isn’t glorifying….and especially unmarried. I also understood very quickly how hypocritical it would be of me to preach holiness and godliness while continuing to support a show like that (regardless of whether or not I knew initially that the show was going to be as it was.)

I cannot afford to take that risk. I am embarking on a new journey. I just published my first book this month. I am planning book tours and book signings. I am considering partnering with organizations that have a focus on biblical womanhood. I am loving people more as Christ loves, and I am seeking to make Him known. I am in a different season. And the enemy doesn’t like it. At all. With just that one seemingly small decision, the enemy attacked my thoughts and my walk this week – to the point where I felt as if I wasn’t fit for God’s work (but this is what the enemy does). I began feeling as if I should be further along in my walk…a place where the devil could no longer torment me, tempt me, or persecute me. But we are never devoid of temptation in this walk. Ever.

I am also right where God needs me to be, and He has already used this situation for my good and for His glory and to help someone else. And opposition and persecution, as stated before, will come for anyone who is truly living for Christ. I must say that I have come a long way as a woman of God, but our work is never done in Christ until we reach Heaven.

And yes, I am held to a higher standard because I know what is expected of me; and I know all of the things that God has brought me through to qualify me for His work. But as I was becoming self-righteous and thinking of all of the ways that I have progressed and succeeded, and why I felt certain things shouldn’t even be an issue for me anymore, He showed me then reminded me: “Your strength lies in me alone. Your writing is not your work. This blog is not your work. Your wisdom and knowledge is not your work. Your walk with me is not your work. Your love for me and your fire for me is not even your work. And this book is not your work. It is mine. All of it is mine. It is by grace. You are the vessel that I am using, and you are obedient to the call. And I will continue to use your strengths and your weaknesses to bring glory to my name.” Humbling. And so unbelievably comforting.

But…do you know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? The desires of the flesh are unprofitable. Spirit and flesh will always be at enmity. There is nothing holy about watching these popular shows on television, glorifying ungodliness, and devoting your time and attention to things that do not edify others or honor God. Call me a prude, call me too deep, but I want to live an honest life for the Lord. I want to prepare for building a legacy with my future husband and family that has God written all over it. Do any of these shows that you are watching portray how to live a godly lifestyle? Would I want my future daughters (or even my sons) watching these shows with me? Would I want my daughters portraying any of these characters on film or television? Would I desire for my daughters to aspire to be these women in real life? Would I want my sons to date any of them? Absolutely not! So why would I watch it? Just something to think about…

So what does it mean to be holy unto the Lord? In the most simplistic explanation you will probably ever read: Romans 12:1-2. 1 Peter 2:9-19. Uniqueness. Apartness. Otherness. Ordinary becoming extraordinary. Common becoming uncommon. Carnal becoming pure and righteous. All through the power of the Holy Spirit and the blood of Jesus Christ.

I know what I struggle with personally, so I guard against it. We have to know our struggles in order to guard against them. And even in those times where we may fail God, remain confident in knowing who you belong to. Guilt and condemnation is not of God. Repentance and a change of heart and mind is. People need to know that they don’t have to be perfect to come to Christ; that would alleviate His perfect sacrifice, and that will never be. Jesus’ death on the Cross was the perfect sacrifice for ours sins. He paid for each and every one of our sins and mistakes by shedding His blood on the Cross. You only need to believe in His sacrifice and come boldly to the throne of grace with a repentant heart.

We must be real with God. We must allow Him to see our real, true selves (He knows anyway!) so that He is able to effectively transform us. We must humble ourselves so that He can exalt us in due time. But we must be in a constant state of sanctification in Him and through Him. His Spirit must be working within us, and there must be evidence of it in our lives. For if we say that we love God but do not do what He commands, we are lying and the truth is not in us.

Conforming to the image of Christ is a huge part of the Christian life. If we are developing a heart like His, it is expected for us to hate what he hates and love what he loves. We will be exalted in due time by honoring God. So don’t ever let the enemy defeat you. Even if you stumble along the road, it doesn’t change your destiny. God is right there with you, and He is rooting you on – even in your times of weakness. The Bible says that he that endures until the end shall be saved. Not he that runs a good race or he that runs swiftly. So work out your salvation with fear and trembling. Exalt Christ until the end, but don’t be afraid to put those guards up! It is worth it.

I exhort you to build up your strength in Christ, put on the full armor of God daily (Ephesians 6:10-20), and stand strong in your faith and your convictions so that you can effectively preach the Gospel to the world and bring glory and honor to our Savior. You have to live the lifestyle – not just proclaim it. People are watching what we do more than what we say. Blessings to you in living out your love lifestyle! Love not the world; love Christ. God loves you, and so do I.

Stay connected with me and the blog at loveisalifestyle.org. You can subscribe to the blog by entering your email address on the home page (bottom right) to receive updates directly to your inbox. Blessings!

Soli Deo Gloria,

Porsche

Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, love, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 2 Timothy 2:22

I also need to say this one thing: Many have confused love and lust. I speak heavily about lust in my new book because I know dialogue about it is needed – and I also have an entire chapter entitled What Real Love Is in Happily Ever After that is devoted to exalting pure, perfect love, and serves to separate the two. The book is available on Amazon in Kindle format and Paperback, and is currently available for $12.79 for a limited time – original price $14.99. Consider purchasing it for yourself or a friend, sister, daughter, niece, cousin! 310 pages and 20 chapters of my heart and my life poured out for God alone. I love you. God Bless!

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