On Sunday we looked at the first of our “deadly sins”, the sin of lust. But before we got there we set up some ground rules. That first, this whole series will be preached from a posture of grace not guilt. God convicts this is true, but God doesn’t send guilt and shame. Conviction says, “I did something bad”. Guilt and shame say, “I am bad”. And that’s a huge difference. Conviction is about change; guilt and shame are about hurt and pain. So that’s ground rule #1.
Ground rule #2 was that this is about personal introspection. So that means sending my sermon online to your mother-in-law to help with her “anger” is not the point. It’s about us looking within, not around for who else needs to hear it.
And lastly, ground rule #3 was that this was about being safe and transformed. That’s the perspective that this is a safe place to talk, and experience God’s transformation. If we can’t acknowledge what we’re struggling with – how will we ever see God’s healing?
Michael Mangis writes:
Every sin confessed is an invitation for God to work miracles though his grace. If I truly grasped this truth, I would stop obsessively working to round up all my sin marbles and keep them under control. Instead, I would go out in search of marbles that are lost or forgotten in the corners of my heart. I might actually become bored with the areas of my life that are tidy and presentable. I would search out new places in me that haven’t seen the full light of God’s transformation. I might even think, It has been a while since God performed a miracle in me. Let me find a forgotten pocket of sin somewhere where I can set God’s power free to turn water into wine and blindness into sight.
And I think that’s true and why we are doing this series. We want to see miracles in people’s lives.
So with that we moved to discussing lust. Lust is such a difficult topic to discuss. The reason for this is because this sin is most deeply tied to our identity and image being made in male and female. So it has the tendency to also be tied most deeply to guilt, shame, and feelings of being unworthy. So we took a look at Jesus’ teaching on it in Matthew 5.
Jesus, in Matthew 5, is really being clear, that yes lust is wrong, but temptation is not. Jesus is not talking about having a fleeting thought, or something pop into your mind that you try to push away. Jesus says that lust is like adultery, when it settles in your heart, when you engage it, and enter into it. His point is that this needs to go.
He even advocates extreme action to rid yourself of lust. He says, “If your eye causes you to lust gouge it out and throw it away”. Now he’s not being literal here because I bet you could lust with your eyes closed if you wanted to. The point is that lust is so damaging it’s worth taking deep action to get rid of it.
That’s where we focused the majority of our time. On how to find transformation from this area. And we began by reminding those who struggle with this something that they probably don’t tell themselves: God is about forgiveness, there is grace, and God is not ashamed of you. This sin more than maybe any other isolates, and creates spirals of shame. This is why we need to talk about it, so God’s transformation can change it. And it is the good and grace of God that leads to change. So we started there by centering ourselves in God’s grace.
We lastly gave two simple practical tips. The first was to make a covenant with your eyes. Jesus says, “Do not look”, realizing that what we see and focus on settles in our hearts. And while Jesus is specifically talking about lust and sex, the Greek word more basically translated means desire. So this means for any wrong desire for power, money, position, whatever – we are not to look and focus on it. Job writes that he made a covenant with his eyes in chapter 31:1. And I think that’s a good place to start. Going to God, praying, and covenanting asking for his help for us to focus on what’s good, pure, and loving.
And with that I think we need to change our gaze. We don’t get rid of lust by focusing on lust. We get rid of lust by focusing on love and putting it into practice. Loving God, loving others, loving even ourselves. The point is that if we want to get rid of lust we need to change our focus to seeking creative ways to love those closest to us. We need to change our focus and put God in the centre. This is how we find transformation.
And that’s where we ended – looking at something that is donea part of our world, but that hopefully isn’t a part of our hearts.
Big Idea: Lust breaks relationship, love fills relationships
- Ground Rules #1: Posture of Grace not Guilt
- God convicts, God doesn’t guilt
- Ground Rules #2: Personal Introspection
- Sin leads to unhealthy lives
- Ground Rules #3: Safe and Transformational
- Rather than rooting out our sins, we try to keep them under control. Micahel Mangis
- Sin died at Easter
- Every sin confessed is an invitation for God to work miracles though his grace. Micahel Mangis
- Seven Deadly sins are the root, or chief sins that cause the most damage and hurt.
- Temptation is not a sin
- Lust is self-centered, and misplaced desire.
- difference between lust and love is the difference between selfish desire and other-centered desire
- The gains of lust are trivial compared with the loss it brings.” Bonhoeffer
- God forgives you and there is grace.
- Covenant with your eyes (Job 31:1)
- Overcoming sin isn’t about trying harder, but getting closer to Jesus
- Commit to love, and changing our focus
Adult / Group Discussion Questions: What stuck out to you from the sermon? What was challenging to you? How did God speak to you through it? What was new?
Did you have any fear or worry looking at the “seven deadly sins”? How come, or why not? How important is it – to keep those ground rules in our minds when talking about these things? What are some of the dangers of approaching sin from judgement and shame? What might it be like to be freed from sin? Do you think that’s worth chasing after? How come? What did you take away from the lust teaching? How might this help you, or help others?
Discussion Questions / Actions for Young Families: Today talk to your kids about lust. This is a big deal for parents, especially as kids grow older. So why not just open up a conversation with them. If they are older they probably have questions, and it’s a good time to talk them through it. Also maybe now is a good time to explain the difference between temptation and sin.
Challenge for this Week: Focus on Doing Loving Actions