FATAL DISTRACTIONS – THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS
March 2, 1997
It has always been a dream of mine to host my own fishing show and this past Thursday for a couple of hours, my fantasy became a reality. Check out the video screen behind me.
“This is the Pastor Caster, Ed Young, doing some bass fishing. I have got my close friend with me, Dennis Brewer. There are some giant bass out here, huge trophy bass. As the viewers can see, we had some trouble getting to the lake. My truck is axle deep in mud and I am not sure how we will get out. But, let’s catch some fish. You know every time you fish, you have got to overcome some obstacles. You have got to live past them. For example, this little “No Trespassing” sign. “Area patrolled.” No big deal. “Violators will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.” I am not worried about that because we have our own church attorney with us, Dennis Brewer, Jr., of Brewer and Brewer. Isn’t that right, Dennis? No problem.
When you go fishing you must have the finest equipment that money can buy, like our beautiful bass boat. It is made of rugged Styrofoam and it will catch the big ones. I want to show you what I will be using to catch these big bass today because this lake is packed full of trophy bass. This has to be the number one big bass bait anywhere. It is called “the gig.” This gig is deadly. It has a skirt on it and this skirt attracts fish. But to even make it better we are going to put an Uncle Josh Pork Rind on the back to tantalize these huge bucket-mouths to strike. Just grab one and put the pork rind on the back of the hook.
All right, another one succumbs to the gig. Catch him and put him back. Bye, bye baby. [Ed singing] “You get a line and I’ll get a pole, babe, you get a line and I’ll get a pole and we will take you on down to the trophy bass hole, honey, baby mine.” Well we had a great day. This is the Pastor Castor saying, the next time you go out and want to catch a bunch of bass, even in February, after a cold front, just use the tantalizing gig. The bass cannot refuse it. Now back to our service.”
In this session we are talking about fishing. Specifically, we are going to discuss the lure of lust. Lust is a unique sin. In fact, of all the seven deadly sins, it has the most gender differences in it. For men it is rather obvious and overt. For women it is more subtle. Some of you, when you walked into this auditorium this morning and opened up the bulletin and saw that we were talking about lust, it felt like a knife went through your heart because there are things in your past or things that you are wrestling with today concerning this particular topic.
I think that I will have some great news for you from God’s word, the Bible. It talks a lot about the temptation of lust. Let’s face it, lust looms large in our world today. Lust is in. We use it to buy things, we sell things with it, we read about it, we endorse it. Lust is the lingering look at the newly hired secretary. It is devouring yet another romance novel. It is a group of guys hovering over the magazine rack thumbing through this month’s Playboy or the recent Sports Illustrated swim suit edition. It is surfing the internet for another computer generated image to download. It is conducting “business” at a local men’s club. The lure of lust.
Lust is fascinating because while it uses our sexuality, it does not satisfy us sexually. Did you check out the video and those bass we were catching? It seems to me like those bass shouldn’t have actually struck the lure. You would think that a bass would take a few steps back and say to themselves, “You know, every time I watch one of my bass buddies impulsively strike a lure, I never see them again. They are splashing and thrashing and they are gone. So, I am not going to impulsively rush and strike a lure because I want to be around.” You would think that that is what the bass would say. You would think that we would never catch bass. But you see, bass are not bright creatures. And I sometimes wonder if human beings are any brighter. You can catch a bass every day of the year using one lure. Human beings are caught every day of the year using one lure—the lure of lust.
I want to share with you how the evil one, Satan, tempts us with the lure of lust. You see, Satan is the ultimate caster and he uses a lure which resembles the lure that Dennis and I used to catch those bass. Can we put a picture of the actual lure onto the screen? See that lure. That is the same lure that Satan uses. That is called the gig. Let’s call that lure “the lure of lust” because it has a skirt on it and the hook is disguised right there. More trophy bass are caught from a gig than any other bait. And more humans are tempted with the lure of lust than any other bait.
The first thing that Satan does is he casts the lure. He is patient. He has been doing this for thousands and thousands of years. He is not in a hurry. He just casts. He has this incredible craft. He also looks before he casts at the spiritual depth finder in your life and mine. He sees when we are vulnerable or when we feel invincible and he knows just what attracts us. You see the sin is not in the lure. The sin in not in the bait. The sin is in the bite.
The second thing that Satan does is that he works the lure. He gives it a little splash, a little innuendo, a little look. He paints a little picture in your mind and in my mind. “What would it be like to be held by that person? What would it be like to have sex with that person?” Then we begin to follow the bait as Satan works it and sin begins to take over.
The third stage is the strike. When a bass takes a gig, he doesn’t realize that he is hooked. Those bass I caught just took the bait and swam off. And then I lowered my rod tip and whoom, I buried the hook in his jaw. Then he realized something was wrong. A lot of us take the lure of lust and we don’t think that anything is wrong. One day Satan just sets the hook and we are in trouble.
That brings us to the fourth stage, the fight. We splash and thrash, we ruin a marriage or two, we mess up our children’s lives. We throw a career aside just because of this simple basic lure of lust. And after Satan catches us, he doesn’t kiss us and throw us back. He does not practice catch and release like we did on the video. Satan takes us and he mounts us on the wall. You wouldn’t believe this trophy room. It has got doctors in there, housewives in there, singles in there, pastors in there, athletes in there, salespersons in there.
The lure of lust. How do we resist it? People succumb to this lure over and over and over again. What do we do about it? The forces are strong out there. We need to develop a plan. If we don’t have a plan, it is just a matter of time before we are on Satan’s wall. It is just a matter of time before Satan says, “See that right there? It took me a while, but I got him.”
I want to share with you some lust busters. There are five things that you can do today to keep you from the lure of lust.
Lust buster #1: Refrain from flirtatious comments and gestures. Ten years ago Lisa and I had dinner with a very attractive couple who were both very successful in the business world. The husband said something to us that I will never forget. He said, “One of the reasons we are so successful is because we flirt. It is no big deal for us. We just flirt.” While we were driving home, Lisa turned to me and said, “Honey, that marriage will not last very long.” And sure enough, four months later they both succumbed to the lure of lust.
I think about a man mentioned in Judges, the Biblical bodybuilder, that he-man with a she weakness, named Samson. Samson arguably had as much talent as anyone who walked on the planet, aside from Jesus Christ. Samson was tapped on the shoulder to be the leader, the point person, of Israel. What do you think are the first words ever recorded from Samson’s voice box? You would think it would be something like, “Let’s get together and really make a difference, Israelites.” Or do you think that he might have said, “Let’s discipline ourselves and commit to taking this country to the next zone. We can do it. This is our year.”
Judges 14:2 record his first words. This gives us a lot of insight into his personality. Here is what Samson said, “I saw a woman.” Now, that is deep, isn’t it. That is profound. What a great leader. “I saw a woman.” These four words were words that Samson could never get away from. God told Samson to associate only with Israelite women, with those women who had a personal relationship with the Lord. Yet Samson loved those ungodly Philistine women. He would hang out in the Philistine towns and he loved those lures of lust. You know the story. He had a hair cut in a Toni and Guy Salon by a beautiful stylist by the name of Delilah. After she cut his hair, he lost his strength, he lost his charisma, he lost his creativity, and sadly, he is a tragedy of what might have been. What happened to him? He could never shake the lure of lust.
“Well, Ed, I am just a flirtatious person. I am a huggy, feely kind of person. It is no big deal to me. I am not thinking about it. I just have a good personality. I am outgoing.” Yea, you might be. It might be innocent. But how about the other party? Have you ever stopped to realize how quickly your sexual drive can come alive? Have you ever thought about what can happen in an innocent, flirtatious conversation? It can lead to sexual intercourse just like that. And Satan, this ultimate spiritual angler, just sits back and laughs.
Lust buster #2: Look past the lure of lust to the consequences. James 1:15, “When lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin.” There is one thing I have noticed about temptation and especially about the sin of lust—Satan injects us with a spirit of forgetfulness. We forget God. We forget He is there. We forget the presence of the Holy Spirit. We just think about the lure. “When lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin. And when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.” James is not talking about physical death, he is talking about spiritual death, emotional death, and relational death. We have got to look past the lure to the consequences, to the paneled walls of Satan’s study and all those trophies caught by the lure of lust.
I think about Joseph mentioned in Genesis, Chapters 37-50. He was a handsome, articulate man. He was sold into Egyptian slavery. He found himself hundreds of miles away from his home. He had a poor example in his father. Joseph’s dad had four wives. Joseph was bought by a man named Potiphar. Potiphar was head of the Egyptian CIA. He so trusted Joseph that he put him in charge of his entire estate. Potiphar had his choice of all of the ladies in Egypt. He picked one who was not known for her good personality, if you know what I am talking about. She was the Tyra Banks of Egypt. We are talking about a Biblical babe. She was a provocative, seductive woman.
The Bible describes Joseph as being handsome in form and appearance. In other words, he was ripped. He was a face jock, he was a stud muffin. There is nothing wrong with being handsome or beautiful, but if you are, you are going to have more lures tossed your way. Mrs. Potiphar, she loved Joe. She didn’t just look at him, she lusted after him. The Bible says that this temptation went on and on and on. She wanted to lure Joseph into sex. And Joseph could have easily had sex with her. Egypt was a very worldly nation. It was the epicenter of art and literature, of wife swapping, of sensuality. He didn’t, though.
One day when it reached a fever pitched level, Mrs. Potiphar grabbed his coat and said, “Joseph, please lie with me.” The Bible says that Joseph started running and he left his coat. When you are running, when you are fleeing, you can’t succumb to the lure of lust. And I love what Joseph said. Genesis 39:9, “How could I do this great evil and sin against God?”
Every time sexual temptation is mentioned in the New Testament, God gives us one word, “run.” For many of you, you need to run from certain programs on television, certain sitcoms, certain specials. You need to run from certain movie channels. You need to run from certain novels and magazine articles and newspapers. You have got to run and look past the lure of lust.
I think about David. David allowed the lure of lust to ruin his kingdom. He couldn’t resist Bathsheba. I think about Solomon, the wisest man next to Christ who ever lived, the wealthiest man who ever lived. Solomon was brilliant yet he traded in his brilliance and his heart for God for cynicism and lust. He had hundreds of wives, hundreds. The lure of lust.
Lust buster #3: Monitor your media intake. Let’s get real. We are bombarded by hundreds and hundreds of sexually suggestive messages day in and day out. We can’t get away from it. We can’t put blinders on or cover our eyes. What do we do about it? The February 10, 1997, issue of U.S. News & World Report said this: “Last year Americans spent more than 8 billion dollars on hardcore videos, peep shows, live sex acts, adult cable programming, sexual devices, computer porn, and sex magazines, an amount much larger than Hollywood’s domestic box office receipts and larger than all the revenues generated by rock and country music recordings. Americans now spend more money at strip clubs than at Broadway, off Broadway, regional and non-profit theaters, at the opera, the ballet and jazz, and classical music performances combined.”
The article goes on to say, “Despite having some of the toughest restrictions on sexually explicit material of any western, industrialized nation, the United States is now, by far, the world’s leading producer of porn, churning out hard core videos at the astonishing rate of about 150 new titles a week.” We are right on line with Egypt.
I love what Job 31:1 says. Job says, “I made a covenant with my eyes.” He did not say he was making a covenant with his eyes. He said he made the covenant. He didn’t wait for the lure of lust and say that. Past tense. In other words, we are to put a filter over our minds. This filter should have Philippians 4:8 on it. “Whatsoever is true, humble, right, pure, lovely, let your mind dwell on these things.”
“But, Ed, this movie only has a couple of suggestive parts. Just a couple of scenes, a little bit of skin. It won’t affect me.” Hey, who are you trying to kid? One explicit scene in an R-rated movie can feed lust in your life and mine for weeks. Monitor your media intake. Go home and throw away some videos and some magazines and run from certain other things.
Lust buster #4: This is for those of us who are married—Maximize your sexual relationship in marriage. You see, God created sex. God simply said to keep a lovely thing lovely. He wants full sexual intimacy to be practiced in the context of a fully committed relationship called marriage. When you have full sexual intimacy practiced in a relationship when you don’t have the commitment of marriage, it leads to great vulnerability. Many of you know what I am talking about right now. The Bible is not muddy. It does not throw up a kind of smoke screen, it just talks about stuff very frankly and we need to talk about it too.
1 Corinthians 7:5, “Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time that you may devote yourself to prayer.” In other words, we are not to refuse our mate sexually unless both of us have agreed to pray and abstain from sex because of prayer. Now, I am sure the excuse will not be, “Honey, I have a headache, but honey, let’s pray.” “Stop depriving one another except by agreement for a time that you may devote yourself to prayer and come together again lest Satan tempt you because of your lack of self-control.”
Men, that text, again, is 1 Corinthians 7:5. More often than not, the wives are the ones who usually say no. It is fine to say no. Sometimes the husbands say no. But say no with an appointment. Say, “Not tonight, honey, but tomorrow morning.” We are to satisfy our mate sexually. We are to keep them so satisfied that, the Bible says, it takes away the flash and the dash and a lot of the action of the lure of lust.
Lisa and I have applied this verse to our marriage. Great things have resulted from it. The Bible says that the math of marriage is that one plus one equals one. We are to look for this oneness. We are to have a common faith in Jesus Christ, we are to have community together, then we are to express the act of marriage in sex.
Sex is so beautiful, it can be so worshipful when it is practiced by a husband and wife that words cannot describe it. It is not easy, though, in today’s culture, driving down busy boulevard, to have sex regularly. We have got to be intentional about it. We have got to schedule it in.
This is what I am talking about. How many of you have preschoolers? Would you please raise your hands. Let’s observe a moment of silence because it might be the last moment of silence that these people will hear for a long, long time. If you have preschoolers, especially more than one, by definition, your life is out of control. It is out of control, man. Diapers, dishes, bottles, blankets, tapes, trips to the bathroom, more trips to the bathroom. Remember old Adam and Eve when they sinned. God said that because they sinned they will taste death, toil by the sweat of their brow, and then He gave them the ultimate curse. He gave them two little preschool boys, Cain and Abel. Now, I am just joking. I love children. But in the context of a vital, sexual relationship, you have got to work. You have got to schedule it. It can be done. We will be talking more about this at our Intimacy in Marriage retreat coming up in April. What are you doing, though, husbands, wives, to satisfy your mates regularly in the sexual area.
Lust buster #5: This is the most important step, especially for the men, that you can apply today. Establish accountability in your life. Write down Proverbs 27:17. You have got to have someone in your life that you know very well who loves you for who you are, someone you can share your temptations with. It can’t be someone who frequents topless clubs or who gives you a bunch of off-color lines or talks about this sexual conquest or that sexual conquest. Run from those people. It has got to be someone who knows Christ personally, someone you can share with. This can be the single most healing step that you can take today, men.
A lot of men carry sexual secrets around with them. Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” The lure of lust is not going to go away. It doesn’t go away when you get married. It doesn’t go away when you become a pastor. It doesn’t go away when you become a Bible teacher. It doesn’t go away when you have children. It doesn’t go away. It is relentless. He is the master caster. Over and over and over and over again he casts.
Have you ever said this? “Man, I wish temptation would just go.” It would be gone, no temptation any more. Wouldn’t that be great? Would it? James 1:12 would argue this point. It would argue that temptation is good for us. “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial.” Every time I am tempted by the lure of lust, I can either fall for the seduction or strengthen my faith by saying no. I can either fall into destruction or I can see myself developing spiritually as I walk on by. Temptation is good.
Maybe some of you have never made a commitment to give your sexuality to God. Maybe some husbands and wives, maybe some singles have never made that basic commitment. Maybe you have said like St. Augustine prayed one day, “Lord, take lust away from my life, but not yet.” You might have said that you want to be almost pure sexually. It is kind of like saying, “I want to go into battle and I don’t want to get shot up too much.”
Maybe today you have to say, “I have made a commitment in my mind and my heart to do sex Your way.” Have you ever made that commitment? Maybe you are a teenager, a single adult, someone who has been married for a long, long time. That is where it starts. He will give you the power and the energy and the strength to walk on by, to resist the lure of lust. Read the gospels. Jesus showed a lot of compassion for people involved in sexual sin: the woman at the well, the woman caught in adultery, Mary Magdalene who many people think was a prostitute. Jesus said, “I give you My grace, I give you My forgiveness, I give you My new life. Go and sin no more.” I don’t care what you have been involved in or who you have been involved with or where you are right now in this domain of lust. Today, Jesus wants to say to you to go and sin no more. Confess your sins, come clean, go and sin no more.
Did you see that beautiful lake on the video? That was something else. And, no, I will not tell you where it is. I can’t. There are some bass in that lake, the owner tells me, that probably exceed 15 pounds. Now if you are a fisherman, you just gasped. Fifteen pounds is a lunker. That is a hulk. That is a monster bass. Wow. I am going to tell you that the biggest bass in that lake will never get caught. It is not going to happen. They will not get caught. They have watched a lot of lures go by, they have seen a lot of bait in the water. When they see it, they recognize it for what it is and they just go the opposite way. That is the word to you and to me. God wants us to become trophy Christians and the only way we are going to do it is to walk on by and resist the lure of lust.