August 17, 2003
Are you familiar with a bug zapper? You know, those contraptions that draw bugs? You turn them on in the evenings and those mosquitoes and other insects will fly right toward the blue light and get zapped. Over and over again, you hear that zapping noise. I’ve always been intrigued by bug zappers and I’ve often wondered this: It seems like some of the more brighter bugs, the more intelligent bugs, would take a step back and go, “Wow, when my friends fly toward the blue light, they never come back. Maybe I should assess the situation and not fly toward the blue light.” But bugs keep flying toward the light and they keep getting zapped. Bugs aren’t that bright. They are not that intelligent.
When it comes to today’s subject matter, it doesn’t seem like we are that intelligent either, because so many of us get zapped by the blue light of lust. While I was preparing for this message series several months ago, I was doing some reading in a local café and I happened to look out of this big window. I saw a young man walking across the parking lot. It was an eerie sight because I recognized this guy. He was a guy I had prayed with. I had talked to him about his sexual integrity. He was a guy that had gotten leveled by lust. He lost his wife, his kids, much of his career and even the zeal for his faith.
I thought, “Wow, that’s a guy who has been zapped by lust.”
As predictable as it is for bugs to fly into a blue light, it’s just as predictable for us to fly into the face of lust. The title of this talk is BUG EYES. Did you see that in your worship guide? Pretty funny title, BUG EYES. We have bug eyes for lust.
A while back, I was doing some fishing and a horsefly was biting me. I whacked the horsefly and he went to be with the Lord. As he was laying there on the boat deck, I picked him up. It’s kind of gross. I looked really close at this horsefly. Have you ever looked at a horsefly up close? The eyes on those things are gargantuan! They are humongous!
Today I want to expose the four step process of every lustful situation. In fact, you can put every kind of sexual temptation in this grid and you will know where you are and what the temptation is about. Last time, I ended last session by saying, “Ignorance, when it comes to lust, will mess you up.” So many of us are ignorant about lust, and that will kill us. We are ignorant about when we are vulnerable and where we are weak. We are ignorant about the triggers of lust. Let’s expose this whole process, this predictable flight pattern, if you will, concerning lust.
Now, every one of these steps will end in the word “eyes.” I did this, not for cuteness, but for comprehension. The goal, after all, is for us to learn and understand the whole thing about lust. So let’s talk about these four steps.
The first step in any lustful situation that I want to talk about is the step called “tantal-eyes.” It always begins with tantal-eyes. It always begins with our eyes. Things attract us. Things tantalize us. Things tempt us. It’s not a sin to be tantalized. It’s not a sin to be tempted. We have to know the difference between temptation and sin. Just because you are tempted does not mean you are going to sin.
Check out what the half-brother of Jesus said regarding this temptation or regarding this first stage called tantal-eyes: “When tempted,” not ‘If,’ not, ‘You might be,’ but when. I mean, it’s going to happen. “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone.”
I’ll say it once again — the sin is not in the temptation. The sin is not in the attraction. The sin occurs when the attraction segues into an illicit sexual action that’s mental, emotional or physical. Lust occurs when a God-given desire goes haywire. Well, you might be asking, “Ed, why in the world would James start talking about God? Why in the world would James start talking about when you are tempted and then, all of a sudden, change gears to what people should think about where God is in the whole temptation process. You know, ‘God cannot be tempted.’ Blah, blah, blah. Why did James go there?”
Well, James wanted to show us that God is not tethered to the temptation process, whatsoever. He’s not a part of it. He’s not connected to it.
Well, again, why did he say that? James, inspired by the Holy Spirit, knew that all of us have this bent to blame. We all have this victim mentality, don’t we? When we are tempted and we face the tantalize stage, we say, “Well, you know, who could resist? I mean, did you see what she was wearing? I could not help myself.” Or, “I had to walk into that club or that establishment.” Or “I had to have that conversation.” We play the victim. That’s the first stage, tantal-eyes. James is saying that God is not connected to the temptation process. So I guess the question that begs to be answered is, “Who is behind it?” The answer is Satan. That’s what the Bible says. I believe there is a dark sinister force that is wreaking havoc in our world today.
Some people ask, “Well, Ed, come on, do you believe that Satan is behind this stuff?”
Yes, I do. How do you explain, for example, that forty million adults in our country regularly visit Internet porn sights? How do you explain the fact that the annual revenue from the porn industry is larger than the revenues of professional football, basketball and baseball combined? How do you explain the fact that child pornography generates three billion dollars a year and that there are over 100,000 websites offering illegal child porn on the Internet? I mean, how do you explain that? How do you explain five billion spent at sex clubs annually or eleven billion spent on prostitutes? How do you explain the fact that nearly half of marriages end in divorce and many from the devastation of an adulterous affair? How do you explain that? [Sarcastically] Is it low SAT scores? A damaged chromosome here or there? Did your mom paint your nursery the wrong color? I mean, how do you explain all of that?
Once again, there is a dark, sinister, evil force out there who is behind this process. Every lustful situation, every form of sexual temptation always begins with this stage, the temptation stage, or the tantal-eyes stage. Something just gets our attention, something piques our interest — tantal-eyes.
The second step is the “plagiar-eyes” stage. What happens when you plagiarize something? You take something that is not yours, and you tweak it, put your spin on it, and you basically lie about it. That’s what the Evil One does. He takes sex, something that is awesome, something that is a gift from God, something that is beautiful, and he tweaks it. He tempts us to use something awesome in a bad way, something godly in an ungodly way. That’s what he does.
How many of you are starting school next week? If you are starting school next week, raise your hand. How many of you started school already, raise your hand? Okay, cool. School is part of life, isn’t it? When you start school, you know you are going to have to study. You know you are going to have to take tests. Man, I hated taking tests. I hate tests. But what is the goal of taking a test? To pass the test. Am I going too fast, students? You’ve got to pass that test. It’s good to pass the test, but it’s bad to cheat to pass the test. When you cheat, you’re achieving a good goal, you are passing the test, in a wrong way, in an ungodly way.
That is precisely what Satan does with sex. He says, “Here’s a good thing. I’m going to put my evil and sinister spin on it and I want you to use it in an ungodly way.” Premarital sex, adultery, homosexuality, pornography – all are forms of “Plagiar-eyes”. He draws us in and he tantalizes us. He paints an illicit picture in our minds. The illicit picture is not bad. It’s what we do with the picture. We either supply the Evil One with the stuff or we don’t. If we keep supplying him with the tools, the products, the paints, the brushes, the canvas and all of that, he will paint this illicit picture. Then, he will begin to plagiarize. He will begin to lie to you and me.
He’ll say, “Hey, man, just look at the picture. Don’t press the delete button. Don’t erase it. Just look. You’re not hurting anybody. You are just undressing her in your mind. I mean, come on. It’s just a romance novel. It’s no big deal. It’s just a bachelorette party. It’s not going to mess you up. It’s just one scene in a movie… really. It’s not going to mess your family up. I mean, come on. You deserve it. No one will know. Come on, just look at it. Think of what would it be like to be held by that person or to be caressed by that person. Just think about it.”
The Bible calls the Evil One the “father of lies”. He gives us a steady stream of lies and, right now, many of you are facing the plagiary-eyes stage … right now. You are believing lies.
And, as you believe the lies, you will move down to the third stage — the “custom-eyes” stage. We love things that are customized, don’t we? We have customized lattes, custom homes, custom clothes, even custom shoes. Everything is custom these days. We love custom stuff.
We say, “I want it customized, man.”
Temptation … lust is customized. Yes, there is sameness to it. It follows a predictable flight pattern, but it is also customized. The Evil One knows our strengths and our weaknesses. He has been watching you and me. He’s been studying humanity for thousands of years. This guy knows what he is doing.
Let’s pick up in James 1:14, “Each one.” You talk about customized! “Each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire…” Now, all desires are not evil. All desires are given to us from God. It’s when we use a God-given desire in an ungodly way that we sin. [The verse continues] “Each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.”
“Dragged away” and “enticed” are two terms that are fishermen’s terms. “Drag away and entice” means to lure a fish from cover. If you are a good fisherman, you are going to know the fish. You will know the right season, the right time, the right tide and movement of the currents, and the right location of the fish you are going after. And, you are going to be patient. You are going to cast and cast as you tantalize the fish with the lure. As the fish swims up to the lure, the hook is disguised. Then, maybe, one day the big fish hits the lure. The fish thinks everything is cool. He says, “This tastes pretty good. A little bit of plastic, but it’s alright.” And the fish swims away thinking, “Boy, this is a great meal.” All of a sudden, he feels the steel, the stick of the hook. He begins to fight and jumps in the air.
So often, when we get hooked by lust, we begin to fight and we hurt innocent bystanders — spouses, children, friends, and careers. Then Satan reels us in. But, Satan does not practice catch and release. He mounts every person he catches. His trophy room is pretty scary. “Custom-eyes” — think about it. There is a strategy right now that the Evil One has for your life and mine to mess us up with lust. That’s how intentional he is. It’s kind of funny, the Evil One uses our sexuality; yet, he never satisfies us sexually, because lust always says, “More, more, more.”
I’ve never met a person who said, “Ed, you know what, lust is great, man! I’ve taken a swan dive into the cesspool of lust and it’s great. It has helped me! It’s really good for me.” I’ve never met that person.
The reason we need to know this strategy of the Evil One is because, quite simply, God wants the best for us. He wants us to experience greatness and fullness, and we can when we know what the Evil One is all about. Custom-eyes. Dragged away and enticed. Dragged away – that denotes kind of being separate. When I am being tempted, when I feel the tantal-eyes stage, when I feel the plagiar-eyes stage, and when I feel the custom-eyes stage, do you know how I feel? I feel alone. Do you feel that way, too? I feel totally alone, like, “Where’s God? God, where are you, man? I’m being tempted, but where are you?” Satan injects us with forgetfulness. We forget the grace of God and the power of God, because we are in stage three. Then, we move to stage four.
Stage four is really tough because that is the “vandal-eyes” stage. When you lust with your eyes, you are going to be really embarrassed. I can just tell you. Speaking about being embarrassed, I want you to watch something right quick on the side screens.
[A video of the man in the parking lot getting hit by exit bar while looking at a woman is played on the side screens]
A couple of days ago, I was in Starbucks and I won’t tell you which one because that person might be here in this service. But I was sitting there at about 7:30 in the morning, and I was doing some studying. I watched this guy walking across the parking lot. There were only a few cars in the parking lot. This guy is, you know, just walking along. All of a sudden, I saw him stop. He did like this. [Ed imitates the man’s “double-take” look] Then he kept walking. I thought, “What is this guy doing?” I looked across the parking lot and noticed a girl getting into a car. Then, he walked about twenty more feet and a woman came out of Starbucks. I watched the guy do this, again. [Ed imitates the man’s “double-take” again”] Then he walked into Starbucks. I thought, “Man, if I had a video camera and showed the footage to this guy, he would say, ’I’m an idiot. Look at me!’” Talk about bug eyes for lust!
Lust – it promises all this stuff. It promises such a payoff, but it always ends with pain, guilt, and shame. Maybe right now you feel like you are shackled in shame. Maybe you are saying, “Ed, I have been zapped by the light of lust. I have messed up.” I don’t care where you are or how much you’ve messed up, God loves you. And if you reach out to him, he will empower you to live a life of purity. But, I’m going to tell you something… Satan wants to vandalize your life.
Let me read on a little bit. James 1:15 says, “After desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full grown, gives birth to death.” The first sin ever committed was a sin of lust. Go back, for a second, to the book of Genesis. Adam and Eve had it going on. They had the total package — perfection. The antithesis of lust is what? Contentment. But, they were not content with their contents. God said, “Everything is yours except for some fruit on the tree in the middle of the garden.” You know the story. The Evil One came in and did the same deal — tantalized, plagiarized, customized and vandalized; and, they began to lust after that piece of fruit.
They thought, “Oh, it looks so good! It’s something that I can’t have. It’s something that God is keeping from me.”
The Evil One says that God is holding back from you. “He’s keeping this from you. If you taste this or do that, then you are going to feel like a real man or a real woman.”
Adam and Eve ate the fruit, and I’m sure the fruit was incredible. Sin is fun. If it wasn’t fun, we wouldn’t want to do it. Sin has its kicks, but the kickbacks are horrendous. The wild thing about them is they might not occur a year, two years, or even a decade or two from now. But I’m telling you that you will get vandalized. You’ll get kicked and God wants to save us from that. Don’t you see how much God loves you and me? He says, “Do sex my way — in the confines, guidelines, and guardrails of marriage.” He wants to save us from sexually transmitted diseases. He wants to save us from the guilt and the shame that so many of us live with. He wants to save us from blowing up our families and our lives and from missing the best that he has for us.
Every man and woman I know that God has used in a great way walks in purity. I didn’t say perfection, but they walk in purity. People ask me all the time, “Ed, what’s it like to pastor Fellowship Church? Did you plan this?” The answer is no. I have to pinch myself. We had no idea that Fellowship Church would turn out like this. It’s just been by the grace and mercy of God. One of the reasons, though, that I believe that God has blessed me with the opportunity to lead (and Lisa and I have been talking about this) is because Lisa and I have walked in purity for a long time. I’m not telling you that we are perfect, or that we have angel’s wings on or anything like that. But, I am telling you that you are seeing, right here, evidence of the blessings of God. I want you to be blessed by God. That is why I am sharing this material with you — because God wants to bless your life in an unbelievable way. If you could see the blessings that God has for you, you wouldn’t believe it.
That’s why Jesus said this in John 10:10: “The thief (that’s Satan) comes only to,” what? “To steal and kill and destroy.”
Well, let’s put that is relation to today’s subject matter. The thief comes only to steal sexually, kill sexually and destroy sexually. Jesus said, “I’ve come that you might know life, have life, experience life, and have it to the full.”
Do you remember, last time, when I told you about that woman that I saw in a restaurant who had a figure that would embarrass Pamela Anderson Lee? Do you remember that? When she walked past me, I said that I looked at her like that [Ed snaps to show the instantaneous look that he gave her] and I kept on walking. Well, at that time, when I saw that woman, I was attracted to her because of the way she looked. I love God as much as I have ever loved God. I love my wife as much as I have ever loved her. But, I noticed her. The “tantal-eyes” was there. But, at that point, I pressed the delete button and I kept on walking. I don’t know why that woman was dressed that way. I really don’t. I don’t know where she was coming from. I’m not sure if she was insecure or had poor self-esteem. I’m not sure if she was trying to get the attention of guys because she never got it growing up. I don’t know. But, I do know where the Evil One comes from when he cooperates with people who dress that way.
Next weekend, I am going to talk specifically about some of those issues. I’m going to talk to parents about what you are thinking, many of you, when you allow your kids to dress they way they do? What is going through your mind? Some of you here, when you get dressed, when you look in the mirror, I wonder, “Where do your faith and fashion intersect and then go their separate ways?” The way we dress should honor the Lord. I would love to preach that message right now, but I can’t. Just stay with me.
The Evil One wants to vandalize your life and mine. He wants to take us down this flight pattern, lure us, and move us into this light of lust. So, hopefully, you’ve seen this process from scripture. You have seen the whole tantalize thing, and now you own the fact about how Satan plagiarizes, customizes, and vandalizes.
Well, now let’s talk about some “take home” stuff. There are two quick things I want to talk to you about. Here’s what we can do today to begin to walk in purity. Number one — “mobil-eyes”. Some of us have heat seeking missiles in our eyes. We are just looking for the next voluptuous babe, the next hard body, and we just lock on. We are going to see people who are attractive. We are going to be drawn to certain people. That’s part of life. Our eyes should be mobile, though. We should not linger on a person. We can look. We can go, “Wow.” But, we should not linger. The lingering leads to lust. It segues from that attraction into the illicit action.
We need to do what Job did in Job 31:1. Check him out: “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a girl.” Maybe the women here could say, “I made a covenant with my eyes. I’m making a covenant now, God, with my eyes, not to look lustfully at a guy.”
STARVE WHAT YOU WANT TO KILL
We need to starve, friends, what we want to kill and feed what we want to build. Do you really want to walk in purity? I mean, do you really want the best? If you don’t, then just drown me out. But if you do, starve it. Starve what you want to kill. Make the choice. Feed what you want to build. Maybe you’re saying, “Man, how do I do that?”
Let’s just talk for a second. Take, for instance, television. Why do you have the movie channels?
Some argue, “Well, man, there are some good movies on there, you know?”
I know. But, you are going to expose yourself not only to good movies, but also to the garbage that is on there. That can feed lust for months and years and lead you down this path? I’m not telling you to do this, but if you are serious about starving what you want to kill, why don’t you cancel the movie channels? If you want to rent a movie, go to Blockbuster and rent one, specifically. For that matter, why even have cable television? I’m just asking. Now, don’t leave here and say, “Ed told me to throw away my television. I can’t believe it!” No, I’m not saying that. That’s between you and God. I’m not you. You’re not me. Why even watch television that much? On the weekends, I’m emotionally spent. I’m vulnerable. Physically, I feel good. Spiritually I feel great. But emotionally, I’m down. So, I have made a covenant with my eyes. I don’t channel surf on Saturday nights or Sunday evenings, because I know my vulnerabilities. I know what is out there. So, I don’t pick up the remote.
What about the Internet. Do you purchase software to block all the stuff that is on there? How about relationships that squeeze those trigger points to move you into lustful situations? Job said, “I made a covenant with my eyes.” We need to “mobil-eyes”.
One more — we need to “real-eyes” this whole process.
THE ESCAPE PLAN
Let me give you some cool things right here. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation (none) has seized you (put your name in there — Ed, Lisa, Bill, Kathy, Gary, whatever) except what is common to man. And God is faithful (even when we are faithless, isn’t that incredible?); He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted (when, so you know it’s going to happen), he will provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”
Every time you’ve got this process happening, God always accompanies it with a way of escape. I thank God for that.
We can never say, “That was too strong. The bull was too great. I just could not say no.”
That is a bunch of bunk. There is always, the Bible says, a way of escape.
In Psalm 139:15, the Bible says that God knows our frame.
How many people here own a truck? I have a truck. If you own a truck, lift your hand. Don’t be shy. We are not going to video you or anything. When you talk about trucks, there is the half-ton truck, three quarter-ton truck. When you say that, you’re talking about the amount of weight the frame of the truck can handle. God says that he knows our frame. He knows what we can bear. He will never put too much temptation on our frame. Isn’t that great? He never will. If we are half-ton, or three quarter-ton, or whatever, he is going to put just enough on us and he will always provide a way of escape. He will give you the power. I don’t care what you have been involved in or where you are in this process, he will give you the strength.
Let’s keep going. James 1:12 reads, “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” So, we need to “real-eyes” that there is a way to escape. Also, we have got to “real-eyes” that every time we come through a time of temptation, we will strengthen and build up our faith. Every single time. That’s the kind of stuff that God will build in our lives. The more he builds the stuff, the more we will discover the greatness he has in store for us.
So, today I just want to leave you with a little question. Are you flying toward the blue light of lust or are you flying toward the light of the Lord?