LEAVING LUST VEGAS
Leaving for Good
November 2, 2007
[A toilet is center stage.]
I want to welcome our campuses today in Miami, Dallas, Fort Worth, also Plano and here in Grapevine. And then our television audience. This will be seen all over the world, so give everybody a shout out. You might be wondering right now why we have a toilet center stage. That’s a pretty good question. It’s a toilet and it’s right here, front and center. That reminds me of a story.
Lisa and I got invited to this beautiful resort by a friend of ours and we hung out there for several hours. We were lying out in the sun and the beautiful people were at this resort with the yachts. It was the jet set club. And I had these sunglasses on, these wraparound black sunglasses. No one could see my eyes.
Well, this friend wanted Lisa and I to meet some of her friends so she called for a lady who was walking way down the beach. And this lady turned and began to walk toward us. And guys, this girl was a show stopper! I’m talking about unbelievable. She would embarrass any Victoria’s Secret model. She had on a bikini, and I have seen more cotton in an aspirin bottle than the bathing suit she had on. Anyway.
You might be going, “Ed, what were you thinking? What was going through your mind when you saw this woman approaching?” Because again, Lisa couldn’t see my eyes. This girl couldn’t see my eyes. It was the perfect setup, because I’m a normal guy, a normal red blooded guy like all of you. And we’re regular people. So I was thinking to myself, “Wow! Unbelievable!” I didn’t articulate those words, but I was thinking guys, I’m pretty smart I was thinking those words.
What do you do when you have a scenario like that? Because do you simply appreciate the beauty? Or do you go to a place called Lust Vegas? When we go to Lust Vegas and live in that place, Lust Vegas has a way of living in us.
I’m in a series called Leaving Lust Vegas. Lust Vegas is a destination, it is a very poplar one that many people travel to regularly. As you look around the horizon of our culture, pornography—and pornography and lust are interchangeable—pornography is a multibillion dollar industry.
$11 billion a year is spent on prostitution. $5 billion a year is spent on the kennel clubs—I mean topless clubs—I’m sorry, gentlemen’s club. $3 billion a year on child pornography.
Why is this so? A damaged chromosome? Low SAT scores? We don’t have enough education? What’s the deal? The deal is we have this southward, downward gravitational pull called sin.
Now, I wanted to say something right up front. When I talk about lust, I’m not talking about just desire. Desire is not lust, nor lust is desire. Desire and desires have been given to us by God himself. We have the desire, for example, to eat. We have the desire to drink. We have the desire to relate. My desire to eat occurs because I get hungry. My desire to drink occurs because I get thirsty. My desire to connect with someone happens when I get lonely. So a desire and desires are God-given. The way we steward our desire determines our destiny, and our destiny determines our desire.
So a desire is God-given. The desire for sex, that’s God given. We should thank God for sex. God gave us sex before sin ever entered into the human equation. Lust happens when this desire goes haywire. Lust happens when an attraction segues into an elicit sexual action that’s mental, emotional or physical. We’re talking about lust when a desire is downgraded into depravity, when we see someone as an object with parts for our sexual gratification.
That was the temptation that I faced when I saw the lady at the resort. What do I do? What do you do? I mean, you might be asking yourself this question about this whole situation. Where was this girl coming from by the way she was dressed? I don’t know. Was she insecure? Probably. Was she trying to impress others? Probably. I don’t know if she knew where she was coming from, but I knew where the enemy was coming from and I was able to realize what was happening in this scenario. What do you do?
Lust is everywhere. It used to be that we couldn’t find lust. We had to go looking for lust. Now, lust will search us down. We have to develop a strategy, an offensive strategy and a defensive strategy, when it comes to lust.
If you have your Bibles you might want to turn to the Genesis 1, because the book of Genesis talks a lot about who we are. So many people, I would argue, are living life in total confusion. They’re living their sexual lives in total confusion. Well, God clears the confusion up as we read his word in Genesis 1:26 (MSG).
It says “God spoke: ‘Let Us make human beings in Our image, make them reflecting Our nature so they can be responsible for the fish in the sea, the birds in the air, the cattle and, yes, Earth itself, and every animal that moves on the face of Earth.'”
Us, that’s the Trinity, the holy Trinity. That’s who God is. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. We’re made in God’s image. We’re Trinitarians. We have a mind, a soul, and a body. That’s why when it comes to sex, it’s a Trinitarian thing. It’s a mind thing. It’s a body thing. And a soulish thing. We cannot park certain aspects of the Trinity outside the bedroom or outside of the room where we’re searching internet pornography or outside of the back seat of a car while we’re engaged in elicit sexual behavior that’s mental, emotional or physical.
This text tells me something phenomenal, too, in Genesis 1. It tells me that I’m not an animal. That’s a shock, I know, for a lot of people. Our world says, “You’re just an educated animal. You’re just a dog in heat, a salmon in spawn, a deer in rut. That’s what we are, we’re just animals.”
No, we’re not just animals. We’re made in the image of God. We’re different than the animals. We’re fully physical and fully spiritual. That’s who we are. And that’s whose we are. We’re God’s.
Now this might really rock you, but you’re body is not your body. My body is not my body. Your body is God’s. My body is God’s. And if you’re married, we go to a holy notha’ level. If you’re married, the Scriptures say your body is your spouse’s body.
So let’s go back to the sands of the resort. Lisa and I were talking to this woman. I had the dark sunglasses on. My body, my eyes, my mind is God’s; and also it’s Lisa’s. So what right do I have to take God’s body, Lisa’s body, and to look at someone as an object with parts?
Because when we lust what are we doing? We’re turning a human being into an animal. We’re stripping them of their humanity and turning them into an animal, while we strip ourselves of our humanity and we turn into an animal just for our sexual hit. So again, we’re not animals. We’re human beings.
How many here went to camp while growing up? Everybody? Most of us went to camp. I went to a camp that was pretty tough, because in this camp, if you didn’t keep your cabin clean, the camp director would make you drink toilet water. How cold blooded was that? And we used to freak out at the prospect of drinking toilet water. Humans aren’t made for toilet water. The only things that drink out of toilets are well, watch this.
[A video is played on the side screens of one of Ed’s dogs drinking out of the toilet.]
That’s one of my Dobermans. Now, we have trained him not to drink out of the toilet. You saw it in his eyes, that disobedience. But I kept him in our bathroom long enough to where he could not resist the toilet water. And he drank the toilet water. In fact, he just gulped up that commode water. He loved it. He’s just a dog, though.
We’re not dogs; we’re humans. Why do we act like dogs? “I just can’t help myself. I just can’t control it.”
What?! You’re a child of God. You’re made in the image of God. You’re fully physical and you’re fully spiritual. Our desires are God-given. The way we handle desires determines our destiny. God can give us the strength to handle desire, to steward desire, to leverage lust for greatness.
You know at Fellowship Church we want to talk about the truth, the raw and the real; we don’t want to put a veneer on it; we don’t want to give you smoke and mirrors; we don’t want to say “Let’s just talk about the good stuff, the good stuff and the good stuff.” Because to get to the good stuff you have to talk about the bad stuff. We have to talk about what the Bible says regarding lust and sexual sin, because a lot of us are drinking toilet water. I know this sounds crazy and it’s very graphic. A lot of us, and we don’t even know it, are drinking toilet water.
[Ed dips a glass into the toilet and fills it with toilet water.]
The enemy is handing out toilet water to our young people, to so many in our culture and we’re drinking it by the gallons.
Now, toilet water will quench your thirst. It will. But say for example, I will go for a long run, 6 or 7 miles, and there’s no water in sight. If I dip into our toilet and drink the toilet water, it’s going to quench my thirst. Here’s what happens, though.
If I keep doing it, I’m going to get sick. And if I don’t take care of the sickness, I could eventually die. Yet large blocks of us are drinking toilet water of lust, of porn, of elicit sexual activity that’s mental, emotional or physical. And we think everything is cool, because our sexual thirst has been quenched for a season. But we always say more and more and more.
Jesus had a conversation with a prostitute in John 4 and here is what Jesus said to her. He started talking about water. Isn’t that interesting? John 4:13-14 (MSG). “Jesus said, ‘Everyone who drinks this water will get thirsty again and again. Anyone who drinks the water I give will never thirst—not ever. The water I give will be an artesian spring within, gushing fountains of endless life.’”
Lust is not out there; lust is in here. Lust emerges inside of your life and mine. Well yes, our culture has lust and elicit sexual activity. But our culture is simply an outward reflection of the inward condition of our heart.
Jesus tells me if I drink from his source, if I drink living water, I can have these artesian springs, this well coming from the inside out. I can have my thirst totally and completely quenched when I do desire his way.
But if I do desire my way, the way of the enemy, I’m going to live in a place called Lust Vegas. And not only will I live in Lust Vegas, Lust Vegas will live in me.
Let’s go back to that situation at the resort. Because lust always follows a very predictable path, doesn’t it? And the enemy has a plan and he works the plan.
The first stage of lust, and we need to understand this so we can develop an offensive and defensive strategy; the first phase of lust is the tantalize phase. It is the, “Wow, unbelievable!” You say that in your mind, to yourself. That’s natural. We’re made to appreciate beautiful things. That’s just the way it is. You should be going, “Wow, I’m happy, Ed, that you appreciate beauty of the opposite sex.” Because if I stood there when that girl came up and I was like, “Who cares?” you should worry about your pastor.
You’re going to see someone who is attractive. Great. It’s not the first look that gets you into trouble; it is the second and third and the fourth. Now one time I made that statement and a young guy walked up to me and said, “Ed, I have it figured out now. I can look at her and just lock in that first look!”
No, it is that first look. It is fine to say, “Wow, unbelievable.” That’s cool to say that.
Here is what the book of the James says about this attraction phase, this tantalize stage. James 1:13 (MSG), “Don’t let anyone under pressure to give in to evil say, ‘God’s trying to trip me up.’ God is impervious to evil and puts evil in no one’s way.”
Tantalize. We’re all going to be tempted. We need to appreciate beauty. That man, that woman, they’re attractive. Unbelievable. It should stop there. If it stops there, it’s not a sin.
It becomes sin, the desire is downgraded into lust, when we move into the second stage. What’s the second stage? It’s the plagiarize stage. The enemy has this plan and he works the plan. The plagiarize stage is when he steals something and tries to make it his own. That’s what happens when you plagiarize.
Every time God has a gift, the enemy has a counter gift, a counterfeit. God says, “One man, one woman in marriage.” Sexual intercourse should be practiced in the marriage bed. That’s what God says categorically, unequivocally. There’s no arguing about it. That’s it. One man, one woman in marriage, you have sex.
The evil one comes along and says, “God’s holding out on you. Have a little toilet water. Have a little premarital sex. Commit a little adultery, a little homosexuality.”
That’s what he does. Plagiarize. He takes a God given desire and he encourages us to go haywire with it. He whispers lies to us like, “Hey Ed, you’re a pastor, dude. You’ve been faithful to Lisa for 26 years. You’re at this resort and no one knows who you are. Live a little. Just look at the beautiful girl. Undress her with your eyes. It is just in your mind. Nothing will happen. You won’t do anything immoral. I’m telling you, just do it.”
Doesn’t he begin to lie to us like that, those little lies? “Just log onto this website. It is just an accidental thing. It is no big deal. Just do it. What would it be like to be held by him? He really understands you.” He might say to a young lady or to someone who is married, “He will really give you security. He really can connect with you unlike this other guy.”
Then we begin to believe these lies. I guess that’s it. Then we do what Lot did back in Genesis. Lot, the Bible said, moved toward the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.
That’s what I have to ask you. What are you moving toward? Because when we’re tempted by lust and the temptation is not the sin – the Bible says when you’re tempted. In other words, it’s going to happen. We either take the enemy by the hand and allow him to take us to the toilet and we gulp down commode water. Or we say, “Let go of my hand. I’m going to take the hand of Jesus, the nail pierced hand and I’m going to allow him to take me to a place of grace, a place where I can leverage lust and leverage my desire to determine his amazing destiny.” We have a choice in the issue.
Well, James keeps on going here in James 1:14. James talks about plagiarize. “The temptation to give into evil comes from us and only us….”
But what do we want to do? We want to blame. [the verse continues} “We have no one to blame but the leering, seducing flare-up of our own lust.”
We just listen to the devil’s toilet talk, that potty mouth, don’t we? We have no one to blame. Man, we love to blame in our culture, don’t we? Are we into blame or what? Blaming boomers and generation excusers. So much of modern psychology and secular therapy is all about blame.
“It is my parents. It is this situation. It is my coach. My diapers were on too tight. My nursery was painted the wrong color.”
Blame. It is just a sexy way to do what Adam did back in the Garden. Because when God confronted Adam about his sin, what did he say? “She did it. It’s her fault.”
We have this bent to blame and it comes from this evolutionary mindset that says, “We’re just animals. We’re just dogs. We just drink out of the toilet. That is what we do. So have some fresh toilet water.”
Tantalize. Plagiarize. And there’s just one more in this path. It is simple. It is just three steps. Vandalize.
Jesus said, “Here is the devil’s strategy: To kill, to steal and to destroy. It is very simple.” John 10:10. Kill, steal, and destroy. Kill, steal, and destroy. To kill us, to destroy us, to take us out. How does this happen?
Well, he steals from us sexually because our sexuality is who we are, it is a deep thing. It is an all encompassing thing. He steals that from us through this God given desire that has gone haywire. He kills marriages and kills humans and kills relationships and kills children. He steals, he kills and then he destroys. And it does not take someone with a Harvard MBA to realize the destruction that is taking place in our culture, in our world today because of sexual sin.
Once we get a handle on our desire, that is when God will take us to places we never dreamed imaginable. So it is time to say, “You know what? I am not going to be taken to the toilet through tantalize, through being plagiarized and I’m not going to be vandalized anymore. I am going to go the way that God wants me to go.”
And in James 1:15 (MSG), it says, “Lust gets pregnant, and has a baby: sin! Sin grows up to adulthood, and becomes a real killer.”
That’s the sin cycle, the cycle of death. We start off with lust just accidentally, then it becomes a recreational thing. We kind of get intentional about it. Then from there, it becomes obsession.
It is like a young lady that I talked to several hours ago who attended one of these services who is very successful. Her marriage has been devastated and dominated by lust and pornography. She said, “You know what? It transcends everything in our lives.”
There is no sin like sexual sin. It is all encompassing. It takes control. It is a Trinitarian thing. A mind, soul and body thing. In reality, it is our search for oneness.
The Trinity, the holy Trinity is about oneness; 3 in 1, 1 in 3. A man and woman joined together in marriage. You have one in sexual activity in the marriage bed. People who are drinking large, tall glasses of toilet water are in search of oneness. This might sound odd to you, but it is the closest thing to God that many of them will ever get to oneness.
Come on, are you drinking toilet water? Are you going to tell me through the trashy romance novels, through these sitcoms, through these comedians who laugh at lust and porn and deviant sexual activity, you’re going to tell me you’re drinking toilet water? Man, you’re going to tell me that you are robbing God and robbing your body that is your spouse’s body by drinking toilet water? Some of you are sick and don’t even know it. Some of you are near death in your marriage and your family and your career and you don’t even know it. It’s time to close the lid, to dump the water out and to do it God’s way.
Well Ed, what is God’s way? I will tell you what God’s way is. It’s to make a covenant with your eyes and with your mind.
Job 31:1, “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a girl.” The Bible calls the eyes the windows of our soul. So when I talk about lust I can’t say it’s about you. You can’t say it’s about me. When I talk about lust it’s about us. I though, because of God, because of his power, can make a covenant with my eyes and my mind.
What did I do with the beautiful girl? I made a covenant with my eyes. I took my sunglasses off. I wanted Lisa to see my eyes. I wanted this young lady to see my eyes. I looked at her in the eyes. Obviously, I saw that she was beautiful. I felt the tug, the pull toward the toilet. But I thought to myself, “You know what, my body is God’s. My body is Lisa’s. I’m not going down this path. Yes, it could quench my thirst for that sexual hit, but I will become sick. And eventually destruction is in the cards.”
And I have to ask you, have you made a covenant with your eyes and your mind? Because those who are obsessed with lust started out recreationally and accidentally, and then you’re hooked into it. So those who are obsessed with it, and we have many now who are addicted to it, it’s not like it just happened. No, we have made the choice to go there.
But I have to ask you, how’s it working for you? How is lust working for you emotionally, ladies? How is it working for you, physically or mentally, guys? How is it working for you? It is really satisfying you? Is it really giving you that real quench, that real satisfaction? It always says “More and more and more toilet water and more toilet water.”
We have to mobilize our eyes and our brains, because sex is between the ears before it’s between the legs. It is mental before it’s in a genital.
We also have to realize something; we have to realize that we are made in God’s image and that we’re not animals. We have to realize this. We have to realize where lust leads. Lust is all about laziness.
Think about pornography. If I get into porn I don’t have to work on a relationship called marriage. I can just close the door, hop online and see all of this elicit stuff. It is lazy. Also it will lead to loneliness. It always leads to isolation.
So what do we do? We have to be intentional. We have to get up and commit to purity. We have to drag lust into the light, because when lust is drug into the light it loses most of its luster. Instead of isolation we have to move to community within the church. Because the church is the only entity that has living water on tap. We have to be in accountability. We have to talk about these things, because if we keep secrets as someone told me just a couple days ago about lust, our secrets will keep us.
And the enemy says, “You’re the only one that struggles with this. You’re the only lady. If people knew what you dealt with, if people knew where you went and website’s you frequented and what relationship you’re thinking about are involved in, they wouldn’t believe it.”
That’s a lie from the pit of hell. Call Satan a liar. Drag it out into the light. Move toward community. Drink the living water.
Next time, I’m going to talk to those of us who are married about the role that we play in lust. I’m going to talk to singles, as I always do. We can’t forget the singles. Half of our church happens to be single adults. But I am going to talk directly to those of us who are married and I want you to prepare for what I’m going to talk to you about next Sunday.
Because next Sunday the title of my talk—this is highly controversial but it’s very biblical – the title of my talk is Seven Days of Sex. If you’re married, I’m going to challenge you—I can’t make you, but I’m going to challenge you to have sex with your spouse for seven straight days beginning next Sunday.
Now, for Lisa and I— it’s just a normal week. You know I’m kidding. But we’re going to talk about that. But don’t jump to conclusions before you hear what I’m going to talk about that. So singles, make sure that you’re here as well, because it is going to be a very, very interesting talk as we talk about seven days of sex.
You know, everybody is whining about the economy and about the world. Let’s move from whining to whoopee. That’s what we’re going to do next time.
But you know what, God has given me the ability to leverage lust and leverage desire for greatness. I don’t bat a thousand every time. Don’t sit there and think, “Ed is the ultimate. He’s perfect.”
No, we’re all fellow strugglers. But I’m telling you, if God can give me the strength, which he has done and which he is doing and which he will do, he can do it for anybody here. Because in that situation and that could have easily gone to lust I had an opportunity to go to Lust Vegas. But because of this place of grace that God let me to; because of the covenant I’ve made with my eyes and my brain; because I realize what’s at stake, I had victory over that and you can have victory, too.
That’s what’s so awesome about it. No matter what you’ve done, no matter where you are, you can have victory, too. And that’s the hope and the confidence that we have of walking in purity. Because as we walk in purity, God will bless us like we have never experienced before. It’s a choice. I have to say this: it’s up to you and me. We either drink toilet water, we’re either animals, dogs in heat. Or we drink the living water of Jesus. We realize who we are and whose we are. We realize that we’re the sons and daughters of the living Lord. And that is some awesome news.