September 30 – October 01, 2006
You know what’s so cool about our minds? When I heard that song just now, I remembered back to what I was doing and what I was wearing when I heard that song for the first time. And you’re the same way. You hear certain songs and you can travel back in time without planes, trains, or automobiles. Boom! We’re right there. Our imagination is really incredible. It’s off the chain!
Just last night Lisa said, “Ed, in your life, what are some of the most favorite things you’ve ever done, ever experienced?”
One of the things I shared with her was one time when I was in the Florida Keys fly-fishing for giant tarpon. The water was crystal clear and I stripped this fly by this tarpon and he just ate the fly right away. And it was easy for me to remember that. Without paying any money to travel to the Florida Keys, I just went there in my mind as I described to my wife what was happening.
If you haven’t heard, we’re building this incredible camp in East Texas. It’s called “Camp Fellowship.” I’ve had this dream with other leaders here at Fellowship for a long, long time. We imagined, “What would it be like to have a camp for kids, for the inner city kids, for some of our students, for leaders? Wouldn’t that just be phenomenal?”
It was just in our imagination. We thought about it, and now it’s coming to pass.
Our imagination is a God-given gift. Have you ever thanked God just for your imagination, for the ability to be able to travel somewhere just like that? We could travel somewhere like the Florida Keys. And then, boom! Now we’re back at Fellowship Church. It can happen just that quick. Our imagination is powerful.
I surprise myself with my imagination, because I can think God-honoring thoughts. I can imagine God-honoring things. Also, I can imagine God-dishonoring things. I can imagine good stuff and bad stuff, heavenly stuff and evil stuff.
When our imagination, though, is connected to our sexuality, something powerful takes place. Jesus talked about it in Matthew 5. He had an interesting audience. Some of the people who were listening to him were like the paragons of purity. They were like Mr. and Mrs. Morality. And Jesus said in Matthew 5:27 (NKJV), “You have heard it said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’”
And Jesus said, now before you start patting yourself on the back; before you start giving yourself a high five, check this out.” And click, the bar was raised.
Look at verse 28: “But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
Ouch! We can go to bed mentally with someone and commit adultery. That’s what Jesus said.
Then, verse 29: “If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.”
I guess that means we can all lust about twice!
What was Jesus talking about here, though? He was talking about the cosmic ramifications of seeing a person as a product. He was talking about the cosmic ramifications of turning a human into a hound. He was talking about what happens when we take sex out of context, when we take big sex, which is God-given and God-ordained, and reduce it and minimalize it to small sex. Because, after all, our culture tells us we’re just animals.
Genesis 2:25 (NIV) says something interesting. It talks about nakedness: “The man and his wife (that’s Adam and Eve) were both naked, and they felt no shame.”
Nakedness is a gift from God. Have you ever thought about that? It’s a gift from God. Animals can’t get naked. My Doberman does not go, Oh, turn your head! Let me put my gym shorts on!”
No. He’s a dog, an animal. But our culture says we’re a bunch of animals. So, if we’re animals, we should have animalistic sex and we should just sleep in our dog beds because that’s what sex is. It’s just an exchange of bodily fluids. It’s just sex, you know. We’re not humans. We’re just genitals. That’s all we are.
That’s what the world says. And the world tells us, “If you have sex that way, it’s going to be incredible. I mean, the thrills and chills and the adrenaline rush…the sexual hit…the sexual “ah”…wow! It’s something else.”
God, though, says sex is for the marriage bed. God just put a fence around the marriage bed. Why? To control us? No! It’s to free us up. We will never discover the mystery and the beauty and the depth of sex until we do it God’s way. It’s not going to happen. It will not occur in your life or mine until we say, “Okay, God, I’m going to do sex your way. I understand that you saved me from sin, but also, you saved me for pleasure. And, part of this pleasure is the fact that I’m made in your image. I’m uniquely masculine or feminine, and I should use my sexuality, leverage my sexuality the way you want me to leverage it, which is in the marital bed.”
Nakedness assumes intimacy and trust. We’re to get naked in the marriage bed. It’s not just a physical thing. It’s a spiritual thing and emotion thing and psychological thing. And when a husband and wife make love, they’re reflecting the nature and the character of God. So God thought up sex. It was his idea. It was given to us before sin ever entered the human equation. What happens, though? Again I’ll ask you. What happens when we marry our imagination with our sexuality? What happens? Well, every time God has a gift, the evil one has a counterfeit, right?
Let’s talk about lust. Some of you are going, “Whoa! This is going to be a positive message.” What is lust? Lust is when a God-given desire goes haywire. I did an entire teaching on that one word several years ago about lust. When I get involved in lust, I see someone as an object. I see someone just for my gratification, for my sexual buzz or my sexual high. And after I’ve stripped them, after the sexual hit, they become just another body to be discarded. Then the cycle goes on, and I lust for another person.
But you see, it’s not really a person. It’s not really a holistic individual when I’m lusting, because I’m taking sex out of context. I’m robbing them and robbing myself. I’m stripping them and stripping myself. And it always leads ultimately to pain. You’re going to get torched—so am I—when we use a God-given gift in a God-forbidden way. Lust—it’s a God-given desire that’s gone haywire.
Many here—many of you—as this message continues, your pulse rate is increasing because you struggle with this. You’re caught in the vortex of lust, of pornography maybe. Pornography is a $58 billion industry. Just in America, porn brings in more than the NFL, NBA, and major league baseball combined. We’re ambushed by porn and with lust. And our culture says, you know, it’s all about the dog bed. It says we’re animals. We’re not humans. And the moment we begin to lust, we minimalize sex. We reduce someone to a piece, or we say, “I want some of that!”
When a person becomes a “that,” they have become a product and that’s when we marry hell with earth. Pornography and lust is an assault on Genesis chapter 1, because Genesis chapter 1 has one goal. What did God say? He wants us to be fully human, fully alive, hitting on all cylinders. He didn’t just save us from sin. He saved us for pleasure, for his purpose, for greatness.
If I think big sex, which is God’s sex, I’m going to feel big sex, which is God’s sex. Then I’ll act out big sex, which is God’s sex. It’s all about one man, one woman having sexual intercourse within the marriage bed.
On the other hand, if I think like an animal, I’m going to feel like an animal and I’m going to act like an animal. And a lot of people—even who hear my voice right now—a lot of you guys, a lot of you girls think this is the answer—little sex. You’ve reduced it. You’ve minimalized it. You’ve moved from big sex to small sex. You’ve moved from being fully human to fully animal. You rob people of their sexuality. You don’t think about the person you’re lusting after.
But this person is someone’s daughter. This person is someone’s son. This person is someone’s friend. This person is someone that Jesus shed his blood for. This person is facing a Christ-less eternity.
Yet, it’s so self-centered, isn’t it? It’s just about you because you can surf, you can change the channels, you can rent the video, you can go to the gentleman’s club—I mean kennel club. And you’re stripping the person and yourself of their humanity. It’s not God’s way. This is not God’s way, using people as products. It’s lust.
Some of you are recreational lusters. Lust will kind of hit you now and then and upset the apple cart of your walk with the Lord. You might see a scene in a movie that feeds a little bit of lust. Then you confess it, turn from it, and get cleaned up. You say, “You know, it’s not that big of a problem for me. I’ve got other issues in my life. I’ve got other bags and baggage to mess with, you know? This doesn’t really mess with me.”
Others here, though, would be occupational lusters. You’ve rented some movies that you would not want shown on the side screens. You go places. You’ve had conversations. You’ve read novels, magazines, whatever, that you don’t really want people to know about and you have sort of a secret lust life, a secret thought life. You dabble in porn, dabble in immorality, dabble with the dog bed. And you’re on the verge, maybe the edge and the ledge, of falling into the dog bed. You’re kind of walking around it.
Then, there’s another group here. You would be considered the obsessional luster. There’s a whole secret side to you that no one knows about. You’re spending tens of thousands of dollars maybe on pornography and lust and prostitutes and massage parlors. The list is limitless. And no one knows! And you’re saying to yourself, “Man, if someone knew what I was involved in and with and what I was doing, they would just dog me out!”
And you find yourself arranging your life, orbiting your life around the dog bed. You’re an animal. You have these urges, these desires, and you say to yourself time and time again, “I need this. Sex is the most important need that I have. I’ve got to have it.”
Well you think it’s you. I would say it’s the enemy. And then, after the sexual hit, after the sexual buzz, you feel guilt and shame and remorse. Then it builds back again and then you go for it again. And in reality, what you’re doing is you’re eating dog food. You have your head buried in the bowl and you’re eating dog food.
A lot of people are feeding on dog food. The world tells you, “You’re a dog! Feed on it! Lust here…lust there…lust everywhere! You’re an animal! Sex is all about the dog bed. That’s what it is.”
And you’re leashed to lust. You’re leashed to it, and you’re just dragging around lust wherever you go. You’re married, but you climb into the dog bed and you say, “Oh honey, yeah, let’s have sex.”
If we could see a lot of our lives, it’d look like that. It’s not going to work that way. It’s not going to happen.
What type of luster are you? Recreational? Occupational? Obsessional? What kind are you?
Steve Hirsch, CEO of Vivid Entertainment is the guy that probably drives more pornography than anybody in the world. He said this: (quote) “Not only does hard-core porn not shock people today, but I think they want more—harder and harder and harder and harder.”
It’s a chilling statement against the backdrop of Ephesians 4:19: “Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.”
It’s dog food. Are you a dog?! Are you buying that bunk?! After the sexual revolution of the sixties, are we better off? What we do is we lust. I’m talking to women as well. And we eat dog food and we think, “Yummm, this is good. Wow! This is really good.”
Then we move over to the dog bed. We leash ourselves up to it, have sex in the dog bed, lie to ourselves and say, “Ah, this is really it, man. This is incredible; this is awesome!”
Then, after we have sex, physically, mentally, and many other ways, you know what we do? We throw up. We just vomit. We vomit and we feel like vomit—shame and guilt and remorse and emptiness and anger.
Proverbs 26:11 says, “As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his folly.”
So, the way we think determines the way we feel; the way we feel determines the way we act. If I’m thinking right, I’m going to act right. If I’m thinking wrong, I’m going to act wrong. I’m going to miss the purpose of life, the purpose of my sexuality, the purpose of what it means to be fully human—a man or a woman.
I’ve talked to numbers of people over the years who’ve been leashed up to lust. And basically, they tell me several things about it. The first thing they’ll tell me is they feel unworthy. They feel like a bad person. They think, “I don’t matter. I’m really not a good person. I’m just a bad person.”
But that’s a lie. That’s a lie from the enemy, because here’s what Scripture says about you.
I Peter 1:18-19: “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.”
How much is an object worth? Well, it’s worth what someone will pay for it. What are you worth? The precious blood of Jesus.
Some say, “Well, I’m just unloved. I’m unloved. I’m totally unloved. No one loves me. If they knew what I was involved in; if they knew the websites I was frequenting; if they knew the clubs I was attending; if they knew the conversations; if they knew the beds I was sleeping in, they wouldn’t love me. I’m really not loved.”
Well, that’s not true either. Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Something else people have told me about being caught in lust is that they’re unfulfilled.
And because of that, because of being unworthy, unloved, and unfulfilled, the fourth thing they say is, “You know, sex is the biggest need in my life. It’s all about sex!”
Philippians 4:19 says,
“And my God will meet all of your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”
Exchange the truth for a lie. Just call the enemy what he is—a liar!
“Well,” you might be saying, “Ed, that’s it! Nice message on lust. I’ll see ya later.”
No no no. That’s not it. There is hope for every luster here. It’s something that every single person deals with and struggles with. I don’t care how old you are. I don’t care if you’re a boy or a girl. We all deal with it.
Is there hope? Well, yes there’s hope. Because during this series, we’ve been saying around here that it’s time that we put the bed back in church and the church back in bed. That is the issue. That is what it’s all about. You cannot have victory over lust alone. This is not going to happen in your life or mine, or in any other life alone. That’s why we have the church. We’re just as sick as our secrets.
And many of you right now are thinking, “If people knew what I did, what I struggle with, what my secret life was all about, they would reject me. They would diss me. They would ostracize me.”
But that’s a lie! It’s time for some men and women to put the church back in the bed, to come clean, to walk into a Christian counselor’s office and to say, “Here’s the truth about my life…”
It’s time for you to talk to a trusted friend, a mature believer and say, “Here is the truth about my life…”
Maybe it’s time to join a small group and say, “Here is the truth about my life…”
It’s also time to stop eating dog food. Stop eating it! You’ll vomit it back up and eat the vomit, eat the food, vomit, eat the vomit, eat the food.
Instead, feed on the Word of God. Feed on the Word of God corporately. Feed on the Word of God privately.
If you have your Bibles, turn to the book of Proverbs. Proverbs 6:23. It reads, “For these commands are a lamp, this teaching is a light, and the corrections of discipline are the way of life, keeping you from the immoral woman (or man), from the smooth tongue of the wayward wife. Do not lust in your heart after her beauty or let her captivate you with her eyes, for the prostitute reduces you to a loaf of bread, and the adulteress preys upon your very life.”
I don’t care if you’re committing cyber adultery, literal adultery, mental adultery; it’s time to get out of that bed and into the right bed. It’s time to spit out the dog food and feed on God’s food, corporately and daily. It’s time to share with a friend—accountability, responsibility, encouragement—that you will receive when you begin this exciting process.
Think about the person whenever you begin to have those lustful thoughts. Think about the person whenever you begin to imagine things. Think about that person’s life. Think about their value. Think about how much they’re loved. Think about their family. Think about them holistically—Matthew 22, holistically. Because we should relate to God and love God holistically and also love our neighbor holistically.
When we lust, we’re a far cry from doing anything and being anything holistically. But I’m telling you, friends, there is hope for you. That’s why we have the church. That’s why we have the Word. That’s why we have one another. Go through the New Testament and see how many times the phrase “one another” is used. It’s there over and over again. Why? Christianity is not a solo sport.
But for the luster, it’s all about being secretive. It’s all about being by yourself. It’s all about fantasy and masturbation. It’s all about immorality. It’s all about the small bed as opposed to the big bed. We can’t do it alone. And many of you are one prayer away, one relationship away, one appointment away from victory.
- S. Lewis, in his book The Great Divorce, talks about a ghostly figure that had a red lizard on his shoulder. And this red lizard was the lizard of lust. 24/7, this lizard would whisper seductive and sensual thoughts into this figure’s ear. This figure wanted to get rid of the lizard. He wanted to kill the lizard, but he really kind of liked the lust. It was his pet.
One day, he decided to kill it. An angel appeared to him and this figure said to the angel, “Take the lizard and break its back.”
The angel took the lizard and broke its back. The ghostly image instantly became a strong and muscular gentleman, and the red lizard changed into a beautiful white stallion. The man, with tears of joy streaming down his face, jumped on the back of the stallion and rode off into the heavenlies.
What’s the point? When we kill the lizard of lust, it’s not the end of desire, but the beginning of pure desire. It’s the beginning. God wants to kill the lizard of lust. He doesn’t want us to be leashed up to lust. He doesn’t want us to live like animals. He wants us to be fully human. It’s time that we allow him to free us up and to lead us to his big bed.