Question #103

How does lust affect us and the church?

How does lust affect us and the church?

The Answer:

Many answers could be given to this question. Because man can lust after many things lust finds many ways of expression. Perhaps James gave the best answer: “13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God; for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempteth no man: 14 but each man is tempted, when he is drawn away by his own lust, and enticed. 15 Then the lust, when it hath conceived, beareth sin: and the sin, when it is full-grown, bringeth forth death.” James 1:13-15. Lust is the seed that give birth to sin. John reminds us that there are three avenues through which lust attacks: “15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the vain glory of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” 1 John 2:15-16. There is always a struggle to be drawn away by our own desires or lust rather than to walk according to the things of the Spirit. When that lust conceives, the offspring is always sin. When sin is full grown, it brings forth death. See, Romans 6:23.

Jesus warned us about the same thing: “But the things which proceed out of the mouth come forth out of the heart; and they defile the man. 19 For out of the heart come forth evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, railings: 20 these are the things which defile the man. . . .” Matthew 15:18-20.

The wise man wrote: “23 Keep thy heart with all diligence; For out of it are the issues of life. 24 Put away from thee a wayward mouth, And perverse lips put far from thee. 25 Let thine eyes look right on, And let thine eyelids look straight before thee. 26 Make level the path of thy feet, And let all thy ways be established. 27 Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: Remove thy foot from evil. Proverbs 4:23-27.

The church is comprised of “living stones.” 1 Peter 2:5. Thus lust affects the church in the same manner that it affects its members. Where a congregation has in its leadership elders and preachers who seek the praise of men rather than of God, that congregation is most likely going to change its practices in a manner designed to attract men on a worldly basis rather than on the basis of the gospel. An individual who sews after his lust reaps spiritual death; a congregation that sews after worldly lusts has its candlestick removed. Revelation 2:5.

God's Plan of Salvation

You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)

You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)

You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)

You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)

Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)