What Is the Difference Between Lusting and the Temptation to Lust?

A Daily Little Lesson

Read the transcript of this video below.

What is the difference between lusting and the temptation to lust? Where do you draw the line?

Picture of eyes - representative of man looking with lust

We’re finding ourselves kind of just moseying through Matthew, Chapter Five, the first part of Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount, and we’re in that section of Matthew Chapter Five, where Jesus talks about adultery and lusting.

He’s simply opening up what was always there, and anyone who would think about it for very long could easily see that the prohibition against adultery is also a prohibition against anything that would lead to adultery. The example that I used in our previous Little Lesson bears repetition.

When God said, “Don’t commit adultery,” He obviously didn’t mean it was okay to do everything right up until the point of adultery. Right? Right. If we take that backwards through all the things that would ultimately lead to intercourse, and I don’t want to be any more graphic than that, all the way back, it always starts with lust. Jesus says, “When you lust, it’s the plan is concocted in your mind. You’re thinking about how you can commit the act. You’re already dreaming about it, and that’s what ultimately would lead to adultery, so I want my people, my disciples to be free of that.”

When people say, “Well, that’s a higher standard than under the Old Covenant, that shows they haven’t read the Old Covenant very closely. I cited a verse from Job, Chapter 21 in Verse One where it was very clear that Job, living in the Old Testament, maybe even before the law of Moses, knew it was wrong to gaze, that’s the word that he used, that is look with lust at a virgin.

Of course, it’s not wrong to look at a younger woman and admire her natural beauty. God made women beautiful and attractive in the eyes of the opposite sex. Welcome to the birds and the bees 101 here. How could that be possibly wrong?

That’s one of the ways that God tricks people into getting married because He wants you to become like Jesus, and He knows that once He joins together with somebody and you can’t get out of it, that that’s a real great environment for spiritual growth, love, sacrifice, and forgiveness. When the honeymoon’s over, then the honey do list starts.

Okay, so enough said on that subject. Now, I promised in our previous lesson that I would prove beyond any shadow of a doubt that lust was forbidden under the Old Covenant. Actually, I think I have proven that already in this Little Lesson because just of the logic behind what I’ve just said.

When God said, “Do not commit adultery,” a thinking person would realize that includes everything that might lead up to the actual physical act, technical act of intercourse. Right? Right. But nevertheless, I’m going to go one step further, and all of this of course is to probe the error of the idea that somehow in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus was raising the standard to a new ethnic that had never existed before, and now there’s a higher standard that’s set by God. I’m going to prove to you, in every case, all six cases when Jesus said, “You have heard it said, but I say nothing different than what was presented under the Old Covenant.” If you’re honest, you’ll see it, okay?

Here we go. This is a pretty familiar verse from Exodus, Chapter 20, and if you’re a Bible student you know that’s where you find the Ten Commandments for the very first time, and it’s the Tenth Commandment, lo and behold, a prohibition against lust. Are you ready?

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house.” Let’s just stop a second because we have a little time. Is it wrong to look at your neighbor’s house and say, “Wow, that’s a nice house. I wish I could have a house like that.” There’s nothing inherently evil about admiring your neighbor’s house and thinking, “Man, maybe if I work hard, I could have a house that’s like that nice.” I don’t know what would be wrong about that. I don’t know how you could possibly live your life and not have a thought like that at least every once in a while. What’s God forbidding? He’s forbidding the coveting. That is when you’re looking at that house and saying, “I want that house for me. How can I get it?” That could lead to terrible, evil things. You’re not aspiring to have a house like your neighbor. You want his.

Like that guy who coveted, Ahab. Coveted Naboth’s vineyard. What did he do? He arranged to liquidate Naboth, and he did. It all started with coveting. Are you getting it? You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife. Now if I’m a single guy and I meet someone who’s got a nice wife who’s attractive and a beautiful personality and a Christ-like spirit and so forth. Is it wrong for me to think to myself, “Man, I’d like to have a wife like that someday,” would that be wrong? That’s not wrong. It’s wrong when you say, “I want his wife.” That’s coveting your neighbor’s wife.

See, that helps us understand when you go from the temptation to lust to lust. Why do men covet another man’s wife for the most part? Come on. It’s because they’re seeing her in some sexual way and saying, “Whoa, I’d like to have that babe. I’d like to go to bed with her.” That can lead to other evil things like, “How can I persuade her to leave her husband? How can I get rid of that husband?” See, that’s the beginning of evil. To look at a nice wife and say, “What a great wife you’ve got. I’ve got my periscope up for one like that too because I’m not married yet.” That’d be complimentary. Sure, it would.

You should not covet your neighbor’s, his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything. Is it wrong to want an ox or a donkey? If you’re a farmer who needs an ox or a donkey is it? No. It’s wrong to be coveting your neighbor’s because that’s the first step in stealing or lying or killing or all kinds of other evil, so that helps us understand what God is forbidding when it comes to the whole subject of lust and what Jesus was talking about, quite frankly, in Matthew 5:28.

When you look at a woman, to lust for her, you’re committing adultery already in your heart. Far cry from the temptation to lust or commit adultery even. Far cry from the admiring someone of the opposite sex who is attractive. Okay. All right. I hope you can figure this out. I hope I’ve helped out a little bit, all right? Thanks so much for joining me. God bless you