Beloved, I exhort you as aliens and exiles, to abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul 1 Peter 2:11
Lusts – The Greeks knew the underlying essence of lust. Lust is what makes you boil over. Lust is that force that grips you with its power and causes you to explode. Lust is passion unbridled. In fact, the Greek word itself shows us this background. Epi and thumos combine to mean “out of violent movement of the mind”. Lust is the volcanic reaction that occurs when your mind says, “I’ve got to have that now!” It isn’t accidental that the word thumos is also associated with wrath and anger. Lust drives us insane.
Every addict knows the power of epithumia. The addictive force that refuses to be denied, that will not be satiated, that has a mind of its own. That’s why addicts often refer to themselves as two people; one who is rational and under control and the other who is a slave to the addiction. Every addict also knows that there is no hope of gaining freedom by just deciding to change. An addict is at war with himself.
The tragedy is that all the rest of us, the ones who think we aren’t addicted, are just as hopeless under the skin. We might not be hooked on drugs or alcohol or sex, but we find other mood changers to numb our fears and escape reality. We eat. We shop. We gamble. We change partners. We move away. We get angry. Without God at the constantly-renewed center, epithumia will drag us into the hellholes of life and take great pleasure in doing so.
Peter points us toward the body lusts, but there are many others just as deadly. Power, money, status, fame, prestige and more. Wherever we seek anesthetizing moods, we are playing with lust. And lust kills. Lust is one of the most powerful weapons of the Prince of this world. It is prison disguised as pleasure.
The First Step in the 12 Steps is the most important. “We admitted we were powerless”. How frightening is that admission. But without it, life remains a see-saw between lust and guilt. Of all people, Christians should know this truth, for James tells us that lust is the instigator of sin (James 1:14). Christians know without any doubt that they are powerless, once held captive in the grip of lust, until a day of freedom arrived – a day when Jesus said, “Lay your burdens on me and I will give you rest.”
What boils inside you? What bloodies your soul? The battle is hopeless. To win you must defeat yourself. There is only one way to victory over such an enemy. Give up! Admit your defeat. And lay that inner horror at the feet of Jesus. He is the only one who can bind the strongman and set you free.