Lust is an ancient and universal human sinful appetite. The more we feed it, the more ravenous and perversely diverse it becomes. And the more socially acceptable perverse diversity becomes, the more sexual immorality steals, kills, and destroys human lives. No wonder lust is one of Satan’s choice temptation weapons. Few sins wield as much power to blind unbelievers and seduce Christians, and then immobilize them with shame. So, at all costs, we fight and flee it lest it make us a prisoner of war (1 Corinthians 6:18; 1 Peter 2:11).
A few centuries ago, the English word lust described a fairly wide range of human desires, both good and evil. Today, lust is typically shorthand for “sexually immoral desires.” But still, lust covers a lot of ground, because there is a wide range of “sexually immoral desires.” These desires, and the behaviors they produce, if not vigilantly resisted, have been a devastating part of the human experience since the forbidden fruit was eaten in Eden.
But the driving force behind lust is frequently misunderstood. The human sexual drive, while strong, is not the dominant power in lust. Sin is the dominant power. Various kinds of sin seize or infect the sexual drive in order to gratify selfishness through sexuality.
This is why lust can be so difficult to fight. Our sexual drive can be infected by many different kinds of sinful desire viruses, resulting in multiple variants of lust disease. What helps us fight lust one day might not help the next, because a different virus is infecting the sexual drive.
Viruses Leading to Lust
One common virus is coveting. Our rebellious sinful nature finds forbidden things attractive and covets them (Romans 7:7–8). Since sin infects our sexual drive, it is no surprise that we are tempted to lust after forbidden sex. This was Amnon’s lust for his half-sister, Tamar (2 Samuel 13). The fact that he despised her after he sated his lust reveals that his desire was fueled by coveting Tamar as a sexually forbidden object, not by real love for Tamar the person (2 Samuel 13:15).