What the Bible Says about Lust

God’s Word speaks to the depths of our sensual desire. Moral compromise is challenged by the truth of God’s unwavering standard of holiness. The Bible offers words of wisdom and instruction, prompting us to trust God for our deliverance from worldly desire. The following passages reveal the destructive power of unchecked lust and point to the way of freedom provided by the Lord.

The Sin of Lust 

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:27–28 NASB)

Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, indecent behavior, idolatry, witchcraft, hostilities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19–21)

For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God. (1 Thessalonians 4:3–5) longer for human lusts, but for the will of God. For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of indecent behavior, lusts, drunkenness, carousing, drinking parties, and wanton idolatries. (1 Peter 4:2–3)

The Source of Lust

For those who are in accord with the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are in accord with the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. (Romans 8:5–8)

For if you are living in accord with the flesh, you are going to die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. (Romans 8:13)

Let’s behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and debauchery, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts. (Romans 13:13–14)

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the desire of the flesh is against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, in order to keep you from doing whatever you want. (Galatians 5:16–17)

No one is to say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. (James 1:13–14)

Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God continues to live forever. (1 John 2:15–17) 

The Destructive Power of Lust

“Why have you despised the word of the LORD by doing evil in His sight? You have struck and killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword, you have taken his wife as your wife, and you have slaughtered him with the sword of the sons of Ammon. Now then, the sword shall never leave your house, because you have despised Me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.” (2 Samuel 12:9–10)

“No, my brother, do not violate me, for such a thing is not done in Israel; do not do this disgraceful sin! As for me, where could I get rid of my shame? And as for you, you will be like one of the fools in Israel. Now then, please speak to the king, for he will not withhold me from you.” However, he would not listen to her; since he was stronger than she, he violated her and slept with her. (2 Samuel 13:12–14)

God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another.... God gave them over to shameful lusts.... Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done.... Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them. (Romans 1:24, 26, 28, 32 NIV)

But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is a sexually immoral person, or a greedy person, or an idolater, or is verbally abusive, or habitually drunk, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a person. (1 Corinthians 5:11 NASB)

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor those habitually drunk, nor verbal abusers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Corinthians 6:9–10)

Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it has run its course, brings forth death. (James 1:15)

Just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these angels indulged in sexual perversion and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire. (Jude 1:7)

Wise Advice about Lust 

My son, pay attention to my wisdom,
Incline your ear to my understanding;
So that you may maintain discretion
And your lips may comply with knowledge. (Proverbs 5:1–2)

Drink water from your own cistern,
And fresh water from your own well. (Proverbs 5:15)

His own wrongdoings will trap the wicked,
And he will be held by the ropes of his sin.
He will die for lack of instruction,
And in the greatness of his foolishness he will go astray. (Proverbs 5:22–23)

Do not desire her beauty in your heart,
Nor let her capture you with her eyelids.
For the price of a prostitute reduces one to a loaf of bread,
And an adulteress hunts for a precious life.
Can anyone take fire in his lap
And his clothes not be burned?
Or can a person walk on hot coals
And his feet not be scorched?
So is the one who goes in to his neighbor’s wife;
Whoever touches her will not go unpunished. (Proverbs 6:25–29)

One who commits adultery with a woman is lacking sense;
He who would destroy himself commits it. (Proverbs 6:32)

With her many persuasions she entices him;
With her flattering lips she seduces him.
Suddenly he follows her
As an ox goes to the slaughter,
Or as one walks in ankle bracelets to the discipline of a fool,
Until an arrow pierces through his liver;
As a bird hurries to the snare,
So he does not know that it will cost him his life. (Proverbs 7:21–23)

“Abandon your foolishness and live,
And proceed in the way of understanding.” (Proverbs 9:6)

One who walks in integrity walks securely,
But one who perverts his ways will be found out. (Proverbs 10:9)

Doing wickedness is like sport to a fool,
And so is wisdom to a person of understanding. (Proverbs 10:23)

The perverse in heart are an abomination to the LORD,
But the blameless in their walk are His delight. (Proverbs 11:20)

Ways to Handle Lust 

Do not enter the path of the wicked
And do not proceed in the way of evil people.
Avoid it, do not pass by it;
Turn away from it and pass on. (Proverbs 4:14–15)

The highway of the upright is to turn away from evil;
One who watches his way protects his life. (Proverbs 16:17)

Therefore there is now no condemnation at all for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1)

Flee sexual immorality. Every other sin that a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body. (1 Corinthians 6:18–20)

No temptation has overtaken you except something common to mankind; and God is faithful, so He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. (Philippians 1:27 NIV)

But examine everything; hold firmly to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil. Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 5:21–23 NASB)

Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. (2 Timothy 2:22)

Therefore, since we also have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let’s rid ourselves of every obstacle and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking only at Jesus, the originator and perfecter of the faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin; and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor faint when you are punished by Him; for whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He punishes every son whom He accepts.” (Hebrews 12:1–6)

Submit therefore to God. But resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God and He will come close to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable, and mourn, and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning, and your joy into gloom. Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you. (James 4:7–10)

Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. So resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brothers and sisters who are in the world. (1 Peter 5:8–9)

Lust maintains power over us only when we submit to its worldly authority. Allowing sin of any kind to sit on the throne of our lives brings devastation and destruction. However, with Christ reigning over our lives, the Holy Spirit empowers us to overcome our temptations. When we run the race with endurance (Hebrews 12:1), God directs our way through the hazards of life and beyond the burden of sexual sin.

Copyright © 2011 by Insight for Living Ministries. All rights are reserved worldwide.