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Lust - James 1 vs Matthew 5

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#1 Jason

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Posted 18 June 2012 - 01:57 PM

Quick question regarding sin & lust.

James 1:15 says sin is a result of lust conceiving. Lust itself is not a sin.

Matthew 5:28 seems to indicate lust is a sin.

Am I missing something...?

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#2 joerobbie

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Posted 18 June 2012 - 03:43 PM

Matthew 5:8 doesn't say the lust is the sin, but the decision to look at a woman to lust for her that is the sin. Human feelings are not sin, it is what we do with them that is sin or not.

#3 Jason

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Posted 18 June 2012 - 03:57 PM

Matthew 5:8 doesn't say the lust is the sin, but the decision to look at a woman to lust for her that is the sin. Human feelings are not sin, it is what we do with them that is sin or not.


Hm. Christ says that to look at a woman with lust in his heart is commit adultery, which I presume would be considered a sin. Thus, to lust is to commit adultery which is to sin.

I understand it's a conscious decision, but one could argue that Christ made the decision to be tempted by food, etc. in the wilderness, however this decision wasn't a sin.

#4 Richie

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Posted 18 June 2012 - 05:18 PM

There's a difference between having natural desires and lusting after something. E.g. I have natural attraction towards beautiful women. That's not a sin. But I can also lust after a beautiful woman in my heart, which is a sin. The difference is not in the Greek word translated "lust" (which is the same) but the context.
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#5 Jason

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Posted 18 June 2012 - 05:39 PM

There's a difference between having natural desires and lusting after something. E.g. I have natural attraction towards beautiful women. That's not a sin. But I can also lust after a beautiful woman in my heart, which is a sin. The difference is not in the Greek word translated "lust" (which is the same) but the context.


Okay, that makes sense to me. If I can ask another question, when Christ was tempted in the wilderness, was he tempted to lust (e.g. for food) or was he tempted because he desired/craved/lusted for food?

#6 Richie

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Posted 18 June 2012 - 05:58 PM

He was tempted because he was extremely hungry. Being hungry is a natural desire (lust - it's the same Greek word either way) but I don't imagine he was someone who went around lusting after donuts all day long.
"Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life." - Terry Pratchett.

#7 Jason

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Posted 18 June 2012 - 06:31 PM

He was tempted because he was extremely hungry. Being hungry is a natural desire (lust - it's the same Greek word either way) but I don't imagine he was someone who went around lusting after donuts all day long.


Donuts would have been rather hard to come by but I get your point. :luke:

What about being given the kingdoms of man. Was Christ tempted to want these kingdoms or was he tempted because of his fleshly desires?

I suppose I'm trying to wrap my mind around the sequence of events with respect to lusting, and when does it become a sin. Back to my original point, James suggests lust in and of itself isn't a sin, but rather what actions, if any, are taken as a result of lust ("when lust has conceived"). This is kind of why I'm struggling with understanding the Matthew bit about lusting after a woman is to commit adultery (aka. to sin) because I don't see where the lust has actually "conceived".

Furthermore, seeing as James defines temptation as occurring as a result of being drawn away by one's own lust and enticed, can we conclude that Christ lusted.

Edited by fmissing, 18 June 2012 - 06:39 PM.


#8 Richie

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Posted 18 June 2012 - 06:50 PM

I am very interested in this question because I have made the temptations of Christ a major study. I'm doing a whole Bible school on the topic in the summer so it's on my mind a lot. Having analyzed the temptations in the wilderness my conclusion is that Jesus was a victim of circumstances, just like we all are. The "devil" he took into the wilderness was the Jewish world and their expectations of Messiah. The Jewish world was expecting Messiah to do things like:

- amazing miracles
- amazing feats
- rid the land of the Romans and restore the kingdom

The three temptations match these expectations and I am sure you can see the connection.

Now imagine you're in the wilderness. You have just been declared to the Son of God by the voice from heaven. You've been given the Holy Spirit. You know you are the promised seed of Abraham and David. Your people are under the dominion of the fourth beast of Daniel 7. You fast for forty days and nights and become hungry. You have been focusing on your mission, you have the power to feed the people, and you have power to satisfy your own hunger as the stones begin to look like loaves of bread. You hear the sounds of animals, there are scorpions and snakes around you and your mind goes to Psalm 91 which speaks of God protecting you in times such as this (hence Satan's quotation therefrom), a Psalm which speaks of being lifted up on high in God's sanctuary, so you imagine yourself on the pinnacle of the temple. Then you think of your people, under the dominion of Rome, and you are their Messiah, and you can rescue your friends, your family, the people you grew up with and love.

All of those things describe the situation Jesus found himself in by virtue of his upbringing, his schooling, the Jewish mindset, and his own internal desires that had his stomach wrenching inside of him urging him to use the power at his disposal for wrong purposes that could be justified by the thinking of the flesh. So yes Jesus truly wrestled with these things but he was not a lustful man. He did not go around looking for the nearest fast food joint when lunch time arrived. He did not fantasize continually about doing amazing things like jumping off the temple. And he didn't imagine whacking Romans on the head every time he closed his eyes. But when situations arose and circumstances dictated he was certainly tempted in all points as we are.
"Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life." - Terry Pratchett.

#9 Jason

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Posted 18 June 2012 - 07:14 PM

I am very interested in this question because I have made the temptations of Christ a major study. I'm doing a whole Bible school on the topic in the summer so it's on my mind a lot. Having analyzed the temptations in the wilderness my conclusion is that Jesus was a victim of circumstances, just like we all are. The "devil" he took into the wilderness was the Jewish world and their expectations of Messiah. The Jewish world was expecting Messiah to do things like:

- amazing miracles
- amazing feats
- rid the land of the Romans and restore the kingdom

The three temptations match these expectations and I am sure you can see the connection.

Now imagine you're in the wilderness. You have just been declared to the Son of God by the voice from heaven. You've been given the Holy Spirit. You know you are the promised seed of Abraham and David. Your people are under the dominion of the fourth beast of Daniel 7. You fast for forty days and nights and become hungry. You have been focusing on your mission, you have the power to feed the people, and you have power to satisfy your own hunger as the stones begin to look like loaves of bread. You hear the sounds of animals, there are scorpions and snakes around you and your mind goes to Psalm 91 which speaks of God protecting you in times such as this (hence Satan's quotation therefrom), a Psalm which speaks of being lifted up on high in God's sanctuary, so you imagine yourself on the pinnacle of the temple. Then you think of your people, under the dominion of Rome, and you are their Messiah, and you can rescue your friends, your family, the people you grew up with and love.

All of those things describe the situation Jesus found himself in by virtue of his upbringing, his schooling, the Jewish mindset, and his own internal desires that had his stomach wrenching inside of him urging him to use the power at his disposal for wrong purposes that could be justified by the thinking of the flesh. So yes Jesus truly wrestled with these things but he was not a lustful man. He did not go around looking for the nearest fast food joint when lunch time arrived. He did not fantasize continually about doing amazing things like jumping off the temple. And he didn't imagine whacking Romans on the head every time he closed his eyes. But when situations arose and circumstances dictated he was certainly tempted in all points as we are.


I can certainly see the connection and thanks for that well thought out response. I would love to see the study when you're done, if it becomes available.

However, speaking specifically about lusting, lust appears to be a fundamental part of being tempted - can we not therefore safely conclude Christ did lust in the wilderness? If not, I'm struggling to see how Jesus could be tempted, without having any lusts, based on James' definition of temptation.

To say Christ had lusts, I don't think turns him into a lustful maniac, at least not any more than saying that because he was tempted, he was tempted to bash Roman heads every chance he got.

#10 Richie

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Posted 18 June 2012 - 07:16 PM

Yes I believe he had lusts otherwise he couldn't be attracted to anything.
"Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life." - Terry Pratchett.

#11 Jason

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Posted 18 June 2012 - 07:33 PM

Yes I believe he had lusts otherwise he couldn't be attracted to anything.


Cool. So going back to Matthew, where Christ says to lust after a woman is commit adultery, what is the difference between lusting after a woman, lusting after power, lusting after money, and so on?

These lusts cannot be sins in and of themselves otherwise Christ would have sinned the first time he lusted. Is lusting after a woman a sin (for some reason) even though the lust hasn't conceived (therefore throwing James' process out the window) while other lusts aren't?

#12 Richie

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Posted 18 June 2012 - 07:41 PM

The lust in Mathew 5 is different from the lust in James 1. That's what I was trying to explain initially. It's a different context that happens to use the same word.

In Matthew 5 the lust has already conceived into what Jesus calls "lusting in your heart". The sin has already happened. There is a big difference between being attracted to women and acting on that attraction and lusting after them (i.e. fantasizing in your mind and so forth).
"Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life." - Terry Pratchett.

#13 Jason

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Posted 18 June 2012 - 08:30 PM

What's the difference between lusting after a woman (Matthew 5) and being tempted in the wilderness because a lust exists?

#14 Richie

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Posted 19 June 2012 - 03:33 PM

One is fantasizing about it and the other is being susceptible. One is you acting out the desire in your mind, the other is simply being attracted.

Edited by Richie, 19 June 2012 - 03:33 PM.

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"Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life." - Terry Pratchett.

#15 Jason

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Posted 19 June 2012 - 03:35 PM

Excellent. That finally hit home :) Thanks for your patience!

#16 Richie

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Posted 19 June 2012 - 03:40 PM

No worries. I have struggled through these passages in the past before as well.
"Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life." - Terry Pratchett.




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