Thou Art Fairer

Beauty is a mysterious, instinctive, metaphysical thing; impossible to explain or quantify, and quite outside our will. The very fact we perceive beauty is evidence of purpose in our design: we’re made to enjoy something outside ourselves.

Satan may have been, at least for a season, the most beautiful being in the universe, so beautiful that his magnificence became his downfall — as others observed and responded to him he exalted himself as a god. (Ez 28:17) Evidently, the heavenly hosts esteemed Satan even more beautiful than God, which may have been partly the cause of their fall; they’re certainly attracted to beauty. (Ge 6:4) What a powerful thing! to draw even the angels from their place. (Jud 1:6)

Yet how can the creature possibly be more beautiful, more glorious, more majestic than the Creator? How can the Creator of beauty itself be outdone by His own creation?

Of course, this would be so if God wills; He certainly might create a creature exceeding Himself in beauty, or choose to appear in a diminished form for a season, and let the creature exceed His personal appearance for a purpose. (Is 53:2) But why?

Consider how we’re influenced by spectacularly beautiful people, drawn to them, favoring them, catering to them. (Ps 45:12) Beautiful women certainly do have an advantage; it’s often an honor and pleasure just to be around them. (Job 42:15)

But like a rich man hiding his wealth to reveal his true and faithful friends, identifying those who love him for himself and aren’t after his money, God arranges to hide His glory and majesty to reveal and expose His enemies. We should choose God because it’s right, not because He’s handsome. This, the wicked will not do.

Yet a day will come when the most beautiful Being in the universe will be Jesus Christ, more gorgeous than any woman ever born (Ps 45:2), shining forth in perfect beauty. (Ps 50:2) Once we see Him as He is, we’ll desire nothing else (Ps 73:25); to simply behold His beauty will be more than enough. (Ps 27:4)

What will it be like to be in intimate fellowship with the most beautiful Person in existence? (So 1:4) To have Him say, “Come on in and enjoy Me! (Mt 25:23) To enjoy His favor and feel His pleasure in us (Ps 45:11), it will be joy unspeakable. (1Pe 1:8)

In that day, no one who’s forsaken any pleasure for Christ will regret it, for they will enjoy deeper intimacy with Him. (Php 3:8) As it will be then, even so it is now; there’s no reason to wait, every joy in Christ is ours. (Ps 37:4) Every lust (Pr 6:25), every wrongful passion, every wonton discontent … it is answered here, in the perfection of beauty: Jesus Christ.

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To Lust

Lust is a challenging topic for all of us, especially for men; sexual addictions are much more common than we might think, even among Christian leaders. Accountability groups often fail as men confess helplessness and continue in mutual brokenness. Rather than exhorting both wives and husbands in proper marital duty, or offering any practical help for singles, Churches often drive shame into silence, resentment and bitterness. Real solutions are rare indeed.

To find healing we must [1] identify sin biblically, [2] expose the lies empowering lust, [3] find repentance to acknowledge the truth, and then [4] recover ourselves from spiritual capativity. (2Ti 2:25-26)

Lust is desire orienting our will to obtain what’s forbidden, such that (when plausible) we devise a plan to acquire it, intending to execute. (Ja 1:14-15) So, a man who’s checking out a married woman isn’t lusting until he devises a plan to entice her and commits to doing so. Guilt is about intent: what we purpose in our hearts (Mt 5:28), and nothing else.

But why do we lust? If it were just physics men wouldn’t lose interest in disrespectful, unfaithful women (Pr 30:21,23a); kept women wouldn’t flirt and seduce (Pr 23:28): the spirituality of sexuality drives lust – we’re trying to fill a spiritual vacuum. Though the wicked domineer and abuse others, decent souls seek one-flesh intimacy, love and respect; it’s built into our DNA. (Ge 2:18) Sex is a shadow, a pale reflection of the connection we all long for in God. (Ep 5:32)

When we aren’t fulfilled in either God or our spouse we’re tempted to seek elsewhere. (1Co 7:15) We fall for the lie that the stranger will satisfy (Pr 5:3), but the well is toxic. (4-5)

To heal the shallow appeal of lasciviousness we must first deal with our lack of divine intimacy (Eph 4:17-19), and begin abiding in God until this primal need for love and acceptance is being met by God at the deepest levels. (Ps 73:25) This is what we’re made for: nothing else can satisfy. (Ep 3:19)

Convinced that only God can meet our ultimate need for love, respect, security and acceptance, we recover ourselves from spiritual captivity by walking this out, ordering our thoughts and actions to reflect and align with this reality. (Ps 119:9) And as we seek, we find. (Mt 7:8) Only then may we bring the strength and health into our relationships that God intended, and be the blessings God’s designed us to be, rather than desperate, craving souls longing to be fed and nurtured.

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Lusting to Envy

God asks us an interesting question: “Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?(Ja 4:5)

Albert Barnes says of this text, “Few passages of the New Testament have given expositors more perplexity than this. The difficulty has arisen from the fact that no such passage as that which seems here to be quoted is found in the Old Testament.”

This text is evidently a commentary on the verses prior, warning us of the dangers of covetousness and lust (Ja 4:1-3), and that alliance with the world means being God’s enemy. (Jas 4:4) This implies that those who are not of God tend to have unrighteous desires, and require that we join them in this unrighteousness to be allied with them.

Scripture affirms that the natural inclination of the human spirit is dissatisfaction, such that we’re insatiable (Ec 1:8), never satisfied (Pr 27:20), continually lusting, craving things we shouldn’t. (Ro 7:7b-8a) Our inability to satisfy our own lusts tends to foster envy (Ps 73:3): a feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else’s possessions, qualities, or fortune, an ill will toward those who have more, and a desire that others be as dissatisfied and empty as we are. Envy is one of the most evil of all sins, very destructive to the soul. (Pr 14:30)

So, finding our spirits prone to lust, how do we combat this? The root cause of discontentment, lust and envy, the insatiable desire of our hearts, lies in our very design; we’re created to enjoy something vastly superior to ourselves, infinitely beautiful, infinitely majestic, infinitely good. Until we’re enjoying that, we’ll be constantly longing for it.

The most primal and basic of all lies is that God isn’t the answer to our longings. Satan began with this lie in the Garden* (Ge 3:5), and he relentlessly continues to reinforce it in the lives of all who’ll listen. (Jn 8:44) As we fall here we forsake the fountain of living waters (Je 2:13) in a dry and thirsty land, where no other water is. (Ps 63:1)

God Himself is the antidote to covetousness: He’s what we’re craving. (He 13:5) Contentment lies in enjoying God, in knowing Him, knowing that He’s enough, and being satisfied in Him. Once we realize that He’s all we’ll ever need, that He’s with us, and that He’ll never leave us nor forsake us, there’s nothing more to worry about, or to lust after.

Sometimes the scripture speaks indirectly, containing and conveying truth that’s implied from other truths. It’s still a way of saying something, and those who’re hearing and seeing what’s being said directly, meditating on this, taking it into their heart, asking and seeking (Mt 7:7-8), also find these precious, implied truths. (Mk 4:24)

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