Can Lust Be “Good”?

Lust: just one small word can convey intense images, emotions, and memories. Many times, these can be sinful. And because they may be sinful, we have been taught to see lust as a primarily negative thing. But before we see whether or not there is such a thing as “good” lust, let’s see what the Bible says about negative sinful lust.

* But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. – Matthew 5:28

* You have had enough in the past of the evil things that godless people enjoy – their immorality and lust, their feasting and drunkenness and wild parties, and their terrible worship of idols. – 1 Peter 4:3

* Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. – Galatians 5:24

When we look at these specific verses, we can see that the lust described here are unholy passionate desires that are a part of the sinful nature that we were born with. And because they are sinful desires, they keep us in a lifestyle of rebellion and depravity in the sight of God (John 8:34, Romans 3:9-10, Romans 8:7). It is only when we repent of our sins that we are set free from the power of sin and death, are given a new life (2 Corinthians 5:17) and experience the indwelling of the Holy Spirit who then helps us to live out our new identity (1 Corinthians 3:16). It is then that we can rejoice that we are now men of God (1 Timothy 6:11-12), that we are no longer called sinners who are slaves to sin but are now known as saints and friends of God (Ephesians 2:19, John 15:14-15). However, even though all of the above is true, sin’s continued presence in this world will cause us to be tempted with opportunities to revert to behavior that is more in line with our old sinful nature. What does this mean for us as believers? Will we always struggle with tempting lust? Or will it be the opposite and we won’t have any lustful feelings anymore? Since neither is true because we still have our humanity, how then can we deal with lust and its feelings?

We need to begin by first understanding the definition of lust. There are multiple definitions of this word in the dictionary, but a few stand out to me:

  • a passionate desire for something
  • an intense longing
  • a pleasure, a delight

Based on these specific definitions, I believe that there is such a thing as good lust. Good lust is when we choose to direct our passions, pleasures, and delights to that which is honoring and holy – whether it be towards people or things. Let’s see what this looks like.

Good lust towards our spouse means directing our natural desires for intimacy and sexual satisfaction towards the one person we are committed to in marriage. Good lust says that I desire to take delight and pleasure in my spouse. Good lust says that I will reserve my most intimate and passionate acts for the one to whom I said, “I do, until death do us part”. Good lust seeks the touch and intimacy of a committed spouse in marriage, not the fleeting comings and goings of sinful acts with random people.

Furthermore, good lust is more than something we have with our spouse; it is also about what we pursue. Since lust is also known as a delight, a pleasure, an intense longing — what do you find delight in? What do you find pleasure in? What do you intensely long for? As men pursuing purity and wholeness we choose to desire and long after that which is holy, and righteous and pure. We choose to passionately pursue and find delight in the things that will draw us into a deeper and more intimate relationship with God.

Today, whether you choose to use the word lust, passion, desire, delight, or longing – you have a choice. Where will you direct your heart and towards whom?

End of article.

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