Devotional Life

Q9: What is Considered “Lust”?

9. Doesn’t the word lusts properly apply only to bodily appetites: the pleasures and comforts of sex, food, drink, rest, exercise, health? People follow the desires of body and mind (see Eph. 2:3). Bodily appetites—the organism’s hedonistic instinct to feel good—are certainly powerful masters unto sin. But desires of the mind—for power, human approval, success, preeminence, wealth, self-righteousness, and so forth—are also potent…

Q8: Is the Heart Knowable or Not?

8. Is it even right to talk about the heart, since the Bible teaches that the heart is unknowable to anyone but God? (1 Sam. 16:7; Jer. 17:9) No one but God can see, explain, control, or change another person’s heart and its choices. There is no underlying reason why a person serves a particular lust rather than God; sin is irrational and insane….

Q7: How Do We Tell If a Desire is Inordinate or Natural?

7. How can you tell if a desire is inordinate rather than natural? By their fruits you know them. Human motivation is not a theoretical mystery; there is no need to engage in introspective archaeological digs. Evil desires produce bad fruits that can be seen, heard, and felt (James 1:15; 3:16). For example, a father who wants his child to grow up…

Q6: Does Each of Us Have One “Root Sin”?

6. Does each person have one “root sin”? With good reason, the Bible usually refers to the “lusts” (plural) of the flesh. The human heart can generate a lust tailored to any situation. Again John Calvin powerfully described how cravings “boil up” within us, how the mind of man is a “factory of idols” [Calvin, Institutes, ed. Battles, 65, 108]. We are…

Q3: What’s Wrong With Wanting “Good” Things?

3. But what’s wrong with wanting things that seem good? What makes our desires wrong? The question becomes particularly perplexing to people when the object of their desires is a good thing. Notice some of the adjectives that get appended to our cravings: evil, polluted lusts (Col. 3:5; 2 Pet. 2:10). Sometimes the object of desire itself is evil: to kill someone,…