The Season of Lust and Pride
December 8, 2016
By Howard Green
Jesus is the reason for the season. It is a well known sentiment shared among many Christians this time of year. The simple phrase heralding the centrality of Jesus stands juxtaposed to the rest of the world’s insatiable appetite for more. Although Christmas is supposed to be a time of giving and celebrating the birth of the Savior, the season serves as a glaring diagnosis of a terminal condition festering in the human heart. The terminal condition is spiritual and it’s root causes are the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.
“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 lives forever.” – 1 John 2:15-17
I’m not one to rain on anyone’s parade or be a grinch this time of year. I love celebrating Christmas, spending time with loved ones, and swapping gifts. I’m going to address something very different than the godly attitude of a Christian at Christmas. The human condition we are going to focus on goes well beyond the Christmas season, but the holidays serve as a magnifying glass through which we view the wretched condition of the human heart apart from Jesus.
We see the same sad scenario play out year after year. Millions of people spend the last Thursday in November enjoying a feast around a table with family. Prayers of thanksgiving and a renewed care for fellow man are everywhere. The next morning, many of these same ‘thankful’ people will be engaging in the worst types of human behavior. There is hair pulling, fist fighting, trampling, cursing, beatings, and murder. This vile behavior is said to be brought on by a number of factors. It could be a limited number of the season’s coveted toys, a place in the checkout line, or a prime parking spot in a crowded mall. People will spend countless hours lined up in the middle of the night just to get a bargain on a flat screen television but will spend little or no time reading the Bible, praying, or going to church. I see this type of behavior as indicative of something far worse. It is a spiritual condition mired in lust, pride, and greed. This terminal spiritual condition can be seen in homes, offices, campuses, and even churches throughout the year.
People are climbing corporate ladders and stepping on heads all the way to the top. People think very little of trashing others while building themselves up. Social media is a great tool and can be a great evangelistic and discipleship resource. It is also an unfortunate platform for some of the worst human behavior. Fighting, name calling, reputation tarnishing, bragging, and the boastful pride of life are on display for all to see. People will jockey for positions of recognition. Some will even get involved in ministry out of selfish ambition or vain conceit to be recognized others instead of serving as unto the Lord in humility. The Bible says, “This is not from the Father, but from the world.”
“What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.” – James 4:1-3
What is the lust of the flesh? Simply put, it is anything that appeals to man’s or women’s fallen nature. Flesh is the nature we received at our physical birth. Once born again, we receive a new nature, the Holy Spirit to direct us. It is up to us to recognize the lust of the flesh when it creeps in and deal with it promptly. Enjoying food is one thing, but gluttony is sin. Relaxation and sleep is rewarding, but being slothful and lazy isn’t godly. Sex inside of a loving marriage, one man one woman for life is a gift. When this gift is traded for lust, indulgence, porn addiction, longing for others who aren’t our spouse, it is the lust of the flesh and sin.
What is the lust of the eyes? Our eyes have an appetite and if we don’t guard our eyes, lustful desires are fomented. These are pleasures that gratify the sight. These aren’t the good pleasures of the eyes like a mountain view, a sunset, or the loveliness of your spouse. Lusts of the eyes are sinful pleasures like desiring the pretty woman in the office you can’t take your eyes off of who is, ” just a friend.” It might be the handsome neighbor who, “really understands you.” It might be that great concert or professional sports event you have prime tickets for again instead of taking the time to bring your family to church. Maybe you just need to buy that perfect camper, but the Lord would have you put it on hold so you can bless others who have nothing. Our eyes like other senses are gateways into our mind. Therefore we must guard them at all cost.
“I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless.” – Psalm 101:3
Here is a good test in regard to the lust of the flesh and eyes. Does what I’m desiring, thinking upon, or engaging in line up with God’s word? Would I be comfortable if the Lord Jesus was right here with me? If the answer is no, that is a strong indicator we need to stop and seek the Lord.
What is the pride of life or as some translations say, the boastful pride of life? The pride of life is at it’s very nature, boasting in self, achievements, positions, and relishes the praise of others. The pride of life can have elements of the lust of the flesh and lust of the eyes. The sin of the pride of life turns one’s heart inward toward self exaltation rather than living with a heart full of humility and gratitude toward God. Here are just a few examples of the person full of the pride of life or (POL) for our purposes, compared to the heart after God.
POL boasts in being the picture of perfect health, rather than thanking God for every new morning and breath. POL boasts in having the perfect spouse, while the grateful heart knows a good wife is a gift from God. POL looks at the great company built by the self made man and boasts, but the godly business owner knows who blessing comes from. POL looks at his or her six figure retirement account, beautiful home, and knows the praise of envious people, but resourceful believer understands the Lord gives and takes away while continually blessing His name. POL stands proudly looking over all he or she has accomplished, but the godly knows the Lord who brings the increase. POL boasts that his church is the model for growth and success every Sunday, while the humble shepherd or teacher knows to be completely dependent on the Lord and he will bear good fruit.
“And He told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man was very productive. “And he began reasoning to himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?’ “Then he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. ‘And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.”’ “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’“So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” – Luke 12: 16-21
As we approach the Christmas season, we will see the world, it’s lusts, and it’s self made boastful pride on full display. There is a reason why the 24 hour marketing push for things like cars, vacations, endless entertainment, furniture, and personal pleasure is so prevalent this time of year. It is because we cannot get enough of me, myself, and I. The television, radio, print, and especially social media place an inordinate amount of emphasis on self. While this is obviously the case during the holidays, the marketing push is nothing new. People buy things to make themselves look, feel, act, and be perceived as better. People seek the esteem of others through acquiring things, personal achievements, building net worth, and gaining name recognition.
The holiday season magnifies the same desire so satisfy the lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life we see throughout the rest of the year. Retailers start putting up Christmas decorations in October now. You can have Amazon bring products right to your door in a matter of hours. We can spend every waking hour being entertained from an endless onslaught of social media via an endless number of smart phones, tablets, and other devises. Man will continue to idolize the god of self in an endless flow of new things, status updates, and selfish ambitions. He or she may feel temporary satisfaction in power or position, but when it comes right down to a person’s heart, those things can only bring temporary satisfaction. I want to tell you that there isn’t a corporate ladder high enough, a bank account fat enough, a garage full enough, or a contact list large enough to satisfy you. Jesus is the only answer to the longings of the human heart.
“I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst. “But I said to you that you have seen Me, and yet do not believe. “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.” – John 6:35-37
True lasting fulfillment, peace, and belonging are found only in Jesus. If you are a believer, use this season to live before those you come into contact with as an example of a truly joyful person. Be sure to give them a reason for the hope you have inside with gentleness and respect. If you just happened upon this article and feel a sense of desperation to grab more time, looks, riches, power, love, acceptance, or anything else we see most of the world striving for, please heed the words of Jesus when He tells you that you can be filled. He is the One who can meet you right where you are and fill your heart. He can cleanse all of your sin, lustful desires, prideful attitude and make you brand new. The lust of the flesh the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life drives the desire of the whole world, but Jesus can be your heart’s desire. If you have questions about what it means to be saved and follow Jesus, click here to find answers.
All for Him,