“How far is too far?”
This is one of the most common questions asked about human sexuality and relationships in the American Christian culture. Behind this question is the idea that it is okay to think, meditate, or act on sinful ideas up to a certain point. This mentality shows a belief that a Christian can somehow gratify the flesh while still pursuing a pure relationship with a holy God.
However, in Scripture, God continually bases His standard of judgement on more than outward appearances or how close a person gets to a certain limitation. He searches the heart for the motives and desires that drive the person to act. (1 Samuel 16:7, Psalm 51:16-17, Luke 16:15)
When a Christian attempts to live a life based on the question “how far can I go and still be acceptable,” his/her relationship with God is hindered. The believer finds himself compromising and failing to live a life that glorifies God in every action because he is continually considering how far he can go away from rather than towards God. However, Paul tells us in Colossians 3:23-24 that a Christian’s goal in life is not to appear godly to the church or to feel good about him or herself but to have a heart that adheres to Christ, loves Him, and serves Him in every thing.
A significant battle for our society, especially young men, is the battle for control of the eyes. In a culture surrounded by sexual images and other forms of seduction, the temptation to lust is a primary struggle in the life of a Christian male.
Men too often confuse the terms when they talk about the issue of lust. They use the term struggle when they actually mean that they have a pattern of continual failure, so the first step to dealing with the struggle of the eye (and all sin for that matter) is to admit that it is a failure or sin against our holy God.
Such an approach to lust will allow a person to establish in his heart a life that no longer is governed by “how far can I go,” but by the best question, “how do I glorify God in all that I do? (1 Corinthians 10:31)”
It is the last question that should drive a believer through life and consume his passion to “be holy as I (God) am holy.” (1 Peter 1:13-16) His eye should not be governed by the society and culture in which he lives, but by the new life and grace that he was given when he received Christ as His Lord and Savior.
In dealing with the issue of his eyes, David said he would “set nothing worthless before my eyes.” (Psalm 101:1-4) He knew when he allowed his eyes to be filled with worthless sights his desires would be for things other than God and His glory, so, in verse 4, David said that he would choose to “not know evil.”
This statement by the man after God’s own heart does not allow any room for living a life that pursued temptations. He instead attempted to single-mindedly focus his life on the pursuit of God.
Paul echoes David’s wishes in Romans 13:14 when he asks for those in Christ to “make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.”
The images that are put into the eyes of a Christian will negatively affect the heart and its desire for the glory of God. If the sin of lust is allowed to continue existing and deemed unavoidable or not as bad as the actual act, a believer will be deceived and will find himself dealing with continual guilt and frustration due to his attempts to lead a double life.
Remember Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:28 that if you have even looked at a woman with lust you have already committed adultery in your heart. What a reforming statement by Jesus to those who justify sin!
There is no justification for allowing sinful desires into a Christian life. Jesus himself says that you have already committed adultery in your heart when you willingly allow your mind to dwell on sexual thoughts and desires because, by your desire, you have made into an object and idol a person who was created by God for His glory. In essence, if the person is a Christian, you are making a daughter of your God into an object for your own sinful fulfillment!
There is no room for lust or for this sin to continue unchecked by the believer. Believers must reform their thinking by remembering that they are always to desire to glorify God in all that they say or do. Christian men must not simply flee from youthful lusts, but also “pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace.” (2 Timothy 2:22)
So…the question must no longer be “how far can I go?” but “how can I glorify God in all that I do?”