What is lust in the bible and how can one overcome it?
The English word “lewdness” is used six times in the King James Version of the Bible. It is found in these passages: Mark 7:22, II Corinthians 12:21, Galatians 5:19, Ephesians 4:19, I Peter 4:3, and Jude 1:4.
In modern translations, the word “sensuality” is used instead of lewdness. Lewdness is a translation of the Greek word “Aselgeia” found in the original language of the New Testament.
The Dictionary defines lewdness as “Unbridled lust, excess, debauchery, lewdness, licentiousness, outrage, shamelessness and insolence”, but what is lewdness according to the bible? We will give a detailed explanation in a moment.
What is lewdness according to the bible?
When we see a circular definition of a word (when it is used to define itself) we have to look deeper. The key to the definition is found in the word Aselgeia.
Aselgeia comes from two words ‘a’ and ‘ seleges ‘ meaning “incontinence”. So we can say without making a circular definition that Aselgeia literally means “incontinence”, which is defined in the online dictionary as a lack of self-control.
So based on how the word is used in the Bible, as well as how it is used in the culture of the time, Aselgeia refers to any uncontrolled indulgence in physical pleasures. This also means that if they move away from lack of control, then their definition would not accurately reflect the meaning of the word Aselgeia, that is, we would not be talking about lewdness.
Jesus condemned lewdness as wrong along with adultery and fornication ( Mark 7:20-23 ). Lewdness is defined in 2 Peter 2:18 as “seducing through the desires of the flesh.” Not only is lust a sin (Matthew 5:28), but the person who makes others fight it is sinning.
As we mentioned earlier, lewdness comes from the Greek word aselgeia, and it appears nine times in the Christian Scriptures.
Jesus warned of such people who lure others into temptations ( Luke 17:1 ). Lewdness can consist of seducing someone by removing their clothes, doing sexy dances, making provocative talk, caressing, and even intoxicating them.
Those who practice lewdness will not inherit the kingdom of God ( Galatians 5:19-21 ). On a very basic level, Christians and all people should know this.
Their conscience should convince them of the truth. However, we can find much more truth about lewdness in the Bible.
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The biblical definition of nudity
The Scriptures state that uncovering or revealing nudity is lewdness ( Leviticus 18:17f ). However, what is nudity? To better understand nudity, God gave instructions for priestly coverings in the Old Testament. The priests were told not to show their nakedness as they climbed the steps of the Altar ( Exodus 20:26 ). God commanded specific underwear:
“And you shall make them linen undergarments to cover their nakedness; They will reach from the waist to the thighs.”
This is the nudity that men of God cover and do not reveal. This word is used for the hollow of Jacob’s hip, which was pushed out of place when he wrestled with the Lord ( Genesis 32:25 ). Warriors strapped their swords to this same body part at their hips ( Exodus 32:27; Judges 3:16, 21; Psalm 45:3 ).
Therefore, the priestly underwear did not go from the waist to the knees, but from the waist and covered the lower part of his hips to prevent them from revealing his nakedness. Knowing that this hip area is nakedness, the Christian should likewise refrain from any lewdness that Jesus spoke against, and this lewdness includes revealing one’s body specifically in this area.
The nakedness of Adam and Eve
Christ referred to the institution of marriage, in the beginning, Genesis. Also, in terms of clothing, he goes back to the beginning and learns about clothing that covers nudity. Adam and Eve were naked in the Garden of Eden and were not ashamed ( Gen 2:25 ). However, when their eyes were opened and they knew the difference between good and evil, then they saw their nakedness and sewed fig leaves to cover themselves ( Genesis 3:7 ).
In Hebrew, these covers meant a band. For example, Isaiah described corrupt women who would be stripped naked by others to the point of wearing only a girdle over their loins (Isa 32:11; cf. 1 Sam 18:4; 2 Sam 18:11; 1 Kings 2:5; 2 Kings 3:21; Isa 3:24). Adam and Eve barely covered themselves with sashes made of fig leaves and were still naked ( Genesis 3:10-11 ).
Even though someone may be wearing clothes, they can still be naked, especially if all it covers is their loins. God discovered that Adam and Eve were still naked despite the sash that covered them, so “the Lord God made coats of skin for the male and female, and clothed them” ( Genesis 3:21 ). The Hebrew word for this robe means ” shoulder hanging “.
By inference, this coverage went from the shoulders down to cover all of her shame, which includes all of her lower hips and below, so that the robe was revealing nothing by appearance or form. God made this covering to cover men from the shoulders down as well as women. The concept of lasciviousness according to the Bible has to do with the private parts and how they are covered (Isa 47: 3; Revelation 3:18; 16:15; cf. Lv 18; 20).
7 Ways to Overcome Lewdness with Scripture
There is a very clear definition of lewdness according to the bible, and as we all know, the temptation of lewdness is everywhere. Trying to rid your life of lust through sheer willpower, internet filtering software, or personal responsibility can help, but none of these is the true solution.
God’s Word is “living and powerful” ( Hebrews 4:12 ), it is a “lamp to our feet and a light to our path” ( Psalm 119:105 ), and it is also the long-term cure for lust. It is absolutely vital to know what God’s Word has to say about lust and how to overcome it. Here are 7 ways you can beat lust according to and with the help of the bible:
1. Matthew 5:27-28 (NIV)
“You have heard that it was said: ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that whoever looks at a woman to lust after her has already committed adultery with her in her heart.”
The first step in overcoming scriptural lust is to see that it is wrong and harmful. Many Christians are tempted to justify lust because they are deceived into thinking that it is less sinful than engaging in sexual intercourse. But it is very important to understand what the Bible really says.
In Matthew 5:27-28, Jesus teaches us that anyone who looks at another person with covetousness has committed adultery with them in his heart. In other words, Jesus puts lusting and having sex with someone other than your spouse on the same level. If lust is so important to God, then overcoming lust must be paramount to us.
2. Job 31:1 (NLT)
“I made a pact with my eyes not to look lustfully at a young woman.”
In this scripture, Job gives us one of his secrets to overcome lust: make a pact with our eyes. A covenant is the strongest bond one can have. There is a level of commitment that Job declares over his eyes that helps him stop lusting. If Job chose what his eyes would not look at, then we can do the same.
3. 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NKJV)
“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man; but faithful is God, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond your possibilities, but with the temptation will also open the way of escape, so that you can overcome it.
If we analyze what lewdness is according to the Bible, we will understand that it is a sin (Matthew 5: 27-28). To sin, we must first be tempted. After knowing the encouragement of the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 10:13, the “Couldn’t help it” excuse doesn’t hold up well against lust. No temptation, even lust, is greater than God’s faithfulness. If lust lurks around the corner, God promises to open a way out. He chooses the way out and you will not fall into the trap of lust.
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4. Galatians 5:16
“Then I say: Walk in the Spirit, and you will not fulfill the desires of the flesh.”
Lewdness is of the flesh. Self-control is one of the fruits of the spirit ( Galatians 5:22-23 ). To overcome lust we need to have self-control over our eyes and thoughts. I love how simple yet profound Galatians 5:16 is. If we walk and live our lives more in the Holy Spirit of God, then we are less likely to satisfy the desires of the flesh.
5. Romans 12:2 (NLT)
“Do not copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing your way of thinking. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good, pleasing and perfect.”
Lust is everywhere and is often celebrated in our world today. Even as Christians, it is difficult to understand the meaning of lewdness according to the Bible and very easy to twist it. It’s easier to start drifting towards lustful behavior in the culture because we see it so often. The truth and defiance in this scripture are liberating. Do not copy the lustful behavior of those in the world, let God change your way of thinking to rid you of lustful thoughts.
6. Psalm 119:9-11 (NIV)
“How can a young man stay on the path of purity? Living by your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me deviate from your commandments. I have hidden your word in my heart so as not to sin against you.”
Many times we are defensive against the lust in our lives; “Don’t look at that”, “I hope you’re not wearing that outfit”, among others. However, going on the offensive is a great way to get rid of lust according to the bible. This verse says that if we want to remain pure and not sin against God, then we must hide the word of God in our hearts. If you take the time to dig into all these verses we’ve been looking at, don’t be surprised how much lust loses its power in your life.
7. Romans 7:24-25 (NLT)
“Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life dominated by sin and death? Thanks god! The answer lies in Jesus Christ our Lord.”
If you currently struggle with lust, you can probably relate to the apostle Paul when he says, ” Oh, what a wretched person I am !” Or maybe you connect with feelings of bondage when Paul asks, “Who will deliver me from this life that is ruled by sin and death? “
Is there even hope of overcoming lust according to the bible? You can bet there is: ” Thank God! The answer lies in Jesus Christ our Lord !” The forgiveness, grace, and strength that come from a personal relationship with Jesus is the ultimate solution to the problem of lust.
So whether you struggle with lust yourself or are looking to help a friend overcome their domination, remember: God’s Word is the answer. Start working on the Word in this area and see how it works in your life in an extraordinary way.
Remember that Jesus spoke against the evil of lewdness, which includes revealing nudity. The Scriptures define the nudity of men and women and give instructions about it. Because of Genesis, believers should know that the chest and breasts must remain covered along with the abdomen ( Ezekiel 23:34-35 ).
Christians must forsake all lewdness and focus their minds on the Spirit rather than the flesh ( Romans 8:5-11 ). True believers should dress modestly and not lead others to lewdness or lust.
The Christian life must be based on the teachings of Christ and, therefore, we must follow his word by opposing behavior contrary to God’s mandate.