Speaking from personal experience and observation, many sabotage their lives through these three destructive forces. According to 1 John 2:16 (paraphrased), they are …the lust of the flesh (what we crave), the lust of the eyes (what is pleasing to the eye) and the pride of life (arrogance).
1. The lust of the flesh. Lust can be defined as desire over the boundary lines. All of us struggle with lust in some form or another, the question is do we entertain the thought until it fuels desire and brings forth sin, or do we walk away? Desire is not wrong, but what we do with it can be. If our hearts are sincere and teachable, God can bless us, but if we purposely engage in sin, we remove His protection. Being tempted isn’t sin—surrendering to it is. God is merciful to forgive and bestow blessings as we repent and make necessary lifestyle changes. Feelings of lust can be overcome when we read His Word, protect our eyes and ears, educate ourselves, apply wisdom and surround ourselves with those who lift us up rather than pull us down. Addiction can also be classified with the lust of the flesh. Addiction often means to give oneself up to a habit and then become dependent upon that habit. There are many forms of addiction, from drugs and alcohol, to pornography and work or work related success. Workaholics, for example, can appear as hard working and industrious, but the addiction eventually robs from other relationships, and the spiritual and emotional health of the family is neglected. Many men in America will accept difficult employees, face challenging situations on the job, work exhausting hours, commit fully to the cause of the company and do whatever it takes to get the job done, yet, unfortunately, severely neglect a marriage—sometimes it appears as if they’d rather lose a wife than a career.
2. The lust of the eyes can be defined as coveting, or desiring something such as a trophy wife, expensive home, vehicle or other things. When we fall prey to lust our focus often shifts from Christ-centered to self-centered. The next time a decision needs to be made, try asking, “Will this decision please God?” In Matthew 4:8-9 Jesus was also tempted by the lust of the eyes. It states, “The devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory; and he said to Him, ‘All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me’.” Jesus rejected his proposal and defeated him with the Word of God, saying: “For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only’” (Matthew 4:10). In the same way, we have the Word of God available to us. Don’t become frustrated—change takes time. The process requires patience, consistency and obedience in doing what is right.
3. The pride of life is the opposite of humility. It can be defined as conceit, or a sense of superiority in who we are or what we have. Proverbs 6:16-17 says, “The Lord hates a proud look…” Self-centeredness is closely related to pride. When we believe that our needs are more important than the needs of others, and we think more highly of ourselves than we should, pride is a problem and it will severely hinder our progress. “Pride of life” causes us to place more emphasis on things than on people. Pride is the only disease known to man that makes everybody sick except the person who has it. A popular saying bears consideration—God intended that we love people and use things; instead we tend to love things and use people. Pride causes us to take pleasure in the things of the world rather than the things of God. Husbands and wives don’t marry filled with love and passion one day only to lose it the next. Marriage slowly deteriorates through more attention to self than spouse. Most who are divorced will say that their marriage was initially good, but with time, one or both stopped loving—largely because of selfishness. On the lighter side, it may seem simple and understated, however a happy wife can mean a happy life—a happy wife is the result of a husband who is committed to the health of the relationship and who puts her needs above his. Selfishness, simply stated, reflects a silent statement that there is no need for God. It can also lead a wife to feel that she is a liability rather than an asset. A selfish person relies on self-dependence rather than dependence on God, and is proud of it—get rid of it! Self-centeredness leaves little room for other’s needs; it stifles spiritual growth and a teachable spirit. Without humility and a teachable spirit, Satan has free rein. Although difficult at times, it’s much easier to walk in humility than it is to stumble through life selfishly. I encourage you to build your life on godly rather than worldly wisdom. If your eyes are fixed on what the world has to offer rather than on what God has to give, an entire lifetime can be wasted.
Let me leave you with this question, if the enemy “goes to and fro like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8), and “the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him,” (II Chronicles 16:9); who finds you—the adversary, or God? Are you loyal to God by obeying His Word, or do you often stray from the Shepherd and become easy prey?