Lust is an intense desire or craving, not only for sex but for anything: money, power, even food. In 1 John 2:16, we are warned about the “lust of the flesh” and “lust of the eyes.” What exactly does that mean? One commentator says the word “lust” implies that we are in hot pursuit of something. When we lust with our flesh or our eyes, we are seeking satisfaction in something apart from God.
When we chase after ungodly things, we are not living in the light (v. 15). Temptations try to draw us off the path of righteousness. Where do they come from? We experience temptations from outside things and from inside ourselves, the remains of our sinful nature. “Lust of the flesh” includes sins such as sexual lust and greed. “Lust of the eyes” refers to our worldliness. We chase after temporary things like material possessions, beauty, and social status. Covetousness is when we want more of what others have. “Pride of life” is our natural, unredeemed arrogance and self-sufficiency—we are tempted to believe, in contradiction to the book of Ecclesiastes, that we can find meaning and purpose “under the sun” and on our own.
John’s list of three sources of temptation is not exhaustive, but it does cover a lot of ground. If we are more watchful and alert in these three areas, we will be better prepared to resist temptation. We need to be on our guard because we cannot love both God and the world (vv. 15–16; see also John 15:18–19; James 4:4). These two things are in complete opposition. Light and darkness do not overlap in the slightest.
This world is temporary. It will pass away. But our obedience to the will of God will last forever (v. 17). The wiser investment is clear!
>> Examine your own heart. Which kinds of temptation are you most vulnerable to? Do you have biblical strategies for resisting them? Consider memorizing today’s reading to help win the fight (Heb. 4:12).
We have all been guilty of indulging the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, or the pride of life. Expose to us the things we lust for; help us grasp the emptiness of anything pursued without Your blessing. We desire You and Your way.