The Lust of the Eyes

The student of the Bible understands that one way our adversary, Satan, allures us is through the lust of the eyes: “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world” (1 John 2:16). He did so through the appeal concerning the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil—“it was pleasant to the eyes” (Gen. 3:6), and he continues to do so today.

The eyes of humanity have certainly gotten us into much trouble. In the antediluvian world, the Bible records, “…the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose” (Gen. 6:2). Certainly, this was directly related to the fact that “God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5). Thus, note the difference in what these men saw and what God saw. Praise God that he was able to see integrity and faithfulness in Noah (Gen. 6:9).

Many individuals in the Bible point out the correlation of our eyes to temptation. In Joshua 7, Achan disobeyed God in stealing things that God specifically announced through Joshua were devoted. His single wicked act was directly responsible for the defeat of Israel at the hands of the citizens of Ai, resulting in the loss of thirty-six men (Josh. 7:5). This disturbs Joshua greatly, and he begins searching throughout the Israelite camp for the one responsible. He whittles down his search through tribe, clan and family to the guilty party—Achan. Only after they discover him does he admit, “When I saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight, then I coveted them, and took them; and, behold, they are hid in the earth in the midst of my tent, and the silver under it” (Josh. 7:21). Please note the progression of sin—he saw, he coveted, he took and he hid. In other words, it all began with the lust of his eyes. Can we not see this same digression within David concerning his sin with Bathsheba? It all began when “David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king’s house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon” (2 Sam. 11:2). He saw Bathsheba, coveted Bathsheba, took Bathsheba and then tried to hide his sin with Bathsheba—it all began with a lustful look!

Through such, the temptation and allurement of the lust of the eyes is not unique, but is quite common from one generation to the next. It may be the “goodly Babylonish garment” and money that Achan saw or it may be the bathing beautiful woman that David saw. It may be seeing an opportunity to steal the coveted blouse at Wal-Mart or it may be seeing pornography on an isolated computer screen (cf. Matt. 5:28). It may be seeing an opportunity to illegally trade on Wall Street or it may be seeing an opportunity to cheat the IRS on our taxes. It is all the same!

In conclusion, rather than utilizing our eyes to see that which we ought not to view/look, we ought rather to do as Job stated: “I made a covenant with mine eyes…” (Job 31:1). Everyone ought to make a covenant with their eyes against that which is lustful. Rather than using our eyes to see that which is lustful, we ought to use our eyes to see that way of escape from this dangerous mode of temptation: “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Cor. 10:13). Let us train our eyes to look for the way out!

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