Lust and Spiritual Vertigo

Sexual fulfillment is ultimate Immorality

8 We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day.

This story recorded in Numbers 25.  Here’s what happened.  The Israelites encamped near the Moabites.   The Moabites worshipped pagan gods of fertility and sexuality.  The Moabites invited the Israelites to their parties and worship services.  These were filled with illicit sexual activity.  The Israelites did, and the text says they “began to whore with the daughters of Moab (Num. 25:1).”

This is not hard to figure out, and I hope I don’t have to color this in.  They called themselves the people of God, but they wanted sexual fulfillment more than God’s favor.  Sex more than God.

There is so much to say on this point.  Sexual desire is so deceptive.  It is a drug and it disorients our value system and it plays with our hearts so easily.  A well-intended Christian man can be walking down the street and in a moment see an advertisement or an attractive woman and be seized by something very powerful and very disorienting.  I know because I have tried to be that good Christian man.  Lust is instant vertigo.  When lust has the opportunity to express itself, now it seems overwhelming.  Vertigo.  I love God but she is so beautiful, so desirable, so much better than not having her or having someone else.  How quickly we can forget a Savior who loved us and died to set us free from sin.  How quickly we forget about the damage and intrinsic punishment sex outside of marriage brings.

We are living in a Modern day Moab and the Moabites invite us to their value set every day.  If you think you could never do that, lust after that, become obsessed with online pornography, forget your marital vows, rationalize anything, blindly lose everything for a sexual encounter, you have not only forgotten what happened to Israel but are blind to how many fall to this all around us.  [If you party with the Moabites, you’ll likely sleep with the Moabites.]

Sexual desire itself is good.  God made it and designed marriage for its fulfillment.  Lust magnifies the value of the momentary thrill and minimizes the spiritual consequences so that in that moment it seems perfectly reasonable to lust, flirt, and ultimately, sleep with someone.

This is spiritual vertigo.  If King David would have thought rationally for a moment about all that a sexual encounter with Bathsheba would cost him, he would have never given her a second glance.

I received a note from someone who told me that he was obsessing about a woman who was not his wife.  What should he do?  This is what I wrote him.  I share your deep concern for this fantasy that you are in.  As you must realize, this is NOT God’s will.  It is a lie that is promising to offer you something that fidelity to your wife and God will not provide.  You need to take this thought captive and kill it by slaying it with what you know to be true.  Sexual sin outside of marriage is a powerful lie, you promised your wife you would love her only, the world and your family is watching to see if there is any truth to your profession of Christ, every adulterer is judged by God, the consequences of doing what you are fantasizing would be devastating and regretful for a lifetime.  A few honest moments of reflection like this would/must surely show this other woman and the thoughts you have toward her to be completely foolish.  If you intentionally spend time thinking and praying through these things and still cannot see this woman through the lens of truth, let me know.

Israel is an example.  Thankfully, it is also an example of God’s grace.  Sexual sin is damaging but it is also forgivable by God and others.  God will restore the repentant sinner.  I’d also add, we are all in this struggle together and none of us should cast too many stones or we will find ourselves the one who thinks he stands yet falls.

Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

© 2010 Steve DeWitt. You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that: (1) you credit the author, (2) any modifications are clearly marked, (3) you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, (4) you include Bethel’s web site address ( on the copied resource.

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