How Grace Triumphs Over Lust

Note: The following is article #27 in a series reflecting on chapters in John Piper’s book Future Grace. More information on the book from is available here. A list of all the articles in this series so far is available here.

There is much that has been said about the Christian and sexual lust. We all face it, and we all know what the Bible says about it. We’ve all felt its power in our lives, and we’ve all felt defeated by its power in some way at some time. For some, its power enslaves their whole lives.

Dr. Piper makes several points regarding this very important part of our spiritual lives. The first point is that we must take this battle with sin seriously:

Jesus says that if you don’t fight this sin with the kind of seriousness that is willing to gouge out your own eye, you will go to hell and suffer there forever.

Far too many Christians, under the influence of a culture where there is almost no acknowledgement of sexual sin and that is permeated by it, soften and even abandon God’s stance on the role of sex and the role of purity in our lives. There are many who have decided “not to make a big deal” of infidelity or sexual media, knowing that God is “loving and gracious.” He warns:

There are many professing Christians who have a view of salvation that disconnects it from real life, and that nullifies the threats of the Bible, and puts the sinning person who claims to be a Christian beyond the reach of biblical warnings. I believe this view of the Christian life is comforting thousands who are on the broad way that leads to destruction.

If we do not fight any & every sin in our lives, including sexual sin, with every ounce of our strength, we are fools to assume that we are truly saved. We must strive to live lives of holiness.

Dr. Piper’s next point is that God’s grace in our lives is sufficent for every battle, even the battle against lust. Just like any other part of the Christian life, it is all about grace:

This is the grace we live under— the sin-conquering, not just sin-canceling, grace of God. Triumph over the sin of lust is all of grace— past grace, canceling lust’s guilt through the cross, and future grace, conquering lust’s power through the Spirit.

Dr. Piper then moves onto the primary means through which grace triumphs over lust. Willpower isn’t enough. Guilt won’t do the job. Neither will a sense of duty. The secret in triumphing over lust or any sin is God Himself seen by the eyes of faith:

When my thirst for joy and meaning and passion are satisfied by the presence and promises of Christ, the power of sin is broken. We do not yield to the offer of sandwich meat when we can smell the steak sizzling on the grill. The fight of faith against lust is the fight to stay satisfied with God. (Hebrews 11:24-26)… It is the “precious and magnificent” promise that the pure see God that empowers our escape from lust. (Matthew 5:8)

He ends with a quote from a pastor who realized the power of treasuring God in the fight against sin:

I was limiting my own intimacy with God. The love He offers is so transcendent and possessing that it requires our faculties to be purified and cleansed before we can possibly contain it.

May we all so grow in our vision of Christ and treasuring that vision that every other attraction fades from our view.

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