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The BIBLICAL Definition Of Lust

The word "lust" has been redefined in our modern day usage. The Bible defines lust in a different way. So to answer the question: Is it a sin to lust? It is a sin to lust after something that doesn't belong to you according to how the Bible defines lust. It is not a sin to lust according to how lust is defined today in modern times. Today lust is defined as having sexual feelings toward someone, to see someone as visually appealing and to perhaps have fantasy like thoughts about that person. The Bible defines lust as the pursuit to take possession of something that is not yours, or simply to covet something that is not yours. So if that something is something that does not belong to you, then that is lusting in ways that God condemns. You have now began to carry out a plan to actually commit the crime of stealing. Lust is synonymous with the word covet in the Bible. It could be in a sexual context, but not always, and we shouldn't be so quick to assume such a thing. 

"What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet." Romans 7:8 (This verse tells us plainly that to lust is the same thing as to covet according to how the Bible defines lust. So let's see how the Bible defines covet in order to see how the Bible defines lust.)

"Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's." Exodus 20:17 (So to covet or lust is not just in a sexual sense. It is a property rights issue.)

You can lust after your neighbors steak that you smell on the other side of the fence by pursing a plan to take possession of it. Maybe you are waiting patiently on the side of the house to wait until your neighbor goes in the house for you to go snatch it. Now if the neighbor never goes in the house and you never take possession of the steak then you did not commit the crime of stealing, but you did lust in your heart. That is coveting after your neighbor's steak that is not yours to have. It was your intent to steal the steak and possess it even though that action never played out. Just as today attempted murder is just as bad as murder because the intent of the heart was still the same. But you are perfectly within your rights to appreciate the visual of your neighbor's sizzling steak as well as enjoy the smell of it. You may even imagine in your head the joy of what it would be like to eat and taste your neighbor's steak. That does not mean you are trying, intending, or pursuing to possess his steak. That steak is his not yours to take. You may even have thoughts of taking it. That is temptation, but you never took an action to pursue that endeavor, therefore you did not lust or covet.

"But I say to you, Everyone looking at a woman to lust after her has already committed adultery with her in his heart." Matthew 5:28 (This verse is NOT referencing men having sexual thoughts and feelings toward women as almost everyone teaches. Jesus is saying not to look at another man's wife with covetousness. The definition of the word "covet" is outlined above. The decision to actively pursue another man's wife is not the act of adultery itself, but of covetousness. But you have committed the act in your heart which is evil. This is the cause of the sin of adultery. Jesus is saying to look at the root cause of the sin, which is in man's heart, not the sin itself.)

One note on the word "woman," would better be translated as "wife" because every man has sexual thoughts about his wife before they marry. That is not sin as God designed it that way so that man and woman would marry and have children.  

This is the verse that gets thrown out all too often out of context. We use the modern definition of lust and cast heavy burdens on mankind with all kinds of guilt and shame. Do not underestimate the damage and affect that this interpretation can have on a person. Satan uses this on many to cause all kinds of guilt, shame, and misery. This causes men to run and hide from God when there is no need to feel that shame and guilt. This is a big tool in Satan's toolbox to keep people from pursuing God. It need not be anymore.

Also note that lust is also used in positive ways in the Bible as well. So it is a neutral term. The point is whether you are lusting or coveting after something that is eligible to be had or whether you are lusting or coveting after something that belongs to someone else. That is what determines whether lust is good or bad in how the Bible defines it.