The problem with lust isn’t desire, it’s an unfaithful heart.
10 “They will eat but not have enough;
they will engage in prostitution but not flourish,
because they have deserted the Lord
to give themselves 11 to prostitution;
old wine and new wine
take away their understanding.
12 My people consult a wooden idol,
and a diviner’s rod speaks to them.
A spirit of prostitution leads them astray;
they are unfaithful to their God.
13 They sacrifice on the mountaintops
and burn offerings on the hills,
under oak, poplar and terebinth,
where the shade is pleasant.
Therefore your daughters turn to prostitution
and your daughters-in-law to adultery.
Where does lust come from? Is it simply a matter of sexual desire being stronger in some people than others? Is reaching for pornography just another a way to release sexual tension? Or is there something else going on?
Last year I got the flu. Not just a cold but the real thing. For over a week I had body aches and fevers. My eyes and nose were streaming. I had a terrible cough and no appetite. In the end I lost about 6 kilos. And all of that was caused by the tiny influenza virus which had spread through my system causing havoc with the normal functions of my body.
Even though my cough was a problem, and eventually needed to be treated with steroids, the cough itself was not the real problem. The flu virus was the problem, and until that was gone, my cough was never going to get better.
Hosea describes all kinds of problems with the people of God in his day. Gluttony, prostitution, idolatry and adultery all show up in this passage. And while each one really is a big problem, they’re all symptoms of something else. A virus. The unfaithful virus. Their unfaithful hearts are craving satisfaction, but it never comes (v10). Why? Because they’ve deserted the Lord who is the source of what their hearts truly need. Their hearts are unfaithful to God, and like a virus that unfaithfulness spreads to their other relationships, turning up as adultery and prostitution.
The same thing happens to us. Lust and pornography and adultery are all real problems. They’re problems that need to be dealt with. They’re problems we need to die to. But the truth is that they are all symptoms of a deeper problem: a heart that is being drawn away from God – an unfaithful heart that seeks satisfaction away from God. It’s the unfaithful virus that leads us astray, taking desire and turning it into lust.
The cure for the unfaithful virus is to recalibrate our hearts with a desire for God – the true and all-satisfying God whom we meet in the Gospel. By his Holy Spirit, Jesus works to change us and to change the things we desire. Psalm 37 verse 4 says, “Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart”, which means that as we delight in him, he will give us new desires – a recalibrated and faithful heart.
Head: What do you tend to “delight” in through the course of a normal day?
Heart: When has your heart delighted in the Lord in the past?
Hands: What deliberate change will you make to the schedule of your day so that you can activate delight toward God in your heart today?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, by your Spirit help me to love the things you love and to hate the things you hate. Help me to delight in you more and more each day.
A song to listen to: Shine Into Our Night
This Grow Daily was originally posted as part of the God With Us – Matthew series. During the School Holidays we take the opportunity to look back at the Grow Dailys over the years.