|Mammon, Lust, and Hell|
|Written by Toby Sumpter|
|Wednesday, 20 July 2011 14:34|
Many men do not see the real evil in the sin of lust. Sure, it's shameful, it's a lack of self-control, it's selfish, it's a bad habit, whatever.
But God hates lust because of the way it views and treats human beings, His sons and daughters. Yes, the pictures can be perverted. The fantasies can be disgusting. But the real perversion, the deeper disgust is the oppression and abuse inherent in the sin of lust.
Our culture frequently throws up horrifying excuses that what a man does in the privacy of his own bedroom, the images that play through his mind, and so on are really none of anyone else's business. What two consenting adults do in the privacy of their homes, on their own time whether in person or through various forms of media is no one else's business. Those actions, it is claimed, are not hurting anyone, and so on. To say that porn addicts will go to Hell seems kind of extreme. To say that guys who have hooked up with a string of women will go to Hell seems over the top. To say that a guy that moves in with his girlfriend might end up burning in Hell forever seems extremely presumptuous, not to mention old fashioned. Why rain on someone else's parade?
Isn't world poverty more important than a few one night stands? Isn't the oppression of widows and orphans a more pressing issue than a guy fooling around with his girlfriend in the back seat of the car? What about HIV, terrorism, and malnutrition? Aren’t nuclear proliferation, the sex slave trade, and senseless war bigger problems? Don't Christians have more important things to worry about?
But the Bible consistently connects all of these problems with wicked hearts and insists that all of these oppressive and abusive behaviors begin in the heart and mind of man. Later in the text, Jesus says that the lamp of the body is the eye. He says that if the eye is good, the whole body will be full of light, but if the eye is bad, the whole body will be full of darkness, and how great is that darkness (Mt. 5:22-23). This is said in the context of idolatry and greed, serving God or Mammon, storing up treasures in heaven or on earth. This is like Jesus saying that good eyes and bad eyes are the difference between serving God or Stalin, between serving God or Hitler. Mammon is a mass murdering dictator. If your eye is bad, you're serving and carrying out his oppression.
Frequently in Scripture, God equates an "evil eye" with greed and injustice. In the law, God warns Israel against being greedy and ungenerous to the poor. God specifically warns Israel not to have an "evil eye" by withholding aid to those in need of it (Dt. 15:7-9). If God's people do not give to their needy brothers, and they cry out to God against them, God will cause this to be sin for the people. Later in Proverbs, the wise man warns against those who seek to become rich quick. He says that the man who hastens after riches has an “evil eye,” and he assumes that there is injustice and sin involved in the pursuit (Prov. 28:20-28). This guy needs to be rich now; he needs gratification now. In the same context, the wise man warns against those who rob their own parents and justify themselves; he promises many curses for those who hide their eyes from the poor. The "evil eye" is a "dark eye" because it is covered, and it refuses to look with grace and sympathy upon those in need. And the refusal to love and be merciful is hatred, abuse, and injustice.
Jesus uses the same expression to describe the ungrateful workers in the parable of the laborers in the vineyard. He says that their eye is evil because they are jealous and envious of what the other workers have received (Mt. 20:15). And this, along with murder and theft and lies, proceed out of the heart of man, and they come from within and defile a man (Mk. 7:21-23).
But this is the point: a man who views women as objects, as slaves for his whims and fantasies has an evil eye. Lust is greed and covetousness. Lust grasps for what has not been given. Lust demands that the gift be given now, that the riches be gotten now. A man who uses a woman—whether a picture, a movie, a girlfriend, or even a wife—has a bad eye. And if his eye is bad, his whole body is full of darkness. And how great is that darkness. A man who does not nourish and cherish his wife in self-sacrificial love but demands and insists and requires immediate satisfaction, immediate service, immediate gratification, cannot see the world the way it is because he has covered his eyes, and he has refused to see his wife as a woman that God has entrusted to him to care for, to serve, to love, and to provide for her needs. And for those who are unmarried, it is a refusal to serve those in need, a refusal to love other women in all honor, as mothers and sisters (1 Tim. 5:2).
In other words, the sin of lust is the sin of an evil eye. It is the sin of greed, of Mammon, of idolatry. It is the sin of hatred and oppression and injustice in seed form in the heart. And this sin necessarily grows up into tyranny and oppression and manipulation in actions, in words, in thoughts, and it fills homes with curses.
The Church is entrusted with true and undefiled religion which is the care of orphans and widows in their distress (Js. 1:27). Literally, James says that this pure and untainted religion is to "visit" orphans and widows in their afflictions. The word "visit" is loaded with Old Testament symbolism and meaning. When God "visits" His people, He comes to them in judgment, He comes to deliver, He comes to give children to the barren, to rescue slaves from their oppressors (e.g. Gen. 21:1-2, 50:24, Ex. 4:31).
The pattern in Scripture is clearly for this ministry of the Church to begin in families, where men provide for their own households (e.g. 1 Tim. 5:8), and it is within that context that the Church more broadly performs its visitation of those in need, caring for true widows and orphans who do not have any familial protections (1 Tim. 5). In other words, men are required by God to love their wives and children and families in such a way as to protect them from becoming true widows and orphans. And the implication is that those men who do not provide for their own families are not neutral, third-party observers. They are oppressors. They are abusers. They are creating widows and orphans. They are like a ravaging army. In fact, Paul says that they have denied the faith and are worse than unbelievers (1 Tim. 5:8).
By their neglect, by their self-indulgence, by their oppressive tone, by their manipulative words and lust-filled actions they are raping, pillaging, and destroying homes, and all too frequently it's their own home. Lust, far from being a distorted form of love, is actually a form of hatred. Lust is a form of rape, a form of murder. Lust is violence committed against the needy. It is withholding real love, and crushing the weak with cruelty.
And that's why God will send porn addicts to Hell. That's why guys who move in with their girlfriends are abusers, turning the women they claim to love into nothing better than concubines and sex slaves, even if she went along with it willingly. That's why it would be better to pluck out the eye that causes you to sin, why it would be better to cut off the hand that causes you to strike down the needy right in front of you. It would be better to enter life maimed than to go to Hell with all your limbs, having used them for such evil.
But there is good news for people with bad eyes. Jesus told the church of Laodicea in particular: "anoint your eyes with eye salve that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent... to him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne" (Rev. 3:18-19). The good news is that Jesus calls His people to overcome this sin, to throw these idols down, and to repent of their evil ways. The good news is that there is a salve for bad eyes, and that salve is the blood of the spotless lamb that was slain to take away the sins of the world. There is forgiveness. But the good news is also that for those who pluck out their eyes and cut off their hands for the sake of the gospel, those who quit jobs, throw away their cell phones and computers, who cancel their internet and cable connections, the good news is that there is resurrection. When they enter life, they will be granted to sit with Jesus on His throne and they will get those hands and eyes back (Mk. 10:29-30).
|Last Updated on Monday, 08 August 2011 15:56|