Pastor Kevin Sanders

"He must increase, but I must decrease." -John 3:30

Love vs Lust: Part One

Love vs. Lust—Part One: Defining Lust

I talked about Love vs. Lust during my opening segments of the radio show last month. I’ll share some of my thoughts for those who were unable to listen.

A student’s question during one of my seminars inspired me to elaborate on this subject:

“Kuya Kevin, my professor said a good relationship has both love and lust. Is this true?”

I answered by saying her professor was very confused. The misguided teacher probably meant attraction is an important aspect of love and romance. This brings us to an important point:

Attraction and lust are not necessarily the same things.

Physical attraction is not inherently evil or sinful. It can become sinful, but this depends on our attitude.

Let’s consider Jesus’ was warning in Matthew 5:27-28:

“You have heard the commandment that says, ‘You must not commit adultery.’ But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

The Pharisees considered themselves righteous as long as they weren’t having sex outside of marriage. But Jesus was pointing out a deeper problem. The word translated “lust” describes an intense, burning desire for something. Jesus is describing a heart set on self-gratification instead of God’s glory.  God is not impressed when the only reason we aren’t sinning is lack of opportunity.

Let me define lust this way:

Lust is an attitude of disregard for God’s commandments in favor of my own sexual desires. The voice of lust would sound something like this: “I want this, I want it now, and I don’t care who I hurt or dishonor.”

Is there a fine line between sexual attraction and lust? Not in God’s eyes.

But we are plagued by a sinful nature and live in a sinful word. We tend to be either lax or legalistic, though God would have neither (see: Purity: Pendulum vs Plumb Line).  He simply wants to be Lord of everything in our lives, including our physical and emotional appetites.  It’s easy to say this, but none of us ever completely master it–this is one of the many ways we are in desperate need of God’s grace.

The line between lust and attraction may at times be difficult to discern.  The distinction between love and lust, however, is much easier to see.  Check out Love vs Lust Part 2: Differences.



  1. You know I think that’s where we are mostly confused about, is what we’re feeling lust or attraction?

    Is it still considered lust if you don’t act on the sexual desire?

  2. It’s still considered lust if the only reason you are not acting is because of lack of opportunity. I think this is the heart of what Jesus was saying in the Sermon on the Mount.

  3. But isn’t it natural when you’re attracted to someone or even in love with someone, to want to touch and do things like we see in the movies and TV, and imagine all that in your head, whether you’re a guy or a woman? is that considered lust?

  4. I think it’s very natural.

    This is the “fine line” I was mentioning before–I’m not sure exactly at exactly what point these kinds of thoughts are considered lust. But obviously it can become lust at some point, since all sin begins in the mind.

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