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Stoking the Fire

Sometimes at the bottom of a smoldering pile of ashes lies a hot ember that is smothered away from the air.  Oxygen is required for a fire to burn, so as long as the ember is buried, it will produce no fire.  Eventually, it will lose its heat, and the threat of fire will pass.  However, if the pile of ashes is stoked and stirred and the hot ember is exposed to air, it will suddenly ignite into flame.

Lust in the heart of man is very similar to that buried ember.  It may be covered and smothered so that it never realizes its dangerous potential.  However, the embers of lust become a raging inferno when fueled with the enticements of the world.  Therefore, one must be careful about things to which he exposes himself lest he stir up the lust in his heart and start a fire that destroys him.

Notice James 1:14-15, where James describes a progression of events that will lead one from a small ember of lust to a blaze of sinful fire – “But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.  Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.”  The process begins with lust, which is a desire for something evil.  When lust is exposed to the object of desire, it leads to temptation.  When one yields to his lust and embraces the opportunity of temptation, lust conceives and sin is born.

Although the progression of lust, temptation, and sin is entirely within the control of the individual, let us focus on one factor that is most easily within his control – exposure to an object of desire.  The object of a man’s evil desire is the oxygen to his ember of lust.  When a man stirs up his heart and exposes it to the evil which entices him through lust, he foolishly ignites a fire that he may not be able to extinguish.  Therefore, he must be honest within himself about his own lust and avoid the enticements that might kindle an explosion.

For example, notice the instruction of Solomon to his sons regarding adultery.  He said of the adulteress, “Keep your way far from her, and do not go near the door of her house” (Prov. 5:8).  This is such simple advice, and yet it is so practical and effective, for a man cannot commit adultery with a woman if he stays away from her.  The wisdom of this advice is illustrated in Proverbs 7, where Solomon described a foolish young man who failed to avoid the enticements of an adulteress.  The young man was seen “passing through the street near her corner; and he takes the way to her house” (v. 8).  This one poor decision began the process that ended in destruction for the young man.  Because he exposed himself to the object of his lust, he lost everything.

Evil allurements are all throughout the world and are not difficult to find.  A wise Christian will go out of his way to avoid them.  This may require changing friends, changing environments, and changing habits, for “bad company corrupts good morals” (1Cor. 15:33).  Christians should choose friends who strengthen their faith rather than tear it down.  They should stay out of places where sin abounds (bars, dance clubs, etc.).  They should not place themselves in compromising situations with other people that may lead to sin.  They should avoid the filth and trash that is available through television, movies, and the internet.  Some of these changes may seem difficult to some Christians, but they are changes that can save a person from an eternity of pain.

Therefore, let us be careful not to stoke the fire of lust in our hearts.  We all know our own particular weaknesses, so we should apply this knowledge and shield ourselves from those things that could tear us away from God.  Paul told Timothy to “flee youthful lusts” (2Tim. 2:22) because Timothy was a young man who would have been susceptible to such things.  All Christians should likewise flee those things which arouse their particular lusts.  If we do this, perhaps we will be able to smother the embers of lust that smolder within us and prevent the fire that may consume us.

Stacey E. Durham



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