“For all that is in the world the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life is not of the Father but is of the world.”
The word “lust” denotes strong desire of any kind, a yearning or longing. The New Testament mostly uses “lust” in the bad sense. The idea is to crave or long after something evil with a sense of urgency, a passionate desire for satisfaction. It wishes for some illicit thing on which we set our heart. It is inordinate longing of any kind pertaining to such sensuality as greed, sexual lust and the like. It makes pleasure to be an idol.
Ro 6: 12 “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.”
Ep 2: 3 “…among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.”
Co 3: 5 “Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.”
1 Th 4: 5 “…not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God…”
1 Ti 6: 9 “But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.”
2 Ti 2: 22 “Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”
The believer needs the power of the Holy Spirit to help him counteract his enemy within – his sin capacity.
We can tell the difference between a saved person and a lost person by finding out whether they have two natures or just one. The Christian has two natures. We receive these two natures at two different births. We receive fallen “flesh” at our first birth, our physical birth. We receive a divine nature at our second birth, our spiritual birth (Jn 3:3,7). We cannot eradicate either nature once we have them.
The “lust of the flesh” is the cravings and ambitions of the sin capacity. All the non-Christian has is sight, feel, smell, hearing and seeing. He has no capacity to live for God. He may produce a morality from the flesh but he cannot walk with God. He cannot ascertain the things of God (1 Co 2:14). No amount of religious perfume squirted on him will make a difference. He will always be flesh and nothing more than flesh.
The Christian has a capacity to live for self or live for God. The flesh or the old nature cannot improve. It is eternally depraved. That is why we must be born again to receive capacity to fellowship with God. When a person receives Christ, he does not lose his fallen nature but receives a new nature.
The sin capacity in the believer is just as foul as a non-believer’s fallen nature. We can never refine it, convert it or save it. However, God implants a new nature in the believer at the point of salvation. We never lose the new nature. As we cannot decide to become a dog or cat, we can never decide to lose who we are in Christ.
Once we become Christians, a titanic tug of war begins to take place within the Christian. A new struggle for the sovereignty of our soul begins to take place. It takes the power of the Holy Spirit to win that war.
Ga 5: 16 “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.”
The flesh and our new nature attempt to checkmate each other. There is a constant struggle between the two. Education and literacy will not deliver us from the power of the flesh. Only the Holy Spirit can do that.