“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.”
of the flesh,
The “flesh” refers to illegitimate appetites produced by our sin factory – our sin capacity. It represents rebellion against God (Ro 7:15,25; Ga 5:19,21). The “flesh” is usually something other than the body. It is more than that. It is the sinful nature, the sinful tendencies of humanity, the fallen condition of man, which is present in the body.
The word “of” indicates that this is not a desire for the flesh but a desire of the flesh. It is a desire that springs from the flesh. There is an inclination to follow evil found in our flesh.
Our sin capacity is the factory that produces all evil in our lives.
The flesh of the Christian is just as depraved as the non-Christian. A Christian has the same sinful potential as a non-Christian. If we let our sin capacity lose, we can commit murder and adultery, just like David did. “Moment by moment, we are kept in His love.”
Ro 7:18, “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.”
Ro 13:14, “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.”
Php 3:3, “For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh…”
Once we realize that the sin capacity within does not improve, we will treat it with caution. It could unleash a pattern of sin at any time.
Bodily appetites in themselves are good. There is a legitimate satisfaction of our bodies, but there is also an illegitimate satisfaction. That sinful system of satisfaction and desire comes from sinful motives and from the sinful method of seeking satisfaction in self. When we seek to substitute the lust of the flesh to satisfy our souls, then we violate the principle of finding satisfaction in God.
There are many lusts of the flesh in the church world today. For example, there is approbation lust. Some Christians live for praise. This is what stimulates and motivates them. It is worse than drug addiction. Their philosophy is this, “If someone praises me, I am good. Maybe I am better than most.”
Some people give money for human recognition. They want their church to think well of them. They may give for a very worthy cause, but if recognition at the heart of it, it is worldliness. “Oh, I get my name on a bronze plaque for giving more than others.” The purpose of this kind of life is human recognition.
It is one thing to show appreciation for service, but it is another thing to stroke pride in people. Appealing to the approbation lust of people to serve the Lord is no justification for service. If we approach Christianity this way, people will work their hearts out to gain recognition, but they will not please the Lord.
Another form of lust is power lust. Many seek leadership in Christian organizations for power. They cannot obtain power at work, so they seek it at church. Now they are big fish in a small pond. They have their little domain. They know nothing of genuine biblical leadership. Biblical leadership does not revolve around ego needs for power. They are now a “great believer” recognized by many as a super-saint. They kid themselves, and their church deludes itself if they think this is spirituality. It is carnality. It is worldliness.