A Puritan’s View of Lust

9780851519814mImpure Lust is a small book from Banner of Truth‘s Pocket Puritans series. The author, John Flavel, addresses the sin of lust for the first half of the book (46 pages) and the second half was a concise introduction to Flavel’s life and his writings (34 pages).  The book breaks down into ten arguments to show the sinfulness of the sin of lust and warnings why you should avoid it, and then gives seven directions to follow if ensnared by lust.

Reflecting back on the book, I thought it was heavier on sin than on grace. (A big surprise coming from a Puritan.) Using scriptural arguments, he clearly communicated the evil of the sin of lust, but with that conviction I felt that the reader isn’t lead to the cross where that sin is atoned for (for the believer). I don’t know if I would recommend it to a believer who isn’t rooted in grace. But maybe I am the one who is imbalanced in my theology. Perhaps I need to take lust more seriously and not presume on the grace of God in this area. In our sex-saturated culture, I am certain that I am desensitized to the filthiness of lust. I probably needed to read this book (and need to return to it later).I don’t doubt that these warnings to avoid sexually immorality isn’t done in love, but I wanted to hear more of the Gospel that is available to adulterers,fornicators and impure sinners who repent of their lust and trust in the perfectly pure righteousness of Christ.  To be fair, it was a very short book, so it’s easy to say there could a have been more written. Also, I imagine that this was not intended to be an exhaustive book, but just a small selection of his writings on the topic of lust. Regardless, there are several nuggets worth chewing on that I have been posting recently (and will continue to post in the near future). Here is one quote that impacted me the most:

“Oh consider, how will [God’s] almighty power rack and torment you! Think on this when sin comes with a smiling face towards you in the temptation. Oh think! If the human nature of Christ recoiled, when his cup of wrath was given him to drink; if he was sore amazed at it, how shall you, a poor worm, bear and grapple with it for ever?” (p. 31)

I read through this book slowly and I believer that is the way it was intended to be read. If battle lust in any way (and if you have a pulse, chances are you likely do), then you should read this book. I would especially recommend to it if you regularly practice this sin and you aren’t convinced of it’s impurity in light of a Holy God. If you do consider reading it, read and meditate on one argument/direction at a time for at least day or a two.

Overall, I give it 4 stars out of 5. Both the section on lust and the brief biography made me somewhat curious to read more of Flavel’s work. His writing is typically classed with other popular Puritan divines such as John Bunyan, Matthew Henry, and John Owen.

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The Hidden Treasure and Pearl of Greatest Price

This morning I was reading the gospel of Matthew, chapters 12 and 13. Christ is teaching his disciples in many parables and I have been meditating on two them today: the parable of the hidden teasure and the parable of the pearl of great value.

The Parable of the Hidden Treasure

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys up that field.” (Matthew 13:44)

Here is what Matthew Henry says about this parable in his concise commentary:

“Many slight the gospel, because they look only upon the surface of the field. But all who search the Scriptures, so as in them to find Christ and eternal life, John 5:39, will discover such treasure in this field as makes it unspeakably valuable; they make it their own upon any terms. Though nothing can be given as a price for this salvation, yet much must be given up for the sake of it.”

The Parable of the Pearl of Great Value

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that had and bought it.” (Matthew 13:45-46)

Again, here are Matthew Henry’s comments:

“All the children of men are busy; one would be rich, another would be honourable, another would be learned; but most are deceived, and take up with counterfeits for pearls. Jesus Christ is a Pearl of great price; in having him, we have enough to make us happy here and for ever. A man may buy gold too dear, but not this Pearl of great price. When the convinced sinner sees Christ as the gracious Saviour, all things else become worthless to his thoughts.”

This second parable reminds me of the chorus of “Only Jesus” from Sovereign Grace‘s Valley of Vision:

“Only Jesus! Only Jesus!
Give us Jesus, we cry
Only Jesus! Only Jesus!
The Pearl of greatest price”

A Prayer

LORD, thank You for showing me where the treasure of Christ is in the field of your Scriptures. Apart from your Spirit’s work, I would not have known to dig and much less know where to dig. I would have wondered the fields aimlessly in poverty. Father, I praise you for all the riches and wealth that I have in your precious Son. Although salvation is free, it is not without cost. Christ’s blood paid the debt of all my sins in order to purchase my salvation. Lord, that’s percisely the reason why Christ is so valuable to me! I am poor and naked without Him. Jesus, You are more valuable than anything in this world, yet I am tempted daily to hold on to fool’s gold. Don’t let me settle for counterfeit pearls that may appear beautiful, but have no value in Your kingdom. Help me to sell all the treasures that I have. For your glory and my joy, I pray. Amen.