The Difference Between Love And Lust

Neal Pollard

Some years ago, Elvis Huffard discussed some fundamental differences between love and lust. In chart form, he drew them out for consideration. Here they are:

Love                                                                Lust                                                              

Flows both ways                                         Flows toward self

Is learned                                                      Known naturally

Requires attention                                    Takes little effort

An art, not feelings-based                      Act of will, you feel like it

Interested in others’ reputation          Has no such concern

“Greatest…” (1 Cor. 13:13)                     Part of sinful man to be put off (Eph. 4:22)

The world and worldly thinking are continually confused between these two entities. One has the potential to destroy lives, condemn souls, and ruin futures. The other has the ability to transform the object of it, to encourage, and to improve. One has the chafing strings of guilt, shame, fear, and corruption attached. The other is a component part of the fruit of the Spirit, against which “there is no law” (Gal. 5:23b). One is synonymous with spiritual dirtiness, darkness, and deceit. The other is akin to spiritual purity, pleasure, and peace. One caused embarrassment and repercussion for Amnon, Tamar, David, Bathsheba, the men of Sodom, Lot’s family, Noah’s neighbors, the Corinthian man and his father’s wife. The other had its highest expression at a hill called Calvary. One is the path of least resistance, but ends at Destruction Drive. The other road is often narrow, uphill, and bumpy, but the payoff is Paradise Place. One teaches self-absorption, but the other is imminently selfless though self is often rewarded as a byproduct rather than the intention of its execution. The one is base and leads one lower and lower. The other is the polar opposite of this.

So, why do the majority choose lust over love? It’s easier. It gratifies immediate, impulsive desires. It’s enticing in prospect. That it is also destructive to homes and families, churches, and societies is often obscured by those short-term attributes. It requires continued effort and conscious determination to “do” love rather than “feel” lust. The pay off is not flashy or dramatic. It is steady and subtle. Its effects are best seen in the rearview mirror after a long journey, but it is a rare and beautiful view. It is up on the mountain top in the direction of heaven rather than low and frightful in the valley of despair and regret. Choose love over lust, in view of the warning: “Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience” (Col. 3:5-6). Better still, choose love over lust because of the warming: “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God” (Eph. 3:14-19).

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