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The Difference Between Love and Lust

The following is a teaching article by Jake Kail:

As we continue to dive into our sermon series on Love and Marriage—and with Valentine’s Day just behind us—the topic of love is abuzz right now. One question I have been pondering is this: What is the difference between love and lust?

This is an important question, because confusing the two can cause a lot of grief and pain. Love is a paramount theme in the Bible, while lust is continually warned against. Many in our culture may look for love, but fill that void with lust instead.

Lust is the counterfeit of love. As I thought about the difference between the two, here are some things that came to mind:

Lust is about taking, while love is about giving:

Lust will cause you to take from someone else in order to feel better about yourself. Love on the other hand, causes you to give to others for their benefit. “For God so loved the world that He gave…” (John 3:16). Love is generous and sacrificial in its giving.

Lust wants what it doesn’t have, while love cherishes what it does have:

Jesus said this about lust in Matthew 5:28: “But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Lust covets what it cannot have. One of the problems with lust is that it is never satisfied. Once you obtain the object of your lust you now want something else that you cannot have.

Love seeks to value, cherish, and honor what it has. It is not always looking for something or someone else.

 Lust is selfish, while love is selfless:

The goal of lust is self-gratification at the expense of someone else. Love on the other hand, gives to others at the expense of self. Jesus showed the ultimate demonstration of what love looks like when He died on the cross on our behalf. The focus of lust is self; the focus of love is others.

As I have thought through these differences between lust and love, it has caused me to take inventory of my outlook on things. Do I love my wife for selfish reasons, or simply out of true love? Do I have a selfish or selfless attitude toward others? Do I seek to give to others or take from others? Am I cherishing the people that God has placed in my life?

Take time to think and pray through these things and ask the Holy Spirit to fill you with His love!    

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Comments (1)

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    Jere Mellinger


    A wonderful very accurate definition of lust & love Jake, very well explained I’m impressed. Not many know what love is, I know I did not my first 26 years as a believer. Keep spreading God’s understanding he has given you. It’s the Flesh-Lust-Law vs. the Spirit-Love-Grace.


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