Being a fireman, I’ve noticed a parallel lust has with fire. Like fire, lust has stages of growth until it becomes, uncontrollable, or out of control. Lust, unattended will produce grave results…”after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death” (James 1:15).
The only difference between lust and fire is there visibility during destruction. For example; Fire will consume a home or business in a few minutes to a few hours, with the recognizable outcome of the collapsed building that everyone can see.
Lust on the other hand, does it’s destruction internally, in the heart and mind where no one can see. But lust will eventually show it’s destruction outwardly in the form of broken marriages, broken hearts, broken ministries and the like. Let’s take a look at the growth of fire to see the parallels with lust.
- The incipient stage: The first stage of fire growth when the room’s contents are starting to burn
- The free burning stage: The second stage of fire growth when the fire has enough heat, oxygen and fuel to continue burning.
- The smoldering stage: The third stage of fire growth when there’s not enough heat, oxygen, or fuel to continue burning. The fire appears to be out.
A spark by itself isn’t what the fire service is worried about. However, in the hands of someone who is irresponsible the spark could become deadly, turning into a raging inferno. The spark of lust seems to be harmless. Like the spark of fire, it seems so small, but like a spark that can set a forest on fire, our hearts can be inflamed by this initial spark of lust.
What is this spark I am referring to in lust?
When we look at someone that is attractive to us, this is the spark I am referring to. Now a spark by itself isn’t the problem, but allowed to burn unattended will become a free burning fully involved fire. At first it’s not a big deal, but if the spark isn’t put out it will begin the first stage of growth. This spark along with fuel (dwelling on the person’s appearance) will develop into the second or free burning stage. A stage that is much harder to extinguish than the first.
This second free burning stage is the one that’s most noticeable. Flames roaring from the buildings windows, or roof tops, will quickly alert by-standers to call 911. We recognize this free burning of lust when we can’t get the images out of our minds. Like fire it’s the most recognizable stage as we struggle inside our minds to extinguish the image or images. This second stage (since it’s the the free burning and the most recognizable stage) is the stage of frequent self-gratification (masturbation).
“I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28 NIV).
Do you see the stages of lust in this Scripture?
- “Looks at a woman” (The spark)
- “Lustfully” (The first stage of fire growth when our minds are starting to burn)
- “Committing adultery in the heart” (The second stage when our minds have enough images to continue burning)
We see these stages in our lives with lust, from the spark…to the first stage…to the second free burning stage, and finally to the third or smoldering stage.
This third stage is the most dangerous for firefighters. In this third stage the fire seems to be out, but it’s actually hidden deep beneath the rubble waiting for someone to open a door or window, to feed the fire oxygen. At the moment a door or window is opened the fire will explode from the rush of oxygen and return to the second free burning stage. This explosion in firefighting is known as a back draft. This explosion is equal to the explosion of lust that over takes our minds.
If we haven’t extinguished the flames of lust in our lives we will go into this smoldering stage. In this stage we think we’re okay, but we haven’t put the fire of lust out. It’s smoldering in our heart and mind, waiting to be fed by the next image or images. Once we see them again, like the fire being fed by oxygen, we explode with lust into the free burning stage, the stage of self-gratification, “with a continually lust for more” (Ephesians 4:19). The only way to contain this raging inferno, is to snuff the spark out so it doesn’t have a chance to get to the first stage of growth.
Author: Erick Hurt
From a slave to sin–to freedom in Christ (Galatians 5:1). From an abusive husband verbally and physically–to loving my wife as Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:25). Now an Elder at Family Bible Church, I speak, teach, and preach with the same passion I once had for sin. I work as a volunteer for Setting Captives Free ministry as a mentor and mentor coordinator helping people become freed from the grip of sin. Visit www.settingcaptivesfree.com.