By Pastor Jim Cymbala
“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the father is not in them. For everything in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes, and the pride of life – comes not from the father but from the world” (1 John 2:15-16)
This is not a passage that you hear too many sermons about or messages on the radio but this is part of the Bible; “Do not love the world or anything in the world or anything in the world, if any one loves the world, the love of the father is not in him”. What’s in the world?
What is the world? Everything in the world, that is, the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does, comes not from the father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away but the man that does the will of God lives forever.
I want you to notice that what the world consists of is three things spiritually speaking, three atmospheres, three philosophies; the desires or cravings of sinful man, that is our fallen nature, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does.
In otherwords, it is a vain display of life. Notice particularly the middle one; the lust of the eyes. Eyes have desires that here are likened to something almost separate from our consciousness, of course they are linked together with the soul.
There are two main passages into your soul to get to who you are and to stir you one way or another. There is the Ear Gate and the Eye Gate.
People become Christians when they hear the Gospel through the Ear Gate. Wives of unbelieving husbands are told to witness to their husbands who are not Christians not so much by what they say, which is through the Ear Gate, but by the way they behave themselves; that their sweet and chaste behaviour would have an influence on their husbands through the Eye Gate and the Ear Gate.
(1 Peter 3:1-2). Therefore, to reach a person and to be affected by the world around us, there are two main ways, that is the Ear Gate and the Eye Gate.
In the era that we live in, which is not the 1700s or 1800s when people did not understand this and it was not sophisticated as it is because of the advancement in television, movies and the internet, advertisers understand how easy it is to get someone’s attention and move their will by going through the Eye Gate.
The Bible tells us that there is a look that kills; not the way someone looks at us but the way we look at something and then what happens once that spark is lit.
The Bible tells us that there is a look that can deceive. You hear people saying that seeing is believing? Well, not exactly , because in Genesis 13 we find that Abraham was being so blessed that he and his nephew Lot could not live in the same land because the land could not sustain them.
Therefore, Abraham said to Lot, “Pick where you want to go even though you are the younger man and I have priority over you.”
The Bible says that Lot looked up and saw the whole plain of the Jordan was well watered like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt towards Zoar.
In other words, Lot lifted up his eyes and he looked North and then he looked East, then West, and then turned around and looked South because Abraham had said just chose what you want.
The Bible tells us that Lot went by what he saw with his natural eyes and he gazed on something that attracted his attention.
The only problem is that about one verse later it says, “And lot lived among the cities of the plain and he pitched his tent in Sodom”.
Lot ended up in a homosexual hotbed. Lot ended up going to a place that was going to cost him dearly that he barely escaped from it when God was going to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. How did Lot end up there? He ended up there by a look that deceived.
He didn’t pray, he didn’t ask God’s leading. He just went by what he saw, and I want to tell you that there is a look that deceives.
Not everything that looks good is good. Not everything that looks lovely, ends up lovely. There are a lot of situations, there are a lot of people, and there are a lot of relationships that look wonderful and if you and I don’t pray and ask God’s mind concerning it and look in the Scriptures to find out and verify by the Bible, we can get into a heap of trouble.
This look that deceives happened to deceive a righteous man for the Bible in another place calls him “Righteous Lot”( 2 Peter 2: 7-8).
You don’t even want to know about the story when God was going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah and Abraham knew that his deceived nephew was living there and it got to the place that angels were sent to try to warn him and get him out but the men of the city were so brutal and so aggressive that they wanted to sexually molest the two men thinking they were men but not knowing they were angels.
Lot had been so contaminated or twisted by his stay in that place that he said to the crowd that gathered to molest the men, “I have two daughters who are virgins, please do not touch these men. I will send out my daughters to you so you can do what you want with them.”
It all began by him just looking and going by what looked good. There is a way that seems right to a person, and looks right, but the end is destruction.
There are relationships that look good. There are girls that look pretty. There are guys that look so cute.
There are situations that look good to the natural eye but I want to tell you something, they are not good, there is a look that deceives, and if you stare at it and if you only see it in your natural eyes, physical vision doesn’t always see the spiritual trap.
There is an attraction in looking at something that looks good even though dangerous and spiritual pollution follows.
Don’t tell me this is not powerful because Satan used it against Jesus. The Bible tells us in Matthew 4:8, Satan led Jesus up to a very high mountain and he let him see and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendour.
He tried to appeal to that Eye Gate in Jesus and said “Look what I’ll give you, look at the glory of it!” But Jesus was too wise, too righteous, perfect righteousness, to fall for that trap that Lot fell for.
I want to tell you young people that there is a look that deceives. Don’t tell me it looks good, you’ve got to ask God if it is good.
Beyond the look that deceives, because of the power of the Eye Gate, there is a look that can detonate and explosion.
There is a look that can detonate a sexual explosion. The Bible tells us in 2nd Samuel 11, that a man who had been chosen by God, that had a heart after God, King David, also got tripped by a look.
So I want you to notice that not only righteous Lot but also King David, you don’t find many finer than David, infact Jesus wanted to be called and chose to be called Jesus Son of David. The Messiah was the Son of David.
But when his armies were out fighting, the Bible says that David went out for a walk on the roof when he couldn’t sleep. When you cannot sleep and it is late in the night with all the stuff that is around us today, you need to realize the importance of prayer.
I never realized the importance of a prayer I heard prayed by a blind woman who wrote books about a hundred years ago. She prayed and I read in her diary, “Lord don’t only give me a safe night but give me a pure night.”
David went out on a walk and from the roof he saw a woman bathing, naked. The woman was very beautiful and David sent someone to find out about her. Now, I don’t have to elaborate that there is a wiring between our eyes and our sexual passions.
That is one of the ways people can be turned on. It does not matter how godly you are, if you look long enough you can easily be turned on, but you detonate something you have no idea what it can do.
The look at this woman, the eyegate taken up, David must have then formed thoughts which then turned tofantasies.
In other words, when the eye doesn’t see it any longer, it still has taken a picture of it, and the pictures can be enlarged and brought up at the will of the person and that’s what forms fantasies where you play the pictures that your eyes had taken in.
How strong must be the power of the Eye Gate to detonate an explosion when the King of Israel, anointed by Samuel the Prophet, slayer of Goliath, Psalmist of Israelanointed of God, sends a messenger to find out about this woman. He has his own family, but this eye stuff makes you crazy.
He not only sends a message and finds out that she is Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah the Hittite, one of David’s warriors, who is fighting for him at that moment.
He sends another messenger, how crazy is this! He sends a messenger to get her to come to him to stay the night so that he could have intercourse with her, and it all began with a look.
You know the story doesn’t end there, she becomes pregnant. He calls home the husband to try to cover his tracks.
The husband, who is not even a Jew, is so loyal to David to go and sleep with his wife which David was hoping so that he would forget the days and think the child was his.
David ends up with a situation where he has to send him back to the battle, and now because the Eye Gate and the passion that it ignited, he sends a letter in writing and tells his general to attack a certain place and withdraw the troops except Uriah.
He puts this in writing that somebody else could see! You see the Eye Gate can trigger and detonate an explosion which brings a kind of madness on a person.
All of us are susceptible because it is in the Bible that this happened to David, it could happen to you and me. Don’t say I walk too close to God. You need God’s grace everyday of your life because everyone is capable of anything.
If we know anything from the Bible, we know this. “I’m only looking, I didn’t do anything, I’m just looking”, you may say, but it never stops there by necessity, we know that.
The Eye gate is for certain sense the only detonating device, especially sexually and also for coveting.
The pictures stay on in mind, the will is then won over and fantasies take control of our inner person. And once the emotion is won over and the will is won over, action is going to happen as it happened to David.
David gets Uriah killed, and that is what God has to chasten him for, and the whole series began with one look at a woman bathing while walking on your roof!
The judgment that came on his house, the trouble that came on his house, and on his multiple wives, you don’t want to know!
And it all started brothers and sisters, with one look. No wonder the Bible says in Psalm 119 verse 37, “Turn my eyes away from worthless things.
Preserve my life according to your word.” No wonder the Bible says in Proverbs 4:25, “Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you. Even if you are watching the news or some educational channel, you can’t totally watch now because the advertisements will pollute you.
It doesn’t have to be the story or the programme, you can be watching the evening news and the advertisements come out. Don’t you understand the power that is in the Eye gate?
The advertising industry has fine-tuned the seductiveness of it, but the godly man wrote, “Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you.”
David definitely gets out of control, and it started with just a look. Let’s admit it, the number one plague in our country today is pornography.
The leaders of two major denominations told me that they have pulpits empty at the highest rates ever because of pastors who have bit the dust, some by discouragement, some through marital problems, and they said you don’t want to know what this computer stuff has done!
The ministers are hooked on the internet. A pastor and chaplain in a school opened up to me that the number one problem of the school is the internet. The kids look all scrubbed clean but that internet has a voice that calls them.
He said in his church, a deacon who runs a weekly Bible study with twenty six men, asked them to open up to him confidentially, and he asked, “How many of you in the last few weeks or months watched pornography on the internet?”, and twenty four out of twenty six indicated “Yes” in the Bible study service. Twenty four out of twenty six!
These were not folks who had no appetite for God’s word, these were the folks in the Bible study.
Hence, the eye has the ability to rivet our attention and then it has desires of its own and it has a wiring system with our emotion and our will and our inner soul and it pollutes a person and pollutes the family. That is why the writer of Psalm 101:3says, “I will set no evil thing before me”.
The sign of our allegiance to God is “I will set nothing evil before me. I will not look at something that is evil because that is the way to show that I love you because you are a holy God”.
How many of us want to live a life that we set nothing evil before our eyes? How many of us want to live a holy life? Set nothing evil before you.
We live in a day, and this is not the 1800s and it’s not the 1900s, things are a lot different now. I was watching the history channel about the turn of the century and when they first had moving films, and I saw people going to the beach in 1910. Are you kidding me? They were more covered than the people walking on 5th avenue, or on the streets today.
Did you ever see those old bathing suits they wore? It cuts both ways because there is sensual clothing for each gender.
Women, if you wear clothes to attract the lust of the eye of a man, if he sins in his mind because he takes in through the Eye gate what he sees, does the Bible indicate whether you are a participant with him?
Jesus said, “You have heard it written, ‘Thou shalt not commit adultery’, but I say that if you sin in your mind with a person( talking of this eye gate and fantasy business), you have already committed adultery’” (Matt. 5:28, Paraphrased).
Well, if the clothes were worn to be seductive, you could be fornicating and an adulteress without even knowing it.
I’m not saying that in a light way but with tenderness, I hope you understand we are talking about dynamite here, we’re talking about dynamite for all of us!
Look at the scandals of the last twenty years in Christendom, world wide known pastors just thinking they could put sunglasses on and ride somewhere and not be found out. Imagine the driveness and the risk from this Eye gate business.
There is not only a look that can deceive and a look that can detonate an explosion, there is a look that can discourage.
Remember when Peter was called by Jesus walking on the water, to come to Him. Peter got out of the boat and started walking on the water.
Peter made a lot of mistakes in his life but we better be careful how we judge him because I don’t see anyone of us walking on the water!
The Bible says in Matthew 14:30, that when he saw the wind, he was afraid and began to sink, and he cried out “Lord save me”, and Jesus said “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”
Why did he doubt? He doubted because he looked at the wrong thing. If he would have just kept his eyes on Jesus, and not look at those waves and the wind, he would not have sunk.
You know, besides sexuality and all of that, when you look at a situation and you look at what people are doing, and you look at people’s attitudes, if you don’t keep your eyes on Jesus, you could want to quit running the race and even being a Christian.
Why do you think in Hebrews 12 after the great chapter 11 on faith, the Bible says about running the race of faith, “looking unto Jesus”?
As we go through life, we got to keep our eyes on Jesus. Better keep your eyes on Jesus. “But Pastor Cymbala, do you know what they are doing over there in that Church?”
I know, I have been that way, and when I look that way I get despondent and I get discouraged. I’ve got to keep my eyes on Jesus. “Yes, but you got to know what is going on”, I don’t want to know what is going on if it will discourage me.
Let me be ignorant, let me just keep my eyes on Jesus. Some religious things are too fraudulent that if you looked at it you can get cynical and critical and you take your eyes off Jesus. “You know what they’re doing over there, do you know what they’re doing over there?”
I know we have to know certain things and God gives us His spirit of discernment, but you can so major in ugly things that you take your eyes off the Lord.
How many want to keep their eyes on Jesus? I want to keep my eyes on the word of God and I want to keep my eyes on Jesus.
Let me close with this, there is not only a look that deceives, a look that detonates, a look that discourages, there is a look that actually brings destruction.
O, they (the children of Israel) were so happy in the book of Joshua, when God promised that if they would just obey Him and march around the walls of Jericho, the walls would crumble.
The walls came tumbling down. God also said, “This city is so polluted, it is so given over to stuff that you don’t want to know. Do what I tell you, you are not allowed to touch or possess any of the silver or any of the gold in this city” ( Joshua6:17-18, Paraphrased).
In other words, God was saying, “There are certain things you can’t be around with or have if you are going to serve Me.”
There are certain things that God says “Jim Cymbala, you can’t touch that, you can’t have that, you can’t go there.”
It doesn’t matter what the world says, in our walk with the Lord, through the Bible and through the Holy Spirit we know that there are certain things that God puts off limit.
But the problem, brothers and sisters is, many of the things that God puts off limit are very attractive and we have to admit that. Things that God says you can’t have sometimes have a tremendous appeal to the eye. The Israelites fought the battle of Jericho and they were happy they were victorious.
Then they came to this little place, Ai, strange name, strange town, and they said “This is nothing after Jericho and after what God did, we’ll fight this battle, just send a few men, a little company, and take off that town, remember God is with us.”
They fought the battle of Ai and they got whipped, they got beaten and chased all the way back to where they came from.
They had never experienced defeat coming in out of the wilderness, they had won every battle, and coming across Jordan they had won the battle of Jericho and God had told Joshua nobody would be able to stand before you, but they got whipped badly.
Joshua then laid down on his face before God and he lamented the whole situation, and God rebuked Joshua and said to him, “Would you please get up, what are you doing on the floor?
There is no mystery to this, somebody has played dirty, somebody has kept something that I told them they can’t have, that’s why you lost, because when you keep dirty things, you can’t have victory in me.” (Joshua 7:10 –13, Paraphrased).
Brothers and sisters, do you realize that? Listen again, you can’t keep dirty things and have God supplying victory for you.
You break fellowship with God when you hide dirty things. The Lord is with you when you are with Him! (2 Chronicles 15:2). Do you all get this, so I wouldn’t be guilty on the Day of Judgment of not telling you?
You may ask, “I know what it is for the Lord to be with me, but what is my being with the Lord?” It is being against what He is against and being for what He is for. You may say, “You mean I have to be against certain things because the Lord is?
You mean I have to be for certain things, eventhough it is not in my culture, because the Lord is?” Yes, exactly. But, do you think the Lord is a Master Card that you pull out and use whenever you feel like?
It is a relationship we have with the Lord Jesus. You have to choose to come off the line if you are going to be for the Lord.
“Not everyone who says ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven”, Jesus said (Matthew 7: 21-23), “many will even say ‘Did we not cast out demons in your name, and prophesy in your name?” They had a spiritual ministry. But the Lord will say, “Depart from me, I never knew you, because you were into dirty stuff”.
God told Joshua to bring all the people out and there was a man named Achan, and he must have been shaking in his boots, or maybe Achan taught, “they’ll never find me out”, because that is what the eye gate does; it makes for secretiveness. When we sin with our eyes, most often, there comes a secretiveness with it.
Achan’s tribe was called, then his clan, then his family and sure enough he stands before Joshua, and Joshua says “Give glory to God Achan”, which was another way of saying “Confess”, and Achan said, “When I saw in the plunder, a beautiful robe from Babylonia, two hundred shekels of silver and a wage of gold, I coveted them” (Joshua 7:19 -21). You see, the eyes not only triggers sexuality, it triggers covetousness also.
When we look at what other people have, it can trip us up and we start wanting what God never intended for us to have. Achan coveted those things and took them and hid them inside the ground in his tent.
A battle was lost, Israel got waylaid because somebody saw something that was just too beautiful to pass up.
And why is it that it was too beautiful? “Pastor Cymbala, you didn’t see that robe, you didn’t see that silver and that wage of gold?”
Achan and his family were taken with everything he owned and brought to the valley of Achor (meaning trouble) and they were all destroyed. He lost everything, wife, children, cattle, everything, just from one look at something that God said you can’t have.
God said you can’t have that, so why look at it? Brothers and sisters, if we look long enough at something, it could get under our skin. This the truth.
You see those programs on TV is based on this. “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” for example, what has that got to do with me and you? Nothing! But they know. I know people who are even Christians who know more about the lives of movie stars than they know their Bible.
They can tell you all about the movies, because there is a fascination about it. They know what the stars wore to the Oscars, they know everything. “ PastorCymbala, are you legalistic?”
I’m not legalistic. I have not one law for you here, you have your Bible, you have God. I am not your savior, I’m just another man.
But with this truth in front of us, we should be thinking, “Wait a minute, I have to pay money to be tempted!” Anything you fascinate on too long, watch it, because it can detonate a very deadly explosion.
If you are reading this, and you feel your need and you will like to talk to the Lord and tell Him, “God, you know the situation I’m in, I need protection, I need to have victory over a look that can discourage me.
Lord I don’t want to look at things and not see it the way you do. I don’t want to be deceived. God I certainly don’t want to be detonated.
God I want you to keep me from coveting things and following my eyes down the road that leads to big time trouble”. Then pray now and pour out your heart to the Lord and welcome Him to be the Lord and Saviour of your life.
Yield to Him in total surrender and He will cleanse you and save you from the mess of your past sinful lifestyle and give you victory over that deadly look that detonates sexual immorality, deceives, discourages and destroys you. Do that right now and God bless you.
This message was preached by Pastor Jim Cymbala, pastor of the Brooklyn Tabernacle church, Brooklyn, New York, USA.
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