Bonhoeffer on Lust

“When you have made your eye the instrument of impurity, you cannot see God with it…Jesus does not impose intolerable restrictions on his disciples, he does not forbid them to look at anything, but bids them look on him.”

These are the words of Deitrich Bonhoeffer. He was a German pastor who was hanged in 1945 at the age of 39 because of his resistance against the Nazis. I read it in his book The Cost of Discipleship, a call to radical obedience to Christ for Christians in his generation.

Those words are part of what I printed and posted on the wall in front of my computer desk to help me fight against lust.

Lust is impure because it is unbelief, and therefore to be shunned. No sacrifice is too great if it enables us to conquer a lust which cuts us off from Jesus. Both eye and hand are less than Christ, and when they are used as the instruments of lust and hinder the whole body from the purity of discipleship, they must be sacrificed for the sake of him. The gain of lust are trivial compared with the loss it brings – you forfeit your body eternally for the momentary pleasure of eye or hand. When you have made your eye the instrument of impurity, you cannot see God with it…Jesus does not impose intolerable restrictions on his disciples, he does not forbid them to look at anything, but bids them look on him. If they do that he knows that their gaze will always be pure, even when they look upon a woman. So far from imposing on them an intolerable yoke of legalism, he succours them with the grace of the gospel. (Cost of Discipleship, p. 148)

The Internet is a battleground where Christians constantly fight against lust. You do not need to open a pornographic site to satisfy your lustful eyes. Sites like YouTube and Friendster (and many more!) have sexually-explicit materials that lead many to commit adultery in their minds. Bonhoeffer’s call to radical obedience is also a call for our present generation to do all things, by the grace of God, to heed the demand of our Lord Jesus Christ:

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell. (Matthew 5:27-30 ESV)


One thought on “Bonhoeffer on Lust

Share your thoughts about this post...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s