The lust of the eyes is the desire to possess “stuff”—things of this world (see 1 John 2:16). While elements of this world can be visually appealing, the Bible says the world and its desires pass away (see 1 John 2:17).
A good way to know if you struggle with this temptation is to picture your most precious commodities. Then imagine if they were taken away in the blink of an eye. Does this cause you to fear? Does it provoke anxious thoughts?
What Does the Bible Say about the Lust of the Eyes?
The lust of the eyes is essentially coveting what is not yours. God addresses this issue in the Ten Commandments.
You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.”—Exodus 20:17
The Lord also tells us what happens when we act on coveting thoughts. We trade our heavenly inheritance for physical possessions.
For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.”—Ephesians 5:5
When we crave earthly possessions, God tells us it is a snare. It opens a door to destruction, and it plants carnal desires in the heart. You have heard the saying, “Don’t shoot yourself in the foot.” The Bible says when we long for more possessions, we pierce ourselves with sorrow.
But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”—1 Timothy 6:9-10
[Go HERE to read more about how Jesus overcame and how the Lord is perfecting your faith.]
How Did Jesus Respond to the Lust of the Eyes?
The way to come out of alignment with the lust of the eyes is to fix God’s truth in our minds. When we believe that possessions fulfill us, we are simultaneously saying we have unbelief in the Lord.
In Matthew 19, Jesus addresses the coveting behavior of a rich man…
“Jesus said to him, ‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.’ But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.”—Matthew 19:21-22
First, let us address what this passage is not saying. Jesus is not telling those who want to follow Him that they must sell or give away all they have. He is dealing with an individual here. This man “had great possessions.”
And, it is clear that He was not going to give them up for something that had eternal value. Jesus is addressing those who struggle with the temptations and lust of the eyes.
In your assignment, you have been called to put God first above all things. Again, if giving up your most precious possessions fills you with sorrow—like the rich man—it is time to turn your heart back to the Lord and ask the Holy Spirit to cleanse you of this poverty spirit.
What Are the Symptoms and Signs of the Lust of the Eyes Operating in Your life?
The lust of the eyes wants more, and you become increasingly dissatisfied with what you have. The person who struggles with this temptation might gain more, but as soon as it is acquired, it does not bring the happiness they thought it would… or at least not for long.
If you suffer from any of these symptoms, the lust of the eyes may be operating in your life…
- You Believe the Grass Is Greener on the Other Side | Never Satisfied
Have you ever worked for something for so long that when you finally achieved it, it was the best feeling in the world? How long does that feeling of happiness last? Usually not long. When you are trying to satisfy your desires with worldly things, they always have a time limit.
Ask the Lord what areas you try to fill with “stuff” rather than with His love.
- You Want What You Cannot Have | Envy
Those who struggle with the lust of the eyes not only want what they cannot have, they want a better version of the one they have seen. They could be described as a ‘one-upper.’ They not only want to be in the race, but to win at any cost.
And this is not the kind of race Paul is speaking of in his letter to the church in Corinth (see 1 Corinthians 9:24). This is the rat race of life—trying to always keep up and surpass those around you.
Go to the Lord in prayer and thank Him for His faithfulness. Ask Him to reveal to you all the riches He has given to you according to His glory and grace.
- You are Stingy with What You Do Have | Greed
Unfortunately, when we do gain wealth, we are not always willing to pay it forward. A fear that you might need it someday overpowers the spirit of generosity. Again, in the passage in Matthew, Jesus is not saying you have to give all you own to the poor.
He is saying if this is hard for you to do, it is time to humbly come before the Lord and listen to what He says about where your heart is.
- You Are a Beggar and a Borrower| Poverty Spirit
Wanting more has become an obsession. When you struggle with the lust of the eyes, you become a beggar and borrower. You are operating out of the spirit of poverty rather than the spirit of thanksgiving.
Becoming a slave to borrowing and begging blocks spiritual blessings.
“For the Lord your God will bless you just as He promised you; you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow; you shall reign over many nations, but they shall not reign over you.”—Deuteronomy 15:6
Ask the Lord to reveal if you have become a slave to others due to the spirit of borrowing and begging.
Breaking the Chains of Lust of the Eyes in Your Life
Take each distortion that the Lust of the Eyes brings to your life and disarm them with God’s Word. Come before the Righteous Judge and break the chains of pride. Maybe this is an issue that runs deep within your family line. Perhaps this is the reason why the habit is hard to break and even seems to be a “normal” way of thinking. You may need to go to the Courts of Heaven and cancel generational curses.
Praise His Holy Name, repent, forgive, and call upon the promises of the covenant! Click HERE to find out how!
The Bible is useful for teaching and correcting (see 2 Timothy 3:16-17). Ask the Holy Spirit right now to cleanse your heart and renew a right spirit within you. Let these words wash over and penetrate those hidden places in your heart.
You belong to the Lord and you are not a slave to sin anymore! You have the power to overcome!
“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.”—2 Corinthians 10:4-6
Schedule your 1-on-1 prayer appointment today! We would love to come into agreement with you for your breakthrough and freedom from the the spirit of poverty and the lust of the eyes!
Did you miss the other articles in this series? You can get caught by clicking on the links below.