Four12 article image for 'Lust of the Flesh' about sexual purity.

Lust of the Flesh

Scripture warns us in 1 John 2:16 that three primary areas have the potential to rob us of our joy and damage our relationship with our Heavenly Father and immediate loved ones. These three areas that John names in his first epistle are, “lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh and the pride of life”. I call these, ‘Pennies, Petticoats and Power’.

In my previous article ‘Lust of the Eyes’, we looked at both the blessing and potential dangers of finance (i.e. the attitude we have toward pennies in one’s life). In this second article, I want to take a brief look at the second area of temptation around sexual purity that we are warned about by the Apostle John in 1 John 2:16, which he calls “the lust of the flesh” and I’ve classified as ‘Petticoats’.

Petticoats

For those of us who grew up before 1980, a petticoat was a thin, silky or satin undergarment that ladies wore under their dresses, or a ‘half-slip’ if only worn under the skirt. The bottom hem was usually embroidered, and if it was protruding slightly from under a dress or skirt, it would immediately catch a man’s eye, often resulting in him being sexually aroused in some way.

A Sexual Appetite

The mystery of creation is that God our Creator has designed us with certain appetites, and one of these appetites is of a sexual nature. As is the case with food and drink, our appetites are expressed through hunger and thirst, which we need to satisfy. Well, it’s the same with our sexual appetite – it also wants to be fed and satisfied. But what isn’t helpful is when our sexual appetites are aroused in situations that are not pleasing to the Lord, and when we respond to it in different ways outside of the boundary of marriage between a man and a woman.

…the Lord has given us His enabling grace that empowers us to ensure that every appetite… is exercised under our control

Enabling Grace to Empower Us

Paul the Apostle makes it quite clear to his readers in his letter to Titus (Titus 2:11 – 12) that the Lord has given us His enabling grace that empowers us to ensure that every appetite, whether of a physical or sexual nature, is exercised under our control. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6:13 (NIV), “You say, food for the stomach and the stomach for food, and God will destroy them both. The body, however, is also not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body”. With regards to food, Paul goes on to say to the church in Philippi, “For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.” (Philippians 3:18 -19, NIV).

Our Salvation At Stake

But then in the area of sexual appetite, he says in 1 Corinthians 6:9 (NIV). “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?” Here, when speaking of one’s sexual appetite, Paul says, “Do not be deceived

  • “neither fornicators” (i.e. single folk who are sexually active or involved in pornography),
  • “nor idolaters” (Plato uses this word to depict orgies practised for heathen deities),
  • “nor adulterers” (when sexually active with folk who are not their marriage partners),
  • “nor lesbians” (females sexually involved with females – also seen in Paul’s letter to the Roman believers (Romans 1:26 – 27),
  • “nor sodomites” (males sexually involved with other male partners).

Paul makes it quite clear that these categories of people will not inherit salvation.

Sexual Purity Boundaries & Discipline

Since I surrendered my life to Christ in 1976 at the age of 22 years, I have pressed into the Lord and relied on His grace to keep me disciplined in this particular area of life. Even more so, since I am well aware of men and women (far more godly than I) who have fallen sexually over the years. It has been for this reason that I have put the following boundaries and disciplines in place in my own life:

  • Not to counsel women (the only exception being if Pam wants to include me with her in a counselling session, but then only if what is being discussed is not of a sexual nature).
  • Not to allow myself to be socially alone with a woman or to take a trip with a woman other than Pam or one of my daughters.
  • Not to ‘visit’ any website to surf its contents knowing that every random site has been hacked by pornographic ‘suppliers’. I stay very specific while ‘searching’ the web and do not ‘accept’ offers to open unknown sites.
  • Not to watch movies that have sexual scenes or read magazines that have photographs of women partially clothed.

Other Purity Pointers

Through research, I am aware of the fact that women also have sexual appetites and are primarily aroused by suggestive compliments received from men. They are also sexually stimulated when being touched in non-sexual areas, such as on a bare arm or gently on their neck or ears. It is for this reason, during times of ministry that, as far as possible, I caution men to pray only for men and women to pray only for women. I also caution them not to touch the other person, other than on a covered shoulder area, if at all.

Making It Personal

One afternoon (a good 15 years ago), a very attractive, married woman from our church family came to my home and asked to speak to me. I told her very apologetically that Pam wasn’t home and that I do not counsel the opposite sex without her present. She assured me it wasn’t of a counselling nature and would only take a few minutes to share. I hesitantly agreed to see her for ‘a few minutes’. However, in no time at all she was telling me how she finds herself physically attracted to me and was having highly inappropriate sexual thoughts about us together. I was completely gob-smacked. I immediately told her that not only did she need to leave, she also needed to get in touch with Pam before lunchtime the next day. I instructed her to tell Pam what she had told me, to ask for Pam’s forgiveness, and to seek advice on how to deal with this and her thought life as a believer. She did this (incredibly) and confessed to Pam the next day and asked her forgiveness. Thankfully that ‘door’ was closed going forward. BUT I am acutely aware that it could have ended very differently, with a moment of indiscretion becoming a lifetime of disappointment. This is another reason why I am highly cautious (and encourage others to be so) when it comes to any interactions with the opposite sex.

May our God fill us with both His Spirit and His enabling grace as we remain intentional in walking in sexual purity and integrity in our relationship with Him, which we have through His Son Jesus Christ.


To those who are struggling in this area, we encourage you to reach out to your local church leaders, be it a community leader, deacon or elder, and bring it into the light. This will be the first step towards helping you walk in freedom. If you are not part of a local church, we encourage you to find one and integrate into family. You can find a partnering church in your area here.


Article Series:  Lust of the Eyes | Lust of the Flesh | The Pride of Life


William and his wife, Pam, started ministering in 1980 and served on eldership in Joshua Generation Church in South Africa from 2010. William was a key apostle who ministered and taught across the global Four12 field of partnering churches. He joined his beloved Saviour in 2021 and is sorely missed.

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Word of Knowledge
Bitterness
Self-Pity
Courting
Forgiving
Anger
Freedom
Submission
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Get Baptised
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Gift of Wisdom
Females in Leadership
Ordaining
Defence
Commitment
Hearing God
Consequences
Receive Forgiveness
Leadership Training
Living Hope
Zimbabwe
Start a Church
Prophet
New Believers
Being Generous
Study Scripture
Jobs
Entitlement
Misotheists
New Testament Prophet
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Goodness
Men
Serving
Word of Wisdom
Brokenness
Sickness
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Friendship
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Worship
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Trials
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Offence
Humility
Idols
Pride
Evangelising
Obedient
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Revelation
Conviction
Complacency
Recalibration
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Transformation
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Taiwan Churches
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Pastor
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steadfastness
uncompromising
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Youth
Death
Tribulations
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Overcoming
Humbleness
Immorality
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Christian Leaders
Debt
The Word
Discipline
Condemnation
Bear Fruit
Complacent
Recalibrating
Teaching Kids
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Church
Apostolic Field
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Racism
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Review
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Depression
Online Church
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Conflict
Meekness
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Prophecy
The Gospel
Purgatory
Control
Finances
The Word of God
Modesty
Judgement
Bearing Fruit
Comfort
Divorce
Teaching Children
Four12 Partners Relief Fund
Pastors Training
The Poor
Letting Go
Values
Partnering
Heart of God
Justice
Church Partnership
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Existence of God
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Relationship with God
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Reading
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God's Love
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Faith
Holy Spirit
Pastoring
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Brotherly Love
Eternity
Community
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Shepherd
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Greed
Immaturity
Raising Kids
Parenting
Poor
Bible
Ordinance
Unforgiveness
Refreshing
Defending The Gospel
Matrimony
Teenage Years
Four12 Church
Youth Leaders
Ireland
Redemption
Godly Leadership
Disciple
Church Discipline
Church Health
False Teachers
Fatherly Love
Tongues
Goats
Fear God
Godly Love
Body of Christ
Authority
Faithfulness
Holy Spirit Baptism
Patience
Teaching
Character of a Deacon
Grief
Compromise
Blueprint
Character
Addiction
Pornography
Signs
Christening
Starting A Church
Parents
Poverty
Study the Word
Stewarding
Punishment
Being Hospitable
Sharing The Gospel
Restoration
Training Kids
Malawi
Leading Youth
Surrender
Testimonies
Christ
Delegating
Servant
Social Gospel
Character of God
Worth
Gift of Tongues
Godly Elders
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Idolatry
Prayer and Fasting
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Heaven
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Leading Church
Diversity
Church Accountability
Rebellion
Witchcraft
Baby Christian
Kassie du Plessis
Protector
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Envy
Quiet Times
Retaliation
Lessons
Spreading The Word
Cheating
Training Teenagers
Cancer
Youth Ministry
Following the Call
Four12 Equip
Eldership Training
Community Leading
Pastors
Rest
Sacrificial Serving
Sonship
Jewish
Reason
Selling Out
Prostitutes
honour
favour
Children
Forgiveness
Income
Prophetic
Tithes
Helper
Illness
Principles
Living for Christ
Government
Discipling
Sancti
Words of Knowledge
Babies
Prayer
Sexual Purity
Christmas
Jealousy
Meditation
Promises
Loss
The Cross
Persecution
Unfaithfulness
Sacrifice
Brazil
Prophetic Training
Healing Conference
Identity
Small Group
Biblical Pattern
Systematic Theology
False Gospel
Testimony Apostolic
Jews
Reasoning
Watering Down
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Generosity
Jesus
Purity
Trust
Helps
Mortality
Christian Family Values
Lukewarm
Home Group Leaders
Exhort
Sanctification
Dominionism
Beliefs
Praying
Celibacy
Fathers
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Training
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Tests
Cross
Fear of Man
Find Forgiveness
Sacrificial Service
Brazil Churches
Prophetic Equip
Voice of God
Team
Home Group
Change
Servant Leadership
Apostolic Leaders
Authentic
Religions
Intellectual Pride
Ambition
Fruitfulness
God's Favour
Christian Living
Gentleness
Joy
Repentance
Unity
Loving People
Infirmity
Family Values
Righteousness
Leading
Exhortation
Self-Righteousness
Kingdom of God
Commands
Provision
Sex Before Marriage
Mothering
Women in Leadership
Halloween
Honesty
Testing
Crucifixion
Conversion
Guilt
Sacrificial Giving
Church Merger
Equipping
Saints
Leadership Team
Priesthood
Jehovah's Witnesses
Women In Ministry
Fruit of the Spirit
Womens Ministry
Messiah
Mind Idolatry
Megachurch
Biblical Paradox
Honouring God
Church Leadership
Church Life
Giving
Kindness
Revival
Water Baptism
Servant Heart
Living for Jesus
Covenantal Relationships
Division
Accusation
Flesh
Sexual Sin
Scripture
Customs
Provider
Living for God
Mothers
Female Leaders
Calling
Christian Fellowship
Backsliding
Easter
Witnessing
Infidelity
Biblical Culture
Merging Churches
Prophetic Equipping
Gift of Prophecy
Apostle
Priesthood of All Believers
Finance
Servanthood
Biblical Church
Praise
Atheism
Church History
Living the Gospel
Paradoxes in the Bible
Honouring People
Church Planting
Community Leaders
God the Father
Leaders
Salvation
Women
Afterlife
Protection
Dating
Decisions
Eldership
Fleshly Desires
Shame
Truth
Traditions
Works
Morality
Wisdom
Women Leaders
Ordaining Elders
Christian Community
Backslidden
Resurrection
Testimony
Masturbation
Communal Culture
Partnering Churches
Prophesy
New Churches
Five Fold Gift
Trinity
Tithe
Relationship
Employment
Thanksgiving
Atheists
Old Testament Prophet
Ambassadors
Truth in Tension
contradictions
Treasure Hunting
treasure
Deacons
Culture
Good News
Maturity
Self-Control
Word of Knowledge
Bitterness
Self-Pity
Courting
Forgiving
Anger
Freedom
Submission
Gifts of the Spirit
Get Baptised
Works and Faith
Morals
Gift of Wisdom
Females in Leadership
Ordaining
Defence
Commitment
Hearing God
Consequences
Receive Forgiveness
Leadership Training
Living Hope
Zimbabwe
Start a Church
Prophet
New Believers
Being Generous
Study Scripture
Jobs
Entitlement
Misotheists
New Testament Prophet
Work Values
Family
Devotion
Goodness
Men
Serving
Word of Wisdom
Brokenness
Sickness
Courtship
Friendship
Church Plant
Hope
Trusting
Gifts
Baptized
Fasting
Overcomer
Words of Wisdom
Leadership
Encounter
Repenting
Challenges
Listening
Caring for Children
Four12 Partners
Training Leaders
St Johns
Relief Fund
Building Church
Evangelist
Dreams
Communion
Being Accountable
Occupation
Rejection
Misotheism
The Case for Christ
Kingdom Priorities
Biblical Contradictions
Movement
Love
Discernment
Gospel
Mercy
Shepherding
Work
Caring
Suicide
Desires
Lies
Fathering
Vulnerability
Accountable
The Apostolic
Kids
Intercession
Singleness
Fear
lead
Life
Repent
Anxiety
Obey
Child Care
Four12 Partner
Volunteer
Taiwan Church
Israel
Healthy Church
Teacher
Multi-site Church
Perseverance
Loving Others
Profession
Social Media
Hopelessness
Lee Strobel
Kingdom Living
Refining Fire
God's Glory
Marriage
Discipleship
Grace
Ministry
Sin
Worship
Confusion
Trials
Husbands
Offence
Humility
Idols
Pride
Evangelising
Obedient
Christian Leadership
Singles
Healing
Direction
Revelation
Conviction
Complacency
Recalibration
Guidance
Transformation
Volunteering
Taiwan Churches
Providence
New Testament Church
Pastor
Church Structure
Feminism
Apostolic Partnership
Vocations
Distractions
Christian Books
Christian Movies
Covenantal Love
Storms of Life
resilience
steadfastness
uncompromising
Four12 Conference
Accountability
Doctrine
Healing and Miracles
Money
Social Justice
Youth
Death
Tribulations
Partner
Overcoming
Humbleness
Immorality
Prophets
Fornication
Planting A Church
Christian Leaders
Debt
The Word
Discipline
Condemnation
Bear Fruit
Complacent
Recalibrating
Teaching Kids
Partners Relief Fund
Apostolic Partnering
Netherlands
Marriage Training
Church
Apostolic Field
Administration
Racism
Church Partnering
Christian Values
Cosmological Argument
Christian Authors
Review
Husband
Isle of Man Conference
Apologetics
Elders
Heaven and Hell
Obedience
Spiritual Gifts
Caring for Others
Depression
Online Church
Spouse
Conflict
Meekness
Lust
Prophecy
The Gospel
Purgatory
Control
Finances
The Word of God
Modesty
Judgement
Bearing Fruit
Comfort
Divorce
Teaching Children
Four12 Partners Relief Fund
Pastors Training
The Poor
Letting Go
Values
Partnering
Heart of God
Justice
Church Partnership
Great Commission
Existence of God
Christian Literature
Old Testament
Romance
Apostles
Evangelism
Holiness
Partnership
Stewardship
Caring for People
Doubt
Church Involvement
Wife
Reconciliation
Overseers
Lying
Deception
Hell
Raising Children
Godliness
Miracles
Word of God
Ordained
Equality
Breakthrough
Defending My Faith
Covenant
Teenagers
Four12 Churches
Training Pastors
Needy
Rastafarian
Translations of the Bible
Preaching
Authentic Community
Relationship with God
Faith and Works
New Christian
Creation
Reading
Worldviews
God's Love
Apostolic
Faith
Holy Spirit
Pastoring
Suffering
Brotherly Love
Eternity
Community
Wives
Bishops
Shepherd
New Believer
Greed
Immaturity
Raising Kids
Parenting
Poor
Bible
Ordinance
Unforgiveness
Refreshing
Defending The Gospel
Matrimony
Teenage Years
Four12 Church
Youth Leaders
Ireland
Redemption
Godly Leadership
Disciple
Church Discipline
Church Health
False Teachers
Fatherly Love
Tongues
Goats
Fear God
Godly Love
Body of Christ
Authority
Faithfulness
Holy Spirit Baptism
Patience
Teaching
Character of a Deacon
Grief
Compromise
Blueprint
Character
Addiction
Pornography
Signs
Christening
Starting A Church
Parents
Poverty
Study the Word
Stewarding
Punishment
Being Hospitable
Sharing The Gospel
Restoration
Training Kids
Malawi
Leading Youth
Surrender
Testimonies
Christ
Delegating
Servant
Social Gospel
Character of God
Worth
Gift of Tongues
Godly Elders
Big Churches
Salvations
Sacrificial Love

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