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Holman Bible Dictionary

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Greek - concupiscence

KJV translation of Greek epithumia, “desire, lust.” The Greeks used the term to mean excitement about something in a neutral sense and then in an evil sense of wrongly valuing earthly things. The New Testament knows desire can be good (Matthew 13:17; Luke 22:15; Philippians 1:23; 1 Thessalonians 2:17). In fact, the New Testament uses the verb form more often in a good sense than in a bad.

The bad sense of epithumia is desire controlled by sin and worldly instincts rather than by the Spirit (Galatians 5:16). Everyone has been controlled by such desires before their commitment to Christ (Ephesians 2:3; Titus 3:3). Such desire is part of the old life without Christ and is deceitful (Ephesians 4:22). Such desire can be for sex (Matthew 5:28), material goods (Mark 4:19), riches (1 Timothy 6:9), and drunkenness (1 Peter 4:3). The Christian life then is a war between desires of the old life and desire to follow the Spirit (Galatians 5:15-24; 1 Peter 2:11), the Spirit-led life crucifying worldly desires (Galatians 5:24). (Note the list of fleshly desires in (Galatians 5:19-21.) As the new life comes through the Spirit, so old desires come through Satan (John 8:44) and the world of which he is prince (1 John 2:16). Such desires can make slaves of people (2 Peter 2:18-20). Desire brings temptation, leading to sin, resulting in death (James 1:14-15). People cannot blame God, for He allows them freedom to choose and gives them over to what they choose (Romans 1:24). God did give the law which defined wrong desires as concupiscence or sin. The power of sin then changed the good commandment into an instrument to arouse human desires to experience new arenas of life. Thus they sin and die rather than trust God's guidance through the law that such arenas are outside God's plan for life and thus should not be experienced (Romans 7:7-8). Either sin brings death, or believers in Christ murder evil lusts (Colossians 3:5).

In a very limited sphere of life, Paul called on believers to rise above the normal activities caused by lust in society. He called on faithfulness in marriage rather than on the immoral practices of the Greek and Roman world of his day (1 Thessalonians 4:4-5).

Copyright Statement
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.

Bibliography Information
Butler, Trent C. Editor.. "Entry for 'CONCUPISCENCE'". "Holman Bible Dictionary".
<>. 1991.


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