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Passions of the Heart

Book Review

John Street outlines a concise, point-by-point biblical plan of action for attacking stubborn sexual sin.

Nov 10, 2020

We live in a world in which men and women who profess to be genuine believers are entrapped in the snares and bondage of sexual immorality. Sadly, the spiritual growth of these believers has come to a halt. Their sexual sin has left them spiritually paralyzed. In his book, Passions of the Heart: Biblical Counsel for Stubborn Sexual Sins, John Street outlines a concise, point-by-point biblical plan of action for attacking stubborn sexual sin. ‘Stubborn’ is a good word to describe this kind of sin, because sexual sins are some of the most difficult and challenging to conquer. And the solution as described in this book is nothing less than a full-on attack.

Dr. Street writes this volume from decades of experience as a biblical counselor, in which he has entered and been privy to the lives of countless individuals—men and women who have sought freedom from the sexual sin that was wreaking havoc and destroying their personal lives, family, and ministry.

I was not surprised when Dr. Street immediately went after the heart in chapter 1, exposing it for what it really is: deceitful, clever, dishonest, calculating, self-favoring, self-justifying, and having an agenda all its own.

This book is divided into three parts. Part 1 is dedicated to the heart and its passions. Part 2 addresses the motivations of sexual idolatry. Part 3 describes the characteristics of a pure heart. Each chapter closes with study questions that reinforce the reading and confront the heart.

The “stress test” questions located in chapter 7 are absolutely priceless! They are poignant and designed to reveal heart themes. The first set of questions address the motivations of the ‘hurting heart,’ exposing anger, self-pity, discontentment, and fear. The second set of questions address the motivations of the ‘hungering heart,’ confronting self-reward, flattery, power/control, and comfort in the individual who is struggling with sexual sin. These diagnostic questions were particularly helpful to me as I am currently seeking to minister to someone who is entrapped by persistent, sexual sin.

The case studies that Dr. Street includes are gathered from his wealth of counseling. They are raw and candid examples of both joy and disappointment, success and failure, and they serve the reader well. In addition to his personal case studies, Dr. Street draws attention to biblical characters whose personal life choices and resulting consequences give affirmation to the truth that the heart is life’s control center and is deceptive and depraved in every way.

Included in the book are a variety of diagrams, which visually aid the reader to bring emphasis and clarity to what the author is saying. They serve as a wonderful aid in connecting the dots, so to speak.

In his final chapter, Dr. Street is still driving home the truth that sexual sin originates in the heart. In this chapter, he charges couples to be vigilant to maintain the purity of their marriage in thought and deed. He provides straightforward instruction necessary to guard against sexual sin while maintaining purity. And singles are not forgotten, as they too are called to live lives of purity, daily seeking God’s grace while immersing oneself in passionate service for Christ’s kingdom. In the culture in which we live, where life is generally about ‘me,’ Dr. Street encourages singles to actively pursue and cultivate a grateful spirit. He continues by saying a greedy heart will be a person’s greatest downfall, causing him or her to be overcome with discontentment and ingratitude.

As someone whose passion is to exalt Christ and the authority of God’s Word, and who loves helping people, Dr. Street ministers the hope of Christ through the pages of Passions of the Heart. Christ and His Word are exalted as the only means of eradicating stubborn sexual sin. I am personally grateful for this book. My prayer is that God will use it to bring lasting freedom and give hope to those who are in bondage to sexual sin.

Helpful Quotes

  1. “A heart that is broken because of its sinfulness is a humbled heart. It is a heart that cares about how offensive it is to the holiness of the Lord and that is now ready for real and lasting change.” (p. 19)
  2. “Christians should not believe in biological or chemical determinism. While brain chemicals can greatly influence your decisions, they cannot determine them. Rather, it is the greed of the heart that emboldens the body to repeat the pleasurable behavior over and over again, even if the conscience deems it sinful.” (p. 88)
  3. “Self-satisfying sex is, by its very definition, sinful. The rationalization that masturbation is permissible, as long as it does not hurt another person, carries no biblical weight. Masturbation is one sexual act that is an expression of pure greed.” (p. 103)
  4. “The hurting heart not only aches but also has an insatiable appetite that demands satisfaction. Whether openly acknowledged or quietly disguised, most people march to the motto, ‘I live my life for my own self-satisfaction and needs, not for others to judge!’ But when you follow the demands of your heart for a fulfilling experience, you are surrendering yourself to a life of desperation and despair.” (p. 147)
  5. “God’s Word is full of optimism for overcoming the obstinate obsession of sexual lust.” (p. 192)
  6. “Genuine believers will not be content to continually practice sexual sin. They will come to view it as a menacing misery that imposes a cruel and unwelcome tyranny. But liberation from sin’s powerful influence is possible for the Christian. It is not a false hope; it is a reality.” (p. 220)
  7. “Being fully captivated by your spouse is the best impediment to sexual idolatry. If unholy lust is to be put off, then holy lust must be put on.” (p. 244)
  8. “Remaining pure while single is a matter of daily seeking God’s grace while immersing oneself in passionate service for Christ’s kingdom.” (p. 248)