Summary: Jesus taught His followers to prove their love by purity of living that flows from the heart.
“If everyone else jumped off a cliff, would you do it, too?” If I heard it once, I heard it a thousand times growing up. The point is: Just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t make it right. However, Christian perspective on the subject of Christian distinctiveness presents to some folks a very real problem, and that is, most if not all of us wanted to “fit in” as we grew up - less so as we reached our senior years, but nonetheless still somewhat important.
Yet if we have learned nothing else so far in this study of the Sermon on the Mount, we have driven home the point that, as Christians, we were “born again” to be different . . . made anew in the likeness of Christ to be distinct . . . set apart with a new heart to be motivated by love that is real.
Thus, one of the eight great principles by which Jesus said we could be the salt of the earth and the light of the world was the one that gets to the very heart of the matter: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
Jesus told His followers to prove their love by living pure lives. To explain how His fulfillment of the Law works in terms of His interpretation of it and our application of it with regard to purity, He chose a “hot button” issue derived from the Seventh Commandment – Matthew 5:27-28 . . .
Jesus used the term “heart” to talk about human emotions that ensue from a person’s innermost being. From the heart we grieve . . . desire . . . rejoice . . . are compassionate. Therefore, the heart is the center of our moral and spiritual lives.
We make decisions and commitments from “the heart”.
The mind matters but the heart, more than anything else, stirs us into action. Jesus knew full well that behind the overt action lies one’s character and motive.
He knew that all kinds of behavior flow from the heart.
To make practical His interpretation of what it means to “fulfill” the Law of Love, Jesus pointed to adultery as just one of the forbidden relationships that are set in motion by the desires of one’s heart.
Control desire - regardless of outward sights or inner thoughts or whatever preceded the desire - and, in that way, control behavior. Better still: Be vigilant; safeguard your mind from thoughts, attitudes or misinterpretations put there by the Devil – instead, filling the mind with principles and positives to serve as filters – and you have a built-in spiritual mechanism that serves as a deterrent to impure thought becoming impure desire that could lead to impure behavior.
Contrary to contemporary thinking on this particular “hot button” issue, Jesus did not place blame on the woman. The problem, He said, is within one’s own heart. So, He did not warn His followers about women. He warned them about themselves! And, to reinforce His warning, He employed hyperbole – the intentional exaggeration of a thing for dramatic effect – Matthew 5:29-30 . . .
After hearing Jesus use such extremely gross exaggerations to make His point about the necessity of purity in the Christian’s life, surely no one in their right mind would take the issue of “forbidden fruit” lightly . . . shrug it off . . . just write it off as old-fashioned and out of date! Adam and Eve took God’s command lightly. How did that work out for them and the rest of humanity!?
Well, we’ve all learned through experience that one thing leads to another. Jesus thought and taught so too. So, He pointed to divorce to show the negative effect of impurity on the most sacred of all relationships.
Whereas a pure lifestyle is one of the keys to a successful marriage, there is no greater threat to the sanctity of this institution ordained by God … the unity of “what God has joined together”, than infidelity – an act that derives from a heart that allows itself to be remade, not after the likeness of Christ but, after the likeness of a culture headed in the wrong direction … hell-bent on redefining that which God calls sacred in order to satisfy one’s “self” - whose mantra is, “It’s all about me.”
Folks, somewhere along the line I got the notion that it’s all about knowing God and doing His Will. When you and I said “I do” to Jesus, and thus we became united with Him in the bond of love, we entered into a covenant relationship that has boundaries. There is no way to stay within those boundaries of right thinking and righteous living, without staying in a right relationship to Him whom to know is life . . . to be saved, sanctified and glorified! Love is the theme! Love is forever!