Summary: In referencing adultery, Jesus goes to the heart of the matter and helps us understand that obeying the spirit of the law is more important than simply obeying the letter of the law.
Jesus Speaks on Adultery
A. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlett Letter.
1. Indictment against the Puritanical beliefs of the day.
2. Hester Prynne lived in Amsterdam with her husband.
3. Husband was a learned man and English by birth.
4. Wanted to cross over the ocean and live with those in Massachusetts.
5. Sent his wife ahead of him while he stayed to look after affairs.
6. Hester lived in Boston two years but husband never came.
7. In the book, Hester has a child but the father is a riddle.
8. Evidence seems to support the preacher.
9. She was guilty of adultery.
10. She should die for her sins, but they showed her mercy by letting her live.
11. She had to stand on a platform where all could see and wear a mark of shame on her breast the rest of her life-a scarlet “A.”
B. These kinds of attitudes about sex have changed greatly.
1. I remember when society condemned those who lived together before marriage.
2. The other extreme was Victorian attitudes-sex was a hush subject not to be discussed, adultery was a horrendous crime.
3. Sexual fidelity is threatened today.
4. Adultery-sex between two people who are married.
5. Fornication-sex between two unmarried people.
C. Jesus continues to deal with outward acts that come from wrong inward attitudes.
1. Anger can make one guilty of murder.
2. Lust in the heart can make one guilty of adultery.
3. Words can also apply to fornication.
4. Dealing with sanctity and purity, both of which should be found in marriage.
BEWARE OF THE DEED
A. Jesus tried to restore the intent of God’s Word.
1. Just like murder, the common belief was that if you don’t commit the actual act of adultery then you were not guilty.
2. Jesus alludes to the seventh commandment.
3. More involved in obedience than the letter of the law.
4. Lust makes us guilty of adultery.
5. Not speaking of a glance (common for men and women to look at members of the opposite sex).
6. If in our hearts we lust after that person, then we are guilty.
7. Jesus is going to the heart of the matter.
B. Lust is a powerful pressure.
1. Houses with “Beware of the Dog” sign.
2. Beware of adultery and the power and control it can have.
3. A small amount of lust can soon grow to large proportions.
C. In college I was warned of this and how it can lead to minister’s downfall.
1. It is one of the greatest temptations for ministers.
2. Many ministers have fallen because of this.
D. Everyone deals with this at some point in time.
1. Passing glance is okay.
2. Second glance and stare that gets us in trouble.
3. Not a command to return to the Victorian mindset when sex was considered evil.
4. Creation of God and is good within the marriage relationship.
E. Need a proper view of sex.
1. Sadly some of the STD’s have made people think.
2. Christians must provide the teachings and example.
3. Can’t leave it to schools, society, government, health centers.
F. Sex is used to promote many things.
1. Used to promote materialism and many products.
2. Scantily dressed women and men are used to sell some product.
3. See distortions of it on TV, hear it on radio, see it on Internet, and at movies.
4. America and the church have allowed this to happen.
G. One said sex is “the cornerstone of mass persuasion and the symbol par excellence of the life of leisure and consumption.”
H. Hedonism makes pleasure the chief goal of life.
1. Sex is now viewed as a part of that pleasure.
2. The result is a break down in married love and relationships.
I. Cure is not physical escapism, forced celibacy or physical mutilation.
1. Priests in the Catholic Church having sex with young boys is one example.
2. Origen, early church father, after reading the passage, had himself castrated.
J. Peter Abelard, 12th century French theologian.
1. Fell in love with Heloise and got her pregnant.
2. Married her but rumors had begun to spread.
3. Heloise entered a convent.
4. Her uncle hired a man to break into Abelard’s quarters and castrate him.
5. Then Abelard joined the monastery.
K. None of the above measures help us with lust. We have to learn to control it.
DEAL WITH THE DESIRE
A. Jesus, “Anyone who even looks at a woman with lust in his eye has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
B. Jesus gives us his word not the word of the religious teachers.
1. Cure is not to refrain from the physical act though that is included.
2. Having inappropriate sex will not cure the problem, it will only return.