Summary: I notice when Jesus confronts me, He goes for the heart. I am amazed at what I am capable of tolerating in my life unless I actively choose to His way to deal with it. I need to be vigilant in this important area concerning my thought life.
Matthew 5 - Part 15 - SEX, ADULTERY, LUST AND GOUGING YOUR EYE OUT!
Too often when Julie and I watch a movie, I am forced to turn it off or over because of the coarse nature of the movie, particularly relating to the sex scenes. It is taken for granted that sex is a necessary part of most movies. I disagree! I don’t need to watch simulated sex between two people in my living room! I notice that although I make an active choice to turn the channel over or turn the movie off, that there is something inside me that would like to entertain watching a little bit longer. I know it would be wrong, but the desire is there. Jesus is not afraid to confront the big issues of men’s lives, like sex and our thought lives. He verbalizes what we know to be true...
"You have heard that it was said, ’YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY’; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Matthew 5:27-28 (NASB))
I notice when Jesus confronts me, He goes for the heart. He addresses the core issues that I face in my thought life.
All around me I see that adultery causes such devastation and hurt in a marriage, and so often leads to the end of a marriage, and as a Christian man I agree that I don’t want to be involved in adultery, yet I am amazed at what I am capable of tolerating in my life unless I actively choose to deal with it. I need to be vigilant in this important area.
Jesus tells His disciples at the outset of ministry that purity is essential. He uses language that is forceful and exaggerated to get his point across to a group of fishermen who may well have been used to coarse jokes and lack of boundaries concerning women. He says in Matthew 5:29-30 (NASB) "If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell."
OK, so how gross is this picture? Sure, He’s not being literal but don’t water this down! This is important! Decide ahead of time not to feed lust! Jesus is saying that what we focus on determines our actions. Jokes, movies, and magazines can give our senses permission to feed lust.
Jesus is using what we call graphic hyperbole (obvious and intentional exaggeration) to get His point across. Obviously, Jesus is not advocating self mutilation to deal with lust. That would not actually solve the problem of a man’s thoughts anyway. So what is He saying to me and you? He is saying "Deal with the cause! Focus your attention on other things that don’t feed lust. Take whatever action is necessary so that you don’t stumble in this area. Don’t indulge sinful patterns of thinking." Such thinking inevitably chooses inappropriate behaviour which can lead to the devastating consequences of adultery.
So does this mean if I think of a woman in the wrong way, then I’ll go to hell? Jesus is associating such behaviour and thinking as sin and all sin is deserving of hell and continuing to feed lust is behaviour that belongs to someone who does not have a personal relationship with Christ in the first place.
Jesus isn’t saying sex is sinful or wrong. The Bible speaks about marriage from the beginning and encourages Adam and Eve to "be fruitful and multiply" so God invites them to have sex. How do I commit adultery? I mean I know how, but what I’m getting at is that our definition is too restricted. According to Jesus it happens as I look at a woman with lust in my heart, not just the act having sex with someone elses wife. Sex outside marriage is obviously wrong and lustful thoughts, according to Jesus, are already tainted by the sin of adultery!
James 1:14-15 (NASB) says "... each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death."
So how do I win the battle over lust? I do whatever is necessary! It might mean staying away from certain places, or certain people. It might mean refusing certain social functions where I know the conversations will be suggestive. It might mean excusing myself and showing others by example that I don’t approve of suggestive jokes and conversations that lead to lust.
It will be determined by what I focus on. Philippians 4:8 (NASB) says, "Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things."