Summary: (1) The Letter of the Law - You shall not commit adultery (2) The Spirit of the Law - Lust is the root of sexual sin (3) The Application of the Law - Remove the things which feed your lusts
The Letter and the Spirit: Adultery
One of the most interesting stories in the Old Testament is that of Samson and Delilah.
It has been retold in Sunday School classes, in sermons and even in film.
The story captivates our imaginations, as it gives insight into just how far a man can be deceived when he is being driven by his lusts instead of his common sense and fidelity to God.
What many find so interesting about the story is that Samson is considered to be the strongest man in Hebrew history, at least physically.
He had the power to overcome the entire Philistine army by himself.
His might was without parallel among men.
Yet, he still fell.
Not by the sword of a more powerful soldier.
But rather by the lips of a deceiving woman.
It was Samson’s lust which ultimately lead this powerful man of God to his downfall.
And by that lust-induced fall he became the predecessor of many who would likely take a similar road toward their own failure.
The lust for the opposite sex has lead to the defrocking of pastors, the disbarring of judges, the removal of politicians and even the impeachment of a president.
It is clearly an issue which has been the thorn in the side of many men, and been the impetus for the destruction of many families..
Today, we are going to continue our study of the Sermon on the Mount.
So far, we have seen Christ begin to explain that there is more to the Law of God than the mere letter of it.
There is a spirit behind each of the laws.
In our text today, Jesus is going to show that simply keeping ourselves pure from the acts of sexual sin is not all that God requires of us... He also looks at the heart which covets ungodly sexual behavior as sinful as well.
In this portion of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is examine the popular understandings of the Law of Moses and demonstrating that the leaders and teaches had often misinterpreted what the Law said.
As a result, the people were confused about how they were to behave.
They believed that as long as they had an external adherence to the letter of the Law, that what was in their hearts didn’t matter.
But Jesus condemns such teaching by showing that every law has an inherent foundation - a spirit - which must also be considered.
And often this “spirit of the law” changes how we seek to apply the law to our loves.
Last week, we saw how Jesus addressed murder.
The Law said, you shall not murder.
But Jesus said that the spirit of the law is that we should also not be unjustly angry and use words of abuse, because these too lead us to murderous feelings.
And the resulting application is that, instead of being angry, we should seek reconciliation in all of our relationships.
In our text today, Jesus addresses the subject of adultery.
The Letter of the Law - You shall not commit adultery
The Spirit of the Law - Lust is the root of sexual sin
The Application of the Law - Remove the things which feed your lusts
I. The Letter of the Law - You Shall Not Commit Adultery
Matthew 5:27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.”
The word translated “adultery” (Gr. moicheuo) and it means essentially the same in Greek as it does in English.
It comes from the root word “moichos”, which also can be used figuratively for an “apostate”, or one who has turned his back on his faith in God.
The person who commits adultery essentially is an “apostate” in their marriage relationship... they have turned their back on their vow of fidelity and traded it for sexual intimacy with someone else.
Now, why is this sin of adultery so important that it is named within the Decalogue?
Quite frankly because it is so very destructive and pervasive among people.
It’s destructive because it built on deception, creating barriers in relationships, heartache and trust issues, and opening doors for all kinds of damage personally, emotionally and even physically.
It’s pervasive because it is unfortunately so common among people.
It is a highly volatile sin; yet it is one that so many.
It is certain that the loss of sexual integrity has been the cause of many (if not the majority) of instances of apostasy in the history of the church.
I imagine we all know someone, if not many people, who have abandoned their fidelity to Christ in pursuit of fleshly satisfaction.
In fact, sexual indiscretion is so pervasive among people that the epistles address it with a great deal of specificity.