Summary: Some Believers parse the words of the Scripture looking for the minimum daily requirements, for a way to be sure that they are right with God, while retaining the right to live as they choose.
Minimum Daily Requirements?
We return this morning to the words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. His words in the part of the text we will be considering concern three issues that stir up a great deal of emotion and controversy. They will be words that touch painful spots in many of your lives this morning! I am not without awareness of that. So, as we work our way through His teaching about sexual purity, marital faithfulness, and keeping covenant - I urge you to stay with me. Before you start to mentally object, or rationalize, or even agree ... finish the message with me, then process the words prayerfully and allow them to shape your mind and heart. Then you will live a life that is pleasing to Him filled with a true holiness.
Some Believers parse the words of the Scripture looking for the minimum daily requirements, for a way to be sure that they are right with God, while retaining the right to live as they choose. When they treat the Scriptures like a lawyer treats the law, looking for loopholes, trying to extract the finest point of compliance from what they read - they miss the point entirely!
In a moment we will read texts in which Jesus speaks to Adultery, Divorce, and Making Oaths. These texts have been some of the most tortured in the Bible for centuries as people have tried to determine some imaginary line in their sexual behavior that is the limit of God’s tolerance, or as people look for a way to escape their marriage and yet keep a good conscience, or as people seek a way to break a promise and still think of themselves as having integrity. Jesus’ words are binding, but they are not law in the sense that we should look for the minimal way to comply! They are principle that guide us to a radical life of discipleship. They are words that point us in the direction of the best life, the whole life, the life that enjoys God’s favor! As such, the spirit of the what He says, as much as the letter of the words should be what guides.
So, what did He say? Though this passage is broken into three sub-sections in most of your Bibles, I will be reading it as a unit. What Jesus is saying here is best understood when it is heard all together.
Text - Matthew 5:27-37
There is probably no more problematic area of human relationships for Christians than sexuality.
Some Believers are repressed prudes - refusing to acknowledge that sex is a gift of God to be enjoyed. Others are caught up in the flood of sensuality that is overwhelming in our culture. So they worship lust!
Because sexuality is so misused and misunderstood, there are millions of people who are terribly scarred by the sins of others.
∙ People, both men and women, who were sexually abused in their childhood must experience a great deal of healing to be able to accept their sexuality as a gift of God.
∙ People who were indoctrinated by parents against their stirring of sexuality must deal with shame and guilt before they can victoriously wrestle with the temptations to lust and turn those longings into a renewing relationship with a loving spouse.
Why am I saying this?
Because each of reads the words of Jesus through a filter of our experiences. We may make them mean more than they do, or we may dismiss them as hopelessly idealistic, or we might even refuse to accept them because we find them overwhelming and too challenging to even consider as being true!
In order to understand what Jesus is actually saying to us here, let’s review the basic truth of the Word about human sexuality.
(If you desire more information about Christian sexuality, see the sermon page on the website.)
1. Sex is not dirty, nor is it inherently sinful! It is God’s idea and a gift to us.
2. Sex is a powerful part of our humanity.
It has procreative power! Everything else we do in life - writing a poem, building a house, painting a picture... - will eventually be erased with time’s passing.. But, when we have sex there is the potential of creating an eternal being who will exist forever!
It has relational power! Sex connects a man and women for a lifetime. The Bible says that when we have intercourse we become ‘one’ with the other person! That is not just describing the physical union. There is a bonding that is also emotional and spiritual. A promiscuous person seriously damages his ability to form strong, close, and intimate ties to others, for he dilutes the power bonding force of sexuality.
3. Sex is to be kept within the covenant relationship of marriage. The purposes of our sexuality find their