Summary: 1)The deed of adultery, 2) The desire behind it, and 3)The deliverance from it.
A common back to school ritual is the wardrobe selection. For some it means the latest fashions and for others it means the school uniform. Ironically, the latest fashions are the uniform. There has been a unique development this year in the elimination for many schools of the tartan skirt. Meant to be a standard in modest attire, many parents and school boards have gotten tired with the ever rising hem line of the skirts. The tool first envisioned for modesty, had been abandoned for its use in over sexualizing attire.
Although sexual temptations have been strong since man’s fall, our day of permissiveness and perversion has brought an increase in those destructive influences that no society in history has had before (see 2 Tim. 3:13). Ours is a day of unbridled indulgence in sexual passion. People propagate, promote, and exploit it through the most powerful and pervasive media ever known to man. It seems to be the almost uninterrupted theme of our society’s entertainment. Mass media uses sex to sell its products and to glamorize its programs. Sex crimes are at all-time highs, while infidelity, divorce, and perversion are justified. Marriage, sexual fidelity, and moral purity are scorned, ridiculed, and laughed at. We are preoccupied with sex to a degree perhaps never before seen in a civilized culture.
Jesus continues to unmask the self-righteous externalism typified by the scribes and Pharisees by showing that the only righteousness acceptable to God is purity of heart. Without that purity, the outward life makes no difference. God’s divine evaluation takes place in the heart. He judges the source and origin of sin, not its manifestation or lack of manifestation. “As [a person] thinks within himself, so he is” (Prov. 23:7), and so he is judged by God (1 Sam. 16:7).
Anger and sexual lust are two of the most powerful influences on humanity. The person who gives them reign will soon find that they are more controlled than in control. Every person has experienced temptation to anger and to sexual sin, and every person has at some time and to some degree given in to those temptations. Because of that fact, every person is guilty before God of murder and of adultery.
In its many forms, sexual license is destroying lives physically, morally, mentally, and spiritually. It is destroying marriages, families, and even whole communities.
Jesus’ second illustration of heart righteousness has to do with adultery and sexual sin in general. In verses 27–30 He focuses on 1)The deed of adultery, 2) The desire behind it, and 3)The deliverance from it.
1) The Deed. Matthew 5:27
Matthew 5:27 "You have heard that it was said, ’You shall not commit adultery.’ (ESV)
Just as Jesus dealt with the sin of murder (vv. 21–26), this illustration begins with a quotation of one of the Ten Commandments (Ex. 20:14). In both of those cases, Jewish tradition was based on the law of Moses, at least superficially.
In its most technical sense, committing adultery (from moichaô) refers to sexual intercourse between a man and woman when one or both of them is married. In both the Old and New Testaments the word relates to any sexual intercourse with anyone other than one’s marriage partner. That Jesus here implies that the principle of sexual purity can be seen in a wider sense than adultery (though adultery is His point here) seems clear from the fact that both everyone and a woman are comprehensive terms that could also apply to the unmarried.
The Mosaic law portrays adultery as one of the most despicable and heinous of sins, punishable by death (Lev. 20:10; Deut. 22:22). In strongly opposing adultery, Jewish tradition appeared to be entirely scriptural. When the scribes and Pharisees told Jesus that Moses commanded them to stone the woman caught in the act of adultery, they were correct (John 8:4–5). Had not Jesus forgiven her of her sin she would have deserved stoning.
The sixth commandment protects the sanctity of life and the seventh the sanctity of marriage. Those who rely on external righteousness break both of those commandments, because in their hearts they attack the sanctity of life and the sanctity of marriage, whether they do so outwardly or not. When they are angry or hate, they commit murder. When they lust sexually, they commit adultery. And when they do either of those things, they choose to despise God’s law and God’s name (see Ex. 20:14; Lev. 20:10; Deut. 5:18).
Quote: Someone once said:
Sex is like fire. In a fireplace, it’s warm and delightful. Outside the fireplace, it’s destructive and uncontrollable (Green, Michael P.: Illustrations for Bilical Preaching : Over 1500 Sermon Illustrations Arranged by Topic and Indexed Exhaustively. Revised edition of: The expositor’s illustration file. Grand Rapids : Baker Book House, 1989).
Throughout the New Testament, prohibitions against sexual immorality are every bit as clear as those of the Old. “Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals” will inherit the Kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9; cf. Gal. 5:19–21; Rev. 2:22). “Fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Heb. 13:4). Regardless of how much a couple may care for each other and be deeply in love, sexual relations outside of marriage are forbidden. In every case, without exception, it is a heinous sin against God.