Summary: Part 8 of Sermon on Mount series, controlling our lust.
Adultery, what a nasty word. It’s no wonder people don’t call it that, they refer to it as an affair of the heart, a fling, illicit love even an extramarital relationship, anything but adultery. After all every one is doing it, aren’t they? Well I know of one person for sure who isn’t. On the other hand in the book "The Day America Told the Truth" we are told that almost one-third or all married Americans have had or are now having an affair. Are Canadians really much different then Americans.
Jesus never seemed to have a problem with calling a spade a spade, you’d never catch him saying digging implement. And so in Matthew 5:27 Jesus Said "You have heard that it was said, ’Do not commit adultery.’ Where does it say Do not commit adultery? Well in Exodus 20:14 God gave the people of Israel the ten commandments and number seven said "You shall not commit adultery." Last week we learnt that Jesus came not to destroy the law but to fulfil it. Remember the Greek word that Christ used for fulfil literally means to level up, to finish or to cram full. And so Jesus said that it wasn’t up to him to change even the smallest part of the law, instead he said he came to complete it.
The law that Christ was referring to was what the Jews called the law and the prophets, the same thing that we now call the Old Testament. The old testament laws were laid down for a nation to keep it from deteriorating into moral decay, and rotting away from the inside. The concepts that Christ goes on to deal with here were meant to hold the moral fabric of Israel together.
But Christ goes on to say that believers, Christian those who would follow Christ had a much higher calling then to simply obey the law and then he illustrates. The law says you shall not murder. That’s cool, in order for society not to destroy itself it needs to respect life from conception to natural death. When we decide that life at any point on the time line is any less or any more valuable then at any other point then we are opening doors better left closed.
And while respect for life is a wonderful concept for society as a whole the believer is required to go a step further and along with not kill they must not even hate. And that can only happen with the help of God.
And so Jesus continues in Matthew 5:27 (NIV) "You have heard that it was said, ’Do not commit adultery.’ This second command comes from Exodus 20:14 and Deuteronomy. This is the second great principle of civilization. The first was the sanctity of life, the second is the sanctity of the family. The sin of adultery was considered so serious under Jewish law that the was death, it’s laid down in the book of Leviticus 20:10 (NIV) "’If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife--with the wife of his neighbor--both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death. And while this seems to put an end to the thought of possible reconciliation it certainly cut down on repeat offenders.
The law recognized what adultery does, it creates chaos and destroys the very foundation of the community. We all know that don’t we? If you were a child in a family torn apart because of a cheating parent you’d probably have an even greater appreciation for the law. The Bible actually placed murder and adultery side by side and yet today it is common place and even winked at.
Historian J.D. Unwin studied eighteen civilizations in an effort to best determine which facts accounted for their disintegration and his conclusion was this, "Every society has one of two choices, either sexual promiscuity and decline or sexual restraint and growth."
Christians then in order to act as salt for society are to refrain from adulterous relationships, does that surprise you? Probably not. As a matter of fact, under the law everyone, believer, unbeliever, redeemed, unredeemed is supposed to refrain from adultery, to prevent the family unit and society as a whole from disintegration.
But again Christ says that the Christian is to go beyond the limits of the law. The law says no adultery, Jesus says no lust, listen to his words in Matthew 5:28 (NIV) But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Ouch! by the way it can be read this way, Matthew 5:28 (NIV) But I tell you that anyone who looks at a man lustfully has already committed adultery with him in her heart. Ladies, what is good for the goose is also good for the gander so this one doesn’t just apply to your husbands and boyfriends.