What is the latest rumor you have heard? Go back further and think deeper. Remember some old saying you learned growing up that became for you a rule to live by. It might have been something like, “Honesty is the best policy.” Most of us can pull up lots of such rules of thumb that affected the way we viewed life and even how we worked on our jobs every day. What about “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise?” Well the saying that Jesus referred back to had deeper roots when he was preaching his great Sermon on the Mount. In Matthew 5:27-30 his second of such references was this: You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery in his heart.”
The source of this saying they had heard was the Ten Commandments. It was God who wrote this down alongside the other nine on the tablets of stone that Moses would take back down and declare as the hub of the law for Israel. This is a powerful law and one that needs to be obeyed for all time. So, why would Jesus quote it as one of their old sayings and add an “But I say to you” addendum? The problem wasn’t with the law but their grasp of the law. It had been taken, as was true with the law on murder, to be simply about the physical act of adultery and not about the heart that led up to the act. The word “adultery” is used in several different ways throughout Scripture. It is used to refer to the act of having sex with someone who isn’t ones husband or wife. It is also used of one being unfaithful to the vows they have made either to each other or to God. It was often used in the Old Testament and several times in the New to refer to spiritual unfaithfulness to God. Think of the times Jesus referred to them as a wicked and adulterous generation or that James said, “You adulterers and adulteresses, don’t you know that friendship with the world is enmity with God.”
But Jesus is clear in this passage that the adultery he is referring to is that of having sexual relations with someone other than one’s married partner. But he takes the principle much further than the final act itself and declared that one who looked lustfully at a woman had already committed the adultery in his heart. What does it mean to look at a woman lustfully? Peter used a graphic description of the point in 2 Peter 2 when he talked about those who had turned away from God as having eyes full of adultery. Job made the statement that he had made a covenant with his eyes not to look on a young woman with lust. Paul told Titus that to the pure all things are pure but to the wicked and defiled nothing is pure but even their mind and conscience is defiled. Lust isn’t just to have a desire. It isn’t just to have thoughts of sex with a person. It is an illegal strong desire. It is the longing of desire that visualizes the action and holds on to it with pleasure rather than a passing thought that one quickly moves from to get their minds off of such.
In a time when pornography is so available and prevalent there could hardly be a more appropriate topic for discussion. Looking at and reading porn isn’t some innocent way of spending time that has on real consequences. It is destructive to our way of looking at everything. Marriage and purity become more and more difficult when one is involved in pornography. It rewires the brain and destroys one’s ability to even think of any woman in a pure and innocent or holy way. Pornography is as addictive as any drug that has ever been made. Once one gives in to watching it they are pulled back into it over and over again. The sad truth is that parents put the tools for every young man to get involved in porn every day when they give their young people phones that can get immediately on to the internet and can pull up every pornographic website imaginable. “Oh, but my little boy wouldn’t do that.” You are dead wrong! Help your children know the danger involved and know how to get out of it’s hold.
Notice Jesus didn’t stop by pointing out that one who lustfully looked at the woman had already committed adultery with her in his heart. He went on to give the remedy for such lust. “If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to tumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.” Jesus wasn’t speaking literally here because literally gouging out your eye or cutting off your hand won’t stop lust. You can lust just fine with one eye and one hand. His point was that we need to go to drastic measures to cut off the actions of lust that lead to adultery in the mind and ultimately in the actions as quickly as they arise in our minds. If I head down the road with lustful thoughts and careless behavior thinking to myself, that I will never let it go too far. I will always stop before anything like having sex with the person takes place. But in your mind you have already gone there. Your pure mind has already been flooded with sewage and you can’t suddenly get such thoughts out of your head. It changes the way you think of your relationship with every woman in the world, including your wife and even your sisters. Instead of seeing women as human beings made in the image of God we begin thinking of them as sex tools for our physical pleasure.
When we see a relationship at work, at church, in school or even online begin to move in the wrong direction you need to gouge it out and cut it off. If it means changing jobs, getting off the internet or changing friends it is always worth it to save your marriage and your morality. Being true to your wife, to your self and to your God is worth whatever cost may be involved.