Jesus is going through each principle of God’s Law to clarify the intent of what God wanted as opposed to how man has interpreted The Law leaving the love of God out of the equation. By now in His ministry, Jesus has gathered a large crowd of the curious and the amazed. His close followers listen closely at the words of The Master Teacher who is explaining God’s Law specifically, carefully with great wisdom…like none they had ever heard before.
The religious leaders at that time USED God’s Law for their own purpose and gain. At first, Jesus was dismissed by the leaders as just another “voice in the wilderness” crying out hell, fire and brimstone like John. But this Jesus was gaining a large following. He spoke beyond their thinking, beyond the black and white of The Law and explained with wisdom of how to live to please God. Jesus is not like them so they do now like Him. They become fearful which will fuel anger of who they do not know.
This is what is in the background while Jesus continues to speak. Keep reading the sermon with these thoughts in mind. Maybe that is why Jesus is going into such detail when He speaks. “You have heard it said, (by the religious leaders), but I tell you…”, Truth.
“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 with her in his heart. 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 stumble, 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. Matthew 5:27-30, NIV
WHAT DO WE LEARN NOW?
Jesus took six important Old Testament laws and interpreted them for His people in the light of the new life He came to give. He made a fundamental change without altering God’s standards: He dealt with the attitudes and intents of the heart and not simply with the external action.
The Pharisees said that righteousness consisted of performing certain actions, but Jesus said it centered in the attitudes of the heart. Likewise, with sin: The Pharisees had a list of external actions that were sinful, but Jesus explained that sin came from the attitudes of the heart.
Anger is murder (yesterday’s blog) in the heart; lust is adultery in the heart. The person who says that he “lives by the Sermon on the Mount” may not realize that the Sermon on the Mount is more difficult to keep than the original Ten Commandments!
Jesus affirmed God’s law of purity, and then explained that the intent of this law was to reveal the sanctity of sex and the sinfulness of the human heart. God created sex, and God protects sex. He has the authority to regulate it and to punish those who rebel against His laws. He does not regulate sex because He wants to rob us, but rather, because He wants to bless us. Whenever God says, no it is that He might say yes.
Sexual impurity begins in the desires of the heart. Again, Jesus is not saying that lustful desires are identical to lustful deeds, and therefore a person might just as well go ahead and commit adultery. The desire and the deed are not identical, but, spiritually speaking, they are equivalent.
The “look” that Jesus mentioned was not a casual glance, but a constant stare with the purpose of lusting. It is possible for a man to glance at a beautiful woman and know that she is beautiful, but not lust after her. The man Jesus described looked at the woman for the purpose of feeding his inner sensual appetites as a substitute for the act. It was not accidental; it was planned.
How do we get victory? By purifying the desires of the heart (appetite leads to action) and disciplining the actions of the body. Obviously, our Lord is not talking about literal surgery, for this would not solve the problem in the heart. The eye and the hand are usually the two “culprits” when it comes to sexual sins, so they must be disciplined.
Jesus said, “Deal immediately and decisively with sin! Don’t taper off—cut off!” Spiritual surgery is more important than physical surgery, for the sins of the body can lead to eternal judgment. (See also Colossians 3:5 and Romans 6:13; 12:1–2; 13:14.)
God wants all of me, every part of me; heart, mind, body and soul. God wants His best for our good in ways that brings glory and honor back to Him. When we realize the depth of His love for us with how great God is, our desires change. We willingly lay every part of our created selves under his authority because of our love for God. We know He knows what is best and right for us!
Father in Heaven, Lord and Savior,
Thank you for saving my soul. Thank you for wanting the best life for me and creating me with purpose. Thank you for doing the same for everyone who believes. Continue to transform us, day by day, into all you want us to be…then do.
In Jesus Name, Amen