Lust and Adultery
In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus shows us the absolute impossibility of anyone being justified through self-effort. The demands of the Law were never given to make us righteous but to show us our sin and need for a Savior. Jesus tells us that to hate is the same as murder and in this passage, we see that our covetousness is the same as adultery. We live in a sensual culture where sex is everywhere.
Matthew 5:27–28 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ The traditions of the Pharisees and Scribes had once again missed the intent of the Law. The purpose of the Law is to show us our great sinfulness. There is nothing a religious person abhors more than being shown how terribly sinful they are. If you think you’re keeping the Law than you probably are missing its true intent.
Adultery is more than a physical act. The Pharisees focused on the physical act but Jesus was concerned about the heart. Jesus protected the woman caught in the act of adultery from those who would condemn her. He wasn’t condoning her sin but He certainly protected her from those who were ready to use the Law to kill her. Jesus always deals with the heart. Where is your heart and mind? We think if we avoid the act we’re ok but that isn’t the case at all. Any giving of our heart or mind violates the covenant to give ourselves wholly to our spouse.
Adultery is sin you must flee from. All sin destroys and adultery destroys a multitude of innocent victims. The temptation will come and when it does the Bible tells you to run. Running isn’t for cowards but for the wise. Running isn’t the whole answer in dealing with temptation; we must know our identity so we don’t buy into the enemies lies – but there is a time to flee. Don’t fall into the tempters lie that you’ve got it under control.
1 Corinthians 6:18 “Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body.”
But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. You cannot take each commandment in isolation. The tenth says that we must never covet our neighbor’s wife and that obviously should be taken in conjunction with this command not to commit adultery.
Adultery is first a sin of the heart. Under the traditions of the Pharisees the important thing was the illicit sex act but Jesus says it’s a matter of the heart. So, it’s more than avoiding intercourse with someone other than your spouse; it is a matter of the heart and what you are coveting, including pornography and fantasizing.
Sexual impurity begins in the desires of the heart. The desire and the deed don’t have the same consequences on earth but they are the same spiritual sin. The penalty for adultery in Jewish law was death. In Jesus’ time this death penalty was not carried out. The Jews seemed only interested in applying the Law to unfaithful women. When they caught the woman in the act they wanted her stoned – they didn’t even bring in the man. Jesus stripped away their self-righteousness and allowed the full effect of the law to show all guilty.
We live in a very sensual culture that is extremely permissive. We saints must remember that God’s prohibitions and warnings are for our good, our protection. The devil says it’s no big deal and it doesn’t hurt anyone but that’s a lie. Sin always brings death, destruction and chaos into our lives. Jesus came that we might be free!
Thank you all for your incredible support at the death of my mother. Your words of encouragement made me so grateful.
I look forward to seeing you on Sunday.
You are loved!