“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
Okay. We’re going to be in Matthew chapter five this morning. Great to be here with you all. Go ahead and pull out your Bibles. You can turn there in the pew Bible. You know, I didn’t look up the page number. It’s the first book in the new Testament. Um, Turn to your neighbor and help them. If they need help.
We are continuing our series in the upside down kingdom, the upside on life. What it looks like to follow Christ. Sometimes if you compare it with the world, it looks pretty upside down and backwards, but we are living for his kingdom. We’ve worked through the beatitudes are blessed and statements given by Jesus in the very beginning.
And we’re moving on now to the practical outworkings of living as followers of Jesus Christ in the new covenant. You follow Jesus. And here’s what it should look like in his kingdom. Today is the second of the, but I say to you statements, there are actually six of them that we’re going to be working through not today.
Um, but they, uh, pastor Ben taught on anger last week. There’s a way to look at all these things here. I have a list of them and these are going to be week after week. So. You might want to just schedule when you don’t want to be here. Um, these are not light issues, but I want to encourage you do not Dodge, uh, weeks that feel like, man, I do not want to hear about that.
Um, and unfortunately you have no option today because you’re here. Uh, so come and join us. As we study God’s word together, the year was 1995. I was a, a little boy at the time, 10 years old fellowship was only 14 years old at that point. Think of only the old part of the building being here. Now you could be sitting here saying which part is the old part.
It’s only the gym. We call this. If you’ve were part of that old generation, this is the new building, which may seem pretty old to some of you. And though I’m a little bit more comfortable in my skin today. I had some insecurities at that point in my life. While I can’t blame them on anybody. I kind of want to thank my parents publicly this morning for allowing this one thing to continue at this point in my life.
You see, I had a Bible, but I hadn’t really graduated to one of those really cool, like zip up Bibles yet. I didn’t have tabs yet, but I would come later. No, I had the salty Bible, this kid’s Bible right here, salty the singing song book. And I think it continued farther than it should. And my parents just, they didn’t see that coming.
And, um, in fact, actually a greater source of my childhood insecurity was the fact that we in our class as a kid, went through the 10 commandments and in the 10 commandments, there are. 10 commandments. Right? And so each week as we were working through them over what seemed like five years, um, we would go on and quote the different commandments and our teachers would work through week by week teaching them and we’d memorize them as a class.
And at that point, um, in my life, when I got called on, it was like the worst moment in my entire life. Maybe some of you are still that way. Um, all the way through high school, I was like, I turned bright red. I hated being in front of people. God has a way of being humorous and like that, that’s what I do now for a living, but I hated that.
And I would sit there and dread as we walked around and we would get through the 10 commandments. I’d have to say which commandment I got. And week after week, as I’m sitting there, even amidst my best abilities to try to Dodge. Count around and sure enough, commandment number seven, do not commit adultery would come up.
And I would have to say that every stinking week at Sunday school, uh, watcher what it was in my life that the Lord wanted to do, but having to quote that every single week and learning what it meant as a 10 year old was pretty terrible. And so we approached the text this morning. I shared the same awkwardness that maybe you do this morning when we think about adultery and lust, not just the topic, but because of my childhood trauma.
Okay. So we’re going to read Matthew chapter five, 27 through 30. You have heard that it was said you shall not commit adultery, but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away.
For it’s better that you lose one of your members then that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away for it’s better that you lose one of your members than that. Your whole body. Let me go into hell Lord. We come to this passage, recognizing our own inability to really enter into what you were saying at that time.
Apart from the spirit, we ask God that the spirit would, would take your word and make it come alive in our lives this morning. We want to understand your truth. We want to be your people that live in a, in a world that you would call upside down. Um, but God, we want to be people that live right before you, holy spirit, teach us.
Now we pray these things in your name. Amen. Well, we’re going to start with just the first chunk of this, this passage here in verse 27, you have heard that it was said, do not commit adultery. And at this time, many in the Roman culture believed sex was a purely physical act. Nothing more than a bodily function, just like eating or drinking or sleeping.
That’s all. It was much like today’s society makes sex common and normal cheap, maybe encourages freedom and a misuse in a perversion of God’s original design. Someone came to me just this week and said, I want to share this article with you. And I did not read the article, but, but it works great for my sermon this morning.
It said recently in teen Vogue, they’re publishing this article that is, um, teaching kids how to have sex. The target audience for teen Vogue is 12 years old. This is the culture that we live in the famed Swiss theologian. Carl Bart said, take your Bible and take your newspaper. He’s a little older than we are.
Now. Take your Bible and take your phone, take your Bible and take whatever it is that you’re reading and read both, but interpret the newspapers from your Bible. We look around and see a culture that is broken is in need of redemption. Moral standards are up for interpretation, whatever. I feel, whatever.
I think, whatever feels good, just do it. But God designed sex to be within a marriage relationship, a covenant between a husband and a wife in exclusive relationship, husband, wife, no others. In fact, this singular commitment was so important to the personal, but also to the community of people that God designed and stitched it right into the 10 commandments.
These will be principals. They would not only follow but use as part of their community living. And so when you think about this commandment or this statement, that Jesus makes, it was not just don’t do these things, but do this so that you would have good in the community and among your personal lives.
So some who were there in the crowd with Jesus, you know, he was up on the mountain side, teaching the sermon on the Mount. And so as people are listening there, many probably harken back to Genesis, chapter 39 with a man named Joseph. The concept of adultery here, the man who was sold into slavery, he was the youngest of his other 11 brothers.
They were a kind bunch sold him into slavery. He found his way into Egypt and he happened to be placed into Pharaoh’s highest adviser. Pottipher into his household. God blessed Joseph and gave him some incredible abilities to manage this house. But what happened was Pottipher the head of the household, his wife kind of had this thing for Joseph and she begged him time and time again to come to bed with her.
And he refused because she was married. And so one time when nobody else is in the house, Potiphar’s wife grabbed Joseph literally by the cloak to pull him in, to tempt him. And he ran away leaving the cloak behind and fled the house. Going to engage physically with someone’s wife was considered adults really violating God’s design boundary for the protection of marriage, between a husband and a wife don’t go there.
And while adultery was commonly seen as a violation or a pollution of marriage, Jesus here in the new Testament, on the sermon on the Mount expands this concept in the statements ahead verse 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.
This is a striking statement. And if you were someone listening in the crowd, you probably would have known the quote from the old Testament, do not commit adultery. And then Jesus comes and says, but I say to you, and as we spend the next few weeks looking at these statements, they’re striking because.
You didn’t overstep the law of Moses. This was like passed from generation to generation. Who are you Jesus to say, but I say, you’re going to step on top of that and redefine our heritage by doing that. And what does Jesus say? But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
The word looks here is actually looks and continues to look it’s a constant look, keeps looking a drawn outlook or an intentional staring a drinking in or imbibing the visual before you meditating on this person, a repeated gazing and those who look at a woman with lustful intent. Well, what does that mean?
Well, it means there’s some sort of action behind the look in your brain, in your heart. There’s an intention. There’s a goal in mind, a purpose in my stair, a desire to satisfy my own thinking with the person before me, that is lust. If we look at another example in scripture, you have the example of king David, right?
This is the classic adultery example, but it’s also, and I think even more importantly, an example of what lust looks like David is appointed by God to be king. He is known for having victory in battle. And if we get through there to second Samuel chapter 11, he’s known for winning these incredible battles and going to war as king as conqueror.
Second, Samuel 11 in the spring. At that time, when Kings go off to war, David sent Joe app with the King’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabba, but David remained in Jerusalem. One evening, David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace from the roof.
He saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful. And David sent someone to find out about her. The man said she is best Sheba. The daughter of alignment, the wife of Uriah, the Hittite. Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him and slept with him. And then she went back home, the woman conceived and sent word to David saying, I am pregnant.
So David committed the act of adultery and it’s 10 tends to be where we focus our attention in that passage. But adultery was born out of a heart, filled with lust, the precursor to adultery. I look, I look again, and then I act. Less happens in the heart even before the physical act of adultery takes place.
And so when Jesus speaks of loss, this concept really isn’t a new thing. If you were a good Jew following along with your scriptures at that time, you probably had some examples come up, but it wasn’t highlighted as one of the 10 commandments adultery. That’s what you do. What comes before that? Not so important, but Jesus reminds his followers and his listeners at that point of one of the most foundational truths for the Christian yesterday, today, and forever.
Sin is first a matter of my heart before anything else. Sin is first a matter of my heart before anything else, James, as he would write the brother of Jesus, he writes this in the very first chapter of his book. Clearly, as he walked with Jesus, he knew this truth. Let no one say when he’s tempted, I’m being tempted by God for God cannot be tempted with evil and he himself tempts, no one, but each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desires and desire.
When it’s conceived gives birth to sin and sin, when it is fully grown, brings forth death, Jesus himself would later on in the book of Matthew, as he records it, there, say these words as the Pharisees came to try to really catch him and his followers in breaking some rules. Well, you’re so good. Jesus.
What about this question? That happens a bunch throughout the gospels and they catch him breaking a Jewish tradition of ceremonially washing before they would eat food. And Jesus would say this, but what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart and this defiles a person for out of the heart.
Comes evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. It’s a great list. These are what the file a person, but to eat with unwashed. Hands is not the file anyone. And if you and I are here this morning, and we’re looking at the scriptures, even just a few verses this morning about lust, and then the focus on the heart, we just kinda, we kind of have to agree that this is where sin originates.
We can’t simply have the knowledge of sin in our hearts. And then only look at actions that we do as according to the rules. The way of an enlightened Christian knows that sin is a matter of our hearts quickly here, just a few quotes throughout the scriptures about the way the Lord looks at our hearts.
Proverbs 44, 21 would not God discover this for. He knows the secrets. Of the heart, Hebrews four 12, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword piercing, soul and spirit joints, and marrow discerning the thoughts and the intentions of the heart. This is what God’s word does.
Jeremiah 17, 10, I, the Lord search the heart and test the mind. Proverbs 16 two, all the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart. Second Chronicles 16 for the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. Not only his sin birthed out of the heart, but it’s the very place that God focuses his attention.
If you marched into church today and maybe thought actions was where it stopped, that God knows the motivation behind your actions. That he’s actually concerned with the intention before you even lift a finger to do wrong. That all the good external action in the world cannot erase a hidden heart motive of sin in my life.
This could be a moment of real conviction, possibly fear or dread, or like, oh no, he can see what’s going on in my life. I’m going to ask you to stay with me because the full gospel is first bad news before it is good news. Apart from Christ my sin, my hidden sin. My intention in my heart is bad news before it is good news.
Romans six 23, the wages of our sin is death. That’s what we deserve. My hidden motivation is bad news. My inability to live righteous perfect is bad news. And it would take the life, the death and the reservoir action of Jesus to bring good news. That is the gospel. Okay. We got to get to the eyes and the hands part of this verse, this passage here, we know what adultery and lust are.
We know that sin lives first in our heart, before it ever becomes inaction. What do we do with this temptation to lust and adultery versus 29? If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away for it’s better that you lose one of your members and that your whole body be thrown into hell.
And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away for it’s better that you lose one of your members, the whole body go into hell. Now Matthew records the words of Christ and they are absolutely intense. Gouge out your eye. Cut off your hand. Isn’t that an application for us this morning, as we think about the scriptures.
Well, if you were still around there and you weren’t really thrown off by Jesus restating the law and inserting himself in places where you would have thought, whoa, this is a lot, Jesus, cut off your hand and tear out your eye that may have raised some eyebrows. Maybe the crowd begins to look around.
Maybe there’s even some body language here. Some like, oh, that’s pretty surprising. Or like, come on, really cut. Really cut off your hand, gouge out your eye. Or like, oh my gosh, she wants me to chop my hand off in order to face this sin. But whatever it is, he’s got your attention. And I want to ask you this morning.
Can you, would you, I beg you to read your scriptures, not just flat as words on a page. What if you were in the crowd that day? What if you were one of his disciples? Would you have listened with a straight face or would these words evoke a dynamic and real response for you? You see if we just breeze through this passage and we say, and then we pluck out our eye and we chop off our hand what a great sermon keep going and just go on through.
We really miss the instructions here. He’s calling for a treatment of sin that is violent and we can’t Dodge these words. And for me, I’m asking the question, does anybody really do that? Are you here this morning? And you’re like, this is ancient texts. I wonder if someone throughout the span of time has really taken this literally and actually chopped off their hand or plucked out.
And that’s a fair question. Okay. Early church, father origin in the year, 200, heard these words and responded by actually having himself castrated. This causes me to sin. I don’t want to sin. I’m done with this. The Victorian view attempted to make sex, the whole thing evil by condemning it and avoiding this crime altogether.
Saint Anthony is told to have been part of the monastic movement. One of the early people that was following after God, and they said, this world is evil. I need to flee and hide away from temptation. And he fled to the Egyptian desert and spent his life in poverty for 35 years. So the answer to your question is, yes, these others have practically put this into action, but I don’t want you to come out with the wrong idea of what will work in this fight, because think about this right in your physical mutilation does not remove lust.
If you chop off one hand, what are you left with a hand? If you gouge out one eye. There’s still the other eye. It works like that abstinence or the avoidance of just the act of sex does not remove the temptation and nor the ability to lust in my heart and running away from this world does not prevent loss.
Actually, this was the experience of St. Anthony, because unfortunately I take me and my heart of sin wherever I go. And so do you St. Anthony came to this conclusion in the desert, right? My heart is still in the world. In fact, what I found is that Satan had no trouble me here all the way in the desert to avoid to run.
So if Jesus is saying that loss is a matter of the heart before anything else, and we can’t actually cut off lust or adultery from our bodies, our sin weakness and failure is with us. Why in the world does Matthew record this statement of Christ? What is the purpose here, writing down these physicals actions.
Again, read your scriptures as though this was written to the people of New Jersey, where the people of this area here in north America, or for the people of the 21st century, and here, what I’m saying, not saying that this is not written for you and you can’t listen to it, but the original writing Matthew recorded this for a specific audience in which we can hear so much more depth in.
It was part of the tradition in the ancient near east Jewish culture. That your right hand was actually the dominant hand, the powerful hand, the one you earned your wages with. The right eye was the best eye. The one with valuable skill required its use for, for making a living and, and performing these tasks.
And so while Jesus may not be advocating for physical mutilation, what he is saying is hold nothing back. I don’t care if you’re making a living off of this or this, do whatever it takes to conquer this sin of lust, do violence and don’t mess around and give up your very livelihood. Maybe you hear that Jesus so values the covenant of marriage between a husband and wife.
He knows the destructive nature of loss within a human heart. And so we, we say along with him that we want to remove what may hold us back from this unity. We’re capable of much evil in our hearts. So whatever you need to put in that blank, Remove it to throw it out, turn it off, remove the temptation.
Okay. Let’s move on to some, uh, application here of these truths together. Maybe we should first ask ourselves the question. What’s the point of this teaching? Like we’re in the middle of the sermon on the Mount. We’re getting some of these blessing statements. Now we have some practical stuff. Why is this one here?
Why are these really difficult sins? The things that Jesus tackles here. Well, if you were there and you were hearing the law be reinterpreted or, or deepened or expanded in some ways you would think to yourself, well, keeping the law is a really difficult thing, but I’ve been doing it as a, as a good Jewish follower.
And I’m going to keep going here. I’m just going to mark this off and keep making some strides here. I have to keep the law follow the rules. So maybe it’s teaching seems redundant to you. But when you think of the sermon on the Mount, maybe how I have previously thought of the sermon on the Mount, it’s a really nice, warm, fuzzy feeling.
It’s a great teaching. It’s beautiful until you actually realize what each section is saying. I bet people in the crowd didn’t have a warm, fuzzy feeling when they heard how they were to follow in the kingdom of Christ. Maybe these intense statements were not as warm and fuzzy as I’ve previously read them.
Jesus, you’re telling me not just to keep the law, which is already pretty difficult. Um, but to make this so much more exhaustingly difficult, how could any one you do this? How could anyone keep these standards? I think that’s the goal of the teaching of Christ here. And the crowd probably had this grief, like.
We can’t, we can’t do this. We’re we’re longing for like, to be able to do this, but I’m, I know I’m not capable. Maybe there’s this expectation or like this feeling of a pressure cooker building up with all the things that you have to do, and you are not able to keep those. This is impossible and Jesus would continue on his message, the whole sermon on the Mount and go through and speak these words to the people who just were beginning to realize with this teaching, they needed a rescuer knock and the door will be open to you.
That would come in a few chapters, enter through the narrow gate. That’s me Jesus. To see the father build your lives on me as the foundation, people might say to the crowd there. Well, I’m unable to be righteous. I, I really, I can’t do this. Jesus would say. I will be your righteousness. Heart is a wicked breeding ground for sin.
It’s beyond repair. I will give you a new heart. I am helpless. Well, Jesus says I’m sufficient and able to save you. You see that teacher Jesus, as he’s moving them to understand their inability, to keep the law is doing that on purpose. And he invites them to let him win the war. Romans eight three, the law of Moses was unable to save us the law of Moses, the Torah, the things that he was redefining right now that wasn’t able to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature.
This is clear. This is so obvious. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own son in a body like the bodies we sinners have, and in that body, God declared an end. To sins control over us, his son, by giving us his son as a sacrifice for our sins, the laws and rules were never made so that we could achieve righteous this, or get to heaven.
Maybe you’ve been taught that truth. Your entire life, Romans eight, three says false. You cannot earn it. You don’t deserve it. It’s a free gift available to you. Second, the ins five 21 for our sake, he, God made him Jesus to be sin who knew no sin. He was perfectly sinless so that in him, Jesus, we might become the righteousness of God.
So in Christ, we become the righteousness that God designs and desires for us and requires that is tremendously good news. It’s not an earned righteousness. They’re keeping these rules and making no mistakes. This is imputed righteousness assigned to the people that would believe and trust in Jesus freely.
Given in Ephesians four, a there are those who walk according to their own thoughts and in their own ways and in their own minds. And here’s the words in Ephesians chapter four, but that’s not the way you learned in Christ. Assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him as the truth is in Jesus to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds and to put on the new self created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
So I wanna gather us this morning, possibly around a few resolutions. I want to ask you to make, maybe you write them down this morning and say, I’ll think about it. Okay. Even just write them down so that you can come back later and think about these resolutions from the scriptures and from this passage this morning, number one, we agree that it’s only ever the sin inside of us.
That magnetizes us to the sin outside of us. Don’t read all four, sorry. I probably should’ve made them on like an animation or whatever. I’m not blaming others for my sin. I’m not pointing other people. I’m not pointing the finger at people who dress immodestly their problem. That’s them. They should help me out so that I don’t have to lust for producers who make shows with inappropriate content.
It’s their fault for the culture who has lowered its standards. Oh, it’s just the culture these days. I will point at my own heart. Number two, we agree. It is biblical to face the temptation in our hearts. Before we moved to action. Now hear what I’m not saying, pastor Mike just said that we don’t have to really do anything with our actions.
It’s all about the heart. So just leave the actions. Don’t forget about it. What I am saying is face your heart on the way to the action. Don’t put the cart before the horse. If you focus simply on action, I’ve heard it said once that it’s kind of like trying to take good fruit and put it on a bad or dead tree, maybe you would like take it and try to staple it up onto a tree.
It doesn’t make any sense unless the heart is rebirthed Christ. We cannot have any good fruit. So I’m going to be honest then about my own heart desires, I’m engaging in confession to God and to the others in my life, sharing with my wife, my husband, my mom, or my dad, brother or sister, call that friend who knows you.
We expose the dark corners of our hearts, not just look good on the outside confession and forgiveness, trusting in Christ’s forgiveness and his righteousness alone. Number three, we agree to face lust and adultery with the same measure and intensity that Jesus shares. We will as a family block out shows or sites or media that encourage our are already our heart.
When we will do violence to the things that we cherish for the sake of Christ, right hand and right eye type stuff, whether it’s a friendship or a relationship. People at work that you should not be hanging out with or talking to apps or locations or computer access or things on your phone, whatever the case might be.
You’re your whole livelihood. Right-hand your whole livelihood. You’re right. I cut it off. Nothing stands in the way between me and obedience to Christ, moms and dads. I want to just speak to you this morning. I’m convinced that many families don’t know how to confront or talk about the sin of lust and adultery, because there’s probably some shared idolatry in the family.
Maybe talk about it with your kids. Well, how can I do that? If that’s my own heart wickedness, how do I do this? If I’m struggling with pornography myself, how can I talk to my kids about it? Might I suggest to you this morning that as a parent, it is not okay. Perfection that Christ is calling you to it is to repentance and to turn from your wickedness, but it’s to be an ambassador of Christ.
And so in the midst of your failure, your sin, might there be a redemptive family moment that exposes your heart and trust that the Lord will do his work in your family, whatever he says, you represent the King’s way in your family, confessing your own sin and representing that to your kids. There’s one thing I’ve learned as a youth pastor, these last number of years, it’s that your kids are far better at technology than you think they are.
I’m sorry. All of you kids that just were exposed with that, don’t wait for your kids to come running to you that one day they get it and they’re like, this is wrong. What I’m looking at, what I’m seeing or what I’m engaged in, in my heart. Isn’t okay. I need help. Don’t wait for that moment, run to them and pursue them.
Open conversations covered in God’s grace, bringing them to rescue and freedom. Don’t wait for those moments to happen, where you catch. Number four, we agree to fight as dead men and women convinced of grace might be the most important of the four here. This is not a legalistic fight to get it right. The law strict code or rules for your family is not self-effort.
This is not grit your teeth and just get it right. This is individuals who in Christ are dead to sin and alive. Trusting the spirit of Christ in them. Done out of obedience. Our motivation then becomes everything. What’d you pray with me this morning.
Father, we hear the words you you’ve sent in Christ on this earth that he preached to a crowd of people who were faced with their own inability to keep the law and the codes that you set up. And maybe God, they had that same longing that we can have this morning. This life apart from Christ is impossible.
I don’t measure up. And so what you do did and making Christ sin, who knew no sin, that we might become the righteousness of God. Oh God. I pray that there are those here this morning processing and unpacking their own heart motivations. Even before the action happens, God, might we be a people who run with grace to one another and to you confessing our sin, that we might be healed, that we might be forgiven and know true freedom in this space.
Lord you desire for oneness in marriages and among families. And I pray God, you would not allow anything to stand in the way of that. We worship you. And we give you this time. Now we pray these things in your name. Amen. Thanks for being here this morning. You are dismissed. .