"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 lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. "If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. "If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell. (Matthew 5:27-30 NASB)
In the last post the structure of this section of the Sermon on the Mount was discussed, and that structure will be looked at again in this post. Recall in Matthew 5:17-20 that this section (5:21-47) was introduced, and that Jesus affirmed that without a righteousness that exceeded the scribes and Pharisees it would be impossible to enter the kingdom of heaven. He then goes on to mention Laws which the Pharisees kept, but proceeds to speak the true intent of those laws, and ultimately how to practically exceed the righteousness those laws command. In the last post we looked at the command not to murder, and this was the structure we say:
Jesus states the Law – You shall not murder
Jesus states the intent – You should not have anger towards a brother that would cause you to degrade them.
Jesus states how to exceed the law – Do not even offer sacrifices without reconciling differences first, and seek reconciliation with enemies before you go to a higher authority (court).
In the passage above that will be addressed in this post the command is “You shall not commit adultery.” Again, like murder, for most of us, we have a Pharisees-like righteousness with regard to this law. I have never cheated on my wife, therefore I have never committed adultery according to the letter of the law. Hopefully most people can say the same thing, though it seems that less and less people are able to make that claim. However recall that Jesus did not say you must keep the Law to enter heaven... the Pharisees did that... He said your righteousness must exceed the righteousness of the Pharisees. Which means not only must the letter of the law be obeyed, but the intent as
well. In this passage Christ clearly lays out the intent of the Law, saying basically that you are not to lust at all. It is lust that produces fornication and adultery, and the intent of the law is to eliminate lusting altogether. Now, after Jesus lays out the intent of the Law he once again give practical advice on how to exceed the Law, and that is to cut off your members which cause you to sin. This is severe, but it is no more severe than the vileness which we expose ourselves to everyday. If you TV causes sin, get rid of it, turn it off and leave it off. If your computer causes sin, never use it alone, or get rid of it all together. To exceed the righteousness of the Law you are not to just be stronger than temptation, you are to get rid of anything that causes temptation to lust!
Now here is the structure:
Jesus States the Law- You shall not commit adultery
Jesus States the Intent- You must not even lust after a woman
Jesus States how to exceed the Law- Remove your members which cause you to lust.
While this is uncomfortable to bring up, as it seems to dirty to place on a space like this, it is appropriate considering the text. As a youth leader you get questions from boys about masturbation, and the question is always “Is it a sin?” So many people have answered this in so many ways, but look at this passage about lust. “If you look at a woman lustfully... you have committed adultery” now that should be enough to say it is a sin, considering the mental images people put through their heads. However if that was not enough Jesus goes on to say... “If your right eye cause you to sin... gouge it out” and “if your right hand causes you to sin cut it off.” I would say the scriptures are clear on this issue, and Jesus is pretty clear so as to not leave any room for question. Does this mean it is not difficult? Well, which of Christ’s commands are easy? They all require a work of the Holy Spirit and the grace of God in order for us to obey, and this is no different.