- Matthew 5:27-30 - "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. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.”
Sadly, many of the attacks are coming from people who falsely claim to be Christians. Paul called these people wolves in sheep clothing. It is not something that should surprise us. God’s word tells us this will happen.
- 2 Timothy 4:3-4 - “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.“
Case in point, our text today. In Matthew 5, we find Jesus making some very radical statements about a specific sin, adultery. There could be so much said about these verses, but time will not allow me. Therefore I am going to focus on what I believe are three main points that we can draw from the scripture. First, we are all guilty of adultery. Second, Jesus is serious about adultery. Third, the only solution to adultery is death.
We are all adulterers.
As I stated last week, Jesus in this section is rebuking the teaching of the Scribes and the Pharisees. You can see this in verse 20 when he says, “unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” You can also see this implicitly when Jesus makes the repetitive statement “You have heard that it was said…” in verses 21, 27, 31, 33, 38, and 43. Jesus is pointing out the false oral teachings of the scribes and the Pharisees.
The main issue regarding the Scribes and the Pharisees was that they believed in their ability to save themselves. Their religion was a self centered, external religion. This is what we call works based salvation, or legalism; the idea that you can earn your way to heaven by your outward behavior. This teaching was Satanic because just like the devil, the Scribes and the Pharisees had distorted God’s Word and made it about their glory, not God's glory. Last week’s hoop was murder. This week’s hoop is adultery. And just like last week, Jesus takes the prohibited act of adultery and pushes it down into our hearts, where the real issue lies.
- Matthew 5:28 – “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
Jesus says, no. This is not the intent of the law, to merely restrain your physical body. The intent of the law is to point to the wickedness of your adulterous heart. The standard of the Scribes and the Pharisees was too low. Because it is not the body that is the issue it is the heart.
- Matthew 15:19 – “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.”
So with that said, who is an adulterer? My guess is every single one of them standing on the side of the mountain, and every single one of us sitting here today. If you have had one, just one lustful thought towards someone not your spouse, then you are as guilty as someone caught in the act. If you look at pornography you are an adulterer, if you day dream about some hunky guy your are an adulterer, if your eyes intentionally wander to places that they shouldn’t you are an adulterer, if you watch an R rated movie looking forward to the inevitable nude scene you are an adulterer, if you watch some television show because of the steamy sex scenes you are an adulterer.
Do you know what is interesting? We love to blame Hollywood and the media outlets and the advertisers for all the sex that is thrown in our face. Do you know why they do it? Because we demand it. They have scantily clothed women selling burgers because our evil heart’s desire it. If we want to fix Hollywood, it begins right here with our hearts.
This was the point of Jesus’ teaching. It was to raise the bar to the appropriate level that God intended. Society had lowered it, just like what is happening today. Jesus' words were an indict all of them and all of us. Jesus wants us to recognize that we are all guilty as we stand before a Holy God and that we are all sinners at our core.
Perhaps many of you are familiar with the story of the women who was caught in the act of adultery in John 8. The Scribes and the Pharisee were ready to stone her and they brought her before Jesus, and Jesus said to them:
- John 8:7 – “"Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her."
Jesus is serious about sin.
As I stated earlier, there is a war on the doctrine of sin. The world wants to argue that God is casual about sex. The world wants to paint a picture that God thinks sleeping around is biological and innocent. The world loves to tell you that God wants you to be happy, so if lusting outside of marriage makes you happy then go for it. The world loves to tell the story of John 8 and leave out Matthew 5. Jesus flat out tells us that if you don’t stop sinning, your destiny is Hell.
- Matthew 5:20 – “If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. “
- Ephesians 5:5-6 – “For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. “
- Colossians 3:5-6 – “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming.”
In fact, Jesus is so serious about sin that he died on a cross so as to breaks it chains. In fact, the next time you are about ready to click on that webpage, or text your old boyfriend, or go parking with a girlfriend, I want you to think about Jesus spilling his blood for the sin that you are thinking about.
I want you to look over your shoulder and see your Savior hanging on the cross with blood dripping from his head and nails in his hands and I want you to hear him say, “I love you.”
How do we fix the problem?
There are few passages that Jesus speaks so bluntly about his desire for us to live Holy lives. Jesus does not mince words. The cure he provides for the sin of adultery in one’s life is off the charts. It is zealous and it is extreme.
- Matthew 5:29-30 - “If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.”
Now I want us to consider here what Jesus is doing. In a way, I believe Jesus is messing with the scribes and the Pharisees. He is pushing their theology to the limits of ridiculous. Remember the Scribes and Pharisees taught that avoiding hell was all about external, mechanical obedience of sin. Jesus then throws it back in their face and says, that if we are going to get serious about this, then lets get serious. If your theology is about what your body does and does not do then start ripping off the parts of your body that get you in trouble. If you eye wanders, tear it out. If your hand lingers, cut it off. Now we all know that if you tear out one eye, your other eye will do twice the sinning. Likewise your hand. Jesus has already told us that it isn’t your body, it is your heart.
Now here is what is interesting, despite how radical tearing out your eye and cutting off your hand is, Jesus actually calls us to do something even more extreme. If we want to get serious about avoiding Hell by eliminating sin in our lives, we must do way more than tear out an eye, we have to die to self.
- Matthew 16:24 – “Then Jesus told his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?
- Galatians 5:24 – “And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”
This is what Jesus is pushing us to in our text. He is taking the law of God and pushing it down into our heart. He is raising the bar to such a high level that none of us can reach it. His words are for the purpose of indicting everyone as adulterers, so that we will recognize our desperate need for a Savior.
I leave you with what I believe is the complete answer to overcoming adultery, and you will see that it is merely the Gospel.
- 1 Corinthians 6:18-19 - “Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”