“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.
This is the second time Jesus says, “You have heard that it was said…But I say.” While the Jews were used to going down the checklist and deciding they were free of sin, here Jesus breaks their pencil leads and gets to the heart of the matter.
Jesus was referring back to the following scriptures:
Exodus 20:14 and Deuteronomy 5:18 You shall not commit adultery.
Leviticus 18:20 Moreover you shall not lie carnally with your neighbor’s wife, to defile yourself with her.
Proverbs 6:27-29 Can a man take fire to his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? 28 Can one walk on hot coals, and his feet not be seared? 29 So is he who goes into his neighbor’s wife; whoever touches her shall not be innocent.
Up to this point, the Jews heard the Pharisees say, “No man shall lie with another man’s wife.” If they didn’t engage in sexual intercourse, they were not guilty of adultery.
Jesus insisted that there was something much deeper involved. The inward affections, impure thoughts, desires of the heart that kept that first glance turn into a sexual fantasy land in the mind. God is not only interested in what we do, He is looking at our hearts to see where our focus is. What is the motivation behind our actions and words?
That first glance is not the sin. But when it stirs lust. When we begin feeding it as we would feed a fire until it consumes our thinking. When we choose to align our lives to be where that person is. Where fantasies take over our thinking. Soon the need to act grows until the hunger is met.
In 2 Peter 2:14, Peter writes about false teachers and says, “ having eyes full of adultery and that cannot cease from sin, enticing unstable souls. They have a heart trained in covetous practices, and are accursed children.”
The Bible has several instances where impure thoughts led to impure actions:
Genesis 39:7 And it came to pass after these things that his master’s wife cast longing eyes on Joseph, and she said, “Lie with me.”
Judges 16:1 Now Samson went to Gaza and saw a harlot there, and went in to her.
2 Samuel 11:2-4 Then it happened one evening that David arose from his bed and walked on the roof of the king’s house. And from the roof he saw a woman bathing, and the woman was very beautiful to behold. 3 So David sent and inquired about the woman. And someone said, “Is this not Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” 4 Then David sent messengers, and took her; and she came to him, and he lay with her…
Job, who lived many centuries before said, “I have made a covenant with my eyes; why then should I look upon a young woman?” Job 31:1
And Paul wrote to the Corinthian saints, Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. 1 Corinthians 6:18-20
In our world today, pastors, worship leaders, and other Christians are being exposed for their adulterous lives. Many of them are involved in child trafficking to meet the sexual appetites of others. It is pure wickedness. But it begins in the heart, and we have control over our thoughts.
2 Corinthians 10:3-5 gives us this escape plan: 3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ…
This earthly life is just a drop in time. Eternity is forever. We need to curb our cravings. Just because we are believers and under the blood of Jesus, we are still accountable to live a holy life.
Romans 6:13 says, And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.
Grace is not freedom to live as we choose. Grace is given to us so that we have the power to live a godly life. We need His grace to do it, but there is a limitless supply when we ask Him for it.
Paul counseled, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.” Galatians 6:7-8
Let’s look a little deeper. We may not have engaged in physical adultery, but how about that seductive glance or seductive selfie or profile picture posted for all to see? What about how we dress or how we talk? Have we been one who has fostered lust in another person by our behavior? This behavior is not any less a sin.
Who of us can say that our thoughts were never flooded with sexual desire for someone other than our spouse? Impure imaginations? Unchaste conversation or jesting?
I would dare say, all of us have been guilty to some extent at one time or another. 2 Corinthians 7:1 says, Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
Jesus did not say that this was a minor sin. He said, If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.
He was speaking to His disciples in particular, who were believers. He wasn’t saying pull your eye out or cut off your hand. He was saying that in whatever way our walk leads us to unholy desires, we must, at all costs, change directions. To guard and restrain our senses, we must deny ourselves. It may mean financial loss or personal pain. But hell is waiting for those who know the truth and refuse to turn from their sin.
So, let’s choose to walk as children of the King. Romans 12:1-2 is a good way to end this discussion.
Romans 12:1-2 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.