Yesterday’s preaching on lust, adultery, divorce, and remarriage was no doubt one of the most difficult sections of the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus’ words were piercing, especially to us who are immersed in a hyper-sexualized culture. A guy from our victory group asked, “Why can’t companies just sell tuna and home products without showing naked people on billboards?” That was a fair point. The fight for Christian purity is a serious business and we need all the help we can get.
Here are some thoughts from yesterday’s sermon.
- Looking at a woman with lustful intent is not just a warning for men. One principle of biblical interpretation is called the rule of categories. When the Bible forbids something, the prohibition covers things that are of the same category. For example, when the Ten Commandments forbade adultery, it actually included fornication, a sin of similar category to adultery. In the same way, Jesus’ warning about men looking at women with lustful intent is also applicable for women who look at men, women who look at women, and men who look at men with lustful intents.
- Jesus warned those who look at women with lustful intent. The warning is also for everyone who dresses seductively to invite sensual attention from onlookers. If you are a Christian man or woman who does this, I want you to know that you are inviting the early stages of adultery of the heart. Stop.
- The cutting off of limbs and the plucking out of the eyes are hyperbolic expressions. Hyperboles are linguistic exaggerations used to make a point but are not meant to be taken literally. Jesus actually meant that we have to be radical about avoiding sin. John Owen is right when he wrote, “Be killing sin or sin will be killing you.”
- When Jesus said, “If your eye causes you to sin… and if your hand causes you to sin…” he recognized that different people are tempted differently. What is tempting to you might not be tempting to others. The trick is to identify your temptation point and guard it heavily.
- Matthew 5:31-32 should be read together with Matthew 19:1-9 where Jesus expounded his teaching on divorce. While the Pharisees were so bent in validating their erroneous grounds for divorce, Jesus was busy upholding the sanctity of marriage. This is instructive for us modern Christians. While some people today are so eager to rationalize marital unfaithfulness, the people of God should be busy building good marriages.
- While Matthew 5:27-32 makes us all squirm in uneasiness, let us not forget that Jesus did not leave us without a solution to the problem of sin. There is forgiveness in Christ. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Go, run to him now.
- If you attended church with a child and you cringed when you realized that the sermon was about lust and divorce, now would be a good time to consider bringing your children to Kids Church.