Back in the Sermon on the Mount today, continuing to trace Jesus’ teaching on what it means to be living in the Kingdom of God. Jesus began by holding up the Old Testament teaching of the law regarding anger, which says, simply, don’t murder anyone. Of course, we bring about all kinds of misery in our world hanging onto and acting upon our anger and contempt without actually murdering anyone. Jesus tells us that simply being angry with our brothers will make us liable to judgement, and holding and speaking with contempt will be hauled in front of the council. Speaking words of contempt will bring you to the very gates of hell!! Of course, Jesus is making a point that the outward signs of murder is simply a symptom of a sick and angry heart, and Jesus teaches to change the source not the symptom.
So we come to His second contrast between the law as understood by those listening, and the good life in the kingdom which He wants us to have. Jesus started out with anger and contempt, now He gets really personal with us when He gets to sex. Sex and violence together are two areas of our greatest problems today, and both are glorified in our entertainment industry. Violence is the end result of anger and contempt, and anger and contempt also overflow into the lustings of our hearts, like fortune and fame, sex, drugs and alcohol, power and money. If we’ve gone way off course with our handling of anger and contempt, we have simply driven our Ferrari with the pedal to the metal in the opposite direction concerning what Jesus has to say on the issue of sex.
“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.” Matthew 5:27-28 ESV. These two verses are almost just about completely forgotten and ignored today. Everyone knows that adultery is wrong. The act of adultery is the quickest path to doing maximum damage to the most important relationship in your life. It is like a nuclear bomb being dropped into the lives and emotions of those affected. Yet, today many people simply see it as normal. Turn on the TV or radio, and you are likely find someone encouraging adultery. Many people with lots of degrees tell us how staying faithful to one spouse itself is what is “abnormal”.
However you view adultery, just like murder it is unequivocally prohibited under the law. And just as He handled the subject of murder by going past the outward symptom of the problems of the human heart, so Jesus here deals with the sickness of the heart that leads ultimately to the actual act of 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. There is so much to talk about here as it relates to 2017 America, and indeed the entire world. Many who do actually believe adultery is wrong see no problem with ogling every pretty young thing that goes walking by. They think that they are right with God just because they don’t actually do what us specifically prohibited under the law. Just like they think that just not killing their brother means they’re ok, so not actually physically committing adultery is enough to “fulfill their duty”.
But Jesus tells us otherwise. When we follow a woman (or a man) with our eyes, when trace every curve with our eyes, when we are looking close enough to know exactly what kind of undergarments are being worn, we have committed adultery in our hearts. We often take great pleasure in this, fantasizing what it might be like to undress, touch, and be with that person.
We all know what happens here. Most of us have done it to some degree. It happens in all types of work environments, social settings, among women and among men, in these happy days among members of the same sex. If you have a lusting heart fantasizing about every hot thing that walks by, then you do not have a heart that is right with God.
The problem is this – when you’ve gone to the lengths of “checking her out”, detailing the body lines, and fantasizing, all the elements of adultery are in place. You just haven’t consummated the act. But where the mind goes, your body will follow. The only thing you need is the opportunity – by which I mean circumstances are right, you have a place, and the illusion that you won’t get caught. In other words, you would do it if the conditions were right.
Which brings us to pornography. We might not be able to define it, but boy, do we ever know it!! Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes…you watch pornography for the fantasy of being with the people on that screen. Many of us act on that fantasy while watching. We watch for the purpose of acting on that fantasy. It is a sign of contempt for the individuals you are watching. You are using them simply as objects for your own gratification, for your own uses and pleasure. Just as staring down and undressing members of the opposite sex makes them simply an object in you eyes. And yes…you are committing the adultery of the heart Jesus was talking about.
Whether watching pornography (or these days you can get nearly the same effect watching 10PM TV) or daydreaming about the young lady you saw at Starbucks, according to Jesus you’ve already committed adultery in your heart. It is wrong. It is sin, if you prefer that word. And no, just because you’ve already committed the act in your heart and mind, it is still better to not do it physically. Jesus is not saying “go ahead, you’ve sinned already anyway!!” He says “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” An innocent glance is just that – an innocent glance. We have inherent natures and desires which are good and necessary. But to stop, follow with your eyes, and ponder in your mind on being with that person, that is adultery in the heart. You might be innocent in a court of law, but legal innocence does not constitute kingdom righteousness.
“”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.”
Matthew 5:27-28 ESV