By Rey De Armas
The law focuses on the action of what not to do. Jesus, however, went even further. Knowing that our actions and motives are marred by sin, Jesus claimed that even if we do not outwardly commit the sin of adultery, we are guilty of sin because of our inward lusts. In Matthew 5, Jesus took the Seventh Commandment and went beyond the action to the heart:
27 “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.
According to Jesus, it’s not the hands and feet that lead us to adultery; it’s the heart. Therefore, the solution to a lustful heart is not willpower or self-discipline or self-mastery. It’s a heart transformation. The only solution to an adulterous heart is to have our hearts changed by the gospel. Living in light of this change, we are to do whatever it takes to remain pure.
As those who have had our hearts transformed, we are called by Christ to go beyond the mere avoidance of adulterous actions and fight against adulterous thoughts as well. This may mean giving up some of the movies and television shows we watch. It may mean building in accountability online or on our phones. If that seems too severe, just look at the severity of Jesus’ warnings in verses 29-30. Better to lose something that leads us to sin rather than be thrown into hell!
Proactively dealing with sexual sin and temptation does not mean creating a checklist of legalistic requirements. It means our pursuit of pleasure in God is greater than our pursuit of pleasure in the world. So if you are currently in or close to an adulterous relationship, end it immediately and confess. If you are addicted to Internet pornography, get some accountability. There should be a sense of urgency in fighting sexual sin.
The good news of the gospel is that the demand of the law, that all who are guilty of adultery deserve punishment, is met by Jesus Christ, the innocent Lamb who died on the cross for our sins. No matter how bad you’ve messed up, you can find forgiveness in Christ.
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