Matthew 5:27-30 — Sex, Lust, Adultery, Flip Wilson’s Geraldine and The Devil Made Do It!

Posted: October 4, 2015 in Gospel of Matthew

Matthew 5:27-30
Adultery
When starting to write this blog, the first thing I thought of was Flip Wilson. If you are old enough to remember this comedian from the 70’s, he had a character that he would portray in his stand-up act called Geraldine. She was a spunky and funky and funny. She had a catch-phrase that she would throw out there whenever she was trying to explain her lustful behavior, “The devil made me do it!” If there is one area that we are most likely to be weakest, it is in the area of sexual sin. It is not something that just happens on television. The biggest single reason documented in court papers as for the reasons for divorce, it is adultery. We seem to use the excuse that we cannot control our passions for sex. The devil made me do it is the excuse used by many.

In the previous passage, Jesus spoke of stepping it up a notch! With regard to keeping the commandment of not committing murder, he said we should never get to that point and that we should strive to reconcile our relationships before they get so bad that murder is a consideration. He basically says that we should put God’s glory first and foremost in our lives. Everything else is secondary to putting God first in our lives and leading others to experience the same. In this passage of Scripture, Jesus continues to take on legalistic adherence to God’s commandments by those who have not changed their heart. In this passage he takes on adultery…whoa…looks like we are in for a bumpy ride…Jesus is talking about sex!

In our culture today, sexuality is blasted at us from all corners. It is particularly difficult for a man in our culture. We are visual creatures. We are excited by what we see. The female body is the most beautiful of God’s creations, don’t get me wrong. Women are intended by God to attract men visually. Women are God’s finest creation. Soft, tender, and visually stunning. Certainly, their beauty has caused many men to have stumbled into sin throughout the centuries. However, it seems that in this day and age, lust is glorified. Women are encouraged to wear less and less and it is all done in the name of sexual freedom. What is acceptable sexually nowadays was unthinkable 50 years ago. What is acceptable to portray on television now as common was never thought of just 25 years ago. Sexual sin is glorified in our culture. You are considered old-fashioned if you do not like the way sex is blasted at us constantly. It’s ok today in our culture to desire sex. We think of ourselves as having the right to do it with whomever we want. Sexual desire is thought to be now something that you can’t and shouldn’t try to control.

Here in Matthew 5:27-30, Jesus says “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.”

As with his commentary on the commandment not to murder, here Jesus is saying that it takes more to truly fulfill this commandment just as the commandment not to murder. Jesus says that in order to prevent breaking this commandment that you must start much earlier. He says adultery starts in the heart and mind long before it becomes an act that breaks this commandment. He says that when we look at a woman (or man for those of you women out there) with lustful thoughts and plan out a sexual escapade in our minds that we have already committed adultery. This should not be confused with observing the natural beauty of a woman. When you see a pretty girl go by and go “wow, she is soooo hot!” That is not necessarily a sin. God made women to be attractive to men. However, when a married man goes from the fleeting thought of “wow, she is soooo hot” to an obsessive thought of a rendezvous with the woman, picturing her naked in his mind, picturing the sexual acts that they will perform together in his mind, then we have gone beyond observing the natural beauty of women to the sin of lust. To me a comparison of the two is comparing looking at a painting of a nude woman in the finest gallery in New York City to pictures of naked women in Penthouse magazine. The purpose is different. The painting in the gallery is to celebrate the most beautiful of God’s creature, women. The pictures in Penthouse magazine are purposefully done in a way that arouses lustful sexual desires in men.

You know, we often confuse being an in-tune Christ follower with deep emotions and that the measure of our spiritual depth is how emotional we are about Jesus. However, to a limited extent that may be true but mostly being a Christ follower is much more a mental thing than an emotional one. We choose to follow Christ. We choose to follow His teachings. We choose to obey God’s Word. Behaviors start in the mind. The mind controls our choices. We must sometimes choose to do things God’s way and that is what being a Christ follower is all about. It is developing Christ-like character. That starts with the mental choices that we make. Certainly, nowhere is this more true that when it comes to lust. We must choose to take captive those thoughts of lust and set them at the cross. We must choose to change our thoughts. We must choose to not to think on those things. Yes these thoughts creep into our minds and can be difficult to get rid of. These can be powerful thoughts. We must choose to ask God for help with these thoughts that besiege us. We must see these thoughts as damaging and not as helpful or positive. Adultery begins first in the mind long before it becomes an action. We must choose not to entertain these thoughts!

In the second half of this passage of Scripture, Jesus gives us sound advice as to how to handle this temptation, the temptation of adultery, when he says, “If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.” Jesus is not literally telling us to gouge our eyes out so that we cannot see beautiful women in the world or cut our hand off to prevent us from touching them. However, he is commanding married men to steel themselves against this temptation. He is basically saying that we should not allow ourselves to be in situations where mere observance of a woman’s beauty passes into lustful desires. We must not allow ourselves to be placed in situations that will allow such thoughts to grow. We must cut ourselves off from such situations. We must remember our vows to our wives that we pledged before God in the marriage ceremony. We must pray to God to lift such desires from our mind. Make no mistake about it. Lust is the most powerful of Satan’s weapons to draw us away from God. Because once lust enters our mind, it has a tendency to block everything else out. Lust is a self-centered emotion. It is all about getting your own needs met and be damned with anyone else’s. Lustful desires are always better than the reality. Once we commit adultery, there is always a human price to be paid as well as a spiritual one.

Adultery rips homes and families apart and leaves permanent scars many of which may scab over but never completely heal. Just think of the trajectories of families that have been forever altered by moments of indiscretion. The act of adultery pleasing for fleeting moments can have impact on generations…generations altered by sexual relations. In the relative time frames of life, sex is quick. The sex act itself only takes a relative short period of time but the effects of adultery can literally have impacts for a lifetime. Sure, marriage is hard at times and sure it takes work at times. But, in any other relationship, we will work at and make it right. However, why is it that in marriage, it is the first thing that we throw up our hands and opt out?

So, bottom line here is that Jesus says that it is not enough just not to commit the act of adultery but it is necessary to prevent the devil from having the fertile ground of lustful thinking that leads to adultery. When our thoughts of women other than our wives become dreams of performing sexual acts then we have already sinned. We have already committed adultery in our mind. Jesus says that we should cleanse ourselves of such thoughts and also not put ourselves into situations that will lead to the sin. We must have God’s help in this tool, his most powerful tool, of Satan.

We must pray that God will take such feelings from us when they happen. In doing so, we take the focus off ourselves and our childish need to have our “me, me, me” needs met and put the focus back on God. Anything that takes our focus off God and onto it is damaging. It is a sin. We made a contract with our wives that we should honor. We made a contract with God when we became a believer that sex is solely designed as a celebration of the intimacy of a marriage between a man and a woman. Let us seek God. Let us believe that we need His help in this area of our life most of all. Help us Lord to take control of these thoughts that can destroy families and generations of children. Help us Lord. Help us.

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