The Greatest Sermon Ever 4. On Lust and Adultery
New International Version (NIV)
27 "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery.'[a] 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 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. 30 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.
It has been said that the greatest social revolution in history has not been the industrial revolution, or the enlighten, nor even the civil rights movement. These were all deeply impactful on society at large, and have had deep and lasting impact, but the one that has changed society the most and the one that will cause the greatest impact, unfortunately for bad is the sexual revolution of the 1960-80.
The great demand to be liberated from stifling and repressive sexual notions of the previous generation lead to an explosion of sexuality; that has lead us to today; where we are starting to see the spiralling out and utter destructiveness of this push.
It must be noted that the sexual revolution was created because of a perverse view of the human body and of sex, the decades preceding the sexual revolution sex was seen as dirty and almost a necessary evil for the propagation of the species.
And it was seen that you can only repress human desires so long before they burst out in destructive ways.
Now, Jesus and the rest of Scripture does not endorse either of these views and calls for a sober look at what sex is; for sex (according to Scripture) is not evil, but is also not just a biological necessity that you can just indulge in.
David Benham states that;
"Sex is like a fire, in its place it has the potential for incredible good, industry, cooking, keeping us warm, but out of place it has the potential for incredible destruction."
Jesus calls us to see this in this command tonight; so we will see what Jesus says in three ways; the danger of sexual sin, the drastic nature of turning from sexual sin, and finally the diagnosis of sexual sin.
1. The danger of sexual sin
Jesus says, that adultery is not just what happens when people cheat, it happens in the heart first. Now, Jesus is not saying it is bad to notice someone who is beautiful.
We all do this; men and women are in the same boat here; we all notice when someone is good looking; Jesus makes the emphasis or looking longingly to increase lust is what the Greek is translated as.
Again, men are not the only ones who do this; but we know exactly what Jesus is saying here; this is "that" stare we do. When we take that person and have a fantasy play in our mind about them.
Now we must ask what is happening when we do that; and why is Jesus so against us doing this? I mean if we believe the rhetoric of the day; it is just a little harmless fantasy. Well, is it?
The answer is a resounding no! this is taking the fire out of the fire place and letting it burn down the whole world. Because what we are doing when we looking longingly to increase lust is that we are reducing that person to an object of my personal enjoyment. We are reducing that person; made in the image of God almighty and we are turning them into a thing that I can entertain myself with.
And I cannot understate the destructive reality of this; in fact; when we start down this process it is very difficult to come back.
This is why pornography is so deadly; because it is the reprogramming of yourself to see sex and the other as a means to your own enjoyment; and when that happens you break what sex was made for!
There are studies coming out now documenting how through pornography we are rewiring our brains and not in a good way!
The Bible, and therefore Jesus, has a powerful and beautiful understanding of what sex is for; it sees it as a radical self-donating, covenant creating mechanism to bind two people together for radical personal transformation.
Sex is about covenant; and every time we play with it outside of covenant (or a promise) we undermine it to be about another product to enjoy. And it won't let you.
This idea of the hook-up casual sex that means nothing; is not only a lie but causes deep and scaring emotion pain to everyone who engages in it.
The Bible and Jesus are not trying to ruin your fun; they are trying to protect your future!
You have all heard the "stats" that 50% of marriages end in divorce; well that is simply untrue in fact it is only about 1 in for 4 at best and the stats are if you do not live together before you get married your chances of making it go up exponentially.
One study suggested that if you do not live together before you get married you only had a 20% chance of not making it; however, if you lived together that jumped to 50%!
The question is why? Well, it is what we are doing to sex! If you are living together before you are married; you are saying to other person; I want to use you for my enjoyment; I want to know you physically; but I don't want to commit to you; I want an out if it doesn't work! The problem is that you take that into your marriage and therefore the relationship become toxic as each party struggles to come to terms with conditional love.
Marriage states; for better or worse; in riches or poverty; in sickness or health; I'll be there - I promise! And it is there that you can be emotionally naked, physically naked and personally naked with that person, because it is safe! There is the security that this person is not going to bail when things get difficult; and church things will get difficult.
Sex outside of marriage; even in just the lust of other in our mind dehumanises people to be objects; which if we think about it dehumanises us. It breaks us and destroys our souls.
So dangerous is this reality that Jesus calls us to take drastic measure to ensure we do not do this!
2. The drastic nature of turning from sexual sin
Jesus says effectively mutilate yourself in order to not do this! Gouge out your eye cut of your hand, it is better to be mutilated than damned.
Jesus is warning us, in this passage, of the drastic destructive force we are dealing with; now let's be honest with the text; do you think Jesus is actually advocating the mutilation of the body for the sake of this sin; well no! if he was he is leaving out a key body part if he was serious.
What he is doing is ensuring that we grasp the drastic change that we need to make.
You see the problem with sexual sin; is it whole body, there is a biological side, a psychological side to it and a spiritual side to it.
All of Scripture we have the same demand; run, flee, escape! Why? Because this can and will ensnare you and destroy you.
So, if you are someone who struggles with lust; cut off the temptation! Be brutal; because this sin will not leave you!
If you are a young couple; be drastic with your boundaries; because you are not special; you will be tempted and in the heat of the moment; you will fall!
If you are married; be drastic about your conduct and be above reproach, not because you are strong, but because this will ensnare you!
The people who overcome this temptation are not the ones who think themselves strong enough to endure, but the ones who know themselves as weak and so put things in the way of those temptation!
Remember God doesn't want to ruin your fun, he wants to protect your heart! Therefore, do what is needed to protect yourself.
In all this; I recognise that because of the nature of the world we live in there are probably people who in one way or another are struggling with this sin in their life and I want to give you hope; because you might be feeling very distraught so let us cover.
3. The diagnosis of sexual sin
There is no secret that sex within a marriage has the potential for incredible good; it is an act of radical self-donation to the other which build intimacy, and is an act of covenant renewal; where you say to the other in a real way I am yours and you are mine.
But church, because of this incredible power it has an incredible potential for evil and destruction! You will not be left unharmed if you play around with this!
We have to engage and see if I am struggling with this (my eyes are looking longingly at another to inflame lust) if I am caught in this trap of dehumanising the other for the sake of my own pleasure. How to do we escape to protect our own soul and the beauty of sex for its appropriate context which is within the marriage of a man to a woman?
Well, and we are going to have to be drastic!
a.) Cut of the source
Because this is so intense and complete; you will have to be drastic; cut yourself off from the temptation! Recognise your weakness and place as many things in the way as you possible can! If this means avoiding being alone with someone! Then do it! de drastic! You are dealing with drastic things.
b.) Hate the sin
Next, learn to hate the sin. Most of us love the sin, but hate the consequence; so in this case we might love to lust, to use people. But hate the fact that it makes us feel guilty, it cheapens us, we hate the fact that it might destroy our marriages etc.
You have not learned to hate the sin, you are loving your sins, and then obsessing about yourself in hating what might happen to you!
So, see the sin for what it is: a positive evil! Understand that this thing is destroying you every time you entertain it; see it for the dehumanising, reality it is! See it as a shallow and destructive force in your life.
And most importantly, see it as the very thing that drove the one who loves you to death (Jesus Christ) to the cross!
But this will not help unless we;
c.) Let the love of Christ heal you
We have to let the love of Christ existentially heal us. What do I mean? We need to have the love, and grace of Jesus become so real that we actually start to know that this sin is a counterfeit of the fulfilment and joy that He gives us!
We do this by asking Him to make His love real to us; and meditation on His love ( and I mean that we think over and over of what it means that Christ loves us - until it becomes our experienced truth) and we fill our life with His truth - the word in order to know Him!
All of our sins, generally are us trying to find something in this world that only Jesus can offer. And in terms of sexual sins, this is generally but not exclusively; intimacy and acceptance.
We want to experience real intimacy; to be know, and we want to be truly accepted! Well, in Christ, and through the gospel; you are known to the very depth (he knows you as you truly are and loves you) and it is deep acceptance; because of what Christ has done for you; God looks at you and see the most beautiful thing in all the universe! Because when He looks at you He sees the perfect life of His son!
Run to that church; let His love heal your longing! There is freedom in Christ! And you will discover you will be a better husband/wife when you are first fulfilled by Him, because you will not be trying to draw eternal demands from a temporal being.
God is true longing of your heart; the one you have really being made for!