Today's Word of Encouragement
Thursday, June 11, 2020
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).
Jesus continued the application of the moral Law with the true meaning and intent of the 7th Commandment - You shall not commit adultery (Exodus 20:14). This commandment addresses the problem of lust, which defines how 'adultery' should be understood. Adultery is defined as sexual intercourse of a husband with the wife of another man, or of a wife with the husband of another woman. The prohibition applies in either case, and the judgment of God upon both guilty parties is death. If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death (Leviticus 20:10). It is the sin of a high hand.
There are two matters with which the 7th Commandment is concerned: (1) the assault upon a person's dearest possession - his/her spouse, and (2) the sacredness of marriage as God's provision for the reproduction and expansion of the human race. On the surface the 7th Commandment is straight forward, but like the 6th Commandment, the meaning and intent given by God for the prohibition goes far deeper than the physical act and addresses the core issue - uncontrolled lust.
The word 'lust' is found 25 times in the Bible and means 'to set the heart upon', to 'long for', to have a 'strong desire' for something or someone. Lust, unlike anger, is always negative and destructive. (Anger can be a good thing if it is controlled - Ephesians 4:26, Be angry and do not sin.) The prohibition against lust is countered by the doctrine of godly love, This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you (John 15:12); [love] does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth (1 Corinthians 13:6). In fact, lust is never love, and love is never lust.
The Pharisees, like our culture today, viewed this commandment in terms of the act alone. Lustful thoughts and lewd imaginations had little or no consequence; they did not consider lust a violation of the Law.
Jesus said adultery, like murder, does not apply the physical act only, but to the intent of the heart and the function of the eye. Those who indulge in such inordinate desires, those who look on another person to feed their lust, have, in the sight of God, violated the Commandment and committed adultery in the heart.
In addressing the core issue of lust, Jesus applied the prohibition not only to adultery (sexual sin between married people), but to all sexual sin (prostitution, incest, rape, 'one night stands', 'friends with benefits', etc.) and the activity that stirs up the desire for sexual sin (pornography, 'girl watching', day-dreaming, etc.). Like anger, lust is a matter of the heart not easily restrained.
"Father, it is impossible to be completely devoid of lustful thoughts and desires, given the culture we live in. Sights, sounds, smells, conversations - our culture is saturated with things that stir up ungodly, passionate desires. We are a sex-crazed society plunging headlong into self-destruction because this sin, like anger, is so out of control. Thank You for Your Holy Spirit who gives me strength and encouragement to maintain self-control so that I am not given over to lustful thoughts and desires that dishonor You and ruin me. Amen."