Sermon: Purity in Thought and Deed Matthew 5:27-32

Truth Taught- Jesus is concerned with the genuine purity of His followers.

Introduction

If Jesus were to give us His truth taught for the rest of Chapter 5 it would probably be verse 20.

Matthew 5:20 (ESV)

20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

He spends the rest of the chapter showing us how our righteousness can exceed theirs.  He taught us last week about the full impact of the 6th Commandment.  Jesus freed that command from the trash of the Pharisees.  He taught us that anger is the sinful heart emotion, which brings forth murder.  If we follow God’s Law the way He intended we would deal with our anger quickly before it is conceived and gives birth to murder.

Today, our Lord will address another Commandment.  The 7th Commandment was one that had been greatly corrupted by the carnal teaching of the Pharisees.  So, our Lord, with great authority as the Lawgiver, corrects the false teaching about adultery.  He also is comparing the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees with the righteousness of God’s Kingdom.

Here is the 7th Commandment found in Exodus 20…

Exodus 20:14 (ESV)

14 “You shall not commit adultery.

The original meaning here is that you are not to engage in any kind of sexual act outside of the bond of marriage.  Specifically, one is not to have sex with another man’s wife nor is a woman to have sex with another woman’s husband.

Let’s be clear here, sex is for marriage only.

Now lets discover what our Lord is going to teach us today from Matthew’s Gospel.

Prayer

This is God’s Word for us today…

Matthew 5:27–32 (ESV)

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.

31 “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

So ends the reading of God’s Word…

Isaiah 55:11 (ESV)

so shall Your word be that goes out from Your mouth; it shall not return to You empty, but it shall accomplish that which You purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which You sent it.

1.  Heart-Adultery Leads to Eye-Adultery and Those Lead to the Act of Adultery

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.

Again, as with murder and anger from last time Jesus is concerned about the heart of His followers.  He knows that it is the inner person that must be changed and conformed to His image.  This is because lost people often keep from the actual act of adultery but a lost person cannot have purity of heart they can only at best adhere to some external acts. 

So, if the Spirit is purifying one’s heart then that person has assurance of their salvation.  Are we being remade in the inner person or are we only engaged with external do’s and don’ts?

The sinful act always begins with the heart and sinful acts always affect the heart.  This issue works in both directions.  The more we give in to temptation (the heart) the more we commit sin (outward act) the easier it becomes to sin because our heart is even more corrupt, our conscience is even more seared than before and we begin down the spiral to more and more sin.  How do we stop the downward spiral?  We must see and understand the reality of how sin works.

I want us to look at two examples from the Bible.  One shows us the biblical birth process of sin and the other an example.  Let’s see if we can spot the problem.  I want to look together at James Chapter One.  Here, James shows us how sin begins with an internal desire and moves to an external act and then ultimately if left unchecked brings forth death.

James 1:13–15 (ESV)

13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

Do you see the stages of sin?  God isn’t tempting anyone to sin.  The devil isn’t tempting anyone to sin.  There is no external source that tempts us to sin.  In the case of our current context in Matthew 5 and adultery, James’ passage fits extremely well.  It uses language of conception, birth, and death.

So, according to God here what is the cause of our temptation?  It’s not anything but our own desire.  It’s not money, the pretty girl, the handsome man, pressure, stress, or anything external it is our own desires.  Desire leads to sin being conceived and born and left unchecked and allowed to grow up brings forth death.

We must stop blaming others and/or our situation for our sin.  The devil didn’t make you do it nor did anyone else…it was you and you alone.

Once we see this we can move forward.  No one makes you sin, you environment doesn’t make you sin, nothing external makes you sin.  Sin comes from your desires.

You may know the account in the Bible of King David and Bathsheba. 

2 Samuel 11:1–4 (ESV)

11 In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel. And they ravaged the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem.

It happened, late one afternoon, when David arose from his couch and was walking on the roof of the king’s house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful. And David sent and inquired about the woman. And one said, “Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” So David sent messengers and took her, and she came to him, and he lay with her. (Now she had been purifying herself from her uncleanness.) Then she returned to her house.

It may have been that David’s first glance upon Bathsheba was an accidental one. But whatever the nature of that initial glance might have been, the Bible describes David’s action as a lingering gaze; saying that she was beautiful to “behold”. Clearly, David’s first glance at this bathing woman became a lingering gaze – and eventually, an expression of an immoral desire for her.

And his lust for her became expressed in action. He inquired about her, called for her, and then slept with her. And just as the Bible doesn’t shy away from telling us the truth about David’s sin, neither does it shy away from telling us the truth about that sin’s consequences. She became pregnant; and what followed was a series of lies and cover-ups that was unimaginable in David – the man after God’s own heart – arranging for the murder of the woman’s husband. When finally confronted, David repented; but the whole rest of his life, from that point on, was the story of a man suffering the terrible, unwanted consequences of this sin.

As James tells us it all came from David’s desire.

Jesus continues His teaching on God’s view of lust and adultery by giving us the proper attitude for Adultery and Lust.  How are we to respond to the temptation of lust and then adultery?  Jesus tells us we are to respond with radical obedience.

2.  The Right Attitude Toward Sexual Sin

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.

What is Jesus telling us here?  Is He really telling us to gouge out our eyes and cut off our hands if we struggle with sexual sin or any sin really?  No, He is exaggerating to make an impact on us.  He is telling us to be very radical when it comes to dealing with sexual sin.  The right attitude is to be drastic and do whatever it takes.

I’ve counseled folks who struggle with pornography.  Often, they want to be rid of it and at the same time, they don’t want to be rid of it.  Many times when it comes down to doing radical things to take away as many temptations as possible they are not willing to be radical. 

Romans 13:13–14 (ESV)

13 Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

If someone struggles with sexual immorality and wants to overcome it then how can this person… make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires?

Notice Paul uses the same word, desire that James uses.  To overcome sin the desire must be overcome and in the beginning stages suppressed by not allowing any opportunity for the desire to manifest itself in sin.. 

For example, I’ve counseled them to get rid of whatever device they view it on.  If they view it on their computer get rid of it.  If they view it on their phone get rid of it.  Whatever it takes is Jesus’ attitude here.  Usually they tell me that they can’t get rid of their computer because they need it for work or something like that.  At that point then I tell them they really don’t want to overcome their addiction to pornography. 

I cannot get rid of my cell phone because…oh really before 1990s no one ever had a cell phone and people got along just fine.  Overcoming sin calls for radical measures according to Jesus.  Are you willing to get radical when it comes to overcoming sin or are you all talk and fluff?  Fighting sin is fighting a war.  Your very soul is at stake.  Kill sin or it will kill you. 

3.  The Sinner Often Seeks to Justify Himself by Twisting God’s Law

31 “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

In dealing with the sin of adultery the Pharisees had formulated a plan that fit right into their sinful agenda.  You see either a person will submit to God’s Law and make changes in himself by following what God wants or he will remain the same and change the Law of God to cater to him, making God’s Law, in essence submit to him. 

I spoke with a man once who was in the midst of an adulterous affair and he tried to explain to me that he had been praying about it and God told him it was okay.  So, basically what he was telling me that instead of submitting to God’s Word he took the 7th Commandment and acted like it didn’t apply to him.  He was seeking to make God’s Law submit to him and his sinful desires.

In the case of the Pharisees, here’s how it worked…

The original command found in Deuteronomy…

Deuteronomy 24:1–4 (ESV)

24 “When a man takes a wife and marries her, if then she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, and she departs out of his house, and if she goes and becomes another man’s wife, and the latter man hates her and writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, or if the latter man dies, who took her to be his wife, then her former husband, who sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after she has been defiled, for that is an abomination before the Lord. And you shall not bring sin upon the land that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance.

So, a man takes a wife and in the course of time discovers she has a boyfriend and is cheating on him.  The husband was permitted by God’s Law to divorce his wife under these circumstances. 
The Pharisees had taken the clear meaning of God’s Word and twisted it so that if a man in Israel found anything in his wife he didn’t like then he could lawfully divorce her.  There is even a case often spoken of when a man’s wife burnt dinner and he wrote her a certificate of divorce and sent her away. 

Rather than divorcing your wife for burning the toast or some other ridiculous reason Jesus is maintaining a high level of marriage and shows how serious adultery is to God.  If someone divorced his wife for a reason other than adultery and he sends her away and she remarries then the man who married her causes her to commit adultery because in God’s sight she is still the wife of the first man.  However, if she commits adultery while married to her first husband he can divorce her biblically and not cause her to commit adultery because she already is an adulterer.  The man is free to remarry because he has been involved in a biblical divorce.  It is always the best thing if after adultery the couple can reconcile and efforts should be made to do this but in this case divorce is permitted. 

No divorce except in the case of adultery.

No divorce except in the case of the lost spouse leaves.

1 Corinthians 7:12–16 (ESV)

12 To the rest I say (I, not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. 13 If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. 15 But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you to peace. 16 For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?

Two lost people get married and in the course of time one gets saved.  The saved spouse is not to divorce the lost spouse on grounds of incompatibility because the lost person doesn’t like it or something.  However, if the lost spouse leaves then the saved spouse is no longer bound but can let them go and even file for divorce because they are not enslaved but called to peace. 

In either case divorce is never the first option response and reconciliation should be sought out but in these two exceptions divorce is permitted and remarriage also permitted for the spouse who was cheated on, first exception and the saved spouse after the lost spouse leaves, second exception.

Jesus wants us to realize marriage is sacred and not what the Pharisees had turned it into.  They were basically teaching that at any point they could divorce their wife for anything, simply write her a certificate of divorce and send her away.  No attorney, judge or anything just write the paper.  Once they handed their wife a certificate of divorce, they could go out and do whatever they wanted and not be guilty of adultery. 

Application

We have learned that sin, especially sexual sin, comes from our desires ruling over us.  James tells us

1:14  But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.

Paul tells us too that desires are the issue as well.

Romans 13:14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

To simply get rid of your computer, in our case or close the blinds in David’s case is a very good strategy and examples of things we all must do especially at first, however, Jesus desires more.  Let’s just say it like this you can still sin one-handed and still sin with one good eye.  How is it that we can make progress in these areas that is real and lasting?

We must have new desires and new passions.  These come from a heart that is being remade.  Peter gives us some good truth…

1 Peter 1:13–16 (ESV)

13 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

We need new desires and passions.

We think it goes like this.  I’m holy if I don’t sleep with her anymore until we get married or get drunk anymore and stop stealing stuff from work.  That’s what we’re taught but that’s not what Jesus is teaching here and it’s not Christianity.

Peter gives us the new way to view the world and our life in 1 Peter 1:1-12…

He writes things like this…God has caused us to be born again!  What a living hope we have!  What an inheritance we’ve been given!  Oh how great it is that God keeps us!  As believers make these your new passions.  Rather than gazing at nudity like David, gaze at Christ.  Rather than spending time scheming to steal think about how you can increase your giving.  Rather than being lured away by your old desires and passions be caught up in godly new passions. 

Peter tells us… 

Knowledge — gird up the loins of your mind. Be sober. See the world as it really is. See eternity. See the value of the hope. Feel new passions. Engage in new conduct. That’s Christianity.

As we believe, we see through the eyes of faith that our Savior is more valuable than anything I could steal.  He more beautiful and anyone I could see on the internet.  What we have in Christ exceeds worldly riches by an infinite measure.  We must see the world through our new eyes and desire what God has for us more than the sin we used to desire.

*Resources Used:

Matthew by D A Carson in the Expositor’s Bible Commentary

A Theology of Matthew by Charles Quarles

A Gospel of Matthew by France

Matthew by Craig Bloomberg

Matthew by Doriani

Matthew by Charles Price

Matthew by Leon Morris

Blue Letter Bible

Sermon on the Mount by Arthur Pink

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