"THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW" Nipping Adultery In The Bud (5:27-30) INTRODUCTION 1. Though our society takes adultery lightly, it is a serious offense in the eyes of God... a. He listed it right after murder in the Ten Commandments - Exo 20:13-14 b. He made it a capital offense in the Old Testament, worthy of the death penalty - Lev 20:10 c. God has promised to judge those who are adulterers - He 13:4; 1Co 6:9-10 -- It destroys friendships, marriages, and families, contributing to the destruction of many children's lives! 2. How can one avoid the sin of adultery? a. Is the solution one of just making sure that you don't commit the actual act? b. Or is there way that one can "nip it in the bud"? 3. In His sermon on the mount, Jesus challenged His disciples... a. To exceed "the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees" - Mt 5:20 b. He illustrated what He meant through a series on contrasts 1) Between what they had heard from those of old 2) And what He was now declaring to them 4. In the second contrast (Mt 5:27-30), Jesus addressed the issue of adultery... a. In which we learn where adultery really begins b. And what steps can be taken to ward off committing such a serious offense [On the subject of adultery, let's first note the contrast between...] I. JESUS AND THE TRADITIONAL INTERPRETATION A. THE "TRADITIONAL" INTERPRETATION... 1. The oral traditions of the Scribes and Pharisees certainly repeated the written commandment found in the Law - Mt 5:27 2. But they evidently stressed that as long as one did not commit the actual act, one was not guilty 3. Thereby emphasizing the "letter" of the Law, but not appreciating the "spirit" behind the Law as well B. JESUS TAUGHT DIFFERENTLY... 1. One does not have to commit the "act" to be guilty of adultery 2. One is just as guilty when one "looks at a woman to lust for her" - Mt 5:28 3. Note: Not the "looking" per se, but looking "to lust" for her is what is wrong a. "to lust" means to have a strong desire for, to possess and dominate completely b. A person may look at another with admiration for beauty and not be guilty of "lust" C. JESUS' INTERPRETATION WAS IN HARMONY WITH THE LAW... 1. Notice that the Tenth Commandment condemned coveting a neighbor's wife - Exo 20:17 2. Even in the time of Job, to "look at a woman to lust for her" was considered wrong - Job 31:1 [So the problem begins in the heart (cf. Mk 7:21-23). If we can prevent the lusting in the heart (or the "lustful eye"), the problem of adultery is "nipped in the bud"! Jesus goes on to say what we should do with respect to the lustful eye or any other stumbling blocks...] II. JESUS' PROGNOSIS FOR LUSTFUL EYES AND OTHER STUMBLING BLOCKS A. "PLUCK IT OUT AND CAST IT FROM YOU..." 1. That Jesus is not being literal should be obvious, for one could still stumble with the left eye or hand 2. The key to understanding this passage is found in Mt 18:7-9 a. The "eye" and "hand" represent "offenses" b. Offenses are "stumbling blocks" that lead a person to sin c. These would be enticements to do wrong, beguiling allurements B. THE MEANING OF JESUS' TEACHING... 1. "Take drastic action in getting rid of whatever in the natural course of events will tempt you to sin" (Hendriksen) 2. Such should be the case in regards to ALL sin, as well as the sin of adultery [As we contemplate Jesus' words, there are several...] III. IMPORTANT LESSONS TO BE LEARNED A. THE PRESENT IS NOT OUR ONLY LIFE; WE ARE DESTINED FOR ETERNITY! 1. The future holds the possibility of "hell"
(Greek, GEHENNA, the place of everlasting torment) 2. What we do or not do in the present will determine our place in the future B. NOTHING, NO MATTER HOW PRECIOUS, SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO DOOM OUR GLORIOUS DESTINY! 1. God's goal for us is the "kingdom of heaven" in all its eternal glory! 2. What on "earth" (such as an adulterous relationship) can be worthy of losing that? C. SIN, BEING A VERY DESTRUCTIVE FORCE, MUST NOT BE PAMPERED! 1. Do we need to be convinced that sin (like adultery) is destructive to those around us? 2. Sin is to the soul what cancer is to the body a. Delay can be deadly! b. Halfway measures, halfhearted efforts, only give sin time to wreak havoc! 2. "Radical surgery" is what's necessary to treat the "cancer" of sin! a. Cut off those things that might lead you to look upon others to lust after them b. How much better to dwell upon such things as mentioned in Php 4:8! c. Remove all stumbling blocks that encourage you to sin! 1) Such as certain books, movies, pictures 2) Or possible companions, associates - cf. 1Co 15:33 -- As Paul exhorted the Corinthians , and Joseph illustrated by example, "flee sexual immorality"! - 1Co 6:18; Gen 39:7-12 CONCLUSION 1. Our families, our friends, our lives, and especially our souls are too precious to allow the sin of adultery to destroy them! 2. But if we desire to "nip it in the bud", we cannot be content with the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees... a. Who may have faithfully quoted the Law to others b. But were unwilling to deal with the real problem, which is one of the heart! 3. In view of the reality of hell, the eternal abode of impenitent adulterers... a. Let us be willing to tackle the "cancer" of sin seriously b. Performing whatever "radical surgery" might be necessary! While one may not be able to rebuild the lives destroyed by the sin of adultery, for the penitent adulterer there is still the hope of salvation in Christ Jesus, as there is for all... - cf. 1Co 6:9-11