Text: Matthew 5:27-32
27 You have heard that it was said, “DO NOT COMMIT ADULTERY.” 28 But I am indeed saying to you that every one who looks at a woman to want her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 Now if your right eye causes you to stumble into sin, pluck it out and throw it away from you; for it is better for you that one of your members should perish than your whole body should be cast into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to stumble into sin, cut it off and throw it away from you; for it is better for you that one of your members should perish than your whole body should go into hell.
31 Now it was said, “WHOEVER DIVORCES HIS WIFE, SHOULD GIVE HER A BILL OF DIVORCE “ 32 But I am indeed saying to you that every one who divorces his wife, except for the matter of sexual immorality, makes her to be adulterated, and whoever marries a woman who was divorced is adulterated.
You who believe Jesus is your Savior are God's cherished children, called to faith in Jesus Christ so you may be his holy nation and new Israel. You are foreigners on earth, who are passing through enroute to your real homeland--heaven. Being pilgrims in this world, you are surrounded by evils of every kind, into which the devil, society, and your own sinful natures try to lure you. To preserve you for the Lord and his salvation, you need to be encouraged and strengthened to walk by faith the narrow path of righteousness, lest you fall from faith into sin.
So it was also for the Christians of the first century. The apostles encouraged them to walk in righteousness, so they would not fall from faith into sin and damnation. Sexual immorality was one temptation the Gentile Christians especially faced. They had been raised as pagans in pagan societies where immorality was normal and customary.
You also live in an immoral society. Immorality abounds. Sex is flaunted. You are encompassed by it and bombarded with it. Thus I speak to you as the Lords apostles spoke to the first century Christians. In view of the grace and salvation God has given you in Christ, as you have begun to live righteously to please God, excel even more in doing so. To this end Jesus teaches us in his Sermon on the Mount. Do Not Commit Adultery. By Thought. By Divorce.
As Jesus disciples our righteousness must exceed that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law of Jesus day by living morally pure lives. Our righteousness must also exceed that of the religious leaders in large segments of the visible church today who have embraced free love, homosexuality, and divorce. Otherwise, like them, we wont be in the kingdom of heaven in which Christ rules in our hearts by his Word.
Jesus taught his disciples who listened to his Sermon on the Mount to be righteous. In verse 27 Jesus told them. “You have heard that it was said, 'DO NOT COMMIT ADULTERY.' ” Jesus’ disciples had heard from the Pharisees and the teachers of the law what they thought the sixth commandment, “Do not commit adultery,” meant. The disciples had heard that so long as they did not have sexual relations with someone other than their spouse, they did not violate the sixth commandment and were righteous.
In verse 28 Jesus told his disciples. “But I am indeed saying to you that every one who looks at a woman to want her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Now the disciples heard what Jesus said was the deeper moral principle of the sixth commandment. Any man who looked at a woman who was not his wife with sexual desires and thoughts on his mind was guilty of committing adultery with her in his heart. Sexual thoughts and desires for someone other than a spouse violate the sixth commandment, just as well as sexual relations outside of marriage do.
God wants our thoughts to be holy as well as our deeds. To avoid immoral thoughts and desires, we need to pray: “Create in me a pure heart, O God; and renew an upright spirit within me.” David wrote this prayer after he had fallen into the sin of lust for Bathsheba and committed adultery with her. David knew that to avoid such sin the Lord needs to give us a pure heart.
The lust of the eyes is a commonplace sin in our society. Pornography is prevalent. Pornographic websites are among the most popular and frequently visited websites on the internet. Porno stores, otherwise known as adult video stores, spot our communities like unsavory blemishes. Sexy magazine covers and the sexual headlines of the gossip papers stand in the racks along the check out counter of the grocery store. The television flaunts sex before our eyes.
It used to be that only the men typically fell into the lust of the eyes. Now women have become increasingly guilty of it as well.
You are living in a society in which sexually suggestive materials that arouse the lust of the eyes are everywhere. Be careful. Don’t commit adultery in your hearts with a lust of the eyes like the rest are doing, who are going to their eternal destruction. Heed what Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 and Ephesians 5:3-5 to the first century Christians when he had to deal with the problem of sexual immorality in their societies: “For this is the will of God your sanctification, that you keep away from sexual immorality, that each of you knows to get his own wife in holiness and honor, not in passionate lust, like the pagans who do not know God.... But let no sexual immorality and impurity, or greed, even be named among you, as is fitting among saints, nor filthiness and foolish talk or coarse jesting, which are not proper, but rather thanksgiving. For this you surely know: No immoral or impure or greedy person who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.”
Paul’s words expand on what Jesus told his disciples in verses 29, 30: “Now if your right eye causes you to stumble into sin, pluck it out and throw it away from you; for it is better for you that one of your members should perish than your whole body should be cast into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble into sin, cut it off and throw it away from you; for it is better for you that one of your members should perish than your whole body should go into hell.” Jesus is not telling us to cut off the organs of our body which commit the lust of the eyes and sexual sins. For even if we cut them off, we still have sinful hearts where the sin of lust arises. He is telling us to cut off and remove whatever tempts us to commit such sins of adultery.
Divorce is another common sin of adultery. In verse 31 Jesus told his disciples: “Now it was said, 'WHOEVER DIVORCES HIS WIFE, SHOULD GIVE HER A BILL OF DIVORCE' ” Divorce among the Jews of Jesus’ day was rampant. They divorced their wives for any and every reason, whether for burning their toast, for not scrubbing the house clean enough, or because they saw another more attractive woman whom they desired. According to the rabbis, if a woman lost favor in her husband’s eyes, that was grounds for divorce.
This parallels our own society today. Divorce is rampant. The states no fault divorce law has helped to escalate the numbers of divorce. The no fault divorce law reflects what the people want, an easy divorce. A 50%+ divorce rate indicates that the marriage vows of many today are not understood as till death us do part but as till problems do arise.
Because of such rampant divorce, Jesus told his disciples in verse 32: “But I am indeed saying to you that every one who divorces his wife, except for the matter of sexual immorality, makes her to be adulterated, and whoever marries a woman who was divorced is adulterated.” The disciples had heard what the Jewish leaders and teachers had told them. Here they heard what Jesus said about the moral meaning of the sixth commandment regarding divorce.
Jesus’ words in the original Greek text are difficult to put into English. When speaking of the wife who was divorced by her husband, Jesus did not use an active verb but a passive verb. To try to give you a simple comparison to aid your understanding, it is not like Jesus said, “The wife hit her husband,” but that he rather said, “The wife was hit by her husband.” The wife did nothing. She was the one acted upon by her husband’s divorcing her. My English translation attempts to render this by stating, the husband “makes her to be adulterated, and whoever marries a woman who was divorced is adulterated.” About the closest we can come to explaining in English what Jesus said is to say that the husband’s divorcing his wife when she was innocent of adultery adulterates her, and any man who then marries her is also adulterated. The wife is caused by her husband’s action to suffer the committing of the adulterous divorce. She is made a divorced woman by her husband through a divorce that should never have taken place. Her husband’s divorcing her then led to her remarriage, a marriage which otherwise would never have taken place. In this way both she and her second husband are adulterated and made to look like adulterers.
Having explained this, the point for you to focus on is this: Where there has been no sexual immorality, there is no ground for a divorce. A divorce, for other reasons, except for desertion, violates the sixth commandment. Divorce is a way of life in our society. Be careful that as disciples of Jesus you dont commit adultery through an unwarranted divorce. For marriage is a life-long relationship to be maintained until the death of either of the spouses.
We all are guilty of sins against the sixth commandment in thought, word, or deed. Who has not committed adultery in the heart through lustful thoughts and desires? Perhaps we have also committed adultery through a sinful divorce in the past. Whatever the nature of our sins which deserve God’s punishment, let us confess our sins to the Lord, for the Scriptures state that the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, and that he will not despise a broken and contrite heart. And when we confess our sin, we need to believe what the Scripture says: “The blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” Jesus died for all sins, including the sins we have committed against the sixth commandment. In the blood of Jesus we can go in God’s peace.
Having Gods forgiveness and peace, let us all heed what we have just heard, for we are told these things to preserve us as Gods holy people and to keep us from falling into the evils so prevalent around us. Amen.