Matthew 5:27-32

Sunday, April 17th, 2016

LUST AND ADULTERY

INTRODUCTION:

 

The Sermon on the Mount tells us of God’s expectations for people. It shows us that we are not good enough for God, that we are sinners who need to be saved. It requires perfection.

 

Matthew 5:48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

 

The problem is not with the Sermon on the Mount. The problem is with sin in the human heart. We simply cannot keep the Sermon on the Mount because we are sinners with old sin natures.

 

In Matthew 5:27-32 , we see that Jesus teaches that the one who looks at a woman for the purpose of lusting after her has already committed adultery in his heart.

 

Jesus is showing that the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, which is inadequate to gain entrance into the kingdom of heaven, is in contrast to another righteousness in which God delights.

 

The ancient rabbis had taught the wrong meaning of this commandment, and the scribes and the Pharisees have adopted the and taught the same wrong meaning which the ancient rabbis had taught. Thus, they are not teaching the original intention of the law with its proper application.

 

Jesus will continue to contrast the false interpretation of the law with the true interpretation of the law throughout the rest of the chapter as He points out and condemns the evil disposition of the heart that lies at the root of the sin.

 

Accordingly, Jesus is demanding a righteousness with is nothing less than complete conformity with God’s holy law in all that a person is and in all that a person does.

    I.     THE TEACHING OF THE ANCIENTS - 5:27

 

Matthew 5:27 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery.

 

In verse 27 Jesus begins a second illustration of what the scribes and Pharisees were teaching in comparison with God’s intent in the law.

 

Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time is you (plural) have heard that it was said by the ancients.

 

Jesus is not criticizing the law as given to Moses. Instead He is criticizing how it has been taught in ancient times and how it was being taught by the scribes and Pharisees in His day. An identical or similar statement also appears in verses 21, 31, 33, 38, and 43.

 

Ye is you (plural) and refers to the ones listening to the Sermon on the Mount and is also applicable by extension to all those who read it.

 

Have heard is heard, and it has been translated in a way which emphasizes the result of its action.

 

What the people have heard is that it was said by them of old time, i.e. that it was said by the ancients, i.e. by the ancient rabbis.

 

What was said by the ancient rabbis was true. It comes from Exodus 20:14 . However, the ancient rabbis, as well as the scribes and Pharisees of Jesus’ day, were not teaching that the sin of adultery was also committed in the heart and not just with the body. The sin of adultery was committed in the heart long before there was an actual physical adulterous relationship with someone else.

 

What was said by the ancients is, Thou shalt not commit adultery. It is a futuristic command.

 

Thou is you (singular) and refers to everyone individually.

 

Adultery is committed when a married person has a sexual relationship with someone other than his or her spouse. Adultery is hereby forbidden.

  II.     THE TEACHING OF JESUS - 5:28-32

 

The purpose of the law is to point out that all persons are sinners and are, therefore, in danger of punishment in hell.

 

Jesus taught that –

            1.   The sin of adultery begins in the heart – 5:28

 

Matthew 5:28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

 

In verse 28 Jesus begins to indicate God’s intent in giving this commandment not to commit adultery.

 

But introduces a statement in mild contrast to verse 27.

 

I refers to Christ and is emphatic.

 

I say is I am saying, I am declaring, or I am asserting.

 

Unto you is referring to Christ’s hearers in the Sermon on the Mount and also includes those who read it.

 

But I say unto you is also found in verses 22, 32, 34, 39, and 44.

 

That whosoever looketh on a woman is that every one who looks at a woman.

 

To lust after her is for the purpose of lusting after her or in order to lust after her. It suggests to desire her sexually. This would be true whether he is doing this in the woman’s presence, in looking at a picture of a woman, or in fantasizing in his mind about a woman.

 

Hath committed adultery with her has been translated as emphasizing the result of its action.

 

Already suggests by this time or as intensifying the act of adultery in the sense of in fact.

 

In his heart suggests deep within his innermost being. It is reminiscent of Proverbs 23:7 .

 

Proverbs 23:7 For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he. . . .

 

He is an adulterer in his heart.

 

Although someone may not have gone as far as physically committing adultery, he may have committed some of the sins that lead up to adultery; and, if he has, he is, therefore, guilty of committing adultery in his heart before a holy God. Jesus, thus, points out the wickedness of the human heart and the need for redemption.

 

Lust committed in the heart, the kind of lust that leads to adultery, is adultery in its very nature.

 

How does this differ from a man who involves himself in pornography or who engages in sexual fantasy, where he is consciously thinking about a sexual relationship, even with an imaginary person? Has he not committed adultery in his heart?

 

How does this differ from the person, whether man or woman, who stays home and watches soap operas while fantasizing about some relationship with someone else, even with someone who is imaginary? Has this person not committed adultery in his or her heart?

 

How does this differ from the woman who would intentionally dress provocatively in order to gain a man’s attention and perhaps lure him into a sexual relationship? Has she not committed adultery in her heart by advertising herself as available?

 

How does this differ from the person who would listen to and enjoy the kind of music that is sensuous and the lyrics lurid? Do not people commit adultery in their hearts as they listen to this sort of music with enjoyment of something that is wrong?

 

How does this differ from the person who would read all the sordid details of things which are printed in the newspapers so that they can fantasize and place themselves in that situation? Have they not committed adultery in their hearts?

 

How does this differ from the person who wishes he (she) were married to someone other than the one to whom he (she) is already married? Has he (she) not already committed adultery in his (her) heart?

 

Remember that Jesus is pointing out to his hearers that, unless their righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, they will absolutely never enter into the kingdom of heaven. People who have committed adultery in their hearts will never be able to enter into the kingdom of heaven on the basis of their works. This shows that they are sinners.

 

We must straighten the problem out now, while we still have a chance or opportunity to do so.

 

Therefore, Jesus taught that –

            2.   Drastic action must be taken in order to prevent sin – 5:29-30

 

Matthew 5:29-30 – (29) And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. (30) And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.

 

Jesus is not advising mutilation of one’s body. He is stating it in this way in order to draw attention to the fact that drastic action may be in order.

 

For example, a woman should never dress provocatively. The Biblical standard for women is always to dress modestly. By the way, men should never dress in a provocative manner either. They should also be modest in their appearance.

 

Pornography should never be a part of our lives.

 

We ought not to be watching the wrong kind of things on television or on videos or listening to the wrong kind of music.

 

It is the heart that must be right. It is the inner disposition that must be characterized by love toward others rather than by lust and craving for things which we are not entitled to have.

 

5:29 – And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.

 

In verses 29-30 Jesus indicates that His hearers must do what is necessary to remove the real cause of their committing adultery. He is not advocating physical mutilation of their bodies. They need to deal with the cause of the sins they commit. They need to be truly saved and receive new natures in Christ.

 

And transitions to the next thought in the context in the sense of now.

 

If thy right eye offend thee is the condition in a conditional statement whose structure indicates that, for sake of discussion, it is assumed to be true. It may or may not actually be true of someone.

 

If is, therefore, understood in the sense of assuming that.

 

Thy right eye is your right eye.

 

Offend thee is causes you to stumble or causes you to sin. It is obviously figurative language because the eye does not cause a person to do anything. The eye sees, but it is the individual himself who determines in himself to do or not to do something. The eye is not responsible for a person’s sin. A person who is blind can still have a problem with lust. It is the language of exaggeration employed to gain the reader’s attention.

 

The conclusion of this conditional statement is pluck it out, and cast it from thee.

 

Pluck it out suggests take it out (i.e. take your eye which causes you to sin out) or tear it out.

 

And cast it from thee is and throw it (i.e. throw your eye) away from you.

 

For introduces an explanation of why this prescribed action should be undertaken.

 

It is profitable for thee suggests it is better for you or it is advantageous for you.

 

What is better for you is that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.

 

The identical phrase is repeated word for word in verse 30.

 

That one of thy members should perish suggests that one of the parts of your body perish.

 

And not that thy whole body should be cast into hell is and not your entire body be thrown into Gehenna.

 

What would cause someone’s entire body to be cast into Gehenna, the lake of fire? It would be to have rejected Christ as his personal Savior. Hell is the result of rejecting God’s remedy for sin; whereas, one’s receiving Christ as his personal Savior results in his being saved from sin and its consequences as well as his having God the Holy Spirit produce Christlikeness in his life.

 

5:30 – And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.

 

Verse 30 continues Jesus’ thought that His hearers need to do whatever is necessary to remove the real cause of their committing adultery.

 

And continues the thought.

 

If thy right hand offend thee is the condition in a conditional statement. Its structure indicates that, for sake of discussion, it is assumed to be true. Once again, it may or may not actually be true of a particular individual.

 

Therefore, if is understood in the sense of assuming that.

 

Thy right hand is your right hand.

 

Offend thee is causes you to stumble or causes you to sin. Again, it is obviously figurative language because the hand is not able to cause a person to do anything. The hand grasps, but it is the individual himself who determines in himself to grasp or not to grasp something. The hand is not responsible for a person’s sin. A person who has no right hand can still have a problem with lust. Once again, it is the language of exaggeration employed to gain the reader’s attention.

 

The conclusion of this conditional statement is cut it off, and cast it from thee.

 

Cut if off suggests sever it (i.e. sever your right hand which causes you to sin).

 

And cast it from thee is and throw it away from you (i.e. throw your right hand away from you.

 

For it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell is identical to what Jesus said in verse 29, which we have already looked at.

 

Furthermore –

            3.   Jesus censures divorce – 5:31-32

 

Matthew 5:31-32 – (31) It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: (32) But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.

 

We remind ourselves that marriage is honorable and that a sexual relationship with one’s spouse within marriage is right and proper in God’s sight, but divorce is not in God’s plan. Marriage is for keeps. Does not the context in this passage imply that even having a desire to get divorced and have a different partner is likewise committing adultery in the heart? It certainly does.

 

The ancient rabbis and expounders of the law allowed divorce and remarriage for any cause as long as the divorced spouse was given a bill of divorcement. By contrast, Jesus reminds His listeners that the bill of divorcement was allowed only if immorality was involved. In Greek usage, the term fornication was used of any kind of unlawful sexual relation, including premarital sex, adultery, prostitution, incest, homosexuality, and bestiality. Fornication is used in I Corinthians 5 of a man living with his stepmother as husband and wife. In Jude 7 fornication is used of homosexuality. To limit this passage in Matthew 5 to mean pre-marital sex committed during a betrothal period, as some seek to do, is simply not supported by Scripture. Fornication would include pre-marital sex but would not be limited to it.

 

In view of the context might the fornication in verse 32 include the man who is a flirtatious, ladies’ man, even though he may never physically touch a woman? Of course, it could.

 

In 5:31 Jesus said that the ancients taught that a man who divorces his wife must give her a bill of divorcement. However, in 5:32 Jesus shows that the real meaning of the bill of divorcement was only intended for the husband who found his wife guilty of immorality. In clarifying the original intent of the bill of divorcement in the Old Testament, Jesus states that the man who divorces his wife, except for immorality, causes her to commit adultery. He further teaches that someone who marries her commits adultery.

 

It hath been said is it was said, it was asserted, or it was declared; and it has been translated in a way which emphasizes the result of its action.

 

An identical or similar statement also appears in verses 21, 27, 33, 38, and 43.

 

What was said is, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement.

 

Whosoever shall put away his wife is whoever divorces his wife. In referring to Deuteronomy 24:1 , the ancient rabbis left out and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her; and the scribes and Pharisees were continuing to leave it out.

 

Let him give is the translation of a third person command for which English has no equivalent. It means that whoever divorces his wife must give.

 

Her refers to the wife who is divorced by her husband.

 

What he must give her is a writing of divorcement, i.e. a certificate of divorce or a notice of divorce.

 

This was stated in Deuteronomy 24:1 .

 

Deuteronomy 24:1 When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house.

 

It should be noted that the reason she finds no favor in her husband’s eyes is because he hath found some uncleanness (i.e. some indecency) in her.

 

Jesus comments on this in Matthew 19:1-9 .

 

Matthew 19:1-9 – (1) And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these sayings, he departed from Galilee, and came into the coasts of Judaea beyond Jordan; (2) And great multitudes followed him; and he healed them there. (3) The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? (4) And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, (5) And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? (6) Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. [This indicates God’s intent for marriage – it is for keeps – until one of the spouses dies – divorce is not God’s will for people.] (7) They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? (8) He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to [i.e. permitted you to, allowed you to, or let you] put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. (9) And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.

 

However, it is not God’s will for you to divorce your wife even in the case of adultery. Jesus is answering the Pharisees’ question, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?, but stating that what God had joined together man should not put asunder.

 

Back to Matthew 5

5:32 – But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.

 

In verse 32 Jesus begins to indicate God’s intent on the subject of divorce and remarriage. He limits the bill of divorcement in accordance with Deuteronomy 24:1 to a situation where the wife has been unfaithful to her husband, but even then it was because of the hardness of their hearts. However, there is a better way to deal with an unfaithful wife. It is forgiveness and restoration.

 

But introduces a statement in mild contrast to verse 31.

 

I is Christ and is emphatic.

 

Say is am saying, am declaring, or am asserting.

 

Unto you is referring to Christ’s hearers in the Sermon on the Mount and includes those who read it.

 

But I say unto you is also found in verses 22, 28, 34, 39, and 44.

 

What Christ said comprises the rest of verse 32.

 

That introduces Christ’s statement.

 

Whosoever is whoever.

 

Whosoever shall put away his wife is whoever divorces his wife.

 

Saving for the cause of fornication is except for the matter of fornication.

 

Fornication is a general term which includes all kinds of illicit sexual intercourse, whether pre-marital, adultery, homosexuality, incest, bestiality, etc.

 

Causeth her to commit adultery is makes her (i.e. the divorced wife) to commit adultery or brings it about that she commits adultery.

 

And continues Jesus’ statement.

 

Whosoever shall marry her that is divorced is whoever marries the (woman) who has been divorced.

 

Commits adultery or is committing adultery. If the woman’s divorce ended the woman’s marriage, how can the one who is marrying her be committing adultery by marrying her? The answer seems to be that although her marriage has ended in man’s sight, she is still married in God’s sight. For this reason, no one should marry someone who has been divorced if the former spouse is still living.

CONCLUSION:

 

So what do we see? We see that, before God, there is much guilt over sin because of breaking the spiritual intent of the seventh and tenth commandments by lust and craving; and we also see that all those who have done so are guilty of sin and are deserving of spending eternity in hell.

 

Praise God, we also see God’s provision of salvation and forgiveness of sin.

 

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

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