Matthew chapter 5:21-30 (continued)
“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause[b] shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire.
Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer and you be thrown into prison.
Assuredly, I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny. You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.”
Last time we addressed the importance of being very careful when we judge someone’s character and their worth.We also saw the importance of solving issues between you and a brother or sister in the local church and in life in general.It is impossible to have a worshipful attitude in a church service when there are persons there that feel wronged by one party or another. It is imperative that we set about building bridges; each one looking for what is best for the other and not just looking out for self.
This theme is carried on in verse 25; the word adversary has the connotation of someone who is taking you to court. It is important to settle issues quickly. Find a solution and fix it before it comes to the idea of going to court. Matthew Henry’s commentary offers a more sobering view; God has charges against us and we will be carried to court and judged.We will not be able to ever repay our debts to God so we will suffer eternally.
But through Jesus we can find a solution to the impending judgment that we deserve. He is willing to be our payment for our sins before the Holy Heavenly Father. Don’t put off making things right with God. Life is short and tomorrow is not guaranteed. It may not be that you die tomorrow; maybe you just get a brain injury and lose the chance to make the choice to believe in Jesus as your Savior. These kinds of tragedies happen every day. Take advantage of today and make it right with the Lord. Romans 10: 9-10:
“Because if you acknowledge and confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and in your heart believe (adhere to, trust in, and rely on the truth) that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart a person believes (adheres to, trusts in, and relies on Christ) and so is justified (declared righteous, acceptable to God), and with the mouth he confesses (declares openly and speaks out freely his faith) and confirms [his] salvation.”
In the next segment we are going to get into some really touchy stuff which if taken out of context can certainly lead to some very serious and dangerous acts. Nonetheless the seriousness with which Jesus approaches these sins is not to be downplayed. God takes sin very seriously and at times—we do not. We should always keep an eye on the cross of Jesus to remind us of how seriously God takes sin.
Don’t Even Look at a Woman, Verses 26-28
Don’t even look at a woman! This is how many would read these verses. This is obviously not what Jesus was saying. Jesus looked at women; in fact He looked at women who when brought to Him were in some very compromising situations. In John 8: 3-5, we find this account:
“As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd. ‘Teacher,’ they said to Jesus, ‘This woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?’”
It is likely that these Pharisees did not allow her to privilege of getting dressed since they caught her in the very act of adultery. Jesus looked at her, it is very possible that He saw her naked in some degree or another.Yet we know that Jesus did not sin ever. So looking at a woman, even a naked woman is not a sin.
God intended for men and women in a married relationship to have sex. So He made a woman to satisfy a man sexually and a man to satisfy a woman sexually. Thus if a man is married to woman and he desires to have sex with her it is not lust.A married man cannot lust after his wife. Since it is right for them to have sex, there is no lust involved. What then is lust? What would be a definition of lust?
In the tenth commandment we are told not to covet our neighbor’s wife amongst other things. If our neighbor is married we are not to wish that his wife was ours. This is wrong. This idea of coveting can simply take root and destroy our own marriage.This really does not need to be sexual. instance we are not to covet his livestock either.
This is more the idea of envy. We are not to be envious of our neighbor. If he has a better car, bigger house, well behaved kids, smarter dog we should rejoice for him and learn to be content with what God has given us.
Lust is more sinister than simply coveting. Lust begins to find ways to make what my neighbor has to be mine. A good example of this in the Bible is the story of David and Bathsheba. We find this account in 2 Samuel 11: 2-5:
“One evening David arose from his couch and was walking on the roof of the king’s house, when from there he saw a woman bathing; and she was very lovely to behold. David sent and inquired about the woman. One said, Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite? And David sent messengers and took her. And she came in to him, and he lay with her—for she was purified from her uncleanness. Then she returned to her house. And the woman became pregnant and sent and told David, I am with child.”
Here David sees a woman who he knows is married and yet he sends for her and she comes and has sexual relations with him.This is lust. The act of sex was not lust, rather the actions to get her to have sex was lust. David already had many wives, the Bible counts ten in all.Later, when he is confronted by Nathan the prophet, God tells David that if the ones he had were not enough he would have given him others.But he took Uriah’s wife. Then he plotted to have Uriah killed and succeeded in doing so when the fact of Bathsheba’s pregnancy could not be hidden.
Thus it is not a sin to look at a woman.It is a sin to covet a neighbor’s wife, to be envious of him because he has a “better” wife, at least in your opinion. Neither is it wrong for an unmarried man to see and unmarried woman and want to be with her in marriage and all that comes with it. There are countless accounts of love stories in the Bible, the account of Jacob and Rachel comes to mind, he saw her and loved her and wanted to marry her; God wants us to marry and have children.
What is wrong is this: If a married man sees a woman and then tries to figure out how to have sexual relationships with her even in his mind. Even if he has no intention of living out his fantasies, they are wrong and sinful. He is married and his desire should be only for his wife and her desire should be only for him.
There should be no misunderstanding here;an unmarried man is not to walk around thinking of having sex with every woman he meets. This is also lust. This is very prevalent today, there is no thought of marriage or even the idea of marriage and it is just sex and nothing else. Young men need to be careful to keep their thought lives in check so as not to walk around in constant sin.
It is important then for all men to keep their minds in check around women. Half the population of the world are women; we see them at work, on the trains, in traffic, at the restaurants and in a lot of other places. We must keep our though lives in check. God will hold us accountable for our thoughts.
“For God will bring every act to judgment, including every hidden thing, whether good or evil.” (Ecclesiastes 12:14).
Cutting Off Body Parts, Verses 29-30
Again it is important to read these verses in the right context and yet not lose the seriousness with which Jesus attacks the idea of sin. It is easy to come to the conclusion that Jesus was soft on sin because He was constantly forgiving people BUT nothing could be farther from the truth. Jesus was not soft on sin; He was gracious to people. He hated sin. He still hates sin and He is still gracious to people.
We are to be careful about sinning. We all have the propensity to sin in one way or another. Some of us are thieves from our youth, we find ourselves taking stuff and are good at it. Others are good liars we could get anyone to believe us no matter what. Some men struggle with sex and things like pornography from their youth.
The book of Proverbs warns about those who are prone to having big appetites when it comes to eating. On and on we can go with our sinful traits and habits, most of which stem from childhood.
I have heard it said that in the Old Testament children were not named until they were much older so that their names truly matched them.Is it no wonder that Jacob was a trickster, his name suited him or was it that he suited his name?
It is essential then that we as children of God discipline ourselves not to allow these things into our lives. Keep away from the things that cause you to sin and fail before the Holy God. Don’t go to certain places or see certain movies.
Don’t read certain books, don’t engage in improper conversations.In Christ we have the power to take sin seriously and to make a serious effort to say no when tempted or better yet to simply not put ourselves in the place to be tempted. All too often we allow ourselves to get into situations where we simply should not be.
This is even more important when something is keeping you from trusting Jesus as Savior. Sin can get in the way; Satan uses it to keep us satisfied until we have missed the boat completely. Sin is anything that gets between you and Jesus; even something good can be sinful if it is a barrier between you and salvation.
What is keeping you from Jesus?
Zaccheuas had to give up his riches.Paul had to stop depending on self-righteousness. Peter needed to stop catching fish. One thief on the cross was worried about this life, the other was preparing for the next one.
What about you?
Which life are you preparing for? What is keeping you from Jesus?
And for you saved people what is that pet sin? We all have them; the one that we keep hidden and safe. We fight it for a while but it is the one we run to when we feel down or depressed or mistreated by God and others. We know it is wrong but we like it. Jesus knows about it, nothing is secret from Him and He wants us to get rid of that sin crutch. He can give us the power to choose right over evil, but most of us simply don’t want to.
“For God will bring every act to judgment, including every hidden thing, whether good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:14).