Sermon Notes: Matthew 5:27-30

Adultery Begins in the Heart

Remember Jesus’ big idea of the Sermon on the Mount: Unless our righteousness goes deeper than surface adherence to a law, we are not Christians. 

Jesus wants us to be a joyful and holy light that testifies to the good news that Jesus is Lord. 

Remember, Jesus started his sermon by calling those who live like this, “blessed”. He also told us in verse 19 that by upholding these truths and teaching them, we will be called “great” in the kingdom of heaven. What a great joy!

So, why is it so easy for many to hear Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount and it be such a downer and hard?

Perhaps because as a “Christian” subculture, that subculture has become accustomed to violating Jesus’ standards with a multitude of “what abouts” and calling them “grace”. Maybe they have become content to be called least in the kingdom of heaven. 

Maybe they have become disciples of the world system rather than lovers of God’s kingdom. 

Jesus’ words should be a delight and an easy yoke, not heavy and burdensome yoke. 

With Matthew 5:27-30, I’ve listened to grown people do the adult equivalent of what  teens do with the “how far is too far” game, insinuating that because wandering eyes are so easy to give in to that Jesus can’t possibly mean what he says because “what about….?”

It blows my mind that Christian people would do that. 

What happened to Adam’s song of joy when he received Eve from God in the garden?: Bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh! 

What happened to enjoying goodness rather than trying to figure out what we can get away with and still go to heaven?

Jesus addresses this today in the Sermon on the Mount, and it’s a good and delightful standard, and it should be a delight to strive for this Edenic joy of loving our spouses purely. 

So, let’s READ IT: Matthew 5:27-30

The state of Georgia defines adultery like the Scribes and Pharisees. The physical act alone. 

Unfortunately, there seems to be a lot of Christians who want to use Georgia’s definition as their own. It’s genuinely a little embarrassing. 

I read a multitude of Bible dictionaries, and all that I read were almost exactly the same as Georgia’s definition. 

I was concerned about what I was understanding in Jesus’ teaching, and I wondered if I was just off the reservation in my reading and interpreting what Jesus said. 

So, I checked in with a couple of men, and one was my friend Brody Holloway, who will never shy away from his interpretation, opinions, or correction if need be. 

Brody responded to my concern about these Bible dictionaries compared to what I was concluding like this: “Book smart.” Too smart for their own good.  

I have taken and used what Brody shared with me and adapted it for us today, and we’ll go to that in a moment. 

We have to let God define adultery for us, and I believe the definition we’ll use captures Jesus’ teaching well.

So, let’s jump in to our observations from the text. 

  1. First, God empowers us to live out his standard of righteousness through the transformation of the gospel.
    1. Ezekiel 36:24-27 (CSB) 24 “‘For I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries, and will bring you into your own land. 25 I will also sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. I will cleanse you from all your impurities and all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will place my Spirit within you and cause you to follow my statutes and carefully observe my ordinances.
    2. Make no mistake, Jesus saves and empowers us to live according to his standard.
      1. If Jesus’ standard feels overwhelming, it is, unless viewed and lived through the cross.
        1. Galatians 3:24. The law was our teacher to lead us to Jesus.
        2. God’s standards are so holy that his standards cause us to come to Jesus and be saved and then have the standard achieved for us in Jesus.
      2. For us to make God’s standard something we can achieve on our own is to rob God of glory and to bypass the gospel for self-effort.
      3. If you receive Jesus by faith, you don’t have to make it happen.
        1. Jesus enables us to live in his standard with joy for our pleasure and good.
      4. If Jesus’ standard feels overwhelming one of three things is in play.
        1. You have believed a false gospel that has no standard for holiness that Jesus demands and achieves for us so that we can actually live by it.
        2. You have not believed any gospel.
        3. You need to repent and discipline yourself to walk in the power of the Spirit to do what Jesus has already accomplished for you.
          1. If you are 1 or 2. Receive Jesus by faith right now.
          2. If you are 3, commit to put sin to death by the Spirit.
            1. How?
              1. Healhty rhythms. Covenant relationships in the church. Repetition.
  2. Remember, Jesus’ standard is deeper than the external observance. You have heard it said…but I say to you”. Verse 27-28
    1. Jesus, again, claims his holy authority as God to show how the Pharisees had missed the mark, and how he as God establishes the mark correctly.
      1. Remember Jesus’ authority here.
      2. By remembering his authority, we should be moved to worship and give thanks for a standard that brings us health and joy.
  1. Jesus said lust is the commission of adultery, and lust begins in the heart. Verse 28
    1. This is where Jesus loses lots of people.
    2. What is lust?
      1. Lust – “Epithumeo”: To have affections directed toward something; to desire; to long after.
      2. NOTE: The definition of lust is not necessarily about “physical activity” they way we default to hearing it today. This is a result of the “physical activity” revolution of the 60’s on that has created this hyper environment we live in. ITS NOT ALWAYS A NEGATIVE.
        1. It’s a compound word: “epi”: on or upon a location. “Thumos”: to move impetuously or passionately with desire.
          1. So literally: desire located onto something.
        2. Lust is used in a general sense: (Luke 17:22; Gal. 5:17; Rev. 9:6).
          1. Luke 17:22 (CSB) 22 Then he told the disciples, “The days are coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you won’t see it.
        3. Lust is used to speak about desire in a good sense: (Matt. 13:17; Luke 22:15; 1 Tim. 3:1; Heb. 6:11; 1 Pet. 1:12);
          1. Luke 22:15 (CSB) 15 Then he said to them, “I have fervently desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.
        4. Lust is used to speak about the desire for physical needs like food and water: (Luke 15:16; 16:21);
        5. Lust is used to speak about desire in a bad sense of coveting after (Matt. 5:28; Rom. 7:7; 13:9; 1 Cor. 10:6 [cf. James 4:2; Sept.: Ex. 20:17; Deut. 5:21; 14:26; 2 Sam. 3:21; Prov. 21:26]). – Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).
      3. Jesus chose this word to tell us what adultery is at the heart level, and it gives us God’s perspective on what adultery really is before it manifests at the level of physical activity.
      4. The word Jesus chose is the primary reason we can’t refer to adultery as merely the physical action (sexual).
        1. We must see adultery as a “desire for”, and this can be worked out in many ways other than just the physical activity.
        2. Jesus’ point using this word?
          1. Misplaced longing for someone or something related to a person not our spouse is adultery.
          2. Emotional desire.
          3. Mental desire (imagination, fantasy, etc.) using video and pictures.
          4. Wishing our spouse was someone or something else in their makeup.
    3. Definition: Adultery is when a married man or woman desires from the heart or does things from their heart’s desire with another person who isn’t their spouse, things that God only intended between husband and wife within biblical marriage. – Brody Holloway adapted by Mitchell Jolly
      1. No doubt Jesus has in mind Genesis 1 and 2 when teaching us about adultery. These two chapters are the framework of everything else.
      2. God made Adam and from his side by taking a rib to fashion Eve for Adam. God performed the first wedding in Eden. He gave the first bride away to the first groom. He set the pattern of one man and one woman for life with nothing in the whole of creation to come between them.
        1. That’s the standard.
        2. Anything that wrecks that union from lustful intent, is adultery.
      3. Jesus gives us two boundaries for marriage to keep us out of the ditch of adultery.
        1. Lust. Lust is the most sensitive boundary.
        2. Physical activity. PA is the most base manifestation of lust.
          1. These two boundaries are intended to help keep us in the Edenic goodness of marriage.
      4. The best example in the Bible to illustrate this is that God himself calls Israel’s false worship “adultery” even though there was no physical relationship between the people and the idols.
        1. Why? Because their desire or “lust” for another “god” constituted spiritual betrayal.
        2. The point is that adultery is deeper than just the physical.
          1. It. Begins. In. The. Heart.
    4. Let us be clear. Just like last week, unrighteous anger that leads to murdering with words is distinct from the actual taking of physical life, and we learned that Jesus knows this and intends us to see that murder begins in the heart, and that to slander is to murder with words.
      1. The actual consequences for each are different.
      2. Jesus wants us to see that it begins in the heart, and we have to deal with the heart.
    5. Likewise, a lustful thought has vastly different consequences than giving in to physical activity that can arise from lust.
      1. Yet it does not change the reality that lust in the heart is adultery, and if unchecked will lead to a multitude of physical actions that can destroy and end the marriage relationship.
    6. The consequences of lust are different from physical activity, yet can be just as destructive.
      1. Jesus’ point is clear, adultery begins as lust in the heart.
      2. Remember, if we are going to inherit the kingdom, we can’t let the Pharisees or the state of Georgia’s definition of marital faithfulness be our definition.
        1. What in the world are we to do with this? Jesus tells us.
  2. We are to master ourselves with great urgency. V. 29-30
    1. We must deal with unholy lust in the heart urgently by managing what we look at. V. 29
      1. The single word translated “causes you to sin” in verse 29 is sometimes translated as “causes you to stumble”.
        1. It can be translated as “ensnare you”.
  1. The word is rooted in the work of trapping . 
  2. It pictures an animal tripping the mechanism of a trap that causes it to get caught, and thus eventually killed by the trapper or they will die in the trap.
    1. In some instances animals have been known to desperately do what is necessary to free themselves to keep life. 
    2. That’s the picture of urgency Jesus is giving us. 
  3. So, the person who has found themselves snared by the eyes leading to the heart and working out into the hands, should make sure they do what is necessary to free themselves from what has snared them. 
  4. Matthew 6:22-23 (CSB) 22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. So if the light within you is darkness, how deep is that darkness!
    1. Our external actions are determined by what informs our heart, and the gateway to what informs our heart is our eyes, our intake. 
      1. Clearly, there is another progression here. 
      2. The eyes inform the heart, and the heart works itself out to the body’s actions. 
        1. We must manage our eyes!
          1. If you need to get rid of your technology, then do it. 
          2. If you need to manage where you put yourself so that you are tempted with your eyes, then don’t go there anymore. 
  5. We must deal with any physical activity that is killing our families by urgently guarding what we do with our bodies. V. 30
    1. 1 Corinthians 9:25-27 (CSB) 25 Now everyone who competes exercises self-control in everything. They do it to receive a perishable crown, but we an imperishable crown. 26 So I do not run like one who runs aimlessly or box like one beating the air. 27 Instead, I discipline my body and bring it under strict control, so that after preaching to others, I myself will not be disqualified.
      1. We must exercise discipline over what we allow ourselves to do and where we allow ourselves to be. 
      2. Default to being at home and taking care of your Eden. 
      3. If where you go or what you see is killing your Eden, then urgently deal with it. 
  6. Why would we want Jesus to say or mean anything different?
    1. Does anyone married in this room want their spouse to not desire to be completely there’s in thought, word, and deed? 
    2. Does anyone single in this room want their future spouse to not desire to be completely there’s in thought, word, and deed? 
    3. Does any parent in this room want their child’s spouse to not desire to be completely faithful to their child and thus have a healthy and fruitful extended family with vibrant grandchildren? 
      1. We know what produces good, and Jesus simply said it explicitly. 
      2. So, why would there be anything in us that would want to push back on what Jesus said? 
        1. Jesus’ standard is so worth fighting for. 

Application: Why is this so important?

Because, sound teaching, which is what Jesus is giving us here, is the superhighway to a joyful and fulfilling life. 

Psalms 119:105 (CSB) 105 Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path.

Don’t believe the flesh or the whispers of the enemy that teach God’s standards are too tight for joy or he didn’t mean what he said.

God’s standards produce health and joy and peace and eternal good, and Jesus by faith gives a new heart and his Spirit to cause us and enable us to pursue such goodness.  

Psalms 16:11 (CSB) 11 You reveal the path of life to me; in your presence is abundant joy; at your right hand are eternal pleasures.

  1. Fight for joy by killing all enemies of joy that Jesus identifies. How?
    1. Holiness. 
    2. Love for others by not using them for anything sinful. 
    3. Unity, by holding to the Bible together. 
    4. Worship together as our joy spills over into corporate worship. 
    5. Witness to the world together as we are salt and light so others are actually drawn to life. 

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