August 2, 2011

Hard Sayings III: Your Cheatin' Heart

But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Matthew 5:28

Jesus is raising the standard and raising the stakes with this statement. Jesus is making the law more demanding and exacting. Before, in the Law, God's people were told they were not to commit adultery (Exodus 20:14). The commandment clearly tells humans they are forbidden to have sexual relationships with someone else's spouse. It was a severe offense and warranted death by stoning (it still is in parts of the Middle East). What we often glance over and should not is the other of the ten commandments that deals with the precursor to adultery...the coveting of somebody else's wife. Either for furtherance of a sexual relation or a relationship that was financially beneficial or marriages of convenience i.e.: marrying into power.

Jesus pushes us farther and rightfully so. He takes that sinful act back to its inception. He goes back to the very thought that would solicit the sin itself. The commandments were not so much to control one's actions as they were to control ones thoughts. Squelch the thought and you kill the action. Jesus wanted heart change not action change. You could nip the act itself by pushing out the thought. The action wouldn't even have come to light if the mind and heart were in the right place. This means that 2 of 10 commandments deal specifically with either thoughts our actions that lead to a possessive relationship of another's relation or possession. Both forbid it. One at the actual level of committing the action or sin itself and the other dealing with it at the level wanting it or desiring your mind. Coveting something that is not yours. Whether it be material or sexual.

Do I believe it is possible to commit adultery with one's spouse just by fantasizing about an act in one's head? Yes, I believe so. I believe that is exactly what Jesus is saying here. There are no subtle nuances in the Greek, no idioms, just straightforward statement that pushes the envelope of righteousness higher for a believer or follower of Jesus. We even have the second commandment of covetousness to address the preliminary thoughts. Hard as it is, we are called to crush these thoughts. They may have not originated with us. The powers and principalities of this world may indeed have the ability to plant seeds in one's mind but what you do with this seeds is your call as a believer. You can either allow them to remain and sprout or you can spit them out.

Paul was succinct and clear on this one in 2 Corinthians:

"For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

You've been told. You have read this and you can no longer claim ignorance. You must now step up to Jesus' challenge, you no longer have an excuse. Yes, its a hard saying. Being a Christian wasn't necessarily suppose to be easy though was it?

As an additional note I should also state this. It is directed at both men and woman believers that are allowing the culture and society to dictate how they dress rather than their Christian sensibilities. Stop dressing provocatively for the opposite sex. Its fine to want to have good self-esteem and look handsome or pretty but not to the extent that you begin dressing immodestly to attract the wrong kind of attention. You are causing your brothers and sisters to stumble. To deny this fact is to completely overlook what I have been seeing in churches and public alike when it comes to my brethren. Yes, I will be critical (as in a critique of it) and be a judge (discerner) of it. Here is the criteria: If it causes the weakest of the brethren, male or female to stumble, more than likely you have played it too "fast and loose" and are not thinking of the best for unity in the body of the Church.

Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall. 1 Corinthians 8:13
Whether it be food or attire the principle within this verse remains. If you are doing something that causes your brother/sister to falter or sin you shouldn't do it. If you did, you should be ashamed, repent and change the condition of your heart. We are to aid and lift up our brethren, not lay landmines in their path.

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