Jesus on Lust and Love | Matthew 5:27-30 (Snoh)
March 9, 2014 Series: The King Has Come | Matthew
Topic: New Testament Passage: Matthew 5:27–5:30
Matthew 5.27-30 | Jesus on Lust
Intro| Sermon on the Mount
Jesus Sermon on the Mount is less of a prescription of what we must do to obtain grace, and more of a description of how grace transforms all of our relationships. Early in his sermon, Jesus describes how the grace of the gospel changes our relationship with ourselves; we begin to be WHO we are IN Christ. Grace changes our relationship with the world; we begin to be WHERE we are FOR Christ. Jesus now spends over half of His Sermon explaining how grace changes our relationship to a Law designed to show us how sinful we are. By grace, you have been delivered form the curse of the Law and delivered to the Joy of the Law.
Without grace, all we have is condemnation. The only thing the law by itself can do is show you how sinful you are. The Jews wrongly believed that if they worked hard to be law-abiding enough, God would consider them righteous-enough to enter His Kingdom. In this section of His Sermon, Jesus declares the law to be really good, men to be really bad, and God’s standard to be really impossible to meet. At the end of this chapter, Jesus will summarize His overarching point of it all: “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly father is perfect.” (v.48). There is more than one way to avoid God through imperfection. You can avoid God through self-indulgence and wild living; or you can avoid God through self-righteousness and moral living. Jesus addresses both of these in the Sermon on the Mount. To the pagan, he reveals that God does have a standard and failure to meet it results in hell-fire and eternal damnation. And to the “priest”, he reveals that His standard is impossible to attain by themselves. Jesus, therefore, spends the next two chapters explaining verse 5.20: “Unless your righteousness exceeds the Scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Rewriting the Law
The Pharisees were guilty of reducing the meaning and demands of the law. Ignoring the spirit of the law, they rejoiced in their ability to not break “the rule” of the law. We play similar interpretation games with God’s word, perverting God’s law into anything other than a difficult obedience. Using the 10 commandments, Jesus presents 6 contrasts between religious righteousness and real-Jesus righteousness. He follows the same pattern every time, first declaring the Old Commandment then giving His own commandment saying, “BUT I SAY TO YOU.” In saying it this way, Jesus Christ claims to be more than another prophet—His Words are God’s Words. And while it feels like Jesus is rewriting the law, instead, Jesus is revealing its deeper meaning in an effort to reveal the most righteous as sinful. Beginning with the 6th commandment, Jesus declares anyone hating, insulting, or shunning their brother guilty of murder (I feel justified—you don’t understand).
The Evil of Adultery
Here, with the 7th commandment, Jesus declares anyone looking at willfully coveting another’s current or future spouse (not yours) guilty of adultery (I feel vilified—it’s not a fair comparison). The Pharisees and the Scribes had reduced the commandment to the mere physical act of adultery; and imagined as long as they were not actually guilty of the act itself, the commandment had nothing to say to them and they were perfectly innocent. If the uber-religious, Awana-superstar, professional-moralist Pharisees, never read the law correctly, it’s likely we read it wrong as well. Adultery is devastating. Jesus says they’ve missed the point—mechanical obedience does not produce holiness because it minimizes the heinous nature of sin. The sin of adultery is heinous as they come…
Imagine you are walking alone in your neighborhood on a beautiful sunny afternoon. The sun is warm, the flowers are blooming, and the breeze feels good. You feel confident, secure, and safe. Suddenly, you hear behind you the sound of an engine revving and wheels squealing. You turn and see with horror a car hurtling down the quiet street right at you. It must be going seventy miles an hour! You’re in the middle of the road, and there’s nothing you can do. There just isn’t time. Just before impact, you notice it’s one of your cars and your [spouse] is behind the wheel.
The car slams into you with a sickening crunch and you flip into the air, smashing into the windhshield and then crashing to the pavement in a heap. With your face pressed to the gritty tarmac, you watch the car scream around the corner and disappear from sight.
You’re stunned, dazed, bleeding, and confused. As you lie there, all twisted and broken, questions flood your mind. What happened? Was that really my [husband/wife]? Why would they run me over? Why didn’t they stop? Why won’t they come back? What do I do now? That was your spouse and he/she meant to run you over. They are not going to stop. They are not going to say they are sorry. In fact, they believe they had every right to run you over. (Taken from What to do when he says I don’t love you anymore, by David Clarke)
This is the devastation of adultery. When the intimacy of marriage is assaulted by the evil of adultery, the one-flesh relationship is torn in the most painful way, produce unrelenting waves of shame, confusion, guilt, rejection, despair, anger, self-hatred, etc.
There may be a few here who have committed the sin of adultery. But without doubt, there are many here who have committed what Jesus describes as “heart-adultery” through their lust. What is lust? Lust is craving another’s relationship. Lust is thirsting to gratify the self, emotionally or physically. Lust is longing after an experience or chasing after a feeling. Essentially, lust is seeing a person as an object to possess and making that person kindling for your fire. Jesus says that every time a man lusts after a woman in real life, a woman on a screen, or a woman on a page, he has committed adultery in his heart. Every time a man looks at an attractive woman he does not sin; but any time stares in order to lust he does. He is hunger and thirsting physically the same way women do emotionally. Every time a woman entertains an innocent flirtation, romanticizes about life with another husband, or entertains a facebook fantasy, she too commits adultery—even if it never leads to the act.
And to the person, young, old, man, woman, married, or single, I am convinced that whatever you have done, you don’t believe this is as evil as “real” adultery—Jesus disagrees with you. There is no doubt that every person here has, or will, lust. My fear is that you will minimize your sin, and underestimate its power to destroy, all because we don’t know understand the difference between sin and sins.
The Sinfulness of Sin
This text is disturbing because it reveals to me that I am BAD at a thought level. I am sinful before I even act; I am sinful by nature whether I DO anything or not. The Pharisees are always more concerned with WHAT people are doing/not doing and Jesus is always more concerned with WHY you are doing it/or not doing it. In other words, the question is never DID you sin—you may never break the written rule. The question is always WHY you wanted to. If you have a porn problem you have a heart problem.
Sin is not merely a matter of committing certain dirty acts; it is a question of dealing with the pollution in our hearts. Our behavior and our desires say something about what is inside of us. Lust is never a result of situation struggles in our lives; sin is always a result of spiritual struggles in the heart. I am convinced you could put a man alone in a room with no windows and nothing to look at but white walls and he would find a way to lust. We have a heart problem. The heart is prone to wander and the body will wander will the heart has already gone. Sin is deep. Sin is condemning. Sin is infectious. Sin is comprehensive. Sin is deceptive. Sin is not merely a thing of behavior or actions—it is something in the heart that leads to action.
And in affirming the unlawful badness of lust, Jesus affirms the lawful goodness of the same punishment for adultery—death. Do you realize the problem we have? The problem of sin is so profound that to just tell mankind what do to is not enough. Jesus says that, for my sinful thought, I can be I deserve to die. The problem is that if I die for my sin, I am dead, in hell, separated from God. I have no way of getting back. Another problem is that my sacrifice is blemished. So, even if I could die, I would not be acceptable to cover my own sin – a sinful sacrifice cannot pay for a sinful man. Therefore, I not only need a sinful man to pay for my sacrifice, I need someone to give me new life because it will only take a thought to make me sinful again. I need JESUS to save me, I need JESUS change me, and I need JESUS to empower me to live through his death and resurrection.
The Difficult Obedience
Minimizing your lust, ignoring your rebellion, and redefining you sin, is easy. Fighting lust is the DIFFICULT OBEDIENCE. In our fight against sin, Jesus calls us to some radical amputation. He calls us to remove our RIGHT eye or our RIGHT hand if they cause us to sin. This is not a call to self-mutilation in order to get rid of sin—we would end up without eyes, ears, tongue, or legs renamed Bob. But it is a charge to be serious, brutal, and swift in dealing with anything that hinders our pursuit of godliness.
Sin is so sinful that it takes the things that God has given me, meant for my good, and turns them into my enemies—pathways for my enemy. As the great John Owen said, “Be killing sin or it will be killing you.” We must starve the flesh. God is devoted to our holiness. There are many things that are good and right in the world. There are things we LOOK AT with our eyes, and things we do with our HANDS. There are people and things that lead us to sin, and there are activities and practices that lead us to sin. They may not be “bad” in themselves, but they become EVIL when they hinder our pursuit of godliness. We are fools to believe that we are strong enough to handle it. Sin is like an infectious flesh-eating bacteria—the only way to survive is to cut if off. For some this is a person, for others its access to a bank account, for others its facebook, a phone, or any number of things. What must I get rid of? Is relationship with God that valuable to me?
Jesus asks whether this person or thing is important enough to go to hell for. Yes, Jesus talks a lot about hell—more than anyone. This is not an attempt to scare people into heaven; that is impossible. I believe, it is Jesus’ reminder that the most important thing we have to do in this world is prepare ourselves for eternity. We must not neglect the soul. But it is NOT enough to simply stop drinking the toilet water. This will cease the sickness from coming in, but it will not bring us back to health. Jeremiah 2.11-13 -11 Has a nation changed its gods, even though they are no gods? But my people have changed their glory for that which does not profit. 12 Be appalled, O heavens, at this; be shocked, be utterly desolate, declares the LORD, 13 for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.
Holinesss is not merely a matter of NOT doing things. A human cannot live without water for more than three days/one week without water. Spiritually speaking we have to drink something. For better or worse, your soul will delight in what you take in.
• We can drink from the sewer or from the Spirit
• We can survive on toilet water for a while but it will make us sick and eventually kill us.
• We can thrive by drinking the living water of Christ. The living waters of God will heal us, restore us, and empower us.
We need to turn from the bad (LUST) and toward the good (LOVE). We must starve the flesh. and feed the spirit. We must restrain the flesh and walk in the Spirit (preach the gospel to ourselves. We don’t simply want a heart empty of lust, but a heart full of love.
Jesus and His LUST/ LOVE for us
We cannot fill ourselves with love—only Jesus can do that. In describing the difference between love and lust, Pastor Tim Keller writes: “Lust says, ‘What can you do for me?’ Love says, ‘What can I do for you?” All of our efforts to love amount to lust—we always “love” in order to get something. Apart from Christ, all of our love is, at best, lust. Whether it is our spouse, our kids, our church, we are always asking “What can you do for me? What am I going to get out of this? How will this benefit me? The religious only concern themselves with a pure body, Jesus said that only those with pure hearts get to SEE GOD (v.8). Until you see you’re sin as bad as that of an adulterer you cannot see God. Until you see Jesus was killed for your adultery, you cannot love God or anyone else but yourself. You need more than just reformed behavior—you need a transformed heart. 2 Corinthians 5.14-15 14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.
Belief in the gospel gives us a new heart, stops us from lusting, nd empowers us to love one another. And we don’t become pure by trying our best not to lust, or trying our best to love. We become pure by accepting that there is one who did more than just SHOW US how to love, but actually MADE IT POSSIBLE for us to love. Jesus loved us. Jesus did not lust after the bride, he loved her. He did not ask “What can you give me…how can you serve me…what can you do for me..” Though he would have been completely justified in doing so.
Jesus loved us exclusively. Jesus loved us intimately. Jesus loved us sacrificially…when we were unlovable. Jesus came and serve me, sacrifice me, asked what he could do for me. And the answer was he gave everything he had. In doing that, not only does he free me from lust, he frees me to love. 1John 4.19 -20 says, 19 We love because he first loved us.
Communion is the picture of our commitment to lust and Jesus’ commitment to love. We wander, but He pursues. We are faithless, but He is faithful We are immeasurably sinful, but we are immeasurably, loved.
More in The King Has Come | Matthew
May 11, 2014Jesus the Rock | Matthew 7:24-29 (Mville)
May 11, 2014Jesus is (Scary) Gracious | Matthew 7.15-23 (Snoh)
May 4, 2014Kingdom Admission | Matthew 7:13-23 (Mville)