Day 22: “Lust” 08.31.2018
Matthew 5:27-30 (NIV) “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.”
This has gotten quite complicated. In our last discussion, we pictured one of the men on the mountainside listening to Jesus becoming very perplexed. We suggested that he might say:
“Jesus…wait please. What you just said about adultery in our hearts? It’s just…impossible! You’re a man. You have never lusted? Really? Please excuse my asking but do you mean this?”
Yes, Jesus means it. If we have murderous thoughts in our hearts, we are, in some sense, murderers. If we have lust in our hearts, we are, in some sense, adulterers. So, this whole matter of Holiness is about far more than behavior. It is about our hearts. Of course, it is far better not to actually murder or commit adultery. But it is infinitely better, even righteous, to not do either in our hearts. In short, we are to long to be like Jesus who, as a man did not sin. Remember, he was fully man and fully God. In his humanness he fell asleep and ate and drank. He was not just God pretending to be a man. He was the second Adam who did what the first Adam did not do. He lived to please God and we benefit by faith from our trust in Jesus! His sinlessness is attributed to us and relieves us from condemnation. Just as we were under condemnation before we came to Christ because the first Adam fell into sin and we got his sin nature. But we are moving too fast.
The question is: how can we love God more than we love sin? How can we love God far more than we love our flesh so that there never is murder or adultery in our hearts? So that we do not avoid lustful thoughts only by turning away and not incubating them, but not even having them? Here is a true story. Please do not take offense. I am a major league sinner even after 41 years of walking with Jesus. But this illustration might help…
Way long ago, before salvation, I was in management in a corporate banking office in New York. My beautiful wife Donna was at home expecting our first child. One day, a woman in my office offered herself to me at lunchtime. She was attractive and sensual and quietly invited me to her apartment. By the grace of God, I did not go. I can honestly say that I did not want to go. I did not spend five seconds in the days that followed wishing I had gone. I just recoiled at her attempted seduction. Why? Because I was so in love with my wife that I had no desire to go with her.
Now, the matter of heart-sin is really very simple. I can and should develop rules and ways of living to avoid temptation and displeasing God. But, in the end, we can avoid sin by loving God more than we love our flesh. When we love God fully, we don’t care to gossip or lust or be unforgiving. So, sorry to say it to myself and to you but we have heart sin to the extent that we do not love God. We can appreciate God and love Him but not fully.
This is unsettling. Consider what they asked Jesus and his reply:
Matthew 22:35-40 (NIV) “One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: ‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Jesus just surprised them. There were hundreds of commandments and laws. In Luke’s Gospel (Chapter Ten) they have a big discussion about “who is my neighbor?” That is marvelously interesting but here we want to stop on the first clause: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind!” That is really asking a lot! Most of the time, we like God. We appreciate God. We want to honor God. We are eager to see God. But love Him? More than just “sort of?” With all of our hearts and souls and minds? With every thought that comes our way? Can we ever hope to love God to this extent and thus become “pure in heart?” Remember: “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God?” Matthew 5:8?
Now. Let’s be clear. Not loving God perfectly will not make us lose our salvation. But are we content to love God imperfectly? No. Rather we are to strive to be more and more like Jesus, the Son of God. Think of what Jesus said:
John 8:29 (NIV) “The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him.”
John 8:46 (NIV) “Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me?”
Ultimately, to love God with all of our hearts is to hate sin with all of our hearts. More on this in the days ahead.
Peace. Pastor Alberta