[SW336] 7/21/2018 message notes by
Pastor Susan J. Wynn ©2018
Text: Matthew 5:27-32
Jesus Christ now addresses adultery and divorce — two sides of the same coin. Both are issues of unfaithfulness. Both are the result of lust in your heart.
You cannot hide the contents of your heart from God. He sees everything that is in it —
Hebrews 4:13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.
I thank God that I cannot hide anything from Him! Why? If I agree with what He sees, and ask Him to change me, I will have nothing to try to hide!
God’s purpose for humans, from the beginning, is that we enter into a holy, intimate relationship with Him. But ever since Adam sinned, that relationship is impossible unless the human heart is entirely changed by Him.
The Lord gave the Law to Moses so His people would see their hearts, and understand their need for Him to entirely change their hearts. It was never meant to be simply a legalistic series do’s and don’ts, but a revealer of the spiritual poverty of the human heart.
But then and now, many see the Law as do’s and don’ts, and attempt to be outwardly obedient while the sin nature still reigns in their hearts. It is impossible! Then and now, many twist the Law to justify their sin. Then and now, many try to hide what is in their hearts, as if they can fool God.
Jesus is about to reveal your heart. I pray you let Him do it. Blessed are you, if you heed His words, see the poverty of your heart, and cry out for Him to change it!
Verses 27-28 —
Jesus says, You have heard that it was said, You shall not commit adultery. That is the seventh of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:14). The penalty for adultery, in the Law of Moses, and when Jesus walked the earth, was death (Leviticus 20:10).
You may say, Whew! I have never committed adultery! But don’t get too comfortable.
As with Verses 21-26, Jesus has repeated what the Law says, and then says, But I say! He will show you that committing adultery is a heart issue.
What does He say? Everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Just looking and lusting is enough to call it adultery, even though you have not yet acted on your lust. It is in your heart! You are unfaithful to your wife, and to the Lord!
The sin nature, alive in every believer whose heart has not been changed by God, worships the god of self. And the god of self demands and lusts after sex, material things, power — even for blessings from God. We want what we want, and we want it now, regardless of our disobedience!
And so, we commit spiritual adultery against God. We worship the god of self, instead of the God who created us. In doing so, we sin against God.
When God first chose Israel to be His people, He took them into the wilderness. They soon looked to other gods and lusted after what they thought those gods could do for them. The god of self reigned in their hearts.
The Lord had delivered them from slavery in Egypt, and was leading them to the promised land. Yet they were always asking, “God, what are you going to do for me? I don’t like to have to tramp around in this desert. We don’t like that manna. It is the same old same old. We want meat, varieties of foods like we had in Egypt. We want to go back there!”
Paul warns the church at Corinth —
1Corinthians 10:1 For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; 2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 3 and all ate the same spiritual food; 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ. 5 Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness.
1Corinthians 10:6 Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved. 7 Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, “THE PEOPLE SAT DOWN TO EAT AND DRINK, AND STOOD UP TO PLAY.” 8 Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day. 9 Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents. 10 Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. 11 Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.
As it was then, so it is now. The god of self rules and reigns in many in the church today. “God, what are You going to do to make my life easier, to make me rich, to make me successful, to make me the envy of everyone around me? What are you going to do to make me happy?”
The god of self will reign in you until you heed Christ’s words, see that you have been worshiping the god of self, see the poverty of your heart, and cry out Christ to establish His kingdom in you by filling them with His Spirit. It was the same for me, until I saw and cried out, beloved.
But then! Oh, then, your flesh (sin nature) with its lusts and desires, is crucified (Galatians 5:24). There is no longer lust in your heart. You are no longer unfaithful to God or to others.
Have you obeyed Christ’s command to stay and wait until you are filled with the Holy Spirit?
Verses 29-30 —
Jesus now recommends extremely harsh action to those who commit adultery, or any sin. Why? Sin is deadly, beloved, and if you refuse to receive His words, you have chosen hell as your ultimate destination. Heed His words —
If your right eye makes you sin, tear it out and throw it (intensely cast it away) from you, for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell!
That’s pretty radical, Jesus! You are talking about a hell that most of us Christians don’t think exists. And you are saying that if we don’t tear out our sin and intensely throw it from us, our whole body will be thrown into hell!
But Jesus continues to give harsh instructions —
If your right hand makes you sin, cut it off and throw it from you, for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell!
Lord Jesus, unless you do something in my heart to remove the lust, I won’t have any body parts left, or I will simply give up and be hell-bound! Ah! That is what He wants you to see!
He has not come to condemn you, but to show you your heart, so you will cry out for Him to change it.
There is forgiveness for you, if you repent! The woman caught in the act of adultery was dragged by the scribes and Pharisees into the temple court, where Jesus was teaching. They wanted to force Him to go against the Law of Moses, which required that she be stoned to death, but Jesus responded this way —
John 8:7, 9 . . .“He who is without sin (sinless, never having committed sin) among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” 9 When they heard it, they began to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones, and He was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the center of the court.
John 8:10-11 Straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on, sin no more.”
He knew the hearts of the scribes and Pharisees. He knew their sin natures were alive and well. Because of His words, they saw their hearts, were ashamed, and one by one, they went away.
The woman now saw her heart — she was not “without sin.” But Jesus did not condemn her. He commanded her to sin no more. It was a command to repent, and to do what is impossible for any of us to do, until He changes our hearts.
I wonder if she was in that upper room at Pentecost. I know that when He did not condemn me for my many sins, but forgave me and by His words, showed me my heart. I cried out for Him to change it, and had a personal Pentecost, so my sin nature and the god of self died. Lust was gone from my heart forever. He said, Go. Sin no more. And He has made it so. Glory to God!
Verse 31 —
I will say here that many commentators look at these verses in a legalistic way. That is, they say God’s purpose for marriage (one flesh) is dishonored by divorce. Marriage between a man and a woman is God’s will. That is true, but they miss the underlying cause of adultery, divorce and sexual immorality — the lust in the poverty-stricken human heart!
Jesus speaks. It was said, Whoever sends his wife away (i.e., divorces her), let him give her a certificate of divorce. This was according to the Law of Moses, from Deuteronomy 24:1-4. Why was that law given? Jesus answers —
Matthew 19:8 He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart (spiritual destitution of heart) Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way.”
The Israelites’ hearts were hard. They did not obey the Lord. Their hearts were covered with a thick sheath. So, their hearts were unresponsive, unyielding, and rebellious. It is the same today, for many of God’s people, including the church.
At the time Jesus walked the earth, even the most outwardly religious of the day, the Pharisees, twisted the Law of Moses on divorce in order to satisfy their lusts. It was the Law, and they were doing the Law, they reasoned. So they were right before God. But their hearts were hard and full of lust. It is the same today for God’s people, including the church.
Some of the Jewish leaders and Pharisees made false accusations against their wives, to get rid of them. Why? A younger woman had caught their eye (see Malachi 2:15), so they sent the older wife away in order to marry a ”newer model.” That is adultery, for they lusted after a woman. And that is why Jesus began this series of verses with a condemnation of adultery, in the presence of the scribes and Pharisees.
Verse 32 —
Jesus knows all human hearts. So He continues on the law of divorce saying, But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the reason of unchastity (sexual immorality) makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
If a married woman commits sexual immorality, what is the condition of her heart? She is in spiritual poverty, still controlled by the lustful sin nature!
And in those days, if the accusation was false, she had no recourse. She was sent away by her husband. The one sent away was sent into poverty, for she no longer had a means of support. Her only choices were to marry again, or to become a beggar. But if she married again, she committed adultery. And whoever married her also committed adultery.
Why? Marriage is for life, a reflection of God’s design and command that we be spiritually married to Him forever, beloved — joined at the heart! But the Lord does allow divorce under very strict circumstances:
— Violence against a wife (Malachi 2:16, Deuteronomy 27:24)
— Abandonment by an unsaved husband (1Corinthians 7:15)
For all other circumstances, heart change in one or both parties is the cure for a troubled marriage. Beloved, if you heed, see and cry out, the Lord will do it. Then, blessed will you be!
He will fill you with His Spirit, and you will gladly be faithful to Him, and walk with God the Father and God the Son in intimate, continual fellowship! Glory to God!
Dr. Dennis Kinlaw often said that he was the richest man in the world. He lived in humble financial circumstances. But he testified that the richness that he possessed was this — the indwelling presence of the living God, because his heart had been changed, the sin nature crucified, the god of self dethroned. He had the richness of eternal communion, even here and now, with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit!
Lord Jesus, may today’s hearers respond to Your truth, that they may become rich in the same way! Amen. So be it!