Session #038 Deal With Lust First
Scripture Matthew 5:27-30
Summary In Matt 5:27-30, Jesus reveals the root cause of adultery: lust. Man’s struggle with lust, adultery, and sexual immorality is not a new one. Against a highly sexualized backdrop, Christians experience the same challenges too. After unpacking this passage, Henson provides ten practical points to help believers deal decisively with lust.
You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. Matthew 5:27–30
In this passage, Jesus deals with adultery and lust which is the 7th Commandment given at Exodus 20:14 when the Israelites came out of Egypt. However, the people failed in keeping the Law.
Fail #1: At the Foot of Mt Sinai (Exodus 32)
When Moses was delayed in returning to the people from Mt Sinai, the people had Aaron fashioned a golden calf to worship. They then sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play, corrupting themselves (Exodus 32:6-7).
All Israel knew was what they learned from the Egyptians which represent the world. It is highly probable that idolatrous worship involved sexual rituals and acts. For this sin, 3,000 died in a plague.
Fail #2: At Acacia Grove (Numbers 25)
Balaam was asked by Balak to curse Israel but he could not. But Israel brought judgment upon themselves through idolatry and sexual immorality and 24,000 died in the plague (Numbers 25:9). In the New Testament, we are warned of the doctrine of Balaam who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality (Jude 11 and Revelations 2:14).
Paul had used both Old Testament examples to warn the church that they should not lust after evil things as Israel also lusted nor commit sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 10:6-8).
The Seriousness of Adultery & Sexual Immorality
The holiness of God and the separated-ness of His people can be seen in Leviticus 18 where God speaks on sexual immorality, and commanding Israel that she was not to be like the other nations which God drove out before them. He called them to be holy as He is holy (Leviticus 19:1-2) and that they need to consecrate themselves (Leviticus 20:7-8). Israel is not to be like the world.
God’s relationship with His people can be seen as marriage which is a picture of faithfulness and fidelity. Marriage foreshadows the relationship that we have with Jesus.
Sex is a gift from God, the union of man and woman, where two become one. It is to be enjoyed within the intimacy of a marital relationship, between one man and one woman. Protecting the family is the most basic unit of society. Anything that threatens marriage is considered “evil” and must be dealt with decisively as in Leviticus 20:10 and Deuteronomy 22:22. The penalty for adultery was death.
The Right Interpretation
In Matthew 5:27-28, Jesus teaches that looking with the intention to lust after her is the same as having sexual relations with a woman. Jesus goes for the heart – AGAIN. That is where adultery begins (Matthew 15:19).
Jesus combines the 7th Commandment and 10th Commandment, “You shall not covet your neighbour’s wife.” This is not limited to just men, but also applicable to women as well. This is not applicable just to the married, but also the singles – if you lust for another, you have already committed “fornication” in your heart; and you will bring this into your marriage relationship. There are many forms of sexual immorality, pre-marital sex, cohabitation, same-sex attraction, homosexuality, transgenderism, bestiality, and so on.
Hand Foot Eye Disease
If a part of our body was diseased, and the infection was spreading, a surgeon’s advice would be to quickly cut that part off so that the rest of the body would be saved which Jesus illustrates in Matthew 5: 29. This is hyperbole and not to be taken literally. You can cut off everything and still lust because lust comes from the heart. Paul teaches that members that cause you to stray or to be sexually immoral need to be put to death in both Colossians 3:5 and Romans 8:13. The key point is that if we do not deal with lust decisively, the consequences can be dire.
Be aware that through the eyes, there is visual attraction and stimulation, the hands where physical touch and arousal, feet that bring you to places you should not be and the mouth which carries sweet talk, compliments, flirtatious talk or sexual innuendos. We need to guard every part of our body.
As Christians, we have died with Christ and received new hearts. Our Members of the Body are to be Instruments of Righteousness.
Dealing with Lust
Here are ten points that can help us to guard ourselves.
Fear of the Lord
We need to have a healthy, reverential fear and awe of the Lord. Be thankful for His grace and love, but fear Him as in Isaiah 11:2. Noah is an example where he moved in godly fear as he received instructions from God (Hebrews 11:7). Jesus was heard by God because of His godly fear (Hebrews 5:7). Some are rationalizing away the fear of the Lord today, broadly calling it ‘worship’. We think we can get away with our little escapades, whether secret dates, flings or internet viewing but if we truly believe God watches and knows everything, we would live differently. If we truly feared the Lord, we would seek to please Him; not out of torment but out of love. For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality (1 Thessalonians 4:1–8).
Filled with the Spirit
Living a life yielding to the leading and control of the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 5:18 says that we need to be filled with the Spirit and not be drunk with wine, which leads to dissipation.
We will develop the Fruit of the Spirit, which is contrary to the works of the flesh. Love will not exploit others for its own gain or pleasure or treat others as sex objects to be abused. Love will honour the dignity of each person made in the image of God. Love will not cause hurt or pain to the spouse, or family. Self-Control a key trait that deals with the temptations of sexual lusts, passions and desires.
Flee from youthful lusts
Paul exhorts Timothy to flee also youthful lusts in 2 Timothy 2:22. We are to run away, move away, turn away or look away. In the story of Joseph and Potiphar’s wife, Joseph flees from the clutches of the seductress because of the fear of sinning against God (Genesis 39:8–9).
Focus on Being on Assignment
In 2 Timothy 2:21, Paul reminds Timothy that as vessels for honour, sanctified and useful for the Master, they are prepared for every good work. Uriah, although given the opportunity to sleep with his wife, refused because he was focused on his kingdom assignment, desiring to please his King (2 Samuel 11:6-12). Constantly check your alignment, and stay on track.
Discern the Finelines
But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death (James 1:14–15). Learn to recognize the desire in the heart and deal with it there. Heed the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes, it’s not easy to know when the line is crossed. Before you know it, too late. The enemy knows this too well. And he is ever ready to help you push the boundaries until you fall over.
We live in a highly sexualized society where everything has been sexed up. Desensitized to accept everything as normal such as pre-marital sex, singles going on vacation together, women as sex objects, immodest dressing, cohabitation, casual sex partners, multiple partners. What are your boundaries? Where do you draw the line? How do you filter and process?
What is your worldview or mindset? What is right? According to whom?
Admit and acknowledge that you need help, that you are struggling with sexual sin – may it be pornography, adultery, pre-marital sex, or single-sex attraction. Talk to someone you trust and respect like parents, teachers, leaders, pastors, counsellors, etc. Make a commitment and be accountable to someone. There are Inner Healing and Deliverance ministries that are able to help you find repentance and restoration.
Love, serve, and satisfy one another – your bodies are not your own as written in 1 Corinthians 7:1-5. This will require sacrifice at times, especially when one party is “not in the mood”. If one-sided over a prolonged period, there will be a high chance of tension and frustration.
Seek help or counsel or treatment. Do not be shy or ashamed, you are just working out an important aspect in your marriage.
In Proverbs 5:15–19, Solomon urges his disciples to follow after purity in the married life; he pictures in vivid terms the delights which it affords as compared with the pleasures of sin. In Proverbs 31:30, we are warned that charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, to guard ourselves. As many are brainwashed by the media and beauty industry that looks are everything, that we must constantly upgrade to the newest and latest model. In a use-and-throw society, we also use and throw our spouses.
Be Fire Ready
Our conscious restraints and cautions over lusts and sexual sins are works that are built upon the foundation of Christ. Our careless or carefree attitudes and lifestyles would lead us to works that will be burnt up. These were taught by Paul in 1 Corinthians 3:11–15. Does that mean it’s okay to continue in adultery or fornication since salvation is secure? No, for in many passages in the New Testament they warn us that continual indulgence will not inherit the kingdom of God (Galatians 5:19–21, 1 Corinthians 6:9–10, Ephesians 5:5–7, Revelation 21:7–8 and Revelation 22:15).
As we close, let us remember that Jesus was addressing His disciples, the community of the King, not the world. The starting point is the Church. We must address Lust First in the Church. Our part is to judge ourselves and leave God to judge the world. We must address Lust First within ourselves. Who me? Yes, You. If you are struggling with lust, and are engaged in sexual sin, this has to stop. It will ruin your life, your marriage, your family, your relationships, your testimony, your ministry, your assignments. If you know someone who is struggling in this area, speak the truth in love. Be gracious but be firm. Be prepared to journey with them.