Matthew 5:27-30: It’s The Thought That Counts

Read: Matthew 5:27-30

Concerning adultery, Jesus doesn’t play. He says the thought of lust is as bad as the act itself. And for men especially, lust with the eyes is a powerful temptations. In Jesus’ day, the common thought was that it was okay to look and have lustful thoughts so long as one did not act upon these impulses. Jesus says however that the mere thought is the same as the actual act concerning adultery. He makes some rather repugnant remarks about how one should handle lust when he says that one should gouge an eye out or lop of a hand to keep oneself from sinning. Jesus is not literally encouraging one to maim himself, rather he’s using hyperbole here to make a strong point: that one should utterly remove himself from from situations and purify his or her thoughts so that he or she doesn’t even think about sin.

No one person is immune to temptations. James 1:13-15 explains that everyone struggles with it temptations because everyone has desires. The nature the particular temptation is going to manifest itself in different ways in an individuals life. For some, it’s substance abuse like drugs and alcohol. For others, it’s gossip. And yet for others it’s behavioral temptations like lust or gambling. When temptation is manifested, it leads to sin and brings death. So many of the temptations result in lifestyles of addiction or other destructive behaviors that ruin families, marriages, jobs, ministries, and so many other things. Concerning lust, Proverbs 5:7-23 speaks to the nature of lust, and verse 15 summarily offers sound advice: “drink from your own cistern” and don’t share. In other words, delight in the marriage God has given and find satisfaction there, not in other people.

The principle of the matter is simple: understand the proper time and place for certain things and and don’t exceed these boundaries. For some people though, it is better to not even entertain certain behaviors even if others don’t have the same struggle. For instance, for those that struggle with gluttony it is best not to even have the certain foods that tempt one to eat around so that temptation isn’t even possible. For other believers though that don’t struggle with certain temptations, they should encourage their brothers and sisters on the matter and not be a stumbling block for them – in fact to do so is sin too (1 Corinthians 8:9-13). God is glorified when the body is strengthened rather than weakened by those would cause others to stumble.

Lord, help my thoughts and actions to be pure!