Sermon Title: “Covenant Faithfulness and God’s Very Good Purposes for Marriage”(Part 1)
Date: Sunday, December 2, 2018
Speaker: Pastor Joseph
The Biblical Text
27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.
This morning, I would like to speak about faithfulness and sexual purity in marriage and the main objectives of (Christian) marriage. In this passage, Jesus is emphasizing the importance of the binding nature of the marital union and the significance of total and nonnegotiable (covenant faithfulness) fidelity on the part of the husband and the wife. For Jesus, murder begins with anger (5:21-22) the same way adultery begins with lust (5:21-22). In this passage, Jesus makes an urgent call to his followers to watch over their heart to Christian husbands and wives to maintain visual purity and mental perfection.
- 27, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’”
- In Scripture, there are two ways adultery is described. The first association is to religion; and the second one is to marriage. Hence, adultery is used as a “codeword” for religious infidelity (Jer 3:9-9; 9:2; Hos 1-3) and literally is a reference to sexual infidelity in marriage.
- Jeremiah 3:8-9
8 She saw that for all the adulteries of that faithless one, Israel, I had sent her away with a decree of divorce. Yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear, but she too went and played the whore. 9 Because she took her whoredom lightly, she polluted the land, committing adultery with stone and tree.
Prohibitions of Adultery:
- Exodus 20:14, “You shall not commit adultery.”
- Exodus 20:17, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife” (Ex. 20:17 17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.”)
- Deuteronomy 5:18, “‘And you shall not commit adultery.”
- Both verses are concerned about a man who has sexual intercourses with another man’s wife. Apparently, Jesus was referring to not just a mere woman, but a man’s wife. The idea is this if one looks at a man’s wife in order to desire her sexually or wanting or planning to have sexual relations with her is adultery. The emphasis in this verse is the sexual desire the could lead to the sexual act.
- Understanding Adultery in the Ancient World
- “In the ancient world generally, it was held that a married man could have sexual adventures as long as they did not involve a married woman (which would mean violating the rights of her husband). A woman, however, was expected to have no such relations; she should be chaste before marriage and faithful after it” (Leon Morris, p. 117)
- “Because of the nature of marriage, adultery was not so much evidence of moral depravity as the violation of a husband’s right to have a sole sexual possession of his wife and to have the assurance that his children were his own” (O. J. Baab, Qtd in Leon Morris, pp. 117-8)
- France also explains, “It was not seen as adultery, for example, for an Israelite to have intercourse with a female slave or with a Gentile woman. Adultery for him involved infringing the rights of another Israelite male” (p. 118)
Punishment for Adultery or adulterers
“If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.
- “If a man is found lying with the wife of another man, both of them shall die, the man who lay with the woman, and the woman. So you shall purge the evil from Israel.
· Proverbs 6:32, He who commits adultery lacks sense; he who does it destroys himself.
- Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.
- “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.
- Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,
Verse 28, Against Lustful Looks or Lustful Passions (“Adultery in the heart” or “mental adultery”)
28 “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
What is lust?
\ Definition of lust
b: personal inclination: wish
2: usually intense or unbridled sexual desire: lasciviousnessHe was motivated more by lust than by love.
3a: an intense longing: cravinga lust to succeed
lusted; lusting; lusts
Definition of lust (Entry 2 of 2)
: to have an intense desire or need: crave specifically: to have a sexual urge
Ideas about Lustful Passions or Mental Adultery
- The author of the Book of Jubilee (Jubilee 20:3-4) declares a warning, “That we should keep ourselves from all fornication and pollution…let them not fornicate with her after their eyes and hearts’ (Jubilee 20:3-4)
- “Whoever gazes intentionally at a woman is as though he had intercourse with her” (tractate Kallah 7)
- From the Testament of Issachar, the author writes, “I have not had intercourse with any woman other than my wife, nor was I promiscuous by lustful look” (7:2; Qtd in McKnight, Sermons, p. 89).
- France writes, “the heart is the center of a person’s life and may denote thought, emotions, and will. Jesus is saying that the person who lusts has committed adultery in the center of his being (contrast “the pure in heart” in v.8); in all that matters he is an adulterer” (p. 118)
Warnings about the Danger of Lustful Looks or Lustful Passions or Desires
Job 31:1, 9, 1 “I have made a covenant with my eyes;
how then could I gaze at a virgin?
9 “If my heart has been enticed toward a woman,
and I have lain in wait at my neighbor’s door”
Job 24:15, The eye of the adulterer also waits for the twilight,
saying, ‘No eye will see me’;
and he veils his face.
Proverbs 30:20, This is the way of an adulteress:
she eats and wipes her mouth
and says, “I have done no wrong.”
23 For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light,
and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life,
24 to preserve you from the evil woman,[b]
from the smooth tongue of the adulteress.[c]
25 Do not desire her beauty in your heart,
and do not let her capture you with her eyelashes;
26 for the price of a prostitute is only a loaf of bread,[d]
but a married woman[e] hunts down a precious life.
Some causes of sex apart from marriage (Gary Collins, Christian Counseling, pp. 252-4)
- Environmental stimulation: “our sex-saturated culture stimulates people to think about sex and encourages us to seek hedonistic physical sexual gratification.”
Social atmosphere: “modern society emphasizes the value of immediate, physical pleasures. Many popular magazines, most films, numerous television programs, many commercial advertisements, and literally thousands of novels seem blatantly designed to arouse and play on our sexual urges and desires.”
***sexual convenience, liberal values, inappropriate education
“sex apart from marriage is no longer a taboo subject. Our generation probably knows more about birth control, sexual intercourse, and masturbation than any previous generation. Cohabitation, mate swapping, unfaithfulness, and similar behaviors are openly discussed and widely tolerated, if not accepted. Sexual restrictions have lessened, sexual standards have loosened, and sexual expectations have become more liberal”
- Internal pressure: “the environmental makes it easy to yield to sexual temptation, but the real source of trouble rests inside the individual’s mind.
***curiosity, uncontrolled fantasy, the search for intimacy and closeness, escape or rebellion, distorted thinking, and satanic influence are all about internal pressure.
Verses 29-30, The control of the sight (Literary hyperbole)
29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.
- In the ancient world, it was understood that “the right eye was thought of a as especially valuable, for a warrior would be gravely handicapped if he lacked sight in this member. Jesus envisages the possibility that this valuable member may in fact be the cause of sin…. The same argument is applied to the right hand, the hand favored by most people for all activities” (Morris, pp. 118-119). In other words, the right hand and the right eye were assumed to have greater value and usefulness.
“The Effects of Sex Outside of Marriage” (Garry Collins, Christian Counseling, pp. 255-6)
- Emotional Effects: “emotional turmoil, guilt, jealousy, fear, anxiety, insecurity, self-condemnation, anger, and depression are among the reactions that have been known to follow sexual behavior apart from marriage.”
- Interpersonal effects: “How does nonmarital sex influence’s one’s dating, family, marriage, and other relationships”
- Spiritual effects
- Physical effects: “it is well known that sex apart from marriage increases the prospects of illegitimate pregnancies, venereal disease, and AIDS—al of which are currently increasing at an alarming rate.
Practical Steps to Live a Sexually-Pure Married Life and To Overcome Lustful Desires
- Pursue God’s transformative grace and his freedom from sexual sins by spending time reading the bible, medicating scripture, fastening, saying prayer of confession
- Practice Self-Control
- Recognize the woman’s body is not an object to gaze at.
Scott McKnight writes, “We are personally responsible for protecting our eyes to be sexually redeemed. The focus of the text here is on male responses to females. It it worth reminding ourselves in this media-drenched age where images of women abound that Jesus apparently was pointing his finger at the appropriate gender: male objectify women into sexualized objects. And it is not that the Bible is against the beauty of a woman, and once again one can’t read the Song of songs and not be overcome by the poetic beauty. The problem is not beauty but objectification of a woman and the female body so that it becomes an object of self-satisfying pleasure for the male. We also live in one of the most egalitarian societies in history where women too express their own sexual needs and wants, so it needs to be said that women also objectify males and the male body. Jesus’ words in this text prohibit objectification of any sort because he sees the female form and the male form to be fitted for one another only within the bounds of a married relationship” (McKnight, Sermon, p. 93
- Confess your sins to trustworthy brother or sister (James 5:16)
- Have an accountable partner
- Seek professional therapy
- That both husband and the wife must find sexual fulfillment in the marriage or there should not be any sexual need among both partners.
But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband.
Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise, the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. …
The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband.
Drink water from your own cistern, flowing water from your own well.
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