Jesus cares about us and loves us. He loves us so much that He cares about everything we think, speak, and do. This includes our sexuality: namely, our sexual purity. Sexuality is a hot topic in our culture and we desperately need to hear Jesus’ message about sexual purity. Jesus tells us that God created sex and exclusively blesses sex in a monogamous, life-long, heterosexual marriage. Marriage is a covenant between God and one biological man and one biological woman (See Matthew 19).
After addressing the Sixth Commandment of the Law of Moses, Jesus turned His focus to the Seventh: “You have heard that it was said, Do not commit adultery” (Ex 20:14, Dt 5:18). What is adultery? It is voluntary sexual activity between a married person and someone who is not his/her spouse. It is a serious sin. In the Old Testament, it was punishable by death. Leviticus 20:10 says, “If a man commits adultery with a married woman…both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death.” (See also Deuteronomy 22:22.) Jesus affirmed the sinfulness of adultery and the heinous nature of the sin but did not stop there.
Just as Jesus forbade the anger that can lead to murder, He now forbids the lust that can lead to adultery. He said, “But I tell you, everyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Lust is a heart issue and manifests itself in numerous ways such as: adultery, cohabitation (unmarried adults living as if they were married), pornography, homosexuality. In fact, all sexual activity outside of the bounds of heterosexual marriage between one man and one woman is sin. Lust begins in our heart and wages war against us every day. Therefore, we must prepare for battle and take steps necessary for victory.
Identify the Source
What is the source of our lust? It is not our eyes because our eyes simply look where we direct them. It is not our hands because our hands only hold what they are told to hold. The source of our temptation is not our mind even though it is bombarded with temptations regularly. The true source of our temptation is our heart. Remember Jesus’ words: “everyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Did you catch that? It is the heart that desires adultery and has directed the eyes and the mind to “look…lustfully.”
Why does the heart desire adultery? Because of a lack of contentment. Discontentment is the result of the heart not being satisfied. Why are we not satisfied? Plenty of reasons are given, but it usually comes down to the fact that we think we deserve better than what we have or are missing out on something better than what we have. Adultery and/or Pornography begins with a person who is not satisfied and is searching for someone/something to satisfy them. While we will try to convince ourselves that it is our spouse’s (or someone else’s) fault, the fault lies within us. Instead of demanding, “I deserve better!” we need to ask, “Why am I not content?” Paul wrote to Timothy that “godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Tim 6:6). He spoke from personal experience as he previously told the church in Philippi: “I am not saying this out of need, for I have learned to be content regardless of my circumstances” (Phil 4:11). The cure for a lack of contentment is thankfulness. We begin with thankfulness that “we can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil 4:13). Contentment springs from a humble dependence on and thankfulness for Christ.
Gouge out your Eye
This brings us to the shocking solution proposed by Jesus. Jesus said, “If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away.” I know what you are thinking: “I thought Pastor Jeremy just told us that the source of our temptation is not our eyes and now Jesus tells us differently!” No, Jesus is not literally saying that you should gouge out your eye because of lust. Jesus made the eye and knows it is not the source of lust. Jesus used hyperbole (exaggerated statement not to be taken literally) to make His point. When Jesus said gouge out your eye, His point is that it would be better to not have an eye than to use it to satisfy your sinful lusts.
R.C. Sproul comments on this verse, “Jesus says we have a problem here—a radical problem that requires a radical solution…[Jesus] is saying that preserving chastity is so important that we must do whatever it takes to accomplish it.” John MacArthur adds, “Jesus’ point is that we should be willing to give up whatever is necessary, even the most cherished things we possess, if doing that will help protect us from evil. Nothing is so valuable as to be worth preserving at the expense of righteousness.”
Take the Necessary Steps
What are the stumbling blocks in your life? Christians who truly hunger and thirst for righteousness will not make excuses for sin or seek to appease their lust. They are willing to take whatever steps necessary to encourage the sexual purity they desire. Do you use your computer/smartphone to view pornography? Get rid of it. If you have to have it for work, get an internet filter and an accountability partner. Do you think that solution is too extreme? Keep in mind that Jesus said to gouge out your right eye if it causes you to sin. Remember, when it comes to our struggle with self-control, it is not that we do not know what the answer is; it is that we do not like what the answer is. We keep stumbling blocks in place because they have become idols. It is hard to remove idols in your life because you come to depend on them and cannot imagine life without them. This is why John closed 1 John with: “Little children, guard yourselves from idols” (1 John 5:21).
Commit yourself to Jesus. Allow His love for you to develop contentment in your heart. Refuse to submit your body to sexual immorality an instead “glorify God with your body” (1 Cor 6:20). Remember Jesus’ words: “It is better that you lose one of the parts of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.”