“What Jesus Says About Lust” – Matthew 5:27-30 – Pastor Scott
There’s no way to hide it or dance around it, this morning we will be talking about sex. I know that subject may cause some to squirm or be uncomfortable. But if we can’t talk about it in a safe environment like church then we are opening ourselves up to a shock because the world is not shy about this subject. And not only are they not shy about it, they flaunt it, they promote it, they use it to sell things. Did you know that if you take all the revenue of the four major sports – NHL, MLB, NFL, NBA – and add them all together, they would still make less than the porn industry.
I grew up in a house where sex was not talked about by my parents but because of TV and people at school, I knew about sex from an early age. So, by the time I had my birds and the bees talk – I was 18 years old – I already knew a lot. In fact, my talk with my mom consisted of this one sentence, “I don't care what you do, just don’t get pregnant.” I responded by saying, “I promise I will never get pregnant.” My mom didn't get it either and didn't laugh. Well, despite what pop culture teaches us, sex is no laughing matter. But it shouldn’t be taboo and a hidden secret either.
And so this morning, we will talk about sex. Jesus talks about it in Matthew 5 in the Sermon on the Mount. And while it is only four verses that was spoken 2000 years ago, it is very meaningful, practical and helpful for us now in 2022! Jesus talks about lust which is defined as strong sexual desires. And while it may sound like Jesus is just talking to men, this is for everyone! As we dive into Matthew 5:27-30, we will answer the question: What does Jesus say about lust?
1) Lust is equal to adultery (vv.27-28) Adultery is defined as having sexual relations with someone who is not your spouse. That goes for any two people who are not married. If you are married, you are to only have intimate relations with your spouse. If you are not married, you are to wait until you are married. Not wait until you are in a committed relationship. Not wait until you are engaged. You are to wait until you are married. It’s plain and simple. Why wait? Sex is a beautiful thing God has given for a husband and wife. It is a point of intensity and love that can be only be found in a marriage.
Verses 27 and 28 say: 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.”
And if you look at someone and have lustful thoughts, you are already guilty of committing adultery in your heart. I know this day and age, it is hard not to have it thrown in our face. It’s on TV, it’s in the movies, it’s on our phones, it’s everywhere.
The phrase “looks at a woman with lustful intent” is very different than “seeing” something. You can see something on accident but it doesn't mean you have to keep staring at it. Or keep thinking about it.
It is natural to have an attraction to someone. But when you lust after someone, that is an ongoing continuation of an illegitimate attraction. They say you can’t prevent a bird from flying over your head but you can prevent it from making a nest in your hair.
The problem is, we often let birds not only fly above us, we invite them to make a home in our hair. And some people have full on neighborhoods in their hair!
We invite these thoughts. And we think “it’s no big deal. No one can tell what I am thinking. It’s not hurting anyone.”
Wrong. It hurts you. And your thoughts can potentially hurt others.
If you start seeing other people as objects, if you have fantasies and impure thoughts, it can and will affect you, your relationship with others and can damage your marriage – whether you are already married or not! And it all starts with a little look or a thought or a small crack in the door that allows the enemy to come in and wreck havoc. I’ve talked to many people who say they struggle with this. If that is you too, know that you are not alone!
A little lust can lead to a lot of damage. And that leads us to our next point. What does Jesus say about lust?
2) Seeing lustful things leads to death (v.29) 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.
Now, does it literally mean we need to tear out our right eye? Of course not! But the point here is that what we see leads to what we think and what we think can lead to what we do. So it is better that we try to stay away from images and things that would make us have thoughts that are not healthy.
Ephesians 5:3, 3But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. It’s the same for the alcoholic that frequents bars. Or the person addicted to gambling that goes to the race track or casino.
I’m not saying these things are places you need to avoid at all cost…but if you have issues with alcohol or gambling, then you should not put yourself in a place where you could stumble. If you don’t want candy, don't go in a candy store!
It’s the same way with lust. Checking out websites or magazines or movies or TV shows with inexplicit images can be more damaging than you know. These images that go in through your eyes enter your memories and can stay there for decades! It’s the same for music and things you hear. But things you see can burn images in your brain that can negatively impact your walk, your habits, your relationships and even the relationship with your spouse or future spouse if you are not married yet.
And Jesus expresses an eternal warning of an eternal death. And that goes for all sins – whether it is lust or greed or murder or whatever. That’s why it is best to stay away from these things! What else does Jesus say about lust?
3) We act on lust and that leads to death (v.30) We saw the damage seeing lust can cause. But what if we act on it? 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.
We see that seeing and thinking about lustful things can cause damage. And we saw that in verse 27 that it says that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
Some may respond, “Well, if I already committed adultery in my heart, I might as well do it with my body.” Well, acting out sinful thoughts is far more damaging than just thinking about them. Our right hand represents the things that we do in the same way that our right eye represents the things that we see. And we are told NOT to act on any of our sinful desires.
Here is why we should not act out sinful desires:
- It is deliberate rebellion against God’s Word. The Bible says adultery is wrong and if you do it, you are purposely going against what God says. If you are married, only have sex with your spouse. If you are not married, wait until you are married.
- It destroys marriages. Committing adultery breaks the trust and bond that married couples have. It goes against the promises they said on their wedding day.
- It harms others in addition to just you. Committing adultery not only hurts you but also your spouse, the person you are with, their family, your kids, the church community, and everyone who knows you.
So yeah, having sinful desires is bad but acting out on those desires is worse. Sinful desires if they are unchecked, can lead to bad decisions and lead multiple people away from God.
Acting on lust can lead to physical death – the CDC estimates that 1 in every 5 people in the US has a Sexually Transmitted Disease. And if you are messing around with anyone that is not your spouse, you are rolling the dice. To put it in perspective. Suppose you hear that In N Out is giving away free hamburgers. But 1 in every 5 will kill you. Would you still take that chance? I would hope not!
Acting on lust can lead to spiritual death. The Bible says it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell. Again, it does not mean we should literally cut off our hand but that's the extreme reaction we should have to prevent us from sinning. Lust can lead to adultery and open a whole door of problems and more separation from God.
But if you are struggling in this area and in any area, know that God can and will help you if you come to Him! He offers you His forgiveness, His grace, His help in overcoming any sin. You are not alone. Allow Jesus to help you.
I know in the church we have a tendency to either ignore talking about sex or treating it like it’s the worst thing in the world. Maybe because it is awkward or embarrassing. But the world is throwing it in our faces and if they can talk about it in ways that are not right, we should be able to share about it in the light of God’s Word.
The world has promoted it, perverted it and propped it up to be something that can be between any two people. The world says you can do whatever you want whenever you want. But that is not what God intended. He intended sex to be special, unique and a blessing in the confines of marriage.
But when the world has its way and people allow themselves to fall into that trap, we see sin run rampant and people ignoring the original intention of sex. They confuse lust for love and that has a huge negative impact in their lives. So don’t give the enemy a foothold. And don’t let birds build nests in your hair. Run away from those thoughts and run to the only One who can help you.
Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus, King of Kings, Give Us Clean Hands, Your Grace is Enough, Doxology