As we continue our journey through the Sermon on the Mount as a faith family, Jesus’ teaching about sexual purity ought to echo in our minds.We have a tendency to think of purity in terms of external actions, but Jesus will have none of that. Purity is not merely about our behavior but about what is going on within our own heart. Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:28 make this clear, “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
In a culture like our own that celebrates sexuality as ultimate, we must be incredibly careful to guard our hearts. In reflecting on Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:27-30, three areas deserve attention.
First, we must be careful about our looking. When we see something that would draw our hearts away from purity, we must look away fast! Whether in person or online, second looks compromise the purity of our hearts. In the face of temptation, we must run! Think Joseph, not David (Gen 39:7-12, 2 Samuel 11:1-4).
Second, we must be careful about our thinking. Jesus’ words remind us that lustful thinking itself is adulterous. In other words, even if the external action of adultery does not occur, if the heart is filled with lust, we are guilty of adulterous intent. We must be careful in what we think about (Phil 4:8).
Third, we must be careful about our responding to sexual sin and temptation. Jesus says that gouging out a right eye or a cutting off a right hand is preferred to sexual impurity. What He means is that we must respond to sin and temptation radically. We can’t play games with our sinful hearts. We must take whatever action is necessary to flee temptation and pursue purity.
We must recognize that knowing Jesus and being close to Him is better than any sinful counterfeit. We must remind ourselves that in God’s presence, “there is fulness of joy” (Psalm 16:11).
What are some practical ways to guard our hearts?
- Develop a plan for purity (Job 31:1; When are you most tempted by sin? How can you make changes to lessen or eliminate temptation in those times? Are there places that you need to avoid to maintain a pure heart?, etc).
- Confess sexual sin to a mature believer of the same sex (James 5:16).
- Do whatever it takes to flee sexual temptation (1 Thess 4:3-4; Change to a flip phone, get rid of the internet, quit going to the gym or the pool, etc).
- If you are a believer, recognize that your body is God’s temple (1 Cor 6:19-20).
- Help other believers maintain purity (1 Thess 4:8; avoid edgy or questionable joking, immodesty, etc).
- If you’re married, maintain intimacy with your spouse (Prov 5:18-19, 1 Cor 7:3-5, Hebr 13:4).
- If you are a parent, be diligent in protecting your child’s heart by setting a good example in this area and by using internet filters, parental controls, etc (Prov 5, Eph 6:4).
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