“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.
“It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
Matthew 5:27-32 (NIV)
Jesus continues to emphasize the heart. Everyone knows our body parts don’t make us sin. Our eye isn’t the reason we look at things we shouldn’t look at. Our hands don’t make us take things that don’t belong to us.
These come from desires that start in our heart. Jesus is telling us to be drastic in our measure.
The good news is that when we place our trust in Jesus we become a “new creation.” The Holy Spirit takes our heart, which has a penchant to do wrong, and begins the process of renewing it.
When we turn to Jesus and turn from our old way of life, our renewed heart leads to new thoughts, new choices, and new habits.
This is a continual process.
But what happens when that website keeps getting our attention and we end up looking at things we shouldn’t look at. Or when that guy on Facebook comes online and you start that conversation that gives you those feelings you once used to have for your husband who is sharing the other side of the bed with you? What happens when you can’t put down the bottle or stop rolling the dice?
This is where Jesus words help us out. When we seem to be controlled by the thing that is destroying us or those around us, we need to get drastic.
Why? Because as a follower of Jesus who has our trust in Him we are new creations. Paul tells the church in Rome, “Sin is no longer your master.” (Romans 6:14) Since we are not under the rule of sin we have the grace to say no to these desires even though they seem to rule us.
Paul continues to write that if sin masters you, it leads to death. If your trust isn’t in Jesus sin will bring you an eternal death. But sometimes our sins lead to the death of a relationship or an opportunity. Sometimes it means the death of a preferred future.
I think Jesus is making the point, “Don’t let sin be your master. Let me!”
So be confident that you don’t have to be controlled by the things you know you shouldn’t be controlled by. Realize, in Jesus, we have the grace to find an alternative to that action or response and the strength to avoid being mastered by sin. (1 Corinthians 10:13)
Today, I had my opportunity to apply Jesus teaching. I was at the gym and a lady came over to use the cable machine next to me wearing less than what I would want my daughter to wear upstairs.
The way the machine was positioned gave me no option but to see her as there were mirrors to either side. So I went drastic. I finished my set, as if I were done, smiled at her (while making eye contact), and went to another exercise.
What drastic measures do you need to make to protect your heart, shape your thinking, or change your bad habit?
My next step:
Don’t let sin be my master. If I’m not severe with sin, sin will be severe with me.