“Do not commit adultery” sounds pretty cut and dried. Imagine the surprise of Jews, who were taught the “letter of the law,” when Jesus points out, “anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5.28). He warns against thinking it’s okay to indulge our sexuality in the non-physical realm of our minds, thus raising the bar on obedience.
That the seventh commandment overflows into our thought life is an eye-opener. Jesus isn’t saying just looking and admiring is adultery. The word “lust” means a progression beyond liking to repetition, then desiring, then craving, then fantasizing, then making a plan. Our thoughts can become a whirlpool we eventually follow down the drain.
Our culture readily supplies food for lust through: pornography (magazines, books, movies, internet), TV, romance novels, clothing styles, and even advertisements. The point where craving begins can vary, but we all know where we’re vulnerable.
Jesus speaks symbolically when he talks of dismembering hands and eyes. His point is to draw a line, then quickly move in the other direction. If you’ve stumbled in this area (now or in the past), remember you are forgiven in Christ. As Jesus said to the woman caught in adultery in John 8.11, “Then neither do I condemn you…go now and leave your life of sin.”
Today as you meet with God, confess to him where you are weak, and thank him for his forgiveness. Then draw a line and move in the other direction.