Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Faithfulness in the Heart

You have heard that it was said to those of old, “You shall not commit adultery.” But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Matthew 5:27-28)
Now Jesus is dealing with the Seventh Commandment. In the divine purpose it is about more than simply refraining from the physical act of adultery; it is about faithfulness in the heart. The heart is not only the center of the emotions, but also of the intellect and the will. That is why Jesus speaks of intent: “Whoever looks at a woman to lust for her.” The problem is not that stray thoughts slip through, but that they are entertained. As someone has said, you cannot stop a bird from flying over your head, but you can keep it from building a nest in your hair. When a man or woman looks with intent and gives way to lust, they have broken the commandment of God, committing adultery in their heart.
If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. (Matthew 5:29-30)
The Greek word for “offend” is skandalizo and refers to that which would ensnare you or become a stumbling block that causes you to fall into sin. Jesus is not counseling that one should literally gouge out his eye or cut off his hand. The eye and the hand do not act independently of the heart; to remove them would not solve anything. The point is that one must be diligent to deal with the problem at the root, however painful it may be. We must deal with the heart and its affections, and that is often the more difficult thing to do, which goes to show how much we need God.
Furthermore it has been said, “Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.” But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery. (Matthew 5:31-32)
There was a school of Rabbinic thought which allowed a man to divorce his wife for virtually any reason at all. In Jesus’ eyes, that was no better than committing adultery, for there is no love or commitment in that, no faithfulness of the heart. That is always what God is looking for — the faithful disposition of the heart.

The kingdom of heaven on earth requires faithfulness in the heart.



The Kingdom of Heaven on Earth

The Kingdom of Heaven on Earth
Keys to the Kingdom of God
in the Gospel of Matthew

by Jeff Doles

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Available in paperback and Kindle (Amazon), epub (Google and iTunes) and PDF.