Matthew 5:27–30: “You Shall Not Commit Adultery”
In his teaching on the Sixth Commandment against murder, our Lord exposed the root of murder in our hearts that takes the form of anger. Though we often rationalize and excuse our anger, Jesus insists that the root of anger is connected to the fruit of murder. In the same way, Jesus now exposes the root of adultery, which takes the form of lust that stirs in our hearts. In this section of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus condemns even the slightest inclinations—the first stirring, the slightest tug—of sexual desire toward someone who is not our spouse. Here, the blinding light of the law grows even brighter. Nevertheless, our Lord also hints at the comfort of the gospel, since Jesus came to purify our desires.
1. When Jesus condemns lust in v. 28, what difference does it make to understand whether Jesus is describing the man’s purpose/intention for looking, or a result that arises from looking? If Jesus is only forbidding purposeful looks of lust, what would that imply about lust that arises unbidden and unintentionally within our hearts? What is your own attitude toward the lust that arises unbidden and unintentionally within your heart?
2. What is the doctrine of concupiscence? Where are some of the places that the Scriptures teach about the coveting/lust/desire of concupiscence? When does the Roman Catholic Church believe that concupiscence becomes sin? Why did the Protestant Reformers reject this view of concupiscence? What does the Bible teach about when concupiscence becomes sin, as summarized in Westminster Confession of Faith 6.5? What practical difference does this make?
3. When Jesus teaches that we should gouge out our eyes or cut off our hands, why is it an unsatisfactory explanation of this passage to state that we shouldn’t take this “literally“? Why, then, is it also an unsatisfactory explanation to do exactly what Jesus says? In the context of Jesus’ teaching about the sinfulness of the heart, would mutilating our right eye or right hand help? What does Jesus literally mean when he employs this hyperbolic figure of speech?
4. What does the mutilation of the body that Jesus speaks of here remind us about how Jesus’ own body was mutilated for us? Why does the broken body of Jesus heal us in a way that cutting out our eyes or cutting off our hands would not? What does it mean to repent from our desires—even our unbidden, unchosen, non-volitional desires? Why is this so critical in the life of the believer? Where might you need to become more vigilant in fighting sin and following Christ?