Matthew 5:27-32 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: 28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. 29 And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. 30 And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. 31 It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: 32 But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.
This Is One Of The Tough Passages Of Scripture
When I pastored in North Carolina I was in a decidedly more “liberal” area of ministry than I had ever been in. One day I went to see our Director of Missions. The Director of Missions among the Southern Baptist Churches is not the “boss” of the local Association, but an adviser to the Churches, a helper to the pastors. As a new pastor in this Association I found that preaching the harder texts of scripture were often not well received. So I asked the Director of Missions what he thought my approach in the pulpit should be. What he told me was, “As I grow older, I think it would be better if we just heard comforting messages.”
I’m sure that all firemen wishes that every fire they had to respond to was just an out of control barbecue grill.
I’m sure that all policemen wishes that every shooting they had to respond to was just an eight year old with a Daisy Red Ryder BB Gun.
I’m sure that every prison warden wishes that the most violent offender he had to oversee was the vagrant, or the person with too many unpaid parking tickets.
I’m sure that every factory worker wishes the heaviest thing they have to pick up would be feather pillows.
As a pastor and a preacher of God’s Word I wish every word I could utter to you would be comforting and easy. But as John MacArthur once said, and I paraphrase him here:
“The pastor is to be the waiter, not the chef. It is his job to deliver the meal without messing it up.”
I pray I can deliver His Word today without “messing it up”. Jesus spoke these words. He spoke these words to an Israel who had began to minimize sin. Jesus emphasized how horrid it is to minimize sin by saying:
Matthew 5:29-30 And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. 30 And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.
I don’t think Jesus literally wanted us to poke out an eye or cut off a hand. But Jesus often used shocking language to get His point across. God despises adultery. Unrepentant adulterers go to hell.
Better to lose an eye or a hand than go to hell!
God considers sin an abomination, a darkness, an aberration. All sin – sexual sin included – is despised by God. Jesus is speaking to His Church, a Church that He expects to be …
Matthew 5:14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
We are to be “light” as God defines “light”, regardless as to what is going on around us. Jesus is speaking to a Church that has been influenced by Roman license and Pharisaical hypocrisy. Jesus does not want His Church to be religious, but righteous. Not self righteous like the Pharisees. Righteous.
In America we laugh at sin on sitcoms. Comedians on television make light of what God says is dark. We often hear people on television saying things like,
“If no one gets hurt, and you’re both adults, what’s the harm?”
Yet God says that there is a harm in sin. He tells us:
The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23)
Death passed upon all because of sin (Romans 5:12)
When you sin, you shall surely die (Genesis 2:17)
The soul that sins, it shall die (Ezekiel 18:4)
Sin, when it is finished, brings forth death (James 1:15)
Sin reigns unto death (Romans 5:17, 21)
Sin is not a laugh track on television. Sin is not amusement. God did not design us for sin, but to walk with Him. God despises sin because the devil has sold it as a harmless amusement. But it is not harmless.
Sin Minimizes God’s Best For Us
Matthew 5:27-28 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: 28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
God loves us, and wants the best for us. He doesn’t want us to be “religious” but to love Him and love others.
That includes your spouse!
Do you know that in all this Book, this Bible, I found the word “religion” and “religious” a total of seven times – and only once in a positive manner. The Law of God was given to us as a mirror by which we were to examine ourselves in the light of God’s standard.
“Adultery”, which is sexual sin that targets Biblical marriage, is never in our best interest.
God’s standard on sexual sin is found in texts like Leviticus 20:10,
“If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death“
In our world today that seems terribly harsh. But God established marriage as a bond between a man and a woman, a bond that was to remain stable throughout the lifetime of both.
The Pharisees took the relational Law of God and twisted it. Under the religious laws of Jesus’ day the Israelite male was told that “if you see another woman that appears more attractive that your current wife, then you can give that wife a bill of divorce, and go marry that new woman”.
Women were routinely being abused and used because religion gave the authority to do so.
As Jesus addressed marriage and divorce from the mountain, those most upset with the Lord were not the lost. Those most upset were not the Roman citizens. Those most upset were the Pharisees, the religious crowd.
The Pharisees had turned Judaism into a cloak to use women. They turned the Mosaic Law into a unwitting helper in hypocritically covering up sin.
And Jesus said NO!
Later on in His ministry – and not long before Jesus was crucified on Calvary – the religious crowd came to Jesus. They had been stewing on what Jesus taught from the mountain, and finally they decided to challenge Him. We read:
Matthew 19:3-9 The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? 4 And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, 5 And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? 6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. 7 They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? 8 He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. 9 And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.
Notice how the Pharisees asked the question.
“Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife
FOR EVERY CAUSE?”
Are there Biblical reasons for divorce? Yes, there are. There are valid reasons for divorce. Jesus addresses one today. You read it earlier. He said:
Matthew 5:32 But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.
Sexual infidelity in a marriage is a clear reason for divorce. If your spouse will not stay faithful to you, then Biblically there is a reason. There are other Biblical reasons for divorce. But Beloved, we are not looking for reasons to be divorced. If you are the light of the world you are to love the wife or husband you have right now. You are meant to grow old together. If you have previously divorced and remarried outside of the will of God there is nonetheless forgiveness available from God.
God forgave King David for murdering another man to take his wife
2 Samuel 12:13
God is no respecter of persons. What He does for one, He will do for all.
Be aware however that David suffered for his decision. Any divorce causes suffering. It is not God’s intent that you suffer, but that you excel.
Psalm 37:4 Delight thyself also in the Lord: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.
Psalm 1:1-6 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. 2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. 3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. 4 The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. 5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. 6 For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.
The Biblical marriage is when two people – a man and woman – make a commitment before God for life. The two grow old together. There is a deep seated joy in growing old together. I was at the VA Hospital in Murfreesboro the other day talking with another veteran. Sherry was with me. As we talked, he shared with me that he and his wife had just finished 50 years of marriage. As the two that become one grow old together, the love deepens. We take care of one another. There is a joy and a stability in the marriage that stays the course.
God did not give us sexual appetites so that we could wander about, going from bed to bed. The Pharisees condoned “legal divorce” if a man wanted to be with a younger woman. Yet this is not God’s way.
In Ephesians chapter 5 – a text I often use in premarital counseling situations – the Lord shows us how He regards marriage. He starts the chapter with:
Ephesians 5:1-3 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; 2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savor. 3 But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints …
If you are loved of Christ, love others – especially your spouse – in the same, sacrificial way. This particular chapter ends with:
Ephesians 5:25-28 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. 28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.
Jesus loves His Church. Men, we set the standard. Love your wife as Christ loves the Church. Care for the wife God has given you. If you do not love your wife sacrificially then you are harming yourselves. Put away the porn. Put away anything that stands between you and love for your wife. God will honor and bless this marriage if you let Christ be in its midst.
Being Light Means Living Honorably
Matthew 5:33-37 Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: 34 But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne: 35 Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. 36 Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. 37 But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.
The Pharisees were bad about giving their word, then reneging on that word. They just didn’t do what they said they would do. One of their favorite ploys was – when they were called on their failure to follow through – they would say “Well, I didn’t swear I would do it”. They would then point to the Law of God, and quote where God said:
Leviticus 19:12 And ye shall not swear by my name falsely, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the LORD.
Numbers 30:2 If a man vow a vow unto the LORD, or swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond; he shall not break his word, he shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth.
But the light of the world – God’s people – should always do as they have said they would do. The Bible tells us to:
Ephesians 4:23-25 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. 25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor: for we are members one of another.
Ephesians 4:15 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
Those who are God’s children are to be “the light of the world”. We are to keep our commitments and our promises because we belong to Jesus. Jesus always kept His promises. Jesus has given as many as believe in Him the promise of eternal life. Praise Him, our God is faithful to His Word:
Exodus 34:6 … The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, long suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth …
God does what He says He will do – always. As the light of the world we are to do as we say. When others see your life, do they see you as faithful, or untrustworthy?
Are You In The Light?
As Jesus spoke these “Red Lettered” words, He was speaking to His disciples, to those who loved and would follow Him. Are you following Jesus? If not, then today is a good day to commit to following Him.
2 Corinthians 6:2 … behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.
Your lives will not be blessed until you commit to following Him. Let Jesus have your life. Follow Him by faith. Do as He says. For in this, God will truly give you rest.
May Christ and His Spirit enable you to hear His Word this very day.