Matthew 5:27-32 Devotional Commentary

Jesus said: Devotional commentary for October 11-17

Matthew 5:27-32 (NASB)

This is the Word of God. May the Spirit of Truth give us Wisdom and Insight to receive what has been conveyed through His Word by His Inspiration.

Note from the editor:We don't seek to condemn, but we teach Grace as we confront sin.
And Jesus continued:
5:27–28
27"You have heard that it was said, 'YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY';
28but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

Jesus continues with His teaching specifically addressing select provisions of the Law. He looks at adultery, lust, and divorce in this passage. He reminds the crowd that the Law is clear and firm that we should not commit adultery. That is, there should not be any sexual intimacy outside of the marital union. Sexual union is sanctioned within the exclusive domain of marriage between a husband and a wife, who are duly bound as one by the sacred vows of a holy matrimony.

Jesus condemns not only the act of sexual impropriety, but also the passion which engenders the urge to improper sexual indulgence. That is, both the promiscuous sexual action and the lust arousing indiscriminate salacious drive are adulterous behaviors. Simply put, Jesus' declaration strongly implies that adultery is born in the mind and heart of the guilty long before it is consummated in an adulterous union. Adultery is an insidious sin—a violation of God's Law—perpetrated through lustful thoughts and impropriety.

And Jesus continued:
5:29-30
29"If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.
30"If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell.

Being fully aware of human nature, Jesus directly confronts our natural inclination to excuse our adulterous tendencies and behaviors. He issues a drastic command that is often misconstrued. These are not literal commands, but they are most intense.

Jesus says to pluck out the lustful eye or cut off the wicked arm that facilitates sin and sinful attitudes. He reasons that it is better to go to heaven deprived than to go to hell complete. But the essence of His admonition goes beyond a literal self-disfiguration.

Having indicated the heart as the ground where our attitudes and inclinations are rooted, Jesus uses a strong language to underscore the steadfast necessity to deal with sin uncompromisingly. It is absolutely necessary that we cut off every agent of sin within ourselves. We must renounce every avenue of sin without hesitation. We must separate ourselves from circumstances and environments that accommodate sin's depraved appeal, as in plucking the lustful eye or cutting off the arm of wickedness. The sin-nature must die and all of its agents must be rendered defunct.

And Jesus continued:
5:31-32
31"It was said, 'WHOEVER SENDS HIS WIFE AWAY, LET HIM GIVE HER A CERTIFICATE OF DIVORCE';
32but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the reason of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

Jesus exposes yet another manifestation of adulterous behavior. He condemns divorce as an adulterous behavior that undermines the longevity of marriage. Certainly, He acknowledges a permissive sentiment toward divorce due to unchastity. However, Jesus says, both divorce and remarriage stimulate adultery. Once again, we must exercise extreme caution lest we put words in Jesus' mouth.

Jesus first reminds the crowd the stipulation of the Law regarding divorce. The Law authorizes men to divorce their wives by issuing a simple certificate of divorce for any reason. That means, a man can divorce his wife if he is no longer pleased with her, or perhaps, is fond of another woman. That is adultery, says Jesus. And whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. But Jesus explains why this stipulation is in the Law. Moses inscribed it because of the stubbornness of the hearts of the children of Israel and their unrestrained sexual impropriety.

Rest assured! Jesus is not looking for a perfect marriage. He knows. He knows our weaknesses and our nature. He knows we are fallen. He is ready, able, and willing to forgive us and cleanse us from our sins when we come to Him in repentance. He is not withholding His Mercy from the faltering. But He does not excuse our impropriety. He underscores the turpitude in adultery, and, He affirms the sanctity of marriage. He identifies divorce and remarriage as adulterous to signify that marriage is exclusive and lifelong.

Both divorce and remarriage are deviations from the original sacred vow of a holy matrimony instituted, sanctioned, and blessed by God. It is putting asunder of what God had put together. But while His Grace is sufficient to cover our faults and imperfections, we are still called to live in holiness and walk in the righteousness of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, in sacred harmony with God and with one another. So help us God.

Notes/Applications

Still focused on the matter of the Law which He came to fulfill, Jesus continues to speak to the crowd concerning specific provisions of the Law and the deep-seated implications that are significant to our daily walk. Here, He speaks to us regarding lust, adultery, and divorce. Lust leads to adultery, and in most cases, adultery breeds divorce. And divorce perpetuates adultery, says Jesus unequivocally.

Like hatred and murder, lust and adultery are the stance and action of a sinful posture in the life of a believer and nonbeliever alike. A lustful attitude is a breeding ground for adulterous behavior. It is an extremely potent passion. It undermines marriage.

Adultery is a direct defiance to what God had done to give structure and order to the human race so that man may live in harmony and work together as individuals, family, society, and nations. God created Eve out of Adam's rib to signify that they became one and remained as one flesh through marriage. Any attitude or action that entices a husband or a wife to lustfully look beyond the boundaries of marriage defies God's ordinance. To be sure, anyone who engages in sexual indulgences without entering a holy matrimony adulterates God's sacred institution. Even though metaphoric, that is why Jesus' words against a lustful eye or a wicked arm are so drastic.

We must deal with our raw passions decisively. Indeed, we must die to our lustful desires and inclinations. Marriage is exclusive and lifelong. Its vows are sacred and its bed is undefiled.

As in the case of murder in which the heart must be free from hatred, the heart of an adulterous person must also be cleansed from lustful tendencies. Indeed, God's Grace is sufficient to forgive and cleanse those who are of a contrite heart and a broken spirit. However, we must beware that God judges adultery and adulterers because adultery defiles the whole person, body, soul, and spirit. That is God's blood-bought property. That is where the temple is built in each one of God's redeemed children. That is where the Spirit communes with our spirit.

Adultery commits the temple of God to an adulterous union. So Jesus tells us to deliberately and completely cut off the lifeline to our lustful tendencies and come to our Father for cleansing and restoration. He searches the heart: a heart inundated by overwhelming urges and unhealthy infatuations. So Jesus graciously escorts our spirit beyond the permissive terms of the written Law and challenges us to deal with our ungodly tendencies at the root, where the Spirit of God dwells: our heart, our mind, our spirit.

Here at Practical Christianity Foundation we believe that God has mercifully extended His Grace toward us and has given us His living and Holy Word to guide us in our journey in this world. We count it privilege to come alongside you and minister to you through prayer and the sharing of God's living and holy Word. Please contact us if you have any questions concerning your faith and journey as a Christian.

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Matthew 5:27-32
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