February 4

Text: Matthew 5:27-29

"You have heard that it was said, 'YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY'; but I say to you, that everyone who looks on a woman to lust for her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.  And if your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out, and throw it from you; for it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.” (NASB)

What do we mean when we tell someone, “Do exactly what I tell you!”?  When do we say that?  Likely someone has proven he/she does not listen.  We make the statement because we want full attention.

If the person does exactly what we say, but does something we did not mean, are we pleased?  No!  We are irritated! Why—he/she literally did what we said.  The person was literally correct but deliberately defiant.  The person did exactly what we said, but knowingly did not do what we meant.

God has endured such treatment for centuries.  In using scripture, we think that literalness trumps meaning.  In Exodus 20:14 God said not to commit adultery.  The thrust of Exodus 20:12-17: “Do not  abuse people.”  If one respected people, he would not sexually seduce another man’s wife.

Ah, therein was the failure of many religious leaders.  They said only the act mattered.  The natural desire was a normal part of physical existence.  As someone once said, “They cannot jail you for what you think!”  Thus, if there was no act there was no sin!

Jesus said know what God meant in what He said.  We must fight evil in internal desires!  Righteous people would not commit adultery regardless of circumstances.  They do not wish to be that kind of people!  Doing what is natural does not justify doing what is evil!  Natural desires do not justify evil acts!

A huge spiritual lesson is learned when we understand that the root system for evil acts are evil desires.  The battle to make acts righteous is found in making desires righteous.

Suggestion for reflection: Examine your desires, not just your acts.  Feed righteous desires to produce righteous acts.  (Read James 1:12-15.)

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