Flirting With Danger
“It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.”
Sam The Ladies Man
I once had a friend that, for the sake of protecting the guilty, who I will call Sam. Now Sam was probably about 5’8” and an average looking guy but he had a certain way about him with the ladies. In his day he was called a playboy but n today’s world he would be call a “playa.” We at one time worked together and we were friends outside of work as well. I felt we knew each other pretty well.
Here’s the story with Sam. He had this habit of dating multiple women at the same time. Now he had this whole thing down to a tee. Let me explain one situation that happened one time when we were friends. He had gotten tot eh point of dating 3 women at the same time. We lived n the mid-peninsula so he dated one in the mid-peninsula, one in San Francisco, and one in the San Jose area. This is how he kept it all straight and balanced. The one who lived in San Francisco he would only take on dates in San Francisco or north. The one who lived in San Jose he would only take on dates in San Jose or south. The one who lived in the mid-peninsula he would only take on dates in the mid-peninsula or east. This was supposed to keep them separate and lessened the chance that anyone would see him with the wrong woman in the wrong area. Now he also had a plan when it came to things like birthdays or Christmas. He would always but 3 of the same thing so he would never be confused at what he had given each woman. So, for example, if he was buying a Christmas present he would buy say 3 of the same sweater. That way there was never a chance of saying the wrong thing. Now it is important to understand that each woman thought she was exclusively dating him..
This all backfired on Sam one day. I had shown up to do something with Sam and he didn’t look so hot. When I asked him what was up, he told what happened. The mid-peninsula woman had come over his apt. one day to surprise him, but, while she was there, the woman from San Francisco showed up to surprise him. They begin taking and find out that he is dating the two of them and they are not happy. But (yes, it gets better), while they are talking, the phone rings and it’s the 3rd woman and the other two pick up and they are now having a 3 way conversation about Sam and all are very angry. Sam walks in and all three break up with him. You would think it ended there and that Sam may have learned his lesson. Would you believe, within a month, all three called him back and began dating him again all with the stipulation that he not date the other two.
So here is the thing, the Bible clearly teaches about the importance of marriage, about sex being within the marriage context, about the importance of honoring relationships, and about honesty. How we view our relationships here on earth is reflective of our relationship with God so let’s see what Jesus has to say about this topic
Read Passage – Matthew 5:27-30
27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.
The 7th and 10th Commandments
The tendency when it comes to speaking on adultery and a passage like this, to be honest, is to just skip it. It’s not comfortable, it almost seems inappropriate in church, and it just seems easier to just glide over it. It doesn’t seem right to talk about sex and intimate things in church and yet, God created sex as a wonderful, amazing, good thing; in the marriage relationship. For some reason we still feel a bi uncomfortable with it (You even look like you are squirming in your seat right now). As we saw last week, that in this section of the SM Jesus uses a specific formula in these six dialogues on our behavior. The formula is:
O.T. law + the current trend or interpretation à Jesus explanation and fulfillment
So in this section, Jesus is actually quoting two Old Testament passages from Exodus 20:
“You shall not commit adultery.” Exodus 20:14
This seems to emphasize the importance that Jesus is placing on relationships and holding those relationships sacred, especially in terms of the fidelity concept. Jesus uses two references as he confronts this topic.
The second part of the formula is the current situation or interpretation. The current situation is that the Israelites are under Roman rule and the Romans have many gods. They had a god for everything. The Israelite religious leaders condemning their gods and their lifestyle. Here is what is happening though, the Romans do have many god and their lifestyle reflects it. It’s out there for everyone to see. Here is the kicker, the Israelite leaders had their own gods like money, power, control and authority. Their gods were inner gods in their heart and a lot less seen by others. I think there is a caution here that we need to be careful when we point out others short comings because we all have things we need to address in our lives. Now listen to Jesus words in verse 28 again:
“But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” vs. 28
Jesus knows the religious leaders are seeing the many Roman gods and are condemning them but in some ways the religious leaders are seeing what the Romans have; the power and authority and they want that, in fact, they may even be a bit envious that the Romans have that control and they don’t. the problem lies in that the Israelites sins are in their heart and they think people can’t see that. It seems hidden and not detectable. So Jesus addresses what is in the heart.
The Deeper Issue: C_______________
Now Jesus brings this thought home by touching on the real issue, the deeper issue, the heart issue, and that is: commitment. Jesus wants the outside to match the inside. He wants our words to match our actions. He wants our yes to be yes and our vows to be kept. He addresses the deeper issues of the heart and how those look when it comes to our relationships; with the people in our lives and with God himself.
Jesus uses two scenario’s to guide our thoughts and challenge us about our commitments. Jesus builds into this section two of the things that can keep us from keeping our commitments but also the two things that we can use to help us keep our commitments. He really wants us to consider if we are taking our commitments seriously so much so that we would be willing to loose body parts. It doesn’t seem that he literally wants us to go around poking our eyes out and cutting off our arms. He uses this as an analogy to show how seriously God takes our words and vows. He does this by raising the bar in challenging us how far we are willing to go to challenge ourselves and discipline ourselves.
- Guard Your Eyes
The first example comes in verse 29:
“If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.” vs. 29
Why start there? It’s because the eyes are the medium through which the temptation to lust is stimulated. It starts in our mind and thoughts. Think about the things that lure us away. Most of them, maybe not all but most, comes from what we see. Our eyes see what is appealing, what is luring, what is pleasing and they draw us in.
Think how much of our life is influenced by what we see. Commercials are meant to draw us to a product. What we see is meant to attract us and build in the desire. Now in terms of adultery, this comes in many ways. It might be the physical attraction that we have to another person. Our world preys on that.
Ex. Commercials for food, etc. that use women to draw men in.
But is also comes in other ways as well. When we see someone treating someone well, that can “catch our eye” and that be attractive. When someone performs an act of kindness that makes us look at someone differently.
Jesus uses an extreme measure here in challenging us on how we are going to implement this in our life. Obviously if we were to take it literally, a lot of people would be walking around looking like a pirate with patches on their eye.
The challenge: To put restraints and checks in place to keep our minds and hearts pure.
Example: guards on our computer, discipline in the movies, TV, videos we watch, books we read, etc.
Warning: Be careful of those who say things like, it’s okay to check out the good just not touch.
- Keep Your Hands In Their Space
The second example Jesus uses is the medium by which we take the action that ruins or builds our commitments.
“And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away.” vs. 30
So the eyes draw us in but the hands are representative of the acts of sin that break our commitment.
The Biblical Theme of Fidelity
But in the Bible there is a running theme of fidelity that runs through the entire book. Why? Good question. It’s reflective of our relationship with God. From the earliest of times, God talks about our having a relationship with him and that relationship being pure. He wants to be our God and we are to be his people. That is the basis for his relationship with Adam and Eve and it continues on throughout he generations and with the nation Israel. Many times when humankind has broken that relationship God, he uses fidelity language to describe the break. Once when Israel had abandoned God of idols the prophet Ezekiel says to them on God’s behalf in 6:9:
This pattern continues throughout the Bible until the end times when in Revelation we are called the bride of Christ, Rev. 21:9:
“One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” Rev. 21:9
There is probably no more sacred relationship that we have than the marriage relationship. We take the vows seriously and when they are not upheld, the effects are usually devastating and extremely stressful and painful.
“It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.” Vs. 30