“You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY’; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 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. 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.
– Matthew 5:27-30 (Jesus speaking; our 7th segment of the Sermon on the Mount)
The portion of the Sermon on the Mount that I’ve excerpted above follows the same pattern as the portion we covered yesterday:
Yesterday: “You have heard that the ancients were told…But I say to you…”
Today: “You have heard that it was said…but I say to you…”
And while yesterday Jesus was invoking the sixth of the Ten Commandments, today He invokes the seventh.
Because of this “You have heard…but I say to you…” formulation, you can see why Jesus felt the need to warn His disciples:
“Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets…”
– Matthew 5:17
Anyone not paying close attention, hearing that formulation, might think He was setting aside those commandments. However, anyone listening closely would be able to see what Jesus meant when He went on to say:
“…I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.”
– Matthew 5:17
Jesus was “fulfilling” both of these commandments by amplifying and intensifying them. To put it simply, Jesus was taking commandments that previously guided outward behavior and was applying them to the heart – where all behaviors begin. If you don’t hate someone, you’re not going to kill. If you don’t entertain lustful thoughts about women, you’re not going to commit adultery.
Jesus came from the heart of God to cleanse our hearts. As the Lord had said through the prophet Jeremiah:
“The heart is more deceitful than all else
And is desperately sick…
– Jeremiah 17:9
The time of true cleansing came with Jesus our Lord.
(Remember that prayer is more about listening than talking. Use the words below to start yourself, but then allow time to reflect more on the Scripture above before you say the “Amen.” During that time of quiet reflection, let God shape your thoughts and wait for a sense of peace to come. That’s your signal to say “Amen” and go forth to the day.)
Lord Jesus, let me apply Your commandments to the depths of my heart that I might be truly clean…(this is where you remain quiet to let Him work in your thoughts)… Amen.
(All scriptures, unless otherwise noted, are taken from the NASB.)