This is the sermon for Sunday, January 1st 2012.  Starting the New Year off right; preaching God’s Word.

Unless noted all Scripture is from the ESV.

Matthew part 16

The great Rabbi’s sermon part 7

Lust, Divorce, and Oaths

Matthew 5:27-37 – 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 lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell. 31 “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. 33“Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ 34But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.

Introduction

Jesus, being the great Rabbi has been showing those listening to the Sermon on the Mount the high demands of the Law and their total inability to keep it.  We must remember in our interpretation of the Sermon on the Mount, this is a Jewish Rabbi (Jesus) teaching Jewish people.  Rabbi’s taught concerning the Law of God.  And Jesus is doing the same within this sermon.

Here in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus now will look at three more commandments from the Old Testament Scriptures and the proper understanding concerning these.  These commandments deal with adultery, divorce, and the taking of oaths.  The Jews thought that because they kept the letter of the Law, that they were perfectly obedient to it.  Jesus is going to show them that this is not true at all by going right to the spirit of the Law.

We must be careful with our attitudes considering our obedience to God’s Word.  If you compare your obedience to other Christian’s lack of obedience, or believe that because of our obedience we earn or deserve favors with God, then we are not being truly righteous, but self-righteous.

Let’s begin unpacking our text this morning.

Lust.

Matthew 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 lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

Here Jesus is quoting from the Ten Commandments.

He is quoting from Exodus 20:14 and Deuteronomy 5:18.  The Law forbids sexual contact with anyone other than your spouse.  The Jews of Jesus day was only concerned about the external act itself, but not the internal. Jesus on the other hand was concerned with both the external and they internal.  You see, He knew that the external originated from the internal.

Notice what Jesus said in another place in Matthew’s Gospel.

Matthew 12:34b – For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.

And another place in Matthew.

Matthew 23:25-28 – 25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean. 27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. 28So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

Lustful intent.

Jesus said in our text, everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

He is telling the Jews that the intent of the heart is just as wicked as the actual deed itself.

Cutting the lust off.

Matthew 5:29-30 – 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.

Jesus is not endorsing mutilation for the purpose of avoiding lust.  He is using hyperbolic language to show just how serious lust is.

Let’s apply this text.

We live in a culture that is saturated with sex.  After all, we have an expression, “sex sells.”  Whenever we look at a member of the opposite sex other than our spouse with lustful thoughts, it doesn’t matter if it is in person, on a billboard, magazine, TV, or internet; we have already sinned against God by committing adultery in our heart.  And if we’d be honest this morning, each and every one of us has committed this sin.  We are hopeless in ourselves.  But thanks be to God, our hope is not in our selves, but our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.  He has died and shed His blood for the forgiveness of both lust and the physical act of adultery.  So trust in Jesus for your forgiveness this morning and rejoice in Him.

Divorce.

Matthew 5:31-32 –  31 “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

Jesus is referring to Deuteronomy 24.

The Rabbi’s of Jesus time had a very loose, liberal interpretation of this law.   They said that a man could divorce his wife if she lost her looks, burned the food, and other things like that.  But Deuteronomy itself says that the male could only divorce his wife if “he has found some indecency in her.” (Deuteronomy 24:1)

The certificate of divorce was actually given to the woman as a means of protection, so she could start over in a sense.  Jesus reveals the truth that the indecent act referred too in the Law is sexual immorality.

Divorce has always been a problem.

It was a problem with these first century Jews, it’s a problem in the non-Christian world, and it is a problem in the church today.  There are many who have been divorced, either for the biblical grounds of sexual immorality or other non-biblical grounds.

But I do have good news for you today – forgiveness for both sexual immorality and divorce is offered to us through Jesus Christ and His sacrifice on the cross.  If He has forgiven you, then walk in that forgiveness, no longer bearing any guilt from your past. And do your best not to sin this sin any more.  If you haven’t confessed that sin to Him: don’t justify it, but acknowledge it to Him this morning, asking Him to forgive you and then trusting that He has.

Oaths.

Matthew 5:33-37 – 33“Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ 34But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.

Why oaths are important.

In Jesus day many people took oaths or vows, promising to do something or not do something.  But the Pharisees and the religious leaders of that day had their ways of twisting things so as to get out of those oaths and supposedly make them no longer binding.  They were actually lessoning the power of the oath.

But Jesus talks about the importance and power of the oath.

Notice He says not to take an oath by heaven, the earth or even Jerusalem, or your own head.  Why?  Because all these things are created and kept by God, man has no power over them.  We don’t have control and power over our own head.  We cannot change our hair color by a pure act of our will alone, therefore we have no power to determine the validity of our oaths and vows.

Why no oaths?

How many of you have confessed a sin to God or maybe to someone else and swore never to do it again, only to repeat the sin?  Why?  We are people who still struggle with our fallen nature and we still live in a fallen world.  Instead, we should just confess, “Yes we did sin” and trust in God for His forgiveness through Jesus Christ and trust that the other person will be forgiving to us also.  We must also ask the Lord for the strength and grace given by His Spirit not to commit that sin again.

Only God has the power to validate oaths.

Conclusion

These three issues we’ve discussed this morning are sins that many have dealt with.  These are sins that Christ has died for – so His forgiveness is available.  If He has already forgiven you; lay the guilt behind and rejoice in Him.  If you have realized this morning your need for forgiveness – confess the sin to the Lord and trust in His forgiveness.  He promises to give it too you – Christ died for you.

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