Did you understand what you read?
- Where does this quotation come from?
- What is wrong with the statement?
- Look at Exodus 20:14. Does this mean the Old Testament contains errors? Why or why not?
- Is Jesus recommending self-mutilation in verses 29-30? What is his point?
Once again, Jesus begins with "You have heard it said by them of old times." The quotation, in this case, is "You shall not commit adultery." Unlike the quotation that began the teaching on anger, this quotation can be found in the Old Testament. It is from the ten commandments given in Exodus 20:14. At first, it seems strange that Jesus doesn't use an authoritative phrase, such as "It is written." However, a reading of Jesus' comments on this quotation shows that the people were misapplying the law. The Jews were taking the law at face value only. They condemned the act of adultery, but they ignored the cause of adultery.
Adultery is wrong before the act is committed. To lust after a woman is just as wrong as to commit adultery. Today's glorified pastime of "girl watching" is a sin! For this reason, we cannot idly watch as fornication is committed before us on television or read books designed to arouse our passions. We should remove sources of temptations from our lives rather than taking a chance of ending up in hell. As Paul said in I Thessalonians 5:22, we should avoid every form of evil.
The Old Law condemns lust in Proverbs 6:24-29. One cannot take fire into his bosom (lust) and not be burned. Though talking about the miser, Solomon makes the observation in Proverbs 23:7 that as a man thinks, so is he. One cannot think about committing adultery without falling prey to actually doing so one day. Also consider the application of the laws on sexual immorality in Deuteronomy 22:22-27. In the case of rape, the woman is not considered to have sinned. However, when it is obvious that both parties were willingly committing fornication, then both the man and woman were to be stoned. The difference is the desire within the woman's heart. It is not the actual action that determined whether a sin was present. Sins of the heart were condemned under the Old Law. The Old Law defined the punishment of those sins in terms of the outward expression because that is all men can judge.
There is no difference in the New Law. The act of adultery is condemned (I Corinthians 6:9), but we understand that the sin actually started before when we gave in to our own desires (James 1:13-15). Even when circumstances dictate that one is better off not marrying, Paul urges those who find themselves burning with passion to get married (I Corinthians 7:9).
- Give an example of how you could fulfill what Jesus taught in Matthew 5:29-30.
- Did the Old Law teach the Jews to avoid temptations? Give examples that you find.