Matthew 5:27-32 The Truth About Lust, Adultery, and Divorce

by | Oct 19, 2023 | Matthew, New Testament

I. Regarding Adultery & Lust

A. Wrong Interpretation V. 27

1. Remember that the masses could not read O.T. Hebrew; they depended upon the Scribes & Pharisees to instruct them
2. The leaders had reduced the Law to emphasize only actions, not thought or intentions

B. Correct Interpretation V. 28

1. God is concerned with what is in our hearts. We can violate the Law in our hearts
2. They were overlooking the 10th commandment (Exodus 20:17)
3. Jesus explains that lust is also sin, and the beginning of adultery
4. Jesus is not saying that lust and adultery are equal

a. Adultery is far worse than lust
b. Some avoid adultery out of fear, but their hearts are full of lust/adultery

5. Jesus is saying that adultery begins in the heart
6. Romans 7:7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, “You shall not covet.”

C. How To Deal With Lust Vs. 29, 30

1. Understand that God is interested w/ what is in your heart, not just your actions
2. To be tempted is not a sin. We cannot control what thoughts enter our minds
3. Jesus is saying we must choose to not dwell upon lustful thoughts. It is a choice

a. Lustful thoughts can be very powerful and emotional
b. We make the choice whether to indulge, allow, or resist lustful thoughts
c. Lust is much more than attraction. It is an inappropriate, misplaced desire
d. It is a passionate craving for sexual gratification from someone that is off limits

4. Jesus said to separate yourself from that which tempts you

a. Jesus is teaching by way of extreme comparison

i. Some monks took this literally, and castrated themselves (Origen)
ii. Sin takes place in the mind, and is only acted out with the body
iii. Eye plucking, castration, & cutting off hands can’t prevent lust & stealing
iv. You will lust in your mind, and find a way to steal with your toes

b. Jesus is speaking figuratively of that which needs to happen to prevent ongoing temptation in the life of a man
c. Jesus is not promoting monastic living, which is total separation
d. He is speaking of guarded living, where a man guards his eyes and heart

5. Jesus is teaching that there is a sacrifice and a cost involved in following Him
6. Even extreme efforts will still leave a man defeated, & cause him to cry out to God

II. The Truth About Divorce

A. Wrong Interpretation V. 31

1. The religious leaders were quoting Deuteronomy 24:1
2. Deut. 24:1 NLT “Suppose a man marries a woman but later discovers something about her that is shameful. So he writes her a letter of divorce, gives it to her, and sends her away.
3. The intention of the law included the idea of a husband needing to take the time to file a legal document, which would force the man into a period of reconsideration, and also that he would consider the future
4. Deut. 24 goes on to address the issue of that man never being able to marry his wife again, if she married another man during her time away from her first husband
5. How they interpreted this law

a. Shameful, uncleaness (NKJ)- literally speaks of some sexual impurity or infidelity
b. A certain Rabbi named Hillel taught that is was permissible to divorce your wife for anything that was offensive or disagreeable
c. Some rabbis taught that burning breakfast was legitimate grounds for divorce

B. Correct Interpretation V. 32

1. Legitimate reason for divorce: sexual immorality

a. Side note- Abandonment is also a biblical reason for divorce:
1 Corinthians 7:15 “But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace.”
b. Divorce is not mandated in these cases. Both of these sins are forgivable

2. What unbiblical divorce produces:

a. The wrongly divorced wife should not be considered available for re-marriage, though her husband wrongly divorced her
b. If she re-marries, that marriage is considered unrecognized by God, for she was “forced” out of marriage, & now has illegitimately become another man’s wife
c. That 2nd husband is committing adultery on the grounds that the woman he has married should not have been available
d. See also Matthew 19:1-9

i. The main point is that God designed marriage for oneness, not selfishness
ii. Jesus’ point is that they had lost sight of the preciousness of marriage and God’s intention for marriage
iii. They had reduced God’s intentions re. marriage down to a matter of being sure to write a divorce paper before divorcing your wife for any reason

3. Jesus is teaching them that to obey God’s law, more than right actions are needed
4. Perfect obedience in action and desire is what God is calling for. (5:48)

III. How To Be Righteous Before God

A. Experience Brokenness Before God: Matthew 5:3-6
B. Choose Righteousness That Comes By Faith: Philippians 3:1-11