PEOPLE OF OUR WORD
Father, I commit this day to You, desiring to abide in Your presence and abound in Your power.
Read Matthew 5:27–37
27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’[a] 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.
31 “It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’[b] 32 But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
33 “Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’ 34 But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. 36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37 All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.[c]
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Reflect‘Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? … The one who has clean hands and a pure heart’ (Psalm 24:3,4). What acts or thoughts might you need to confess?
Jesus’ phrase ‘You have heard it was said …’ (vs 21,27,31,33) signals that he is about to counter a distorted interpretation of Old Testament commands.
The teachers of the Law taught Exodus 20 verse 14 (see v 27) but conveniently ignored Exodus 20 verse 17 (v 28). They interpreted Deuteronomy 24 verses 1–4 (v 31) for the convenience of a dissatisfied husband, resulting in harm for the wife (v 32). Jesus will have nothing to do with this pick-and-mix holiness. He points out that every sinful act starts with a sinful thought (v 28). By using exaggeration (vs 29, 30), Jesus emphasizes the effort needed to be ‘pure in heart’ (v 8). Avoiding lustful thoughts is not about imposing restrictions on others, but about self-discipline and selfrestraint driven by our desire to be ready for the kingdom of God. We do not need to cut off body parts, but we may need to cut out behaviors or situations that encourage lust (vs 27–30). People who belong to King Jesus are to be people of purity, truthfulness, and integrity in all areas of life: in our hidden inner thoughts, our private relationships (v 32), and our public dealings (vs 34–37).
Whether single or married, pray these words: ‘Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me’ (Psalm 51:10).
Dear God, it is so true that in sexual matters, “We have sown to the wind and we are reaping the whirlwind.” Strengthen me today to walk in purity of thought and deed.