Guarding My Heart
What did Jesus have to say about sexual immorality? What did He teach about the institution of marriage? And what did Jesus have to say about keeping your word? Do you think any of these questions are relevant in our time? They mattered in Jesus’ time and they absolutely matter in our time too!
Maybe you’re wrestling with sexual sin in your life right now or maybe you have a friend who is. Maybe you’ve rationalized it, or been pained by it, or maybe you’re confused by culture’s view on it and you want to know what Jesus teaches. Maybe you’re in a dark, unhappy place in your marriage. Some days you feel like throwing in the towel or walking away, but you aren’t sure that’s the right thing to do. Maybe you’re waffling on a commitment you made in the past and you’re wondering if it’s ok to just let that promise slide, or maybe you’ve struggled with keeping your word.
Jesus had much to teach us in answering these important matters of the heart, including how we can guard our hearts against corruption. During His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus deepens our understanding of God’s commands or expectations for Believers. In Matthew 5:27-37, Jesus offers 3 Vital Ways to Guard Your Heart.
Jesus broadens the prohibition of adultery to include a lustful look and an active imagination. (Matthew 5:27-28)
Jesus is not saying you can’t look at another woman; you just can’t look at her lustfully. It’s also important to note that, Jesus is not saying, if you’re married, that you can’t look at your wife with adoring desire. It’s ok to look at your spouse with an adoring eye. In fact, the Song of Solomon has some pretty colorful, romantic verses about that kind of thing. (Song of Songs 4:1)
Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 5:27-28 alludes to unlawful sex outside of marriage, whether practiced by married or unmarried people. He isn’t prohibiting looking at a woman, just looking at her lustfully. We all know the difference between looking and lusting. And by the way, this teaching applies to both men and women.
It’s also important to note, Jesus is alluding not just to the act of adultery, but to all forms of sexual immorality. And these days, that covers a lot of ground and answers a lot of questions related to how Jesus views sexual sin, which culture often expects us to embrace and even to celebrate.
To be clear, Christ-followers do not celebrate sin of any kind. Now, the Bible is clear that we all sin, fall short, or miss the mark, in many ways (Rom. 3:23); but while Jesus meets us where we are, including our sin, He doesn’t leave us there. He convicts us, changes us, and makes us into faithful, obedient disciples. Believers do not encourage or celebrate any sin, including sexual sin.
What is most vital to grasp is that throughout this sermon, including this section, Jesus teaches the importance of guarding our hearts. In these verses, His teaching reveals the relationship between the eyes and the heart. In fact, as Jesus continues with His teaching, He gives some very practical, though graphic, instruction about how to maintain sexual purity.
Exercise discipline in what you look at, what you do and where you go. (Matthew 5:29-30). Jesus uses some graphic imagery here to make a powerful point. He’s not endorsing mutilation here, but rather discipline, or self-denial related to what we look at with our eyes, what we do with our hands and where we let our feet take us.
The picture Jesus was painting for those on that hillside then, and for us today, is that holiness or righteousness is not mutilation, but mortification, that is dying to self or taking up your cross to follow Him. It is a picture of rejecting moral sin so resolutely that we die to it or put it to death. (Galatians 5:24; Colossians 3:5)
Maybe you’re struggling with sexual sin (or any sin) in your life right now. With the help of the Holy Spirit at work in you, you can move away from that sin to honor God with your life. Guard your heart by avoiding letting your eyes, or hands or feet take you down a destructive path. God will give you the discipline you need to avoid that sin.
As Jesus continues with His teaching, He offers two more vital ways to guard our hearts, teaching about the importance of faithfulness in marriage and keeping our word. For much more, including seven Biblical practices for reviving a failing marriage, click here to listen to: Sermon on the Mount - Part 4 - Guarding My Heart.