“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Matthew 5:27-28
Looked at porn? Adulterer. Watched “Magic Mike” (or its sequels)? Adulterer. Ogled the pretty people at the beach (or the pool or on TV or in the thoughts you think but don’t tell anyone about)? Adulterer. Welcome to the club. Me, you, Jimmy Carter, and most everyone else on this planet are guilty of this, whether we agree with it or not. We’re filthy with it. Cheaters.
The point of what Jesus is saying isn’t to guilt us. The point is to show that, apart from God leading us in every thought and action, we’re guilty of sin. We need Him in everything, especially in the things we think about. If we want to avoid falling into temptation, then sin, we need to invite Jesus into the innermost crevices of our hearts and let Him start to clean them out. Crowd out those thoughts, then those words and actions, with ones He might think, say, or do.
That’s a nice Monday-after-Easter kind of thought, but what practical good is it? It’s nice to talk about, but oh so hard to actually do. After all, on the day after Easter, we’re back at the grindstone. We go back to work; we go back to school; we go back to our routines (me, I have a physical today). It’s nice to talk about inviting Jesus into our hearts because we believe in His resurrection, but then we let the real world crowd out those nice thoughts again. Before long, we’re grimy with sin again, dirty with realized temptations, stained once again with the record of filthy thoughts, words, and deeds.
Right here, right now, let’s get back to why Jesus said what He said in these verses. Let’s remember yet again that He didn’t say these things to shame or hurt us, but, instead, to help us. He wants us to cleave closer to Him in all we are. He wants us to realize His blessings instead of the devil’s playtime. He wants us to learn to put boundaries around the fallen world. He wants us to come to Him when we mess up and let Him take control, even if it’s again and again. In fact, the closer we get to Him, the more these cheating thoughts, words, and actions bother us. It means we’ve taken to heart what Jesus said, but now we’re confronted by temptation once again.
The temptations aren’t going away. In fact, when you invite Jesus deep inside your life, the devil will come at you even harder. When that happens, fall back on Jesus again and again and again. Ask for help at each thought, at each look at your phone, each time you leave. You don’t have to cheat.
For more reading: Matthew 5:29
Lord, lead me not into temptation.