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Avoiding the Sin of Adultery Matthew 5:27-30

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Introduction179

27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to desire her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away! It is better to lose one of your members than to have your whole body thrown into hell. 30 If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away! It is better to lose one of your members than to have your whole body go into hell (Matthew 5:27-30).

One of the things we did on vacation was to have a reunion with some of my college roommates and their wives on Priest’s Lake in Idaho, about 20 miles south of the Canadian border. We had not all been together for a number of years, and one of the things that seems to always happen is the retelling of old college stories. One of those was the story of the golf class I took in college.

I decided that golf would be an easy P. E. course. I had played a few games of golf with my dad, and while I never claimed to be great, I thought at least I wasn’t a novice. The golf coach wanted us to practice our pitching using a practice ball – a little plastic ball with holes in it that couldn’t do much damage no matter how hard you hit it. Of course, I, the “old pro,” thought, “Who needs a practice ball when you are as good as I am?” So down went the old hard ball, and as you might guess, there in somewhat downtown Seattle, I hit the ball, topping it, so that it hit the hubcap of a car and then beaned the coach. I found myself retrieving my non-practice ball at his feet. But that wasn’t the end of it! We were practicing our driving, and the drivers had been laid on the grass so that the handles were wet. The only time in my life it has ever happened, I let go with an incredible swing, now with a real practice ball. The driver flew out of my hand and sailed onto the roof of the student union building! Now I had to go up on the roof to retrieve my club!

All that is to say that while I felt confident, it didn’t do any good. I obviously was not good at golf, and my confidence got me into trouble. I believe the scribes and the Pharisees were very much like I was, when I was confident about my golfing skills, only they were confident regarding the Old Testament Law.

When Jesus talks about murder, as we saw in our last lesson, and now about adultery, I can just see these fellows saying to themselves, “These are our strong points. This ought to be good. This ought to be easy.” It is amazing how the Lord takes them at what appears to be their strongest point and shows them to be guilty.

The Context of our Text

Before we begin, we should make a few observations about the context of Matthew and the Sermon on the Mount. As I look at the Sermon on the Mount, a fairly significant factor is the way Jesus interprets the Law, as opposed to the interpretation of the scribes and Pharisees. In many ways, the Sermon on the Mount is a face-off between Jesus and Judaism. You see this confrontation in a number of places, such as in Matthew 5:20, where Jesus said, “Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you are not going to make it into the kingdom of God” (my paraphrase). These are pretty strong words, especially for the scribes and Pharisees who thought they had 50-yard line tickets to the kingdom of God. At the end of the Sermon on the Mount, you may remember that the people came away saying, “Wow!” They were amazed and said, “This man teaches with authority and not like the scribes.” And so the Sermon on the Mount is a confrontation between Jesus and the scribes and the Pharisees, who will be His most aggressive opponents in the Gospels.

One cannot fully grasp the things Jesus is talking about in the Sermon on the Mount without a fairly careful reading of Matthew 23. In Matthew 5 and 6, Jesus is dealing with many of the weaknesses of Judaism, but the hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees is somewhat veiled. When you come to Matthew 23, the veil is torn off. Nothing is concealed; there is nothing subtle about Jesus saying, “Woe to you, hypocrites!” Wow! He really lays it on the scribes and the Pharisees. The very things Jesus is dealing with in a more subtle way in the Sermon on the Mount are in neon lights in Matthew 23. One has to understand the Sermon on the Mount against the backdrop of legalistic, Pharisaical Judaism, and how it viewed the Law and righteousness.

When you come to the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:1-16, Jesus does an end-run on Judaism and the Pharisees. Rather than bringing words of condemnation to Judaism and to the scribes and Pharisees, He brings words of commendation or blessing to those people who are the very ones that Judaism looked down upon.

When Jesus pronounces the blessings of the Beatitudes, in a backwards way, He is reversing the whole value system of Pharisaism. When He says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit” (Matthew 5:3a), isn’t that the opposite of the scribes and Pharisees? In Matthew 23, they loved the chief places and loved to be called by the chief titles, to throw their weight around and ask Jesus who He thinks He is. They are arrogant!

Jesus says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” That is not the kind of people who the scribes and Pharisees think are blessed. Jesus said, “Blessed are those who mourn” (Matthew 5:4), in particular those who mourn over “sin.” The scribes and the Pharisees didn’t have any reason to mourn over sin; in their minds they were righteous! What was there to mourn about? Mourners should be scorned!

Blessed are the meek” (Matthew 5:5a). Jesus says that after John the Baptist came, men were trying to force their way into the kingdom of God (Matthew 11:12). They were trying to muscle their way in. They weren’t “meek.” Over and over in the Beatitudes, in a backhanded way, Jesus is addressing the weaknesses and the fallacies of their religious, Judaistic system.

Jesus finds it necessary after the introductory section on the Beatitudes to speak about the Law. He has come as the One who is the fulfillment of the Law. Matthew has made that especially emphatic. In the early chapters, Matthew tells us that these things happened in order that the Scriptures might be fulfilled, even some Scriptures we wouldn’t have thought of as being fulfilled: “Out of Egypt have I called my Son” (Matthew 2:15, citing Hosea 11:1). But the point is that Jesus came in fulfillment of the Old Testament Scriptures. When you come to the temptation of the Lord, we see our Lord’s whole mindset is that of the Law. He keeps the Law, and He does not allow Satan to tempt Him to set aside or disregard the Law; He even answers Satan from the Law. If anybody is committed to the Scriptures, it is Jesus! But that is not so of the scribes and the Pharisees!

They began to wonder why Jesus did not use all their buzzwords. He didn’t talk in terms they were accustomed to using. Early on in his ministry, Jesus began to butt heads with them over the interpretation and application of the Law. A case in point is the Sabbath. Why is it that Jesus found it permissible to heal on the Sabbath, as He does over and over again? They, on the other hand, looked at Jesus as a Law-breaker. Matthew wants us to see that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law, and yet from the Pharisees point of view, He is the One who is setting the Law aside. He is the One who is soft on sin.

Another case in point would be the woman caught in the act of adultery (John 8:2ff). “In the law Moses commanded us,” they say, “to stone to death such women” (John 8:5). That was the Law. Jesus found it necessary in the early phases of His ministry to declare how He stood in regard to the Law, and we see that proclaimed in Matthew 5:17-48. This whole chapter is really about Jesus and the Law. He makes a general statement about that in verses 17-20. Jesus claimed He had not come to set aside the Law, to abolish it. He came to fulfill the Law. Not one jot, not one tittle of the Law, not one dot over an “i” is to be set-aside until all these things have been fulfilled. Jesus is not anti-Law. Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law.

When you come to verses 21 and following, we have specific examples of how Jesus demonstrates that He is pro-Law in the sense that He is not abolishing the Law, and in fact, He enhances the Law. He takes it farther than anybody would have expected – or wanted – Him to do. That is where we find ourselves in our lesson.

The Law and Jesus

First, let me just say a word about anger and murder as we see it in Matthew 5:21. Jesus starts where they all start and that is that the Law and the commandments forbid murder. Everybody agrees; murder is wrong, and capital punishment, in this instance, is right. It is wrong to commit murder. Jesus makes the statement of the Law, especially in these first two sections. The one we are addressing here is the commandment about adultery. These are a part of the Ten Commandments. The first commandment is stated. Jesus says, “But I say… .” He does not diminish the Law; He goes beyond and extends the Law. Now this is where some might differ. The question is whether Jesus is just giving the interpretation of the Law that always should have been, or is He actually extending the Law beyond that which anyone in the Old Testament saw it to be?

My sense is that while Jesus is giving us the proper interpretation of the Law, He is also taking us beyond that which anyone thought it to be. We’ll see that further in our next lesson, when we talk about divorce. When Jesus gets through teaching about divorce, no one, not even the conservatives, were willing to go where Jesus went on the matter of adultery and divorce. Nobody! The disciples were saying, “My goodness, Lord. If that is the case, we shouldn’t even marry!” (Matthew 19) Everybody is shocked at where Jesus takes us on this matter. Jesus brings us to the heart of the matter, to the root of sin, but I think there is a sense in which He goes beyond it. One of the battles Jesus had with the scribes and Pharisees was about Moses. Jesus says in Matthew 23:2, “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses.”180 Moses was their man. Moses was their hero, and the Law was their turf! They think they are the champions of Moses. What Jesus does is say to them, “You have heard it said … But I say … .” These words grab everybody by the ears. When Jesus talks, He says, “Here is what the Law says, but I say… .” We get the distinct impression that Jesus has more authority than Moses. And He does! It is not surprising that Jesus would take the Law even beyond Moses, and thus raise the standard of righteousness even higher than where the Law took it.

Jesus and the Law

A few observations will help us as Jesus deals with the Law in Matthew 5:21-48, which is all about the Law. Jesus makes a general statement in 5:17-20 that He has come to uphold and fulfill the Law, and not to abolish it. He is pro-Law, not anti-Law. Then we are given specific examples to illustrate the point. The first two are out of the Ten Commandments. There is no dispute that these are the things the Law clearly teaches, but as you progress through these examples, you will find that by the time you reach the end of the section in Matthew 5:43-48, we do not find a clear Old Testament command. Instead Jesus cites an inference drawn from the Law by the Pharisees. They infer that the Law says you should love your neighbor and hate your enemy. You won’t find that in any verse of the Old Testament (or the New) because it is an inference that has been improperly drawn. Jesus begins with the Law straight out, and He ends with the Law as it has been torqued and twisted by the scribes and Pharisees. Jesus begins with what we might call “pure Law” to the “law in its perversions” as Judaism had distorted it.

There is a fairly clear pattern here. Jesus states the Law, then He adds His enhancement (raising the bar), and finally He gives an illustrative application. The first two applications have to do with murder and adultery. When Jesus talked about murder, the scribes and Pharisees were saying to themselves, “Boy, we are on safe ground here. This is our turf.” Let’s face it; when you look at this and see, “Thou shalt not murder” (Exodus 20:13), don’t you feel a sense of relief? Who among us has killed somebody? Not me! Until Jesus says, “If you hate your brother, if you judge him to be worthless, thinking that the world is a better place without him, then you already have the attitude which lies at the heart of murder.” What is the big problem? It is the mindset which thinks, “Raca [empty one] … You fool!” (Matthew 5:22)

So Jesus now applies verse 23 by giving two illustrations. In the first, we are on our way to church, and in the second, we are on our way to court. On the way to church, where you will present your offering, you realize that your brother has something against you. Now here is the twist. Jesus goes from the act to the motive. One would think that Jesus would say, “Therefore, if you are angry toward your brother, go to him and be reconciled.” But He doesn’t say that. He says if you realize that your brother is angry with you. If anger is wrong, it is wrong for me. If anger is wrong, it is wrong for you! I am my brother’s keeper. If you are angry toward me, it is my obligation to reconcile and to deal with that anger. Jesus says we are to seek that person out and go to them so that we can be reconciled.

Why do you think it would come to your mind in church that your brother is angry with you? Why church? One example is found in 1 Peter 3, which concerns husbands and wives. Husbands are instructed to live with their wives in an understanding way. What does it say? “… lest your prayers be hindered” (1 Peter 3:7b). Do you want to know if you and your wife have a problem going on in your marriage? Try praying with her. You will find it is very difficult to engage in worship and prayer when you are at odds with one another. I would suggest that it is when we come together in corporate worship that we really sense where fellowship has been hindered, and I think that is what Jesus is saying. Go to your brother, deal with your fractured relationship, and then move on to worship.

The second illustration has us “on the way to court” (Matthew 5:25). It seems that no one loves to go to court more than legalists. The Pharisees were the ones who loved the nit picky rules. They loved to go to court. We sometimes hear people say, “I’ll see you in court!” Jesus says, “On your way to court, you’d better settle up quickly.” I have never seen a court of law solve a problem of the heart. Going to court doesn’t facilitate reconciliation. It is interesting that from time to time someone will enter the courtroom with a gun, to kill those he thinks have wronged him, including the judge and jury. Courts may declare guilt or innocence, but they don’t reconcile. To avoid murder, deal with anger, and do this by seeking reconciliation, not by seeking vindication in court.

Jesus and Adultery

Now we come to the issue of adultery in Matthew 5:27-30. Verses 31-32 deal with divorce and will be addressed in our next lesson. Various Bible translations may include verses 27-32 in one paragraph, while other versions may divide these verses into two paragraphs. We must understand that these two sections are closely related, and that the reason divorce is viewed as being so evil in verses 31 and 32 is because it often results in adultery. So understand that while I have chosen to end this lesson at verse 30, we will address the relationship between adultery and divorce in our next lesson. Divorce and adultery are very closely related in this text, so do not think that it all ends at verse 30, since our teaching here focuses on the sin of adultery.

We come now to the second reference to one of the Ten Commandments. Jesus first dealt with murder in verses 21-26; now He turns to adultery in verses 27-32. It is very interesting that when they come to these verses, some of my favorite commentaries immediately discuss sexual immorality in a general sense. But Jesus is not talking about sexual immorality in a general sense here. Adultery is a very specific sin. Adultery is a sin that is committed by a married person who engages in an illicit intimate relationship outside that marriage. Adultery is a very specific sexual sin (Greek = moicheuo). Porneia is another Greek term, used more broadly for sexual immorality. We will discuss porneia later, but it is not what we are talking about here. This is a marital sin; it is a sin that is to be taken very seriously.

When you look at the sexual sins listed in Deuteronomy 22 it says that if a married man is illicitly involved with another woman, then they are both to be stoned. That is the end of it! Adultery is a grave (no pun intended) sin that requires capital punishment. Yet in the same chapter, it talks about a woman who is a virgin who is not engaged. It says that if a man forcibly takes her, this man is to pay the dowry and, if the father consents, he is to marry her, and he can never divorce her! But we say, “Wait a minute! Wait a minute! Why is it that one can do this terrible thing to an unmarried woman and get what appears to be a slap on the wrist, while a married person who commits adultery is given the death penalty? What is the difference?” The difference is very significant. This is the breaking of a marital covenant, as Malachi 2:13-16 indicates. And breaking one’s marriage covenant defiles one’s marriage. If you understand from the Old Testament that God is going to preserve a seed, and that Messiah will come from this line, then breaking the marriage vow is a MOST, SERIOUS OFFENSE! It is clearly set apart as a very, very serious offense, both by our Lord and the Law.

This text is directed toward men and seems male oriented. Does that mean that somehow the instructions concerning adultery don’t relate to women? I don’t think so. Let me tell you why I think it is specifically male-oriented. One, when you look at the issue of divorce, you don’t see divorce described in the Old Testament, other than the man getting a divorce. You don’t read about a woman getting a divorce in the Old Testament. In my opinion, Jesus is focusing on this “maleness” because of His target. He is aiming His huge cannon right at the scribes and Pharisees. Now as I understand the Sanhedrin (the Jewish council), if you were on the Sanhedrin, you had to be married. So when you look at this situation, you are talking about men, marriage, and adultery. It seems that Jesus is zeroing in on those who felt safe. The scribes and Pharisees think they have the home field advantage when it comes to dealing with Jesus. They are smugly confident. Jesus is accused frequently in His ministry of associating with sinners. Jesus associates with sinners, including those who are sexually immoral, and when He does so, the scribes and Pharisees are incensed (Luke 7:36-50). Jesus is at dinner at Simon’s house (not Simon Peter), and this woman who is immoral comes and begins to anoint the feet of our Lord with tears running down her face. They assumed Jesus did not know who she was, or He wouldn’t be having anything to do with her. Jesus makes it very clear that He does know who she is and that He has come to seek and to save sinners. But from the Pharisees’ point of view, Jesus was soft on sin, particularly sexual sins. He wouldn’t stone the woman caught in the act of adultery, though Moses commanded that she be stoned. What is wrong with Jesus?

Not only do they believe Jesus is soft on sin, they have even implied elsewhere that Jesus is the result of sin (see John 8:41). They really feel safe. When Jesus talks about sexual immorality, they think, “Let it come!! We’re ready for Him! On this point, we have all the advantages. We haven’t committed adultery. We think Jesus is soft on adultery, and we are even wondering how Jesus’ birth came about in the first place.” Well, Jesus has something to say to them, and He is going to find them guilty on three counts.

In our text, He finds them guilty of mental adultery. Everybody is guilty of this. Nobody gets off the hook on this charge of mental adultery. If this is the standard Jesus sets, we are all sunk. Then there is spiritual adultery. In Matthew 12, they began to demand a sign from Jesus, and He calls them an adulterous generation. All the way along, you think that Jesus got them on mental adultery but that they were actually innocent when it came to literal adultery. But this is not so if you understand Jesus’ words on divorce. Do you remember Matthew 19:3? “Is it lawful to divorce a wife for any cause?” Even the most conservative person among the Jews never dreamed Jesus would go as far as He does in what actually constitutes adultery.

My guess is (and I understand I am climbing out on a limb here) that they not only sanctioned it, (remember that Jesus talked about what the scribes and Pharisees practiced and what they taught), but that among the Pharisaical community, a lot of people were divorced, and their divorces were not biblical. If Jesus’ words are true, and unbiblical divorce constitutes adultery, they were literal adulterers!

Can you imagine that! Jesus does an end run with the scribes and Pharisees in an area where they felt safe, and then all of a sudden, He finds them guilty on every single dimension of adultery as He defines it. So here they are very confident. The Law forbade it. That is clear. Jesus refers to that in verse 27, and then Jesus presses on to the next level, saying, “But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to desire her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:27). One commentator makes a point that the form of this word, “looks” emphasizes not just a look, but much more than a look. Someone else translated it as “leering,” though the aforementioned commentator translates it as “staring.” It is not just making a mental observation. The fact is, some may catch the eye more quickly, and the eye notices that. But it is that stopping, that going back, and that “locking on” that Jesus is speaking about. Also He says it is not just a lustful look; it is looking to lust. It is a very purposeful act. It is the same form found in Matthew 6:1, where Jesus says, “Be careful not to display your righteousness merely to be seen by people.” There your outward acts of righteousness are for the purpose of getting men’s applause. Here the look is a lingering look that has lust as its purpose and goal.

Jesus now has everybody’s attention. Who of us, male or female, does not find ourselves under condemnation here? In verses 29 and 30, He now comes to the actions we ought to take in response to that. When you look at His words, you have to say, “Is this not radical to talk about plucking out eyes and chopping off hands?” It surely is radical! There are some countries in our world where if you steal, they cut off your hand. We think that is pretty radical. Let’s all admit our depravity, our total depravity!!

I have a great left eye, and if I pluck out my right eye, my left eye takes over! Jesus says take out your right eye. For most of us, our right eye is our dominant eye. We have two hands. He says, “Cut off your right hand.” But would you not agree that if we plucked out both eyes and cut off both hands that we would not solve the problem of mental immorality? It would still be there!

I remember reading in church history years ago about one of the monastic orders. A man tried to get away from the sinful lusts of the world so he secluded himself in a cave, and I don’t remember whether he lay on a bed of nails or what, but the dancing girls were still there in his mind! He could not get away from them. So plucking out our eyes and cutting off our hands won’t do it! What, then, does Jesus mean?

I do not think Jesus has randomly chosen these members of our body. Looking and touching – our eyes and our hands, would you not agree, are big elements in the realm of immorality, in the realm of adultery? So what He said is not that we stop the looks by plucking out our eyes or the touch by cutting off our hands, but that we must stop it no matter what it takes! We must stop looking that way. And we must be drastic with ourselves in how we do that. We must take drastic steps not to see it! In our culture, you almost have to wear blinders because it is in magazines, on billboards, or wherever you turn. It is seeking to grab you! Technologically, lust is now promoted in ways that it has never been before.

Immorality is an amazing, incredible thing. When I traveled in Asia, some women were completely covered. But every culture finds a way to solicit and to entice, because the reality is that we had better sew our lips shut, plug our ears, and turn off all of our senses. We still have what is going on in our heart and our head! There is a way in which men find occasion to do that which is evil. But our Lord is telling us in this text that if indeed we are all guilty, we are to notice where our sin leads us. If we have any sense that Jesus is soft on sin, we had better look again.

When Jesus speaks to the woman caught in the act of adultery, He says, “Go and sin no more.” It is sin, and it is worthy of death. We need to understand that when Jesus says it is better to lose one member of your body than have the whole body thrown in hell, He is talking about eternal destruction. Committing adultery will surely make you guilty of sin and will condemn you to hell! He is saying you have to take this sin seriously, and do whatever it takes to remedy it! Remember that Paul talks in Romans 6 about taking the members of our bodies and presenting them as instruments of unrighteousness. These members that we seek to gain pleasure from, that we actually serve, are the very things that we ought to put to death for the sake of eternal life and the kingdom of God. He is not saying indulge the flesh, as many did. He is saying mortify the flesh, and do it in the most dramatic way possible. Take sin seriously! It kills!

Is this not the same principle that underlies church discipline? (See, for example, 1 Corinthians 5.) The body of Christ is made up of individual members. What happens when a member of that body, as in 1 Corinthians 5, is living with his father’s wife? What is the church to do when such a man has been rebuked for such sin but refuses to repent? You are to “cut off” that member. It is radical! It is drastic! But the principle that applies to individuals applies to churches as well. You must sever the member or whatever it is that causes us to commit the sin which is damnable.

By way of application, Jesus is not against the pleasures of marriage. Jesus is not against sexual pleasure within marriage. Hebrews 13:4 says the marriage bed is to be kept undefiled. God has given this gift to us to enjoy. It is illicit pleasure that is forbidden. Take sin seriously! Respond to sin drastically! In my experience, when we have had to deal with sexual immorality as a church, in virtually every case I can recall, the individuals involved all said, “I know this is sin; I know what God says about it; and I know what I ought to do about it.” The problem is they just never do it! This text is really strong. It says, “Cut it off! Pluck it out! Deal quickly and deal decisively with that which can destroy you!” I do not know how to say it any more emphatically than our Lord Jesus did.

One thing dawned on me that I’ve never thought of before. Do you remember the text in James 2?

10 For the one who obeys the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it. 11 For He who said, “Do not commit adultery” also said, “Do not murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a violator of the law (James 2:10-11).

I have to confess that I always thought of myself in this way. I always thought of myself in sort of a Pharisaical way. I look at the various commands of Scripture and say to myself, “There are some commands where I’m clean, and there are other commands where I’m not clean.” If I am really arrogant about it, I would say to myself, “Well, maybe I get caught up in one or two, and I fail in those points. But because of what James says, if I violate the Law in one picky point, then I am guilty of breaking the Law in all points!”

But in this text in Matthew, Jesus tells me that when I sin, I don’t just break the Law in this one point; I break the Law in every point! Think of it! Here are the scribes and Pharisees saying, “Murder and adultery! On these we are clean. This is going to be a cake walk!” But before Jesus gets done, they are guilty across the board. That is total depravity, folks! If you take sin the way Jesus does, and you go to the heart of it, there is no sin of which you and I are not guilty! I’m guilty at every point! Not because I failed at one point, but because I failed at every point! This is hopeless. Jesus talks in these dark terms about sin and the consequences of it.

What Jesus is saying is evangelistic! What Jesus is saying is exactly what Paul says! The Law’s purpose was not to make us perfect so we could get to heaven by good works. The Law’s purpose is to show us that our hearts and our hands are unclean, that we have nothing to commend us before God. The reason that Jesus appears to be soft on the woman caught in adultery is because He came not only to show us we are sinners, but He came to bear the penalty of our sin. That’s what this is about! That’s what the Lord’s Table is about! He died for sinners! He bore the penalty for all of our guilt! He bore that penalty, and He offers to us the gift of salvation! That’s why He appears soft: it’s because Jesus wants to save! He offers salvation through His work on the cross of Calvary.

A strong word of caution is required here: Whatever you do, do not come away saying, “Well, I’m guilty of mental adultery so I might as well just follow through.” Don’t go there, folks! You are guilty of mental adultery, but it is an adultery that does not defile two people but only one. It does not produce illegitimate children, and it does not do a whole bunch of things that are wrong. As James says, “If you allow that lust to brew, it’s headed there. Stop it!!” That is the point! Cut it out! Pluck it out! Stop it! Do not go there!

Proverbs has a lot to say about women in relationship to adultery. One of the things it says is, “Don’t be a provocative woman.” I am not talking just about the way you dress. The provocative woman in Proverbs is provocative by the way she talks, and in the way she looks at you. There are all kinds of provocations, and the way you dress is just one of them. Women, do not be provocative! It seems to me that women are just as guilty as men in this area. The triggers may be different, the mechanism may be different, but I think that it is possible that women are often seduced more by what they hear, by warmth and affection, and tenderness and kindness, than they are by the physical. The truth is we are all guilty.

What about young, single people? Don’t you feel safe like the scribes and the Pharisees? Watch out! Don’t you feel safe and say to yourself, “I’m young, and I’m single, and I’m not married so I guess I get a pass on this one.” Not in Proverbs you don’t. When you come to the Book of Proverbs and start reading your way through as I just did again, I am amazed at the percentage of the material addressed to the young, who are not married, about adultery! If there is ever a time in your life to set your minds to obedience and purity, it is now! Not then! Now! That’s what Proverbs is saying.

My last point addresses adultery and married people! I know that there are probably people listening or reading, beyond my knowledge, for which this literal sin is a reality. There is healing and forgiveness, but you absolutely must forsake your sin. You must deal with it radically and drastically. My fear is that some of you are engaged in adultery in the making. It doesn’t often happen quickly. It happens slowly. I have this theory that there is a relationship between anger and adultery. I think a fair bit of adultery is the result of anger. Paul says to husbands, “… do not be embittered against [your wives]” (Colossians 3:19). I am not saying anger is the only reason, but I’m saying it is one factor. I think these two can be interrelated. But I say to you, if your marriage relationship is not healthy, you are on your way to trouble. If there is something lacking in your walk with God, if there is something that is amiss in your heart, you are on your way. And Jesus says in this text, “STOP NOW!!” Recognize your sin! Recognize your inability! Come to Christ for grace, for forgiveness, for power. He will help you now.


178 Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from the NET Bible. The NEW ENGLISH TRANSLATION, also known as THE NET BIBLE, is a completely new translation of the Bible, not a revision or an update of a previous English version. It was completed by more than twenty biblical scholars who worked directly from the best currently available Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts. The translation project originally started as an attempt to provide an electronic version of a modern translation for electronic distribution over the Internet and on CD (compact disk). Anyone anywhere in the world with an Internet connection will be able to use and print out the NET Bible without cost for personal study. In addition, anyone who wants to share the Bible with others can print unlimited copies and give them away free to others. It is available on the Internet at: www.netbible.org.

179 Normally Bob Deffinbaugh’s messages are manuscripted after the sermon is preached. Unfortunately, some manuscripts were not completed. This lesson is an edited transcription of Bob’s sermon, as it was delivered, and not a full manuscript.

180 The New American Standard Bible. Copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973 by Foundation Press Publications: La Habra, California.

Related Topics: Christian Home, Marriage