Matthew 5:27-30 – “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.” NKJV
Some of the modern language translations do not use the word LUST in this passage but use a more sanitized word DESIRE. Although the word means desire it means more than just wanting something in a mild or superficial sense but rather an intense longing for. I am reminded of a couple that I counseled once over the husband’s infidelity. The wife longed for a resolution of his adulterous ways and in the course of counsel he explained his justification. I could not believe what I heard and this is what he said. He referenced verse 28 above and said that since he lusted in his heart and God counted that as guilty he might as well commit the physical act. All attempts to address personal restraint and discipline had no effect. All attempts to point out the incredible harm to his marriage through his physical acts had no positive outcome. To him if he was guilty because of what was in his heart he might as well do what he was judged guilty of.
That logic, if followed to its ultimate course, would plunge our world into total chaos. If a person allows hatred in the heart as 1 John 3:15 declares is a ‘murderer’ then this logic would be if you are guilty in heart you might as well commit the act. Imagine that world! If one lusts for another’s property in their heart then this logic would make it acceptable to actually steal.
LUST in the heart is sin and must be dealt with but to complicate it further with actually carrying out the act is not what the Bible is talking about. In fact, if you take the root of this thought in Scripture you can see it functioning in the good and the bad. If one defines LUST as the earnest wish or desire of the heart and a person wishes to commit an evil act in their heart but for whatever reason cannot God judges them guilty. The converse of that is also true for if a person wishes to commit an act of goodness but cannot God credits them as having done the act. Truly out of the abundance of the heart!
I find it disturbing that many who profess to be Christians would be appalled to actually commit acts of adultery, murder or theft but entertain those thoughts in their hearts with no equal remorse or aversion. They would never commit the acts in the flesh but are not disturbed at having committed them in their hearts. Man looks on the outward but God looks beyond the outward and reads the heart.
May God help us to be as disturbed by the lust of the eyes as we are the physical acts! I pray that our LORD create in us such a repulsion for sin that we are smitten in our conscience and brought to repentance over our thoughts as much as we are our outward acts.
God bless you as you go through this day!