Everyday in America 7,742 teenagers step into moral impurity and lose their virginity. Everyday in America over 4,000 teenagers contract a sexually transmitted disease. Everyday in America 2, 795 teenagers get pregnant. Certainly we are finding the “free love” of the 60’s wasn’t so free after all. It has come with a tremendous price tag. But it need not be so. In Matthew chapter 5 Jesus provides us with some very practical, yet often overlooked truth concerning keeping oneself from the trap of moral impurity.
The Diffused Commandment
In verse 27 Jesus said, “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery.” At first glance one is struck by the fact that this is a direct quotation from Exodus 20 and the Ten Commandments. One may question, “What do you mean, ‘the diffused commandment’?” In Jesus day most men did not own copies of the sacred page. In order to learn God’s Word, they would go to the synagogue where the scribes would pick up the rolls or the scrolls unravel them and read the Bible. The problem would be when they would comment on the Old Testament passage. John Broadus in his commentary on Matthew notes that “we know that the Jewish teachers were disposed to limit the commandment to actual adultery.”
The Divine Clarification
Jesus very quickly clarifies the issue. In one breath of inspiration the false notion of the religious leaders of His day is swept away. “But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” Jesus not only condemns the act of adultery, but also the thinking about it. The whole arena of moral impurity is soundly dealt a fatal blow. Obviously every avenue in which sensual material is introduced to the mind is prohibited. No Christian should ever knowingly set sensuality before his eyes. Job understood this when he promised, “I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid?”
The Destructive Consequences
Jesus continues now by twice saying the statement, “for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.” Notice the connection between sexual immorality and hell. Lest one think this is a lone occurrence, I would encourage the looking up of the following passages (Prov 5:5, 7:27, 9:18, I Cor 6:9, 10, Gal. 5:19-21, Eph, 5:5, Col 3:5, 6, Heb 13:4, Jude 7, Rev 21:8, 22:15) Each passage clearly links eternal judgment with the sins of immorality. This sin sends people to hell! Some might now ask, “Well, what about the Christian who commits immorality?” Many tragic consequences could be cited, but one I find most fascinating was written by a man named Solomon. Do you remember who his father and mother were? Solomon writes moved by the Holy Spirit, “But whoso commiteth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul.” Adultery and its immoral aberrations destroy a man’s soul. “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts that war against the soul.” Fleshly lusts destroy the soul!. Even for the believer, the sensual surfing of the Internet, the watching of sensual media, the looking at dirty magazines, the messing around in moral failure all DESTROY the soul!
The Defensive Care
“And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee . . . if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off and cast it from thee. . .” Clearly Jesus is warning his hearers with this jarring statement that no sin is worth hell. No immoral relationship is worth hell. No piece of sensual literature is worth hell. No dirty movie is worth hell. But there is a secondary application here. Don’t miss it! Jesus is pointing out two things that “offend.” They are the eye and the hand. The key is the word “offend.” It literally means “to trigger the trap” and thus metaphorically means “to cause to sin. This means the eye can “trigger the trap” and so can the hand. God knows what it is that can prove disastrous to our purity. After all He created us and He knows better than we how we are made. This means we must ever be vigilant to protect our eyes and hands from that which would “trigger the trap.”
We live in a day where we are bombarded daily with sensual images. Great care must be taken to protect our eyes and thus our minds from that which defiles. A young man who is now serving the Lord as a teenager one night snuck out of parents’ house and went down to the movie theater with some “friends.” His parents would have forbid his going, but he deceitfully went. He told me some years later, “That night I lost my innocency. I have battles in my mind I never would have had if I hadn’t seen that movie.” There is power in the visual. God’s people need to stop flirting with the world’s media God’s people need to stay away from the movie house. God’s people need to get effective Internet filters and/or servers. God’s people need to stay away from the populated beach and the neighborhood swimming pool. Why? The eye can “trigger the trap.” Jesus said so.
The hand is the next thing Jesus mentions can “trigger the trap.” Now isn’t that interesting. So many teens over the years have tried to rationalize their romantic touch (many times with girls they never marry). Jesus clearly warns, the danger of that compromise. A couple of years ago a youth pastor let me see a letter written to him by a young lady in his youth group. She was pregnant and not married. She had gotten right with the Lord and wrote the letter to apologize to her youth pastor. It really was a good letter. In the letter she urges her youth pastor, “Don’t ever stop preaching about even holding hands because that’s where it all starts.” The hand can trigger the trap. Remember that, engaged couple. Remember that, Bible college student. Remember that, teenager. Remember that, mom and dad. The hand has triggered the trap for many a young person who never intended to lose their purity.