Did you hear the story about the boy made to stand in class? His response? “I may be standing up on the outside, but I am sitting down on the inside!” Do you ever find yourself with a similar attitude? You are doing the right action, but only outwardly. You are inwardly doing something entirely different.
Matthew 5:27-32 (ESV)
27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent 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. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.
I have heard people say “there is nothing wrong with looking”. I disagree. There is nothing wrong with noticing, but there is definitely something wrong with actively looking.
The Sermon on the Mount challenges our hypocrisy. Great effort was made in Jesus’ day to be outwardly compliant with God’s law while being inwardly disobedient. Jesus calls us higher. We must not only obey on the outside but obey on the inside. We are held accountable for not only what we do, but also, who we are. We must accept our sin and stop transferring the blame to others. Specifically, this is talking about sexual lust. It is something that is rampant in our society. Never before have we had such instant access to pornography. Most of our entertainment is saturated with sex, either by innuendo or blatant portrayal. Guarding our hearts is difficult. This passage has caused many to literally attempt to cut off body parts or to gouge out eyes. I am not suggesting that you do so. What I am suggesting is that you get rid of the thing causing you to sin. Do you need to turn off the TV? Or pick different movies? How about limiting your internet access? When you go to the beach, do you need to leave off the sunglasses behind which you hide your eyes?
Maybe sex is not your downfall. There are many things we lust after. How about power, money, fame, respect, security, comfort? Are these desires causing you to sin? Are you obeying on the outside, while your inner self is out of control? We all have something we battle. Jesus is asking us to go past ritual obedience and have hearts that are transformed. A transformed heart can only be obtained one way. It can only be attained through the saving grace of Christ’s work on the cross and through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Today, be honest about your desire gone wild. Confess it to God. Make sure your sins are forgiven both in a general sense that you are saved to eternal life and from the specific sense in which you confess ongoing sin. Ask for help from the Holy Spirit. Plan to eliminate the provision you have made that allows you to carry out your sinful behavior.
Today, listen for his voice. Act in obedience. Allow your heart to change. Ask for help.