Matt. 05:27-32 How to keep from committing Adultery (Pt. 2)

A sermon by Nate Wilson for Christ the Redeemer Church, Manhattan, KS, 12 Jun 2011

Translation By Nate

27. Y’all heard that it was declared, “Do not commit adultery,”

28. And I myself am saying to you that everyone who looks at a woman for the purpose of lusting after her already has committed adultery with her in his heart.

29. So, if your right eye scandalizes you, snatch it and throw it away from you, for it bears together for you that [only] one of your members might be destroyed and not the whole of your body be thrown into hell.

30. And if your right hand scandalizes you, cut it off and throw it away from you, for it bears together for you that [only] one of your members might be destroyed and not the whole of your body depart into hell.

31. It was also declared, “Whoever divorces his wife must give a divorce certificate to her,”

32. yet I myself am telling you that every one who divorces his wife (except for a matter of immorality), is making her to commit adultery, and whoever happens to marry one who has been divorced is committing adultery.


o       Jesus starts with The 7th Commandment (v.27) Ex. 20:14 || Deut. 5:18 “You shall not commit adultery.”

o       Adultery is the willful breaking of a covenant, taking a relationship which was intended to be exclusive and adding parties not intended for that relationship.

o       We saw that a marriage relationship can be adulterated and that our spiritual relationship with God can be adulterated by adding other gods to a relationship which was intended by God to be exclusive with only one. (That’s what my whole “Functions of Deity” series was about.)

o       But Jesus says in v.28 that adultery it goes beyond sexual immorality and idol worship, it even applies to our thought life. Adultery comes from the heart when we look at another person with lust and desire what God has not given to us.

o       We looked briefly at the ways different world religions respond to this issue:

  1. Secular Humanism affirms that you are god yourself and therefore whatever you desire is o.k. They deny that lust and adultery are wrong. This is in defiance of God.
  2. Islam agrees with us that there is a transcendent God and that adultery is wrong, but disagrees on what to do about it. Most Muslims believe that sexual sin is just part of the human condition and that God will overlook it as long as we’re good people. They believe that the best method of dealing with lust is to control it with outward force so that it doesn’t get too out-of-control. Jesus says, No, adultery is a problem with the heart, not just a physical problem to be controlled, and later the Apostle Paul wrote that there should not even be a hint of sexual immorality among the people of God.
  3. The Buddhists, on the other hand, say that lust is the main problem with this world. Their solution is to get rid of all our human desires in order to have a more peaceful world. This however, is a perversion of what God teaches us in the Bible. Yes, lust is sin, but to renounce all desires is to renounce the image of God who Himself has desires, but only desires what is good. We saw that the same Greek word translated “lust” in Matt. 5 is used for righteous desires for the presence of God, for the presence of your spouse, for the proper use of leadership and land, as well as for the word of God. God’s goal for us is not to renounce all desires but to train our desires toward what is good.
  4. So what is the Christian way to deal with the problem of lust and adultery? Look at vs. 29:

Indulgence & Hell or Sacrifice & Heaven? You choose. (vs. 29-30)

Mat 5:29  εἰ δὲ ὁ ὀφθαλμός σου ὁ δεξιὸς σκανδαλίζει σε, ἔξελε αὐτὸν καὶ βάλε ἀπὸ σοῦ· συμφέρει γάρ σοι ἵνα ἀπόληται ἓν τῶν μελῶν σου καὶ μὴ ὅλον τὸ σῶμά σου βληθῇ εἰς γέενναν.

5:30  καὶ εἰ ἡ δεξιά σου χεὶρ σκανδαλίζει σε, ἔκκοψον αὐτὴν καὶ βάλε ἀπὸ σοῦ· συμφέρει γάρ σοι ἵνα ἀπόληται ἓν τῶν μελῶν σου καὶ μὴ ὅλον τὸ σῶμά σου [βληθῇf13, Maj] εἰς γέενναν απελθηא,B, f13.

29. So, if your right eye scandalizes you, snatch it and throw it away from you, for it bears together for you that [only] one of your members might be destroyed and not the whole of your body be thrown into hell.

30. And if your right hand scandalizes you, cut it off and throw it away from you, for it bears together for you that [only] one of your members might be destroyed and not the whole of your body depart into hell.


·         Scandalizw – causes you to sin, makes you stumble, creates an offense, a stumbling block, trips up, originally the lever on an animal trap that holds the bait. [Show Picture]

Other things that were stumbling blocks in the Bible:

o       Lev. 19:14 – an obstacle that can be tripped over

o       Josh. 23:13, Jdg. 2:3 – The unconquered Caananite nations who worshipped idols

o       Jdg. 8:27 – Gideon’s ephod which became an idol

o       1Sam. 18:21 – Saul used his daughter to be a “snare” to get David killed by the Philistines

o       1Sam. 25:31;- Abigail points out that if David had killed Nabal in anger, it would “trip up” his political career

o       Psalm 50:20 – slanderous lies are traps used by the wicked (cf Psa. 140:5; 141:9)

o       Psalm 69:22  The table of David’s enemies (|| Rom. 11:9)

o       Psalm 106:36;- the idolatrous practices of the Moabites and seductions of the Moabite women at Baalam’s behest became a snare to Israel, and they worshipped idols too (cf. Rev. 2:14, Hos. 4:17 LXX)

o       Matt. 13:41  - tares sown by the evil one

o       Matt. 16:23  Jesus calls Peter a stumbling block “…for you are not setting your mind on God's interests, but man's."

o       Matt. 18:7 || Luke 17:1  Destroying the faith of a child

o       Rom. 9:33 NASB  Jesus was a stumbling block to the Jews and, 1Pet. 2:8 "A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE*"; for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed. (NASB)

o       1Cor. 1:23 we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block* and to Gentiles foolishness,

o       Gal. 5:11  But I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why am I still persecuted? Then the stumbling block* of the cross has been abolished.

o       Rom. 14:13-15 NASB  Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this—not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block* in a brother's way. I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but to him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. For if because of food your brother is hurt, you are no longer walking according to love. Do not destroy with your food him for whom Christ died.

o       1Jn. 2:10  The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause* for stumbling* in him.

o       Rom. 16:17  Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances* contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them.


·         Exele – usually used in the context of deliverance, lifting something up and away, but Lev 14:40 (tear mildewed stones out of house wall), Judges 14:9 (Samson scraped honey out of the lion’s carcasse), Pluck it, tear it, gouge it out!

·         Sumpherei – lit. “bears together” (ironic that purposefully loosing part could cause the rest to hold together!), figuratively: it better, is profitable, expedient, to your benefit, to your advantage


Principle of sacrificing things that are important to you in order to avoid temptation. Not just an eye or a hand, but your right eye and your right hand. These are naturally precious to us.

-- A 2008 study of undergraduate and graduate students ages 18-26 showed that 69 percent of the men and 10 percent of the women viewed pornography more than once a month. (Journal of Adolescent Research.)

-- 15 percent of those ages 12-17 who own cell phones had received a "sext" message (Pew Research Center Internet & American Life Project survey, December 2009.)

-- In 2009, the fourth-most searched word on the Internet for kids ages 7 and under was “porn,” For all kids -- those up to age 18 – “sex” was No. 4, “porn” No. 5. (
(Oh those little brown spiders in the closet? Yeah, we just let our 7-year-olds play with them because they have so much fun with them. Horrors!)

-- “Internet played a significant role in divorces in the past year, with excessive interest in online porn contributing to more than half of such cases.” (Statement made by 62% of attendees at a 2003 meeting of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, as reported by Time magazine)

- There’s no such thing as a failsafe Internet filter; a heart bent on evil will always be able to find a way to indulge in evil, but are we even trying to curb lust?

1.      Time alone with someone you could become attracted to,

2.      Getting too familiar.

3.      Brother Ben who refused hospitality of friend.

4.      Accountability - give up privacy in order to gain purity.

Two misunderstandings:

1.      The point of my discussion is not to get you to do everything the way I have chosen to do it in my home, I don’t want you to just copy me. Rather, I am trying to give practical illustrations of Jesus’ point that we must give up every precious thing that feeds our lusts, and we must put up with inconvenience and do without rather than feed our lustful appetites and speed down the highway to hell. If any of these are a cause for stumbling for you or anyone in your family, are you willing to do without in order to walk in sexual purity? Which is more precious to you, the future gratification of heaven or the immediate gratification of earth?

2.      Recognize that none of the above will keep you from committing adultery, they merely make you have to jump over a guardrail.

Closing the Divorce loophole for Adultery (vs. 31-32)

Mat 5:31  ᾿Ερρέθη δέ· ὅς ἂν ἀπολύσῃ τὴν γυναῖκα αὐτοῦ, δότω αὐτῇ ἀποστάσιον.

Deut 24:1b εαν δε τις λαβη γυναικα καιγραψει αυτη βιβλιον αποστασιου και δωσει αυτης και εξαποστελει αυτην…

Next in v. 31 we have another quote from the Old Testament, but it appears to still be an exposition of the 7th commandment against adultery because Jesus starts with the word “and/furthermore/also” (which, oddly, is omitted in the NASB and NIV translations of v.31) and He ties the related subject of divorce back to the issue of adultery in v. 32.


In v. 31. Jesus says, “It was also declared, ‘Whoever divorces his wife must give a divorce certificate to her,’”


Here, He is quoting loosely from Deuteronomy 24:1. Let me read that in context:

When a man takes a wife, and marries her, then it shall be, if she find no favor in his eyes, because he has found a matter of indecency in her, that he shall write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house. And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man's wife. But if the latter husband hates her and writes her a bill of divorcement and gives it in her hand and sends her out of his house; or if the latter husband die, who took her to be his wife; her former husband, who sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after that she is defiled; for that is abomination before Jehovah: and you must not cause the land to sin, which Jehovah your God gives you for an inheritance.


What is the point? The point is that marriage is a covenantal relationship, not a casual relationship. It’s not like an emotion that you can fall into and fall back out of and fall back into again willy-nilly. God’s law in Deut 24 says at least three important things:

  1. Virginity was to be expected, and if a man discovered that the woman he was marrying wasn’t a virgin, that was reason to undo the marriage. Sexual intimacy is a truly exclusive thing to marriage in God’s eyes. Marriage is an exclusive covenant.
  2. If a marriage is to be broken off, the divorce must be formalized. Nobody is allowed to chase a spouse out of the house with the broom and slam the door on them and have that count as a divorce. In the Islamic religion, a man can divorce his wife by simply saying, “I divorce you” three times, but nobody should be left wondering if they’re really divorced or not or whether they can really come back or not. There had to be a formal paper drawn up which gave objective proof to all parties that there had indeed been a divorce. It is very important for the exclusive covenant of marriage to be formalized.
  3. Once a man divorces his wife he can’t take her back; he has severed the bonds of that covenant relationship. Marriage is not like buying cars, where you can buy and sell cars and have buyers regret and sellers regret and get things back and keep trading. No, marriage is an exclusive covenantal relationship.


Mat 5:32  ᾿Εγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι [ὅς ἄν ἀπολύσῃTR] πας ‘ο απολυων τὴν γυναῖκα αὐτοῦ παρεκτὸς λόγου πορνείας, ποιεῖ αὐτὴν μοιχᾶσθαι, καὶ ὃς ἐὰν ἀπολελυμένην γαμήσῃ, μοιχᾶται.

v.32. yet I myself am telling you that every one who divorces his wife (except for a matter of immorality), is making her to commit adultery, and whoever happens to marry one who has been divorced is committing adultery.


We might can go to the extreme of cutting off our hand to avoid committing adultery, but one thing we can’t cut off to avoid adultery is our marriage relationship. We can’t say, “It’s my wife’s fault that I’m so full of lust, I’m just going to have to get rid of her!”


There is only one instance in which a divorce can even be considered legal in God’s eyes, and that is if your spouse has committed adultery (“except [on the grounds of] sexual immorality/for the reason of unchastity/marital unfaithfulness”).


Jesus makes His own translation (λόγου πορνείας) from the Hebrew text of Deut. 24 (ערות  דבר) and does not follow the Septuagint Greek (ασχημον πραγμα – only found in Deut 24 and Gen 34:7 when the pagan prince Shechem commits adultery with Jacob’s daughter Dinah.) The literal meaning of the word in the LXX is “disfigured” or “disorderly” so it’s possible that Jesus instead chose the word for prostitution to make clear that you couldn’t just get a divorce if you thought you wife didn’t look pretty or if you thought she had committed a social faux pas, she had to have truly violated your covenant relationship by committing adultery.


This does not, however, mandate that the wife or husband must get a divorce when adultery is involved. God did not divorce Himself from Israel every time they committed spiritual adultery and worshipped idols (Isaiah 50:1); He wooed Israel back to Himself and salvaged what He could of Israel. But He had a legal right to divorce Himself entirely from Israel when they followed after other gods (Jeremiah 3:8), and it would have been perfectly appropriate and just for Him to do so. Sometimes a separation is necessary for physical safety, but just because you can divorce does not mean you must divorce. Dr. Harry Shaumberg, a church elder I met in Colorado Springs who does counseling for marriages in crisis, has seen many marriages survive adultery, but it takes the grace of God to transform both man and wife to forgive and to repent.


I also find it interesting that Jesus brings in the fact that when a man divorces his wife for no good reason, he is making her commit adultery. He, by the way, has already committed adultery because he has lusted in his heart after another woman besides his wife and frivolously divorced his wife so he can marry another, but perhaps he should consider what this does to his first wife.


ILLUSTRATION: [Picture of Henry VIII ] I am reminded of the sordid story of Henry 8th of England. After his older brother died, Henry married his brother’s widow (Catherine of Aragon) in the year 1509 and became king. He married Anne Boleyn in secret later in 1533 and then divorced Catherine. Well, Anne did not give him the male heir he wanted, so he had her executed on trumped up charges of adultery, and married Jane Seymour who did bear him a son. He went on to marry Anne of Cleves, but divorced her after only a few months. He then married Catherine Howard, who, like her cousin Anne Boleyn, was found guilty of adultery and executed for treason. His last wife was Catherine Parr, a more mature woman who had been twice widowed. Henry as king of England in the 16th century was able to go to excesses that most people today could not get away with, but I believe it was that kind of mindset that Jesus was challenging as He hit the issue of divorce.


There are many more ideas about divorce that Bible scholars have drawn out of this message, and I mentioned a number of them in January of 2008, when I preached on 1 Cor 7, but today, I want to focus on the point that Jesus was making and not get too far off on rabbit trails.


In the context of Jesus’ message that adultery is a matter of the heart being lustful, I believe Jesus is saying that divorce is not a legal loophole to pursue the lusts of your heart. If you are discontent with your husband or wife and you find your heart longing after another man or woman, the fact that you can legally get a divorce is irrelevant in Christ’s court. If you get a divorce because you want what God has not given you, then that is condemned in the court of Christ as the sin of adultery.


Since our heart attitude is what matters to God, it is also important that we do not indulge in divorce mentally either. To wish that your spouse was dead is murder in God’s eyes. To wish that you were divorced or to imagine what life would be like if you were not married or imagine yourself married to some other person is adultery. Don’t let those thoughts even feel welcome in your mind. Throw them out! Fight for the sanctity of the marriage God has given you!


This, by the way, condemns all the ways that we try to justify our lusts, not just the case of divorce.

o       How many men fall into the trap of thinking, “I don’t get enough gratification from my wife, so I need to get some more gratification for myself.”

o       How many women fall into the trap of thinking, “I don’t get enough loving attention from my husband; I need to get it from other sources.”

o       How many of us have justified a lustful look because it is socially acceptable; everybody else is doing it – for crying in the mud

§         Everybody’s got nothing but underwear on at the swimming pool anyway; it’s just the way society works there, it’s o.k.!

§         Or how many thousands of people pass by that magazine rack at the checkout line – this is just the way our culture is; it’s o.k. to look.

§         Or all your friends have seen a particular movie that makes its actors sensually appealing, so it must be o.k. to watch.

o       No, it doesn’t matter how socially acceptable lust is, it is still adultery, and therefore must be treated seriously.


ILLUSTRATION: [Picture of brown recluse] In the last house I lived in, we had these little brown spiders everywhere. They all had a cute little black violin shape on their backs. We didn’t think much of them; they were no big deal, so we didn’t take any special precautions around them. Then a pest control guy came around and said, “You’ve got a bad problem with brown recluse spiders!” Your children are in danger of getting very sick from these spiders biting them. When a brown recluse bites you, it injects a powerful poison that kills the flesh all around it and leaves a big hole in your skin. You’ve got to clean your closets better and get better bug repellant and stop letting your children play in dark, damp places where those spiders live. Suddenly we realized that these spiders which we had thought were no big deal were actually a terrible threat, and we started changing the way we lived to pay more attention to the threat of these brown recluses. My children were so disappointed that they couldn’t play in the pile of cardboard boxes in the garage anymore, but it was because we were alerted to the danger of the poisonous spiders that liked to nest in those boxes.


So it is with this sin of lust. We must realize that it is deadly and not at all harmless and fun like our culture says it is.

o       Let us be a people to find forgiveness for our violations of the 7th commandment from Jesus,

o       who receive new hearts from God that are content with what He has given us,

o       and let us welcome the inconveniences of guardrails that keep us far from adultery.