Wednesday, May 1, 2013

A Matter of the Heart

“Everyone who looks at a woman with to lust for desire her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

More on Matthew 5.27-30, and our desires…. 

First, two things from the Greek:  Many bibles read “with lust for her,” and this is misleading.  If yours reads that way, cross it out and write in the margin: “To desire her.” 

The correct preposition is not “with,” but “to.”  The idea is that the guy who looks for the purpose of lusting is the one who has a bad heart.  A man looking at a woman “for the purpose” of lusting is a lot different than a man seeing a woman and thinking she’s hot. 

Second, the word “lust” here is really a broader term that is “desire.”  Jesus isn’t only talking about male sexual desire for women – that’s just an example … he’s talking about all of us and our desires.  Don’t play with them, don’t give them opportunity, or they will lead to sin.  Paul said it this way:
Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its desires.  Romans 13:14

You may remember the great marshmallow test.   See the video 

The real issue is about your heart.  I’m not sure I’ve met a person who would claim to have a pure heart.  For a disciple, that means we never want anything but God and God’s will.  I do not have such a pure heart.  I want more/other and it is my downfall. 

Jesus isn't telling us in this message to cut off body parts or that it’s a sin to want stuff.  Instead, he tells us HOW to not let our ‘wants’ or ‘desires’ to turn into sins.  We don’t look at things or touch things or smell things that cause us to stumble. 
 “These things I have spoken to you so that you may be kept from stumbling.  John 16:1
The Israelites had the same problem.  They “craved other food.”  They had been in the desert for years, eating nothing but manna for breakfast, lunch and dinner … and they wanted meat, so they complained.  Many died.  See: Numbers 11, 1 Corinthians 10.6, Psalm 106.13-15 and …
And in their heart they put God to the test by asking food according to their desire.  Psalm 78:18
Some of their fellow travelers Moses called “the rabble,” that’s probably people who left Egypt with Israel, but weren't fully Israelite.  They started the whining, and their complaints became Israel’s stumbling block.   Where Jesus suggests we cut off our hands or pluck our eyes, Israel should have silenced the rabble … or at least kept their distance (As Job did his wife – Job 2.9-10).  We have the same thing today.  “Christians” at church who tempt us to want things that are unhelpful and even rationalize sin!  If you have such acquaintances, take care!  Better to go to heaven friendless than to go to hell as a popular person.
Do not be deceived: Bad company corrupts good morals.  1 Corinthians 15:33
Complaining is contagious, just as desire is.  How do restaurants sell food?  They make that greasy burger look wonderful.  How does a woman tempt a man?  By offering him something he wants.  Now we are tempted to take our eyes off the prize … to play with the marshmallow.  Next thing you know, we’re doomed.  These people are themselves called “stumbling blocks” by Jesus:
“It is inevitable that stumbling blocks come, but woe to him through whom they come!  It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea, than that he would cause one of these little ones to stumble.  Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.” Luke 17:1-3
What’s your marshmallow?  What divides your heart?  Do you want love, friendship and/or affection?  Do you want food, or to avoid food or drink or to find the perfect partner or church or have a family or a job, or…?  Anything that takes us away from our calling is our “marshmallow,” or the thing that may cause us to stumble.  Anything that keeps you from putting ALL your treasures in heaven, or loving God with ALL your heart – this is your “woman” or “marshmallow.” 

This week as you ready yourself to do your “I Will,” consider discussing not only what your marshmallow is, but to develop strategies that will help you succeed.  What little things can you do to make your temptations less tempting?  Most people don’t want to do this – they’d rather play with the marshmallow.

It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother stumbles. 
Romans 14:21

But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak…. By sinning against the brethren and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food causes my brother to stumble, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause my brother to stumble.  1 Corinthians 8:9-13

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