KEEPING INTIMACY IN MARRIAGE – 6 by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson
Today is our final message in this series called KEEPING INTIMACY IN MARRIAGE. Again, I’m amazed at how much you loved these messages and passed it along to friends and family! It tells us that there is a great hunger for truth about marriage and family.
Matthew 5 27 “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.
Overall Background: The passage we just read troubled me a lot growing up. As a little boy, I remember my dad preaching on it several times and each time it left me more confused and worried and afraid. Why? Because I seriously thought that by the time I was 6 or 7, I’d be blind and by the time I was 10, I’d have both my hands chopped off. I would actually wonder – I know I can use my left hand to chop off my right hand but then how about my left hand? Maybe I can use my feet or maybe get a friend to do it. What in the world is Jesus talking about when he says – 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…”
If there’s one sin that God takes very seriously, probably more than others, it is sexual sins. If there’s one sin that human beings do not take very seriously, it is sexual sins. We blame everything and everyone, other than ourselves. Unfortunately, the consequences are devastating and the penalty is severe.
Question: How seriously do you take sexual sins? How seriously do you take the sins of the body? Do you understand the tremendous consequences that follow sexual sins? Do you understand God’s wrath against sexual sins? Are you saved?
3 questions we’re going to answer about marriage from this passage:
QUESTION #1 – SHOULD WE PRACTICE SELF-MORTIFICATION? NO.
People throughout the history of the church have misunderstood this passage. A great example was the church father by the name of Origen from Alexandria, Egypt. First he tried to roll naked over sharp briars but when that didn’t work, he actually had himself castrated. Later on he was sorry that he had made that decision. Some circles still practice flagellations and wear cilices. Is this what Jesus was saying in this passage? The first thing to keep in mind is that self-mutilation is forbidden in the Bible. Deuteronomy 14:1 “You are the children of the LORD your God; you shall not cut yourselves…”
What exactly is Jesus saying in this passage? To answer this question, you have to understand the moral setting in the time of Jesus. Things weren’t much different than today. Most Greeks and Romans strongly condemned adultery. To say that someone was adulterous was considered a big insult. It was thought of as stealing. After all, a wife was considered to be a husband’s property. Looking at many of the ancient plays and dramas of the time, even the common public looked down upon adultery. Jewish people, especially, strongly condemned adultery. It was considered shameful.
Having said that, adultery was quite common back then. The Roman philosopher Seneca says that those who do not practice adultery stand out. Even the Jewish people had become more and more like their neighbors. They knew that the punishment for adultery was death by stoning but hardly anyone practiced it. That’s why when Joseph found out that Mary was with child, he decided to put her away quietly.
When Jesus was preaching against adultery, He knew what they were thinking. “Yeah, it’s wrong but that’s just the fact of life. Sometimes you just can’t help it. (Wink, Wink, Nudge, Nudge) It’s not really me but my flesh.” It’s like the little girl who got caught with cookie crumbs all over her face. Her mom said, “Did you get in the cookie jar?” To which she replied, “I was just walking by and my teeth got caught in the cookie jar.” What Jesus was saying was, “Oh so it’s not you but your eye and your hand that made you sin? Then why don’t you just pluck out your eye and chop off your hand.”
Question: Whom do you blame for your sin life? Do you blame your flesh or the world? Did the Devil make you do it? Do you take responsibility for your sin life?
QUESTION #2 – CAN SEXUAL SINS SEND US TO HELL? NO.
Twice Jesus says, “for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.” Even though we know that Jesus is being sarcastic, it still sounds like he’s saying, “If you don’t deal with sexual sins, you’ll go to hell.” Some people have used this passage to claim that – You can lose your salvation and go to hell if you fail to repent from adultery. Not true.
Background: God’s people throughout the ages have been distinct when it comes to how they view marriage. They looked upon it as a sacred institution given by God and should be lived and enjoyed with holiness and fear. Adultery was a mark of unbelievers. Not only did God institute strict penalty against it but also repeatedly he chastised His people to stay away from it.
Jeremiah 7 9 Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, burn incense to Baal, and walk after other gods whom you do not know, 10 and then come and stand before Me in this house which is called by My name, and say, “We are delivered to do all these abominations’? 11 Has this house, which is called by My name, become a den of thieves in your eyes? Behold, I, even I, have seen it,” says the LORD.
Malachi 2 13 And this is the second thing you do: You cover the altar of the LORD with tears, With weeping and crying; So He does not regard the offering anymore, Nor receive it with goodwill from your hands. 14 Yet you say, “For what reason?” Because the LORD has been witness Between you and the wife of your youth, With whom you have dealt treacherously; Yet she is your companion And your wife by covenant.
Proverbs 6 32 Whoever commits adultery with a woman lacks understanding; He who does so destroys his own soul. 33 Wounds and dishonor he will get, And his reproach will not be wiped away.
What Jesus was saying is “When will you realize that God hates adultery? How long are you going to keep making excuses for your sin? Don’t you know that people going to Hell act this way? When will you start taking sin seriously and repent before God?”
Listen to Paul in I Corinthians 6 9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. But just when you think you cannot be saved, listen to the next verse – 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.
Application: God is asking the same questions to each of us today – “When will we realize how terrible adultery is?” “Don’t you know that people going to Hell act this way?” Do you feel good about your behavior?
QUESTION #3 – ARE SEXUAL SINS WORSE THAN OTHER SINS? YES.
Background: Why are sexual sins so bad in the sight of God? God places a very high value on our bodies. Remember – Unlike the rest of the creation that God simply said, “let there be” and there it was; He actually made us in His image. Man and woman was the crown of God’s creation. Keep in mind that God is spirit who sees, hears, touches, and speaks. He made us to be just like him, to see, hear, touch, and speak, but with a bodily form. Somehow, God transferred His spiritual, eternal characteristics into a physical, tangible form. It’s mind blowing! Why? Because God wanted us to enjoy life! God could have made us just spirit but He wanted us to see and feel and touch and speak and connect in marriage. The human body is an amazing gift of God! It is God’s masterpiece and why not! After all, one day He would have to design one for His own Son!
Listen carefully – God holds the copyright and the title to every single human body. It belongs to Him. For us to misuse it is to misuse someone else’s property. Imagine if you loaned me a very expensive torque wrench and I decided to misuse and abuse it to drive a nail. What would you do? Hand it over. That’s why murder is punishable by death. Who gave you the right to end that body? That’s why abortion and euthanasia is wrong. That’s why adultery is so wrong because it defiles the body that is not yours to defile. Hence in the Old Testament it was punishable by death.
Listen to Paul in 1 Corinthians 6 18 Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Then to the Christian – 19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.
Application: What do you think about your body? Do you know that it is someone else’s property? What do you think about the body of another person, man or woman? Do you know that it too belongs to God?
The bigger question is – What do you do? Some Christians say – Didn’t Paul say in I Corinthians 9:27 I “beat my body into submission” and in Colossians 3:5 “put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire…” I remind them to read a few verses earlier in Colossians 2 20 Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations— 21 “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,” 3:1 If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. It’s not about gouging out your eye and chopping off your hand, it is about your eye and your hand and all of you belonging to Christ.
Application: Does your body belong to Christ? If you are saved, then you have been bought with a price. Is the Holy Spirit in control of your body? Are you saved?