Saturday, January 20, 2024

2024.01.20 Hopewell @Home ▫ Matthew 5:27–30

Read Matthew 5:27–30

Questions from the Scripture text: What have they heard (Matthew 5:27)? To whom was it said? What was said? But Who else speaks (Matthew 5:28)? About whom does He speak? With what in his heart does this hypothetical man look at the woman? What has he already done with her? Where? What might cause a man to sin (Matthew 5:29)? What should he do to it? Why—what is more profitable to him than what? What might cause a man to sin (Matthew 5:30)? What must he do to it? Why—what is more profitable than what?

What does God want from us? Matthew 5:27–30 prepares us for the morning sermon on the Lord’s Day. In these four verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that believers owe the Lord their heart, their hand, and their everything, with which they hope to enter heaven.

The Lord Jesus Speaks His Law to Us. As we noted in Matthew 5:21, what they have heard in Matthew 5:27 is that something else was said to someone else. The “something else” is the seventh commandment. The “someone else” is the Lord, and now He stands before them in true humanity. It is the Lord Jesus who spoke the seventh commandment to those of old. 

Their rabbis had repeated to them what was recorded in Scripture. But it was the Lord who had thundered it from Mount Sinai, and it was the Lord who had recorded it by His Spirit in the Scripture, and it is the Lord Who is now speaking it to them face-to-face. When He says, “But I say to you” (Matthew 5:28), He is obviously inviting a contrast between how their teachers address them, and how He addresses them.

In every sin, we sin against the Lord. Those in front of Him, hearing Him, had sinned against Him in every lustful look. There is interaction with himself, with the Lord, in the seventh commandment just as there had been in the sixth commandment in the prior passage. The Lord Jesus is teaching us to think of the second table of the law, not first and foremost in terms of our relation to one another (although that is the context that is being governed) but in relation to Himself. Even in loving our neighbor as ourself, we must think first and foremost of But our relation to God—of what happens in our hearts, and of whether what we do with our hands is honoring Him.

The Lord Requires the Heart. Recent versions have used the phrase “lustful intent” to translate Matthew 5:28, leading some to make the mistake of saying that desire in the heart is not a sin, but only becomes sin when intent to act is added. This isn’t just a grammatical mistake; it is a grave error that threatens to destroy souls, obscure the gospel, and turn denominations apostate.

The language in Matthew 5:28 indicates not only intention to act, or intention to lust, but literally the propensity to lust for the woman. The presence of lust in the heart is sinful, needing atonement and cleansing. Looking at, or facing, a woman with lust is adulterous. But the reason for this is not in the man or in the woman, but in the Lord, Who created man and woman. The Lord created covenants. The Lord created marriage as a covenant. So, it is especially against the Lord that our heart is idolatrous and adulterous, whenever we lust.

The Lord Requires the Rest of Us, Too. Just as—and even more than—a man is one flesh with his wife, the believer belongs, body and soul, to the Lord Jesus. Matthew 5:29-30 are not so much about the removal of physical eye and physical hand as they are about what we call mortification. If we shrink from language of plucking eyes and cutting off hands, what will we think of offering our body as a living sacrifice (cf. Romans 12:1; Romans 6:11–22) or crucifying ourselves (cf. Galatians 2:20, Galatians 5:24; Romans 8:13; Ephesians 4:22; Colossians 3:5–10)?  

The only eye that should remain in a believer is the eye that is offered to the Lord as a slave for righteousness. The only hand that should remain in a believer is the hand that is offered to the Lord as a slave for righteousness. The former self should have been crucified. The lusting eye or the adulterous hand should be crucified with it, and when it makes an appearance, it should be destroyed. 

The Lord Sanctifies Us unto Salvation from Hell. Matthew 5:20 spoke of the righteousness we need to enter heaven. Now Matthew 5:29 and Matthew 5:30 warn against entering hell. Either our sinful self was crucified with Christ at His cross, or it will be cast entirely into hell. And not just the whole body but the soul with it. 

King and kingdom are at war with our sin. If we are not at war with all that remains from our original self, from our original nature, then we do not have good reason to think that we belong to King or kingdom. 

Jesus literally warns us here about being in the church, but being in danger of our whole body being cast into hell. These verses are not given to us so that we can nuance ourselves into excuses. They are given so that we would not merely self-identify as Christians, but be identified (by tangible fruit!) as those who are actually united to Christ.

Salvation is real! And real sanctification, with real mortification, always accompanies real justification, which comes through real faith in a real Christ. We must come to define profit in heavenly and eternal terms. Let us be so sure of spiritual and eternal things that we consider these the truly “profitable” things. 

How are you presenting your members as slaves unto God for righteousness? How is this profitable to you?

Sample prayer:  Lord, we thank You for creating marriage. Forgive us for corrupting it. We thank You all the more for saving us from the guilt of our sin in Christ. By His grace, save us also from its presence, we ask in His Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP24 “The Earth and the Riches” or TPH538 “Take My Life, and Let It Be”

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