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Sermon on the Mount: Committing Adultery – Matthew 5:27-30

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“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.

Matthew 5:27-30 NIV

Adultery is defined in the dictionary as a sexual relationship between a married person and one who is not their spouse. This prohibition against adultery is included in the Ten Commandments (Ex. 20:14) and so is at the core of the Old Testament Law. But Jesus, as he did with murder, goes beyond the letter of the law and gets to the heart of the matter. According to Jesus, adultery is not just a physical action. It is also a matter of the heart and mind. Jesus tells us that to look at a woman, other than your spouse, with the desire to have her makes you guilty of adultery.

A Call to Purity

I believe that Jesus was talking about more than just adultery in this passage. I am quite certain that he is talking about all forms of sexual sin, whether adultery, fornication, pornography, or sexual fantasies. And I believe he would include substance abuse as well. And anything else that would defile us and keep us from wholehearted devotion to him.

As followers of Christ, we are called to be pure and holy. And not just in our actions, but in our thoughts as well. Allowing impurities to continue in my life will hinder the spiritual life with God that he desires. I live in this world and have to interact with it. I need to eat, sleep, work, and rest. Relationships with other people are important. But I need to guard against allowing any of those things to cause me to stumble. My stumbling is not just a personal issue. It impacts all of those that I have a relationship with. And that is true, even if they have no direct knowledge of my failure (1 Co. 12:26).

Things That Cause Us to Stumble

Jesus follows his words about adultery with a challenging statement. If my right eye or hand causes me to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. That sounds pretty extreme, and I’m not sure that Jesus meant it literally. It would seem to be more metaphorical; I need to remove from my life those things that are stumbling blocks. If I have a problem with drinking, I should stop going to places where there is easy access to alcohol. If I have a problem with pornography, then I may want to make sure that I do not have private access to a computer. If I have friends that often lead me into sin, I may need to cut off, or limit, those relationships.

None of this is intended to be legalistic. Instead, Jesus is giving instructions to help us live a life that is pleasing to God. We should not be living our lives for what we can gain here. Instead, we should be looking to eternity, and not letting anything here hinder that. Don’t let anything in this life keep you from eternal life. Remove it instead.

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Ed Jarrett

Just an old clay jar that God continues to see fit to use in his kingdom's work. I am retired, married with 2 children, and 4 grandchildren. I have followed Jesus for many years. And I love to share what He has given me from His word.

A Note to Readers

The views expressed here are solely mine and do not necessarily reflect those of any other person, group, or organization. While I believe they reflect the teachings of the Bible, I am a fallible human and subject to misunderstanding. Please feel free to leave any comments or questions about this post in the comments section below. I am always interested in your feedback.

2 thoughts on “Sermon on the Mount: Committing Adultery – Matthew 5:27-30”

    • Fornication is sexual relations between two people who are not married to each other.
      Adultery is fornication where at least one of the people is married to someone other than the one they are engaging in sexual activity with.


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