Our culture can’t make up its mind about sex. We either strip it down until it has no significance, or we load it up with the weight of the sky. It’s nothing or everything, the culture can’t decide. The problem is the following. The more we try to pretend sex is nothing, the more damaged we become; the more we try to make sex out to be everything, the more disillusioned we become. In our cultural moment, sex has become a runaway train of over-amped desires careening off the rails. This is the way of the Kingdom of the Earth.
But what if there was a better way? What if our disordered hearts could be set right? What if sex could be beautiful again? What if hearts dominated by lust could become hearts dominated by love?
In this sermon from Matthew 5:21-27, we’ll explore three points:
- The Monstrosity of Lust: The 7th commandment forbids adultery. But when Jesus references this commandment in the Sermon on the Mount, He pits himself not against the Old Testament law but against the Pharisees’ teaching about the law. The Pharisees preached a surface level righteousness, but Jesus spoke about a righteousness that goes deeper than that: if your heart is righteousness like God’s, you won’t even let lust gain traction in your heart. Jesus is talking about the predatory objectification and selfish engorgement of the “lustful look.” It’s not the first look that Jesus is concerned with, it’s the second look, the deliberate look. When we look with lustful intent, it’s just the opposite of how God designed our sexuality to work as an act of radical self-donation; the giving of oneself for the enjoyment of another in the security of conventional love. Sex is designed to forge covenant bonds of self-giving love for life. But in lust, we twist inward into something that’s all about us; this is our sexuality caving in upon us. Jesus says cultivated lust in our hearts is monstrous; to you, to them, and to everyone.
- The Severity of the Situation: To reinforce the point, Jesus uses strong language (cut off your hand) to tell us that lust in our hearts is a matter of eternal life and death. His point is to shock us into realizing a profound point: the only way to truly overcome lust, to root out the spiritual rot, is to receive a new heart. How do we do that?
- The Heart of New Affections: The righteousness we need is a goodness of heart like God Himself, full of loving self-giving and covenant faithfulness. But our hearts are not like that naturally; Jesus is our only hope. He is the only one who can establish the New Covenant of the Spirit. Jesus teaches us to live, not as an Orphan who has to fend for themselves to make sure their spiritual needs are met, but as a Child of God with a Father who knows how to provide for our deep spiritual needs.
Our hearts show us what’s real. The Orphan Heart goes into the world empty, starving for its deep spiritual needs to be met. Lust is one of the ways we try to quench that deep spiritual thirst.
Lust shows us our Orphan Heart. It shows us that we’re looking to human beings to meet the deep soul needs that only God can satisfy.
In the same way, love shows us our heart as a Child of God. It shows us that we are looking to Him to meet our deep soul needs. We are not on our own, and we don’t need to fend for ourselves. We can drink deeply of the spiritual resources the love of God provides. Only then do we find spiritual security, significance, and satisfaction our hearts long for.
Takeaway: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” -Psalm 51:10