Purity and true love

Ds J Bruintjes
Mattheus 5: 27 - 30
Preek Inhoud: 

A few years ago, the “#Me Too” movement showed that so much abuse and sexual harassment takes place without society taking notice. More and more women were coming out and still are. The movement revealed the pervasiveness of sexual aggression, objectification, and harassment as the shared female experience.
It all started with a tweet in the middle of the day, “If you have been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet.” By the end of the day the words “me too” had been posted 200 000 times on Twitter alone. Within one year that number had become 19 million or fifty-five thousand tweets a day. If you had any doubt that Jesus’ words are not relevant in our world, think again. The world needs Jesus more than ever. Only He can change the heart of men and women.
It did not take long for this to catch on and there was a “#Church too” movement that started of people standing up courageously in church talking about sexual assault in the church.
And today in social isolation we are hearing terrible stories that abuse is on the rise. That women are not safe in their own homes. It seems like nothing has changed. Why not? Because the human heart has not changed. There has been no real repentance, and a new way of life. New desires. Only Jesus can do that.

Purity and true love:

1. Renewing your mind
2. Worth the sacrifice

Renewing your mind

You have heard that it was said, “You shall not commit adultery, but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman lustfully has committed adultery in her heart.” Your heart. That is what Jesus wants. And He wants not just your heart, but a new humanity. A kingdom where there is no disconnect from the way one acts and what one feels, thinks and desires. Where you don’t need to act a certain way when you are in public, but that you are a certain way.Jesus transforms us and remakes us in his image so that we do not see each other as objects to be used, but ashumans uniquely created in the image of God to be respected, loved, cared for. So that we look at people through the eyes of the Lord Jesus Christ. So that, instead of taking (lust), we give (love). In order to do that we need to be filled with the Spirit of Christ, who imparts the life of Christ to us.
The One who gave Himself for us, enables us to say no to those desires and yes to godliness, and purity.
“I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman lustfully has committed adultery in her heart.” Here He shows us the value of the human body. There are two ways that this could be read. On the one hand it could be anyone that looks at a woman in order to seduce her, or flirtatiously, has committed adultery. Or it could also mean that anyone who feeds lust in his heart commits adultery. In other words, looks and stares. I think He could simply mean both. The word here is to keep looking with the desire to sleep with or have sex with. This is about that lingering look that feeds an animalistic desire, that makes you less human, and treats the other as less then human.
Just to make it clear. Women also wistfully look at other men and wish they had married that man when he belongs to another woman. It is the temptation that we have that the grass is always greener on the other side.

It’s not only the act of adultery that’s the problem, it’s what happens before that. The act was simply born out of the thought. Adultery happens in the heart long before it happens in the bed. It is not just what we do with our genitals, it’s what we do with our minds, eyes, and heart. This is why Job said, “I have made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a woman.” Why with his eyes! Not with his hands! Because he knew it was the looks that would lead to the act.
For a Christian it is not normal to look at a woman lustfully. Not if Jesus lives in you. It simply can’t be normal. It is abnormal. Abhorrent. If this is normal, check your heart. It is not those who say Lord, Lord, who will be saved, but who actually do the will of the Father. Repent.
Jesus is talking to the person doing the looking, but in doing so He also says much about the person that is being looked at. She is not to be looked at or eventhought about lustfully. As something that you can take. She is not something. She is a someone – a reflection of God. Someone that Jesus died for. In lusting you not only degrade yourself and her, but you disrespect God.

Looking is such a serious offense, because the other person is worth so much. Love honors, lust degrades. We forsake lust not because the body is not important, and sexuality cheap, but because the body is supremely important. And sexuality sacred! That is why we protect it so highly!
So how do we do this? As disciples it’s all about renewing our mind. It is there where all sin starts. Eve had to think of taking the fruit before she took it. Our mind is the factory that is producing everything else that happens in our life. Romans says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.”
For the “#Me too movement” the moral outrage that followed was healthy but short lived, because there was nothing undergirding that moral outage. The world can see there is something wrong – and are angry, but they do not have the solution. Because it is all about the act – not the heart. Their rule, “If it’s consensual they say its ok.” This rule can be twisted and undermined in a million different ways. That will never ultimately change anything. It is the heart that must change – and only Jesus can do that.
A lustful thought is like a torpedo, cruising relentlessly, silently under the water, straight toward the hull of our ship. We don’t notice it at first in life. We tend to minimize the impact. In fact, most of us believe we are spiritually strong enough to take a few hits. Especially when we are younger. In this time of self-isolation and an overflow of tech it’s so easy to just indulge in one image. One look won’t hurt. My texting flirtatiously with a woman won’t hurt anyone even though I know I would never date her. Me sending one image won’t hurt. It won’t damage my soul. I am strong enough to watch that movie. Do not think this way. Your soul is in danger of hell. God in Jesus takes us to the seriousness of sin, and the high standard of holiness.
The truth is we can’t afford to let any lustful thoughts into our minds. We can’t let them linger, even for a few seconds. That little opening is all the Enemy needs; he isvery adept at slithering in through the smallest of cracks, until it is a gaping hole in your spiritual armor.

Most of us know what it’s like to finish committing some act of sin, and then immediately begin to question ourselves: How did that happen? What went wrong? I was doing fine, then all of a sudden, IT happened. Be assured, IT began as a tiny, silent thought in your mind.
Long after men (or women) stop acting out sexually, they still admit to having a seemingly constant battle with lustful thoughts. Some will give up and eventually backslide into their former sexual sins. But others will press through to the victory that is found in Christ Jesus. Yes, even here radical discipleship is only possible by keeping our eyes on Jesus. By never giving up. By being constant in prayer. I think it’s in the fight against sin that we need specially to hear Jesus’ words on prayer and being persistent in prayer.
It’s worth the sacrifice
“If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members that that your body be thrown into hell. And if you right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it way. For it is better that you lose one of you members that that your whole body go into hell.”
The Covid 19 sickness has taught us that we will do anything to preserve life. Even that which hurts. What are you willing to give up to preserve your soul and the soul of others? And that is the point here. Do whatever you have to do, because this disease is far more deadly, and is far harder to shake. And if you don’t and let it control you it will lead to a death that will continue into eternity.

Twice He says it is better to lose one of your members then that you who body be thrown into hell. In other words, if cutting off body parts and taking out eyes would help in the fight, then it’s worth it. But we know it’s not – it’s the heart that is the problem. Now my question is, have you done everything in your power to stop? I mean everything. Talking to others, installing software, being constant in prayer. And if not, why not? What is stopping you? Self-righteous? Pride. Don’t let it. I know you are a sinner. You know I am a sinner. We all need to start then, then we can work on it.The eyes were often associated with lust, like in Numbers 15:39, “you may obey them and not prostitute yourselves by chasing after the lusts of your own hearts and eyes.” Or Proverbs 21:4, “Haughty eyes and a proud heart— the unplowed field of the wicked—produce sin.” The right hand shows that lust is a type of stealing. Some commentators think it is an euphemism for the male sexual organ.
Some have taken this seriously and cut off members of their own body. If it was only as easy as cutting off a bodily limb. Then we could all enter heaven, no problem, just cut off the limb. But that is not the problem, is it? It’s the heart, that is where all the sins get cooked up before it gives birth. Imagination is a God-given gift, but if it is fed dirt by the eye, it will be dirty. We must cut the fountain of sin off at its source.

Jesus is using drastic language here to show us the sacrifice of following Him. WE DO NOT LIVE FOR OURSELVES. BUT HIM! We have to die to ourselves. Our hearts must be cut in a sense, and Jesus must reign. Jesus died for this sin, so that you might reign with Him over it. As the Bible says “For the death He died to sin, once for all, but the life He lives He lives to God. So, you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.” For every lustful thought those nails were driving deeper and that blood flowed steadily. Jesus was totally cut off from the land of the living for our sins.
To be frank, the major problem on the road to victory over lustful thoughts is that maybe we don’t really want them to go away badly enough. The only way you are going to want to get rid of them, is if you set something better before your eyes! So set Christ before you! Let his beauty overwhelm you! His forgiveness engulf you, and his love envelope you! See Him as the pearl of great price for which you would be willing to sell all.

Now to be clear, the road is difficult. It’s a battle. A war! There is no secret formula to produce instant victory. There is no such shortcut. Lustful thoughts are overcome one by one, thought by thought. Lustful thoughts are about practicing the presence of God – living in each moment filled with the love of Christ, motivated by his beauty in glory, and the splendor of his purity and holiness.It begins with out of sight, out of mind. Don’t fill your mind with these things whether it’s sleazy mags, websites, or movies. Stop it. Colossians 3:5 says, “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.” What does this mean? It means to stop feeding that thing. Any living thing that is not fed will eventually die, or at least lose its power. As Owen said be killing sin or it will be killing you. You are either feeding the old man or the new man. And both get a bigger appetite the more you feed. If you sow to feed your sinful nature from that nature you will reap destruction. If you sow to feed your new nature you will reap eternal life.
It’s worth it. Eternal life is your reward. God is your reward! He is more then you could ever imagine! Just imagine if all the people in the church always looked at everyone else, and asked not what can I take, or how can I use them, but genuinely loved them from the heart and asked what can I give! This would be an awesome community. This is the community Jesus is building. This is counterculture.

Dear church, the Word of God instructs us to take our thoughts captive (II Corinthians 10:5), and the best way to do that is to pray. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Prayer is the means by which we appropriate the power to overcome sin. We need Him. And his power.
If you lack the discipline to pray, then call a family member, a friend, or a spiritual mentor who can pray with you. Humble yourself and confess your need for prayer to overcome these lustful thoughts. Such humility opens the door for God’s favor. Remember, God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. (I Peter 5:5)
A new and transformed mind is filled with thoughts of Jesus and His love as it was revealed on the cross. A transformed mind meditates day and night on the life and power available through His Word. A transformed mind causes the flow of your life to be reversed, so that instead of everything flowing toward you—things are flowing toward others. In the same way you once gave over to lust, you must be given over to meeting the needs of others.
God wants to renew and transform our minds. He wants to transform our ugly, self-centered, lust-filled minds and give each one of us a “beautiful mind,” one that truly pleases and glorifies Him.So, let’s be vicious and brutal in killing sin, and promoting holiness. Let’s be confessing, let’s be praying. Let’s trust that God will be faithful in making us beautiful. Let’s take holiness seriously, for He calls us to be holy as He is holy. To be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect. This is just possible in Jesus, our Lord.