Things I Wish Jesus Had Never Said: Matthew 5:28
There’s something you need to know: I’ve cheated on my wife. I can’t tell you exactly with who, because I can’t remember her name. But there’s been more than just one woman. There’s been several.
It could have been a waitress several states away. It might have been a passer by in some department store. Some probably were women straight from TV or magazines. But I know it wasn’t just one woman. Or just one time.
I have a feeling I’m not the only man that’s cheated, however. How do I know I’m guilty? Jesus tells us in the Bible. In Matthew 5:27-28 He says "You have heard that it was said ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart."
Truly a backwards look at things, isn’t it? I mean, c’mon, it’s just kind of our nature to look at women. And as innocent as this may sound at first, many times we as men don’t just look at a woman.
But what does Jesus mean by looking at a woman lustfully? Anything more than a fleeting glance. Anything that takes us beyond a basic acknowledgement down to a road that eventually leads us to some imaginary place of sexual fantasy.
Yes. Us men are…pigs.
It is, without question, the most difficult sin for men to deal with, not to mention the hardest to talk about. Most men deal with it at some point in their lives. Some men fall deeper in than others, facing porn addictions that lead to the destruction of families.
I could throw a book of statistics at you, but one that is pretty alarming is the fact that more money is spent annually on porn in the U.S. than is spent on NFL, NBA, and MLB combined. Men have a seemingly insatiable need for skin, and are willing to empty bank accounts to pay for it.
What else does God’s word have to say regarding the issue of lust? In First Thessalonians we read "It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body…not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God.." The term sanctified means “set apart”. Set apart from a world that lures us in with sexual advances through magazines, TV screens, and the internet.
It can be difficult to avoid. Anywhere you turn these days, a woman is selling you beer with her cleavage, website domains by taking off her clothes, or, in a mind-boggling scheme, flaunting a bikini so you’ll buy a 3,000 calorie cheeseburger.
Hebrews 13:4 says this: "Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral." In a nutshell, our wedding day covenant with our wives means they are our standard of beauty. That means no Victoria’s Secret model will ever compare with the woman that has chosen to spend the rest of her life with us. She is beautiful in every way, and we are to honor her as such. God has commanded this.
But really, it’s not so easy. Most guys like me can readily describe to you the image of the first Playboy we saw. We can rehash locker room jokes about girls in high school. Some I’m sure have forgotten names of girls they slept with in college, if they ever knew their names to begin with. It’s kind of how we are.
But God doesn’t put up with any excuses. In First Corinthians we read Paul’s writings: "I will not be mastered by anything…Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body…Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit…you are not your own….therefore honor God with your body."
We can’t sit by and let this master us. We can’t just say that because we’re men created with healthy sex drives that we can allow lust to consume us.
We need accountability. We need drastic measures.
I can remember in high school each January receiving the SI Swimsuit Issue. I can remember mom tearing out all the pictures that I didn’t need to see. At the time, I think I went rummaging through trash cans to find them. But looking back, I know it was for my own good. We are all created in the image of God. That means we don’t have the right to look at anyone else as some object to be drooled over.
How big of a problem is lust for you? I remember a speaker one time talking to a group of us teenagers about lust. He worked as a pilot, always on the road away from home. He was addicted to porn movies, and it got to a point that when he finally realized his addiction, he knew he had to avoid the temptation altogether. He then begin having his co-pilots at each hotel stop come to his room and remove his TV completely so he wouldn’t even have the temptation. Drastic measures indeed.
Job spoke of some drastic measures himself in the Old Testament in regards to lust:
"If my heart has been enticed by a woman, or if I have lurked at my neighbor’s door, then may my wife grind another man’s grain, and may other men sleep with her, for that would have been shameful, a sin to be judged. It is a fire that burns to Destruction; it would have uprooted my harvest." Job 31:9-12
How many of us would be willing to do that? "Hey sweetie, I’ve lusted a few times this week. Why don’t you go sleep with someone else and we’ll call it even?"
There are so many lessons we as men can learn about the consequences of lust. Perhaps the best is the story of David and Bathsheba in 2 Samuel. The destruction caused by David lingering too long looking at a naked woman was tremendous.
We can talk for days and weeks about what lust means for men, but what about women? In an increasingly over-sexualized nation, our wives, daughters, sisters, and female friends are bombarded with images of how they should look. They read best sellers like 50 Shades of Grey that teaches them how they should act. They watch movies like Magic Mike, an almost mirroring of typical male-focused garbage centering on half naked men as objects of desire.
I would beg of you women to not fall in to the stereotype. The world wants you to dress a certain way, talk a certain way, and live a certain way that only emphasizes your physical attributes. But the Bible says "Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised." Psalm 31:30
A former pastor of ours once told a story of a struggle between he and his wife and their teenage daughter. She wanted a certain type of skimpy swimsuit that they wouldn’t let her get. She didn’t understand why. To really drive the point home, he had her read the book Every Young Man’s Battle, which is a book devoted to the issue of lust that boys begin dealing with in their teenage years. What the daughter learned was how boys were looking at girls her age, and the scary thoughts that go through their minds.
I feel like that’s a course of action many young women need to take. You really need to understand what’s in a boy’s mind. And how you can help from being a stumbling block that leads him down a path of lust.
That means stop posting pictures of yourself half naked on Facebook and Twitter. That means stop giving credence to those in Hollywood that do nothing but use their bodies for attention. That means stop flirting around with every man in a desire for attention and wait patiently for God to reveal his mate to you. That means quit believing the lies of any boy/man that tells you he loves you in order to get you naked.
Admittedly, 15 years ago I would have rolled my eyes reading something like this. But now as a man married for nearly 10 years to a beautiful woman who’s smile lights up the darkest room, and raising two precious daughters who have eyes that sparkle light the midnight stars, my views on lust and love and respect have changed. Or, more appropriately, cemented themselves in my mind and heart.
Husbands, make it your vow to not cheat on your wife anymore. Set her now as your standard of beauty, and pray daily that God would steer you clear of anything that would tempt you.