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Adultery in the heart: what is this?
Adultery in the heart
Jesus clarified that sexual righteousness is much more than avoiding sex outside of marriage. He said in Matthew 5:27-28 (TLV)
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that everyone who looks upon a woman to lust after her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. ’’
The above text is straightforward. However, I believe the words of Jesus are quite hard to obey for the single person. I hope nobody will interpret my words as a permission for single people to indulge in a sexual fantasy.
Jesus deals with what His disciples heard regarding adultery. All the schools of thought in the times of Jesus taught adultery was wrong. However, Jesus raises the standard and defines the law of adultery as not only something one is doing but also to something one thinks. Jesus explains that one can commit adultery in the heart or mind too!
Adultery in the heart and the act of adultery
I believe it is important to distinguish between sexual fantasy or adultery in the heart and the act of adultery. There is a big difference between the two of them! As a matter of fact, I did hear over the years quite a few men saying: I have already committed adultery in my heart, so why not do it in practice? There are some who keep themselves away from adultery because they are afraid to get caught but in their heart and mind commit adultery constantly. Of course, it is good and commendable that they restrain from the act of adultery. However, they need to take care of their heart too which is filled with adultery.
What Jesus is saying in the above verses is that both—adultery in the heart and the act of adultery—are sin and thus are prohibited. Needless to say, the act of adultery is far worse than adultery in the heart! In 1 Corinthians 6:18 (TLV) we read
Flee from sexual immorality! Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body—but the one committing sexual immorality sins against his own body.
Paul talks here about the act of adultery and he teaches that adultery has an effect on the body too. Paul continues to explain in the next verses that our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit. And that means our bodies do not belong to us so we must keep them clean, for God’s glory.
Adultery in the heart is sin
To commit a sin is a choice we make. I know there are people who believe they have no choice and thus no responsibility for what they think and what is happening in their heart. Indeed, we can decide where to set our mind.
To be tempted is not a sin. Jesus was tempted but without sin. Nonetheless, to fall into temptation is a choice—and I know for many this sounds too radical. Usually when one falls into a temptation of any kind, it happens because he or she made themselves somehow vulnerable to the enemy. This can happen when one neglects the Bible, prayer, Church fellowship, worship, staying under cover, etc. Or when one does not walk in the light, is not accountable to anyone or because of pride or disobedience—not being watchful! And on top of everything else one is more likely to fall into temptation when they feel lonely, depressed, rejected, bored, tired, or disoriented/confuzed. The list can be quite long.
So easily we forget that the Holy Spirit is our Comforter and best friend when facing a temptation. And so easily we give in and fall into temptation—often, without a fight. However, we do not fall into temptation at the moment we fall, but at the moment we fail to practice the Presence of God or abide in Jesus. That is the secret of having victory over sin and temptation—to constantly abide in Jesus!
Adultery in the heart in modern times
Nobody is immune to the garbage today’s society is promoting through the modern media. A man needs to protect his heart and eyes as he walks on the street, or in a shopping mall. Not to mention as he navigates the Internet and social media like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, or almost any other website. By the way, make sure your computer has installed an Internet filter—I use Covenant Eyes and you can see why. Advertisers know the power of sexual fantasy and they do not fail to exploit it.
Even in our Congregations one is not protected from sexual temptation! I know you know what I am talking about. Temptation does not care if you are single or married, a man or a woman, or a man of God. Indeed, a man of God is first—a man! Ministers are not an exception from the rule. Quite often they are under heavier attacks from the enemy as the others.
If one does not tame his mind, by the help of the Holy Spirit, he or she is in the danger of falling into the act of adultery. Not only that, but they will become step by step obsessed with sex and the physical.
Everybody needs to understand that as believers we can exercise godly control over our minds and thoughts (2 Corinthians 10:5).
In 1 Corinthians 6:18 Paul seems to put sins in two categories: outside of the body and against the body. However, sin is sin, no matter where it takes place—outside of the body or against it.
And the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). Sexual immorality can cause venereal disease and it defiles the body in many ways. Nevertheless, sexual sins are not harder for the Lord to forgive!
Any person, single or not, needs to take responsibility of their thoughts and clean their heart. I know most of us would prefer a prayer in which we tell God what to do but God requires our partnership.
In the mean time watch over your walk with God and if you sense you cannot overcome the dirty thoughts in your head, ask someone to help you. This applies not only to those who battle sexual thoughts but to those who fight any kind of sinful thoughts. Make sure you walk in the light!
And make sure you read Pastor Jack Hayford’s book
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