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Who Is an Adulterer? Part 2 B

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
October 7, 2020 4:00 am

Who Is an Adulterer? Part 2 B

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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October 7, 2020 4:00 am

Focus on the Family
Jim Daly
Focus on the Family
Jim Daly
Wisdom for the Heart
Dr. Stephen Davey
Wisdom for the Heart
Dr. Stephen Davey

Job said in Job 31, I made a covenant with my eyes.

Why then should I think upon a maid? You know what his covenant was? Not to look. And you better make a covenant with your eyes. Job recognized that the thought is father to the deed, and that if he allowed his eyes the privilege, they would pander his adulterous heart. Welcome to Grace to You with John MacArthur.

I'm your host, Phil Johnson. In March of 2009, a woman from Washington State stole $73,000 from her church. How did she explain her actions? Well, as she told the police, Satan had a big part in the theft. Well, while Satan is a tempter, he wants people to do wrong, can we really blame him for our evil deeds? Consider that today on Grace to You as John MacArthur looks at who is ultimately responsible for our sin, and how we can be delivered from a depraved heart. John's current study is titled, The Sinfulness of Sin. And if you have your Bibles, turn to the book of Matthew, and here's John MacArthur. Matthew chapter 5, verses 27 through 30.

Let me read them as you follow. Ye have heard that it was said, Thou shalt not commit adultery. But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee, for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee, for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. our Lord is talking here about sin. Let's see how He gets at it with the illustration of adultery in verse 27. Three points. The deed, the desire, and the deliverance. It's very simple, very clear.

First of all, the deed. You have heard that it was said, Thou shalt not commit adultery. The phrase by them of old isn't in all the older manuscripts.

It's certainly fitting that it's there in a sense because it's used elsewhere in the same section, but better manuscripts leave it out, so we'll omit it. You have heard that it was said, Thou shalt not commit adultery. Now that's the deed. God's law said, Thou shalt not commit adultery. Exodus chapter 20 verse 14. Deuteronomy, where you have Deuteronomos, the second law, it's repeated in 518, Neither shalt thou commit adultery.

It's very clear. The Bible leaves absolutely no question about this particular sin. The deed is condemned. It is an evil deed. It is a heinous crime to commit adultery.

It is a vile, evil, wretched manifestation of a vile heart. And the Bible is very clear about it. In Leviticus 18 and Leviticus 20, the penalty could be death.

A very serious crime ending in death for the one who committed it. So we see the deed condemned by God. Now you'll notice that in our passage in Matthew, it was the leaders, the rabbinic tradition that said, Thou shalt not commit adultery. They were right. They weren't wrong. We aren't implying that at all. We are only saying they never went far enough.

They were right. It was evil. God did say don't do it. It was a serious crime and still is. Now let me talk for a moment about the word itself, the word adultery. It's a very simple word. The root means this, unlawful intercourse with the spouse of someone else.

That's basically the technical meaning. A physical, sexual relationship with somebody else's spouse. Most Bible scholars see it not only as a command not to engage in sexual activity with somebody else's spouse, but see it in a general sense because the word is also used in a general way in some other sources. For example, in some places the word means to seduce or violate a woman. That's very general, a married or unmarried woman.

Other places it is translated to commit harlotry. So that generally the word has been used to speak of any kind of illicit intercourse at all and anything is illicit outside the bond of marriage. So primarily it refers to a sexual relationship that violates a marriage, but I believe it can...the spirit of it extends farther to include any kind of illicit sexual behavior. And I think the wideness of it is indicated in what our Lord says in verse 28 where He says that anybody who looks on any woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart. And the woman He speaks of here, He doesn't say whether she's married or not. It's so broad that anybody who lusts after any woman has committed adultery in his heart. So the Lord is using the term in the broadest possible manner. Anybody and any woman. Now let me tell you people, this is a sin that really waves the banner today.

It's as if we've just completely turned our back on this. Somebody ought to read Proverbs 5, 6 and 7 before they ever engage in this. Proverbs 5, 6 and 7 just speak so pointedly to the devastation caused by the sin of sexual adultery or fornication. It is a sin for fools.

Witness David and the results. Witness Shechem who defiled Dinah and was later slaughtered. Witness Absalom who defiled others in the sexual sins and wound up being hanged in a tree. It is a sin for fools.

The Bible says you take fire into your bosom. Fornicators and adulterers, Hebrews 13, 4, God will judge. The New Testament reiterates with finality and firmness this prohibition. 1 Corinthians chapter 6 condemns it. 2 Peter chapter 2 condemns it. Revelation chapter 2 condemns it. The end of the book of Revelation says that fornicators and adulterers won't even enter into God's kingdom. It is a serious, heinous, vile crime.

Sexual immorality today and any day is just as vile, just as heinous, just as evil as it was then. And I don't care if you're engaged. I don't care if you're going together. I don't care if you believe you love each other.

I don't care whatever it is apart from the bond of monogamous marriage and act of sexual relationships is a heinous crime. And we need to say it like that in our day because people don't believe that. So the deed. But Jesus isn't finished with the deed. He wants to talk about the desire in verse 28. This is what he says. But I say unto you, in other words, you went as far as you went, but you never went far enough.

You stopped with the externals. I say to you, whosoever, anybody, looking on a woman, any woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart. Now this is a fascinating verse and there's much I want you to see. The Lord forces the self-righteous to the fact that they're not holy. The Pharisees are saying, we don't do that. We don't commit that sin. And Jesus drives them right down into their hearts as if Psalm 66, 18 became a reality if I regard iniquity in my what? Heart. The Lord will not hear me. God is always examining the sin of the heart. It is the internal that breaks the relationship. And so it is that Jesus says, I am concerned about what's on the inside. Let's look at the terms. But I, and it's emphatic.

Ego is there. The pronoun is there because He is saying, I am the new authority. You've had your authority the rabbinic tradition. Sometimes it was true to Moses.

Sometimes it was not. In this case it was true to Moses. But nonetheless, He is referring to the rabbinic tradition. You have had that, but I am a new authority.

And by the way, He said this in such an authoritative way that when He was finished with the sermon, they were shocked because He spoke with such authority. I say that pass ha, anybody whosoever looketh, present participle is in the process of continuing to look. Now mark that. It's continuous action, blepon, a continued state. You see the idea? It isn't the inadvertent accidental glance. That's not what our Lord is talking about. It is the purposeful, repeated, lustful looking. It isn't the involuntary glance at all.

It is that which is purposeful. And by the way, I'll show you an interesting thing about this verse. Listen to what He says. Whoever looks on a woman to lust after her... Now listen to this. He doesn't say commits adultery. No. He doesn't say that. Whoever looks on a woman to lust after her commits adultery.

No. He says whoever looks on a woman to lust after her has already committed adultery in his heart. Why? Because it is the vile, adulterous heart that results in the wanton look. You see? The sin has already happened in the heart. The adultery is conceived and thus the look is prompted. That's why you may find in this life that someone passes into your gaze involuntarily and appears as a temptation from Satan or maybe even trying to attract attention.

And an involuntary glance means you just resist and turn away. But when you latch on and you cultivate and you pursue the desire, it's because your lustful, adulterous heart has been seeking an object and you fulfill the fantasy that's already there in your heart. Now notice the word lust. It's very helpful to see the Greek here. Whoever looks on a woman to lust.

And it uses a Greek form for you Greek students, prosto, with the infinitive. And any time you see that, it means a purpose with the purpose of lusting. In other words, it isn't an involuntary glance.

It is a purposeful one. The heart is filled with adultery, wanting to find an object to which to attach the fantasy. It's when you're looking for the woman to lust after.

When you go to the film because you know when you get there you will see what you desire in your heart to see, that which will meet your lust. It's when you go around the dial on the television to find the thing that panders your lust. It's when you seek the object. It's the purpose.

So it would read this way. Emphatically I say to you that whoever continues looking on a woman for the purpose of lusting gives evidence of already committing adultery in his heart. The continued look is the manifestation of the vile heart. And so what Jesus is saying is this, it's the heart that's the problem. You know, if it had just said whoever looks on a woman to lust after her is committing adultery, somebody would have said, well, you know, I was just minding my own business and there she came and she was very attractive and so forth and so on.

It just kind of happened. That isn't what the Lord's talking about. He's saying if that happens, it's because already in your heart is a vile, lusting, adulterous attitude. And so you see, it's the heart that is the problem. It's the heart that has to be transformed.

That's what He's saying. It's out of the heart proceeds evil thoughts, murders, adulterous fornications. He is condemning looking at a woman as an object to gratify an adulterous heart.

Let me just add this. Temptation to illicit sexual desire is not sin. Satan may tempt you.

Satan may draw something in to tempt you. The sin comes in what you do with it. If you entertain the temptation, if you maintain the temptation, if you pander those evil thoughts, then it becomes the sin. Steyer says, he who experiences at a first glance this desire and then instead of turning away and withdrawing from sin continues to look in order to retain and increase the desire, commits the sin.

It's when it's pandered. It's 2 Samuel chapter 11. David is walking on his roof and he looks over and hears Bathsheba innocently enough perhaps never dreaming that she could be seen from the king's porch, perhaps feeling very safe.

Up there is bathing and David instead of turning away and going back to where he should be continues to look and look and look until his adulterous heart brings forth adultery and lust and it ultimately ended both in the act and the murder of her husband. Somebody has said, sow a thought and reap an act. Sow an act and reap a habit. Sow a habit and reap a character. Sow a character and reap destiny. And it all starts when you sow a thought.

Now listen, the Bible says to the pure all things are pure. But to the one whose heart is defiled, he'll defile everything. He'll look at something beautiful and make it something ugly.

That's because his heart is defiled. That's why there's pornography people. That's why we have dirty books, dirty magazines, dirty movies, dirty music, dirty television shows, dirty jokes, dirty stories, dirty words.

That's why we have all of that kind of stuff. Because the heart of man is so evil and man finds things to pander his adulterous heart. Jesus is saying, if you've ever done that, you know the depths of sin.

You know that only a transformation of the inside can make a difference. Arthur Pink, writing years ago, said, by clear and necessary implication, Christ here also forbade the using of any other of our senses and members to stir up lust. If lustful looking is so grievous a sin, then those who dress and expose themselves with desires to be looked at and lusted after as Jezebel who painted her face, tired her head and looked out of the window are not less but perhaps more guilty. In this matter, it is not only too often the case that men sin, but women tempt them so to do. How great then must be the guilt of the great majority of the modern missus who deliberately seek to arouse the sexual passions of our young men? And how much greater still is the guilt of most of their mothers for allowing them to become lascivious temptresses? It goes both ways. And I think our Lord here is talking about a man lusting after a woman in His illustration, but He's assuming that it goes the other way, that women also lust after men.

Both are wrong. And creating the lust by the way you dress, you know, I actually sometimes fear when summer comes because of the impropriety of people and the way they dress because I don't think it assists the worship of the Lord. And I'm always concerned about that and I hope you're prayerful about it. No wonder Job said in Job 31, I made a covenant with my eyes. I made a covenant with my eyes.

Why then should I think upon a maid? You know what his covenant was? Not to look. And you better make a covenant with your eyes. Job went on to say, if my step has turned out of the way and my heart walked after my eyes and any blot hath clung to my hands, then let me sow and let another eat. In other words, if I break the covenant with my eyes, let me starve.

That's what he's saying. Job recognized that the thought is father to the deed, and that if he allowed his eyes the privilege, they would pander his adulterous heart. Psalm 119 37 says, turn, and it's a prayer to the Lord, turn my eyes away from beholding vanity. And so what our Lord is saying is the heart has to be dealt with because the heart is the issue.

That's the thrust of it. Now beloved, if you're a believer in Jesus Christ, you have a new heart. But oh, the flesh, the sinfulness that's still there raises its ugly head, doesn't it? Satan comes to tempt, I hope you've made a covenant with your eyes, you who have the resource for victory. But Jesus is saying to these Pharisees, your problem is too deep for your self-righteousness to handle. Then he goes a step further, and this is the final point. We'll hurry to a conclusion, and that is the deliverance.

How do you get out of this situation? From the deed to the desire to the deliverance. Look at this.

This is really fascinating. If your right eye offend you, pluck it out and cast it from you, for it's profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, not the whole body should be cast into hell. If thy right hand offend thee, cut it off and cast it from thee, for it's profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. Now when you first read that, you say, well that's absolutely incongruous. If he's saying the issue is the heart, what's he saying pluck out the eye for?

Don't blind people lust, you better believe it. If you plucked out your right eye and had a lustful heart, your left eye would go wild making up time for your lost right eye. The point is, Jesus is not saying that there is a physical remedy for a heart problem.

That would undermine the whole point. This is what He is saying. To a Jew, the right eye and the right arm and the right leg were symbols of the best facility that a man had.

The right was always symbolic of the better of the two. And He is simply saying there is nothing too precious to eliminate from your life if it's going to cause your heart to be pandered in its adulterous desires. That's what He's saying. Matthew chapter 18 verse 7, woe unto the world because of offenses. It must needs be that offenses come, but woe that man by whom the offenses come. If thy hand offend thee, cut it off, cast it from thee, it's better for thee to enter into life lame and maimed than having two hands to be cast into everlasting fire. If thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, cast it from thee, it's better to enter into life with one eye rather than two eyes and be cast into hell fire.

All He's really saying is that anything that causes a man to remain in his sin and to pander the adulterous heart and the evil heart should be eliminated if it is the most precious thing you have. People come along and say, well, I'm leaving my wife. Why? Well, because I found another one. We're in love. Oh, she means everything to me. Dump her.

Get rid of her. You're pandering your lust, condemning your soul. And so Jesus calls for immediate action. He diagnoses the problem and says, pluck it out, cut it off, eliminate it, whatever it is in your life, whatever it is, whatever it is that feeds that heart of lust, whatever it is that feeds that adulterous thought, get rid of it. If you go to a theater and you watch something that does that, don't go. Get rid of it.

If you have that problem with your television, get rid of it. If you read things like that, get rid of them. If you've got magazines lying around with pictures like that, throw them in the trash. Burn them.

Get rid of them. He is not really talking about the physical. We know that. He knows that cutting off your right hand isn't going to change an adulterous heart. Plucking out your right eye isn't going to change an adulterous heart. Well, what he is saying is take the most precious thing you have, your right arm, your right eye, if need be, and get rid of it if it stands in the way and if it brings you to sin. Notice the word offend just briefly. Verse 29, offend. Verse 30, offend.

Scandalon in the Greek. It's used of a trap. In fact, literally a bait stick in a trap.

In a trap they'd stick a bait stick, the animal would come grab the bait on the bait stick and the trap would close. Whatever it is in your life that causes these vile, evil thoughts, get rid of them. Now there's a kind of a subtlety in this whole thing. Let me ask you this. Could these scribes and Pharisees get rid of these problems? Could they? The fact of the matter is they couldn't. Jesus again is giving them an impossible standard, a frustration that's going to make them say, we tried and we can't. The Lord has said, boy, you're better off to have no eye and no arm than to go into hell.

You ought to say with the lizard, better my tail than my life. And they're going to say, but we can't. We can't. We don't know how to get this deliverance. And so they're going to come to the desperation of saying, we must have somebody do it for us.

We must have a new heart and a new life. And that is precisely what the Lord offers. You're listening to John MacArthur, Chancellor of the Masters University and Seminary. His current study here on Grace to You is titled, The Sinfulness of Sin. John, you know there's a strategy that's popular for dealing with temptation and sin, accountability groups. Maybe you've had some experience with this, John. For Christians who are serious about fighting sin, mortifying sin in their own lives, finding support from others in that fight might seem to be a good strategy.

What are your thoughts about this? The Bible does say, confess your faults one to another. In the book of James, you know, if any of us is overwhelmed by sin, we go to the elders, and the elders can pray for us, and that can bring us the communion with God that we desperately need. God hears and answers that prayer, and that can be part of rescuing us from sinful conditions. But I don't think accountability groups, I don't think that that is necessarily or at all the primary place where sin is going to be honestly dealt with.

Because you can play any game you want to play at that level. Sin has to be basically one in the heart. It has to be one inside of every believer. You know, you can keep things from anybody. You can keep things from your spouse, you can keep things from your children, you can keep things from your friends, you can let out only what you choose to let out, and maybe sometimes you seem like a more noble person, if you will, reveal some sins.

But very likely, most people are going to cover themselves at some point with something that's too deep and too disturbing. So I think that you can't expect any external relationship to be the key to victory in your Christian life, victory over sin. You have to win the battle on the inside. Because James says sin conceives in the heart, and sin then produces lust, and lust, when it's brought forth, produces sin, and sin produces death.

It all starts on the inside. So what mechanism has God given us individually on the inside to help us in that battle? The answer is conscience. Conscience. And that is why I wrote the book The Vanishing Conscience. And if you don't have an active conscience, your battle is going to be much more difficult. So the conscience is activated by a true understanding of the law of God and the truth of God. If I'm in the Word of God, my conscience is constantly being informed by the will of God, the honor and glory of God, and developing my love for God. That then activates my conscience when it moves in the direction of sin, because I'm about to be indicted by my conscience. So an active conscience is the first weapon against sin, and it becomes only as active as your understanding of the revelation of God in which he has revealed his will and his holy desires for the believer. Thanks, John.

That is a very helpful answer. And friend, if you want to keep your conscience strong and make sure that it's being informed by God's Word, pick up the book John mentioned, The Vanishing Conscience. If you have never contacted us before, we'll send it to you for free. Get in touch today. Our number here, 855-GRACE, or go to our website,

The Vanishing Conscience will show you how sin silences the conscience and how to overcome those sins and keep your conscience working right. Again, if you've never contacted us before, we will send you a copy for free. All you have to do is call us at 800-55-GRACE, or go to our website,

And if you've already got in touch, The Vanishing Conscience is available for $11, and shipping is free. To pick up a copy for yourself or a few to give away, call 800-55-GRACE, or go online to And to keep up with the latest news from John MacArthur and Grace To You, remember to follow us on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook. We're easy to find. Now for John MacArthur, I'm Phil Johnson. Look for Grace To You television this Sunday on DirecTV channel 378, or check your local listings for Channel and Times, and be here tomorrow when John continues his series, The Sinfulness of Sin, with another 30 minutes of unleashing God's truth, one verse at a time, on Grace To You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-22 23:11:22 / 2024-02-22 23:22:12 / 11

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