“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matthew 5:27-28
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “You think your righteousness will be seen in your actions, but God will see it in your heart.” Murderous and adulterous thoughts are just as bad as the acts themselves. You used to be able to say, “I’m not going to murder that person because murder is not right, but I sure would love to do it!” You used to think that no matter what you thought about the matter, if you refrained from murder then you were righteous. But now you know that if you think about it, you’re as unrighteous as if you did it. It’s the same dance with adultery. Jesus said if you look at a woman with lust, you’ve committed a sin. Your thoughts and your actions make you unrighteous.
You have no shot at being righteous on your own!
Righteousness means living right, but your flesh doesn’t do that. It’s a battle. It’s why Paul asked, “Why do I do the things I don’t want to do, and the things I should do, I don’t do?” Right? That’s why the people of the Bible had to sacrifice so many animals. In order to cover certain sins, they would sacrifice animals at the same time every year. But the righteousness didn’t last. The flesh is weak! So they would mess up again, and then sacrifice again. It got to the point where sacrifices were just a routine. You’d sacrifice an animal, then go and live however you wanted to live, and then just sacrifice another animal. It was done without a heart commitment.
If you told your spouse “I love you” simply because you were supposed to, that wouldn’t mean that you actually love her or him. You would just be saying “I love you” to fulfill an obligation. That’s what was happening with the law and sacrifice. Even the Pharisees were keeping the law without the commitment of the heart! “I don’t murder,” they said. “I don’t commit adultery.” And so Jesus told them, “Yes, but you think about it. You’re still unrighteous.”
If you think obeying the law is going to make you righteous, think again. God looks past your flesh and right into your heart. God knows the flesh is flawed. Jesus never died for the flesh. Nowhere in Scripture does it say that Jesus died to save the flesh of man. Flesh is going to be flesh. It’s bad. It just is! That’s never going to change. So, no matter how good you appear to be, you’re not. You’re going to mess up. You’re not perfect! No one is, except Jesus.
Hearing this you might think well, I have no hope. But you have a ton of hope. You have hope because Jesus also said, “When I am 33 years of age, I’m going to die on this cross. I’m going to tear down the Temple and I’m going to rebuild it in three days. And then, it’s finished. Then, he who believes in me and who I am will be righteous and holy. No performance will be needed. You’ll be righteous and holy, just as you are.”
His sacrifice freed us!
See you Thursday.