Daily email Number 353 – from the Vicar

We continue looking at the Sermon on the Mount together by reading Matthew Chapter 5 verses 27 to 30.And let me say I’m very grateful for John Stott’s commentary on the SotM which I have on my bookshelf, which is brilliantly clear in its explanation.
Jesus moves on from the 6th of the 10 Commandments originally given to Moses and God’s OT people to the 7th, from the prohibition against murder to the prohibition against adultery.And again Jesus is widening the scope of the commandment from the narrow version that the Scribes and Pharisees were wanting to use.
‘As the prohibition of murder included the angry thought and the insulting word, so the prohibition of adultery included the lustful look and imagination.  We can commit murder with our words; we can commit adultery in our hearts or minds.’And similar to last time, not every lustful look leads to the physical act of adultery, but I think it would be safe to say that every physical act of adultery begins with a lustful look.
And so Jesus’ application of what one of His disciples should do sounds dramatic, cutting out or cutting off body parts.  However, I think it is pretty clear that Jesus is using a dramatic figure of speech and not meaning this literally, but He is making the point that immorality or any kind of sin is serious, and that drastic action is sometimes needed.John Stott is very clear and practical here.  If something causes you to sin in the sexual area (or any other form of immorality as it happens) through your eyes, then don’t look, as if you had plucked your eyes out and couldn’t see any more.’Again, if your hand or foot causes you to sin, because temptation comes to you through your hands (things you do) or your feet (places you visit), then cut them off.  That is: don’t do it!  Don’t go!’  Behave as if you didn’t have hands or feet.
And so JS concludes, ‘Of course this teaching runs counter to modern standards of permissiveness.  (And he was writing back in 1978, and things have certainly got even more permissive 40 years later!)  It is based on the principle that eternity is more important than time and purity than culture, and that any sacrifice is worthwhile in this life if it is necessary to ensure our entry into the next.’

Jesus is saying these things because He doesn’t want His followers (or anybody else) to end up in hell; salvation and eternity is at stake here.  Let us listen carefully to the warnings of the Lord Jesus.

From our church address list, let us remember in our prayers today,- Derek & Joanna- Doreen.

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