The Importance of Intentions

Come Sunday, I often feel a bit battered and beaten by the world – its adversities and temptations.  Luckily I often find a good sermon to challenge me and hopefully build me up. This Sunday’s sermon dealt (perhaps slightly embarrassedly) with the subject of sexual behaviour.

The passage that was preached came from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, where He specifically deals with adultery. It is a very challenging passage:

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.

Matthew 5:27-28

What is so challenging about this is that sin does not spring from our actions, but originates in our hearts. That is, it is our will and intentions that matter, not necessarily our acts. We don’t have to have touched, or even approached a women – the adultery occurred in our minds.

It reinforces the preceding passage on murder:

You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and any one who murders will be subject to judgement.’… But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.

Matthew 5:21&22

The similarity is clear. It is the hateful thought that is sinful, regardless of whether it ends in a fatal blow or merely dissipates from our lips.

If we can murder and commit adultery with our minds, then I guess Pol Pot and Casanova have nothing on me. How wonderful that our salvation depends not at all on what we have done, but what God in His grace has done for us!

Snigger alert: Since we’re talking about sex and the Bible, I can’t resist this passage that we came across in my Bible reading group today. It is from Ezekiel 23:20:

There she lusted after her lovers, whose genitals were like those of donkeys and whose emission was like that of horses.

I almost thought I was reading Fifty Shades of Grey.

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