Studies In

The Sermon on the Mount

                        THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT -- LESSON THIRTEEN
                                   The Law Concerning Adultery and Divorce
                                                       Matthew 5:27-32

I.   In his continuing contrast between the righteousness of the scribes
     and the Pharisees, and the righteousness required by his law, Jesus in
     this paragraph discusses the seventh commandment.

  A. See Exodus 20:14, and Deuteronomy 5:18.

  B. The seventh commandment defends the sanctity of the home.

  C. Adultery is any sex experience outside the marriage bond.


  A. God ordained marriage--the idea and the institution originated
      with Jehovah.  (Matthew 19:4-6.)

  B. He said, "It is not good that man should be alone." (Genesis
 C. Jesus also teaches, "It is not good" for man to profane or destroy
      marriage, which is the work of God. (Matthew 19:6.)


  A. Adultery is an old sin, wrong from the beginning. (Genesis

  B. God dealt with it severely in the Old Testament. (Leviticus
 C. Adultery today is a common, very prevalent sin:  "New morality,"
 D. If the homes of a nation are corrupt, the nation collapses. 
       (Proverbs 14:34.)

	(Matthew 5:27,28).
 A. The seventh commandment:  "Ye have heard that it was said,
      Thou shalt not commit adultery."  (v. 27)

     1.   The law punished only those guilty of the act, and, according
           to the Pharisees, this law was broken only by the act.

     2.   God has always condemned adultery because it is a sin (a)
           against self, (b) against marriage, and (c) against heaven.

     3.   It is a sin against (a) the conscience and (b) against the 
           body-- the very opposite of glorifying God in the body.

     4.   It destroys marriage and the home:  For marriage to exist,
           there is the need for solid affection and mutual trust, both of
           which are destroyed by adultery.

     5.   There is no circumstance which can justify the scarlet sin:  It
           never was right, and it never will be right.

  B. The Lord's exposition:  "But I say unto you, that every one that
       looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery
       with her already in his heart."  (v. 28.)
    1.   As in the law of murder, Jesus goes behind the act and shows
           that, before the overt act is committed, the sin of adultery
           must first exist in the heart.

     2.   He does not forbid the "look of admiration or of affection,"
           but the lustful look. (cf. 2 Peter 2:14.)  He thus legislates
           against the look or desire which might, and which does, lead
           to the deed.

     3.   In this way Jesus cuts off an enormous evil at its root:  The
           man who abhors the sin of adultery in the heart will never be
           guilty of the act.

     4.   Mental adultery, a favorite American pastime, is a common
           "little fox" that defiles many souls.  (Mark 7:22,23.) 
           Millions are stimulated to guilt of this sin in the heart and in
           the act by the merchants of filth and smut whose thriving
           business is seen in magazines and papers, on TV and movies,
           on billboards and in advertising, books, etc., etc.

     5.   And if such looking be such a grave sin, what of those who
           commit the prevalent sin of Bathsheba by dressing and/or
           undressing so as to encourage or tempt to such looking? 
           (Matthew 18:6; Romans 14:19.)

     6.   Like righteous Job, let us make "a covenant with our eyes."
           (Job 31:1.)

       PHYSICIAN.  (Matthew 5:29,30)
 A. If right eye offend:  "And if thy right eye causeth thee to
      stumble, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable
      for thee that one of thy members should perish and not thy
      whole body be cast into hell."  (v. 29)

     1.   Self-denial is the first condition of discipleship.  (Matthew

     2.   Because of the intensity of the passion, its widespread
           indulgence, and its dreadful consequences, against which
           Jesus is legislating, he advises the strongest possible motivation to godly life.

     3.   The Lord here teaches that the passions of the flesh must be
           mastered or subdued at any cost:  Extreme sacrifices may be
           necessary, and should be decisively made.

  B. If right hand offend:  "And if thy right hand causeth thee to
      stumble, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for
      thee that one of thy members should perish, and not thy whole
      body go into hell." (v. 30)

     1.   To avoid serious sin, we must shut our senses, with strong
           determination, to that which excites, inflames, or arouses us
           to yield to temptation, however precious be the member.

     2.   Jesus is here teaching spiritual surgery:  Drastic operations --
           the speedy and decisive amputation of any pleasure or 
           tendency which would be a hinderance to spiritual and eternal
           life.  (cf. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27.)

     3.   Self-denial is to be practiced only where there is a need for 
           it--it is not an end within itself, although we should gladly give
           up any pleasure or thing which would cause us to stumble
           and be lost.

     4.   He also gives "the spiritual anesthetic, or that which should
           dull the pain of such loss:"  Entrance to higher life, which
           more than compensates for any necessary loss.  (Matthew
           18:8,9.)  See Thomas, p.63, for illustration of man, with deep
           Cobra bite, who instantly cut off his hand with a tremendous
           blow of his dagger, to save his life.

     5.   Crucify, do not dally one moment with, any evil passion or
           sinful appetite:  To indulge them is to give them added
           strength, and thus to encourage your own ruin.

     6.   Obviously these verses are not to be taken literally:  To
           dismember the bodies of Christians would merely turn the
           church into a hospital and would not prevent the sin of

     (Matthew 5:31,32)

  A. The law and divorce:  "It was said also, Whosoever shall put
      away his wife let him give her a writing of divorcement." 

     1.   See Deuteronomy 24:1-4.

     2.   For the hardness of their hearts, the law of Moses tolerated
           and permitted divorce, although such, except for the cause of
           fornication, was a sin against the seventh commandment, "as
           it opened the way to adultery."

     3.   "From the beginning," divorce has been wrong.  (Matthew

  B. Jesus upholds God's original law:  "But I say unto you, that
      everyone that putteth away his wife, saving for the cause of
      fornication, maketh her an adulteress: and whosoever shall
      marry her when she is put away committeth adultery."  (v.32)

     1.   The sanctity of the home must be guarded.

     2.   Jesus clearly upholds and defends God's original marriage
           law, and he forbids divorce, except for the single cause of
           fornication.  (Genesis 2:18-24; Matthew 19:6-9; Mark 10:2-12; 
           Luke 16:18.)

     3.   Nowhere in the New Testament is this teaching relaxed. 
            (Romans 7:2,3; 1 Corinthians 7:10-17.)

     4.   According to the New Testament, remarriage is allowed:

         a. In the death of a mate. (Romans 7:1-3; 1 Corinthians
             7:39.)  This is the only honorable way out by all parties.
         b. In the case of adultery, by the innocent.  (Matthew 19:9;
             5:32.)  The adultery, however, must be the actual cause
             of the "putting away," and not a result as is so often the
             case.  And the adultery must have occurred without fault
             on the part of the one claiming the right to remarry.
     5.   This prohibits the remarriage of unscripturally divorced
           persons, which is "legalized adultery" in God's sight.  This is
           admittedly a strict rule, and was so recognized by the Lord's
           disciples who asked for more light, saying, "If the case of the
           man is so with his wife, it is not expedient to marry.  But he
           said unto them....he that is able to receive it, let him receive
           it."  (Matthew 19:10-12.)


I.   It is profitable to hear and heed the words of the Saviour.

II.  All who respect the authority and will of Jesus know that it is
      necessary to know and do his will in order to have happiness here and
                                                                         -- Charles Crouch

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