“How Love Lives”

Matthew 5:27-30

The Sermon on the Mount is not simply what Jesus said, it’s how Jesus lived

This is Great Commandment living; it is what life looks like when we love

God with all that we are, and love our neighbor as ourselves

Jesus makes a series of six clarifications about the law in chapter 5

“You have heard that it was said . . . But I say to you . . . ”

Something was wrong with how people saw righteousness

The so called righteousness being paraded in Israel was a facade

The Pharisees were diligent rule followers, but that was missing

What is the righteousness that Jesus is calling for?

It is not that we must try harder, with higher standard – like a track meet where the high jump bar keeps being raised

That was what the Pharisees had been doing for years with their increasing complex regulations. But success in keeping more rules doesn’t make anyone righteous (Colossians 2:20-23)

The righteousness God wants, is to have all of our heart committed to him

Paul tells us love is the fountain of obedience and righteousness (Romans 13:8-10)

When we come to Christ by spiritual birth, a love for God is created in us

The process of growing in righteous living, is a process of that love growing in us

Let’s bring all this back to our text

Love for God and neighbor is not complete because we stop all actions of sexual sin

Love for God follows the intention of love in our heart and mind

Guarding against lust is not trying harder, it is loving more fully

This section of the Sermon on the Mount (vs 21-48) emphasize two truths

1. All sin is a serious matter

The text is saturated with a sense of seriousness:  lust is adulterous, the admonitions to tear out, cut off, lust is deserving of hell

The sin of lust is not noticing attractiveness in someone – it’s when we have pursuing thoughts (this includes romantic fantasies that replace our spouse with someone else)

2. We have an urgent need to take action

Throughout the Bible, faith and love are defined by action

Sin is destructive, we should respond to “small sins” like we respond to a little bit of cancer – we act decisively to eradicate every trace

This language of “tearing out” and “cutting off” is making the point that we are to do whatever is necessary to eliminate all traces of sin from our lives

Jesus doesn’t want us to simply push sin away; he tells us us to “throw it away”

Culture and technology have made the avoidance of lust a bigger challenge

Easy access to pornography means we need more accountability (we give up our ‘right’ to secret passwords etc)

The prevalence of sensuality means we need a plan to fight it

We need plans to minimize exposure to sensuality and plans to change routines that make us vulnerable

We need people who will encourage us in purity

We need to learn how to bounce our eye and replace invading thoughts

The Sermon on the Mount may seem extreme to you

Is the Sermon on the Mount unreasonable?

People generally think lust doesn’t hurt anyone, and after all it is hidden

Lust is not hidden to God, and he is to be the foremost object of our devotion

Lust does hurt people: it is a selfish expression that exalts our wants over attitudes that carry love

Our heart must push God and people aside to express lust

Is the Sermon on the Mount impossible?

Even some Christians think it is impossible to stop lustful thoughts

All godliness is impossible without the Holy Spirit and a spiritual birth

The day is coming when lust will seem unreasonable and impossible

For true children of God, our inevitability is that we will be like Jesus (1 John 3:2-3)

The Sermon on the Mount is about Christ

It tells us how Jesus lives before the Father

If we adore Christ, the Sermon on the Mount is how we want to live

We rejoice to learn these truths that shape us in his image

When we hear lust is like adultery, we respond “Jesus, thank you for truth”

When we read every thought matters, we respond “Jesus, yes purify all of me”

When we are told to cut off and tear out, we answer “Lord, I want nothing in my life that offends you or rebels against you”

We must see sin for what it is: God hating, relationship breaking and character deforming

We must see holiness for what it is: the pure beauty of Christ that will fill heaven with uninterrupted joy

Practical steps to stop lust are necessary

But these steps will be empty and powerless without love for Christ