Jesus on Lust

Matthew 5:27–30

“The laws of Moses said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say: Anyone who even looks at a woman with lust in his eye has already committed adultery with her in his heart. So if your eye—even if it is your best eye!—causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away. Better for part of you to be destroyed than for all of you to be cast into hell. And if your hand—even your right hand—causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. Better that than find yourself in hell.”

When Jesus said to get rid of your hand or your eye, he was speaking figuratively. He didn’t mean literally to gouge out your eye, because even a blind person can lust. We sometimes tolerate sins in our lives that, left unchecked, could eventually destroy us. It is better to experience the pain of removal (getting rid of a bad habit or something we treasure, for instance) than to allow the sin to bring judgment and condemnation.


The Old Testament law said that it was wrong for a person to have sex with someone other than his or her spouse (Exodus 20:14). But Jesus said that the desire to have sex with someone other than your spouse is mental adultery and thus sin. Jesus emphasized that if the act is wrong, then so is the intention. To be faithful to your spouse with your body but not your mind is to break the trust so vital to a strong marriage. Jesus is not condemning natural interest in the opposite sex or even healthy sexual desire, but rather the deliberate and repeated filling of one’s mind with fantasies that would be evil if acted out. Sinful desires can be just as damaging as sinful actions. Left unchecked, wrong desires will result in wrong actions and turn people away from God. Guard your thoughts—don’t give sin a foothold through lust.

James C. Galvin, Linda Chafee Taylor, and David R. Veerman

Published by Intentional Faith

Devoted to a Faith that Thinks

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