“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.” (Matthew 5:27-30)
Most of us couldn’t imagine taking a hammer to our iPhone, just like the Jews in the first century couldn’t imagine gouging their eyeballs out, or cutting off their hands. But that’s what Jesus suggested they do.
Lust is a terrible lie that dresses like love but is not, and never will be. Sexual Love is about giving and receive within a covenant, while lust is about stealing and taking. Lust is about using sex to gratify yourself, but sex was made to gratify a one-flesh covenant, to the glorify of God.
So Jesus began teaching a crowd on a hillside, and he quickly got to the problem and source of sexual sin. Adultery is not merely a skin problem, it’s ultimately a heart problem.
For followers of Christ, sexual purity is not just about sexual organs, it’s also about brains and eyeballs. Sexual purity is not just about avoiding sexual contact, it’s also about killing the root of the problem, which is lust in your heart.
And for that, we first need new hearts from Jesus (repenting and believing in the gospel), and then with new hearts, we need to take radical measures to fight against temptation. This is when Jesus started talking about stabbing eyes and cutting off hands. That’s radical.
Last night I preached to a room full of teenagers on these verses, and mid-talk I held up an iPhone. I explained that this single device may be the very thing that causes you to sin over and over again in the area of lust. Then I had a WWJD moment (“If your iPhone causes you to sin, destroy it and throw it away”), and I slammed the phone on the ground shattering the screen into pieces.
The terror on the student’s faces looked as though I just gouged my eyeballs out, and that’s the point. Sexual sin is terrifying, and we should take radical means to fight it. Not actually gouging out our eyes, but perhaps taking a hammer to our smartphone or scissors to our ethernet cable.
Because there are way worst things than breaking your iPhone, like snap-chatting your way to hell.