"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 lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Matthew 5:27-28)Someone might read these words and wonder.. if they are already committing adultery in their heart.. why not go through with the physical act? It is a good question - I think.. I mean really.. does anyone not recognize the difference between contemplating sin and actually committing it? Consider this passage from James:
Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am being tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. (James 1:13-16)This passage paints a progression of sin that starts with the conception of sin and ends with it's birth. I think that it is important to understand that the heart sin that Jesus speaks about actually does end in a physical act of some sort. When he speaks of murder in our heart Jesus says:
"But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, 'You good-for-nothing,' shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, 'You fool,' shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell. (Matthew 5:22)Notice that the inner feeling of anger is manifested in the person's speech. It is the same thing with all heart sin.. it will eventually manifest itself in outward sin.. and so often that sin is one done in secret.. such is the progression of lust.
I love how Jesus challenges us all in the sermon on the mount.. He speaks to the very real issue of heart sin.. He leaves us all without excuse.. but He doesn't actually equate inner sin with outer sin. Sin that has been conceived in the heart does not have to be birthed our flesh. Consider this passage:
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete. (2 Corinthians 10:3-6)This speaks to our need to prevent the inner sin that has been conceived from being born.. it is a spiritual issue.. one in which spiritual weapons are needed.