Day 8

Adultery Begins in the Heart

from the The Sermon on the Mount reading plan


Matthew 5:27-30, Exodus 20:14,17, Psalm 19:12-14, Jeremiah 17:9, Mark 9:43-48

BY Kaitlin Wernet

Scripture Reading: Matthew 5:27-30, Exodus 20:14,17, Psalm 19:12-14, Jeremiah 17:9, Mark 9:43-48

I became a Pharisee the day I dropped my phone in the toilet.

I didn’t mean to, of course. Months prior, I’d signed my life away with paperwork acknowledging that water damage would not, under any circumstances, be covered by a protection plan. I happily checked the box, certain I would not, under any circumstances, be one of those people—the careless kind.

But I was. Suddenly, I wasn’t just dipping my toes in the idea of being that kind of person, I was nose-diving into full-fledged, card-carrying membership. To make matters worse, I kept it all a secret, appearing at the mobile phone help desk and looking like a victimized puppy. “What? Water? Never!” I gasped.

And then they brought out the lie detector. Well, it was technically a test for water damage, but in this case, it was a ruthless, truth-gauging machine and I was forced to plead guilty.

I didn’t ever think I’d be guilty of adultery, either. After all, I’m just a single twenty-something girl who blushed the whole way through this passage. I grew up in the church, envisioning this commandment from Jesus as the free space on my Salvation Bingo card.

But, like the Pharisees, I’m prone to forget that the thing God cares about most is our hearts. We don’t have to cheat on a romantic relationship to prove ourselves unfaithful to a faithful God. Sin is just another name for adultery of the heart, which means that most of the bad things we thought we’d never do, we’ve already done. We’re guilty. We’re those people.

Matthew Henry points out that this passage not only forbids the act of adultery, but also the appetite for it and approach to it. He says “convenient opportunity” is the only difference between thinking about eating the forbidden fruit and actually eating it.

So, what are we supposed to do? Do we hide away from the world? How do we just stop sinning?

The heart is more deceitful than anything else,
and incurable—who can understand it?
– Jeremiah 17:9

At first glance, the answer we find in God’s Word may seem pretty disturbing. Mark 9 instructs us to cut off our hands and feet and gouge out our eyes when we even begin to think about sin. While it’s gross and painful to think about, Jesus uses this illustration not to punish us, but to show us the depth of sin we’ve been rescued from. He wants us to see that the life He calls us to live is actually impossible to achieve solely by our flesh. His rescue is not a convenience; it is a necessity. Saving our souls should have lost us everything else, but instead, we gain Him.

With this as Jesus’ standard, we can look to His covenant bride, the Church, with awe and admiration, knowing it has never even crossed His mind to leave her—to leave us. He loves us. He truly loves us.

All of the good things we knew we could not do, He’s already done. Praise the Lord.

May the words of my mouth
and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable to you,
Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.
– Psalm 19:14

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Post Comments (58)

58 thoughts on "Adultery Begins in the Heart"

  1. Becky says:

    I remember glossing over this passage and thinking that as a single 40-ish woman who has never so much as even had a boyfriend, this was not an issue. Then one day it really hit me. Every time I have crushed on a guy and thought about him in a way that objectified him, I was guilty of lust. I was guilty of adultery. The sin is in me too and it just hasn’t ever had a “convenient opportunity” to come out. This applies to all of us.

  2. Breanna-Evan Barker says:

    Wow in reading all your comments I was being like the Pharisee and thinking that I am free from this kind of sin. This is the sin (lusting physically after someone via thoughts, porn, masterbation or flirting) that my husband struggles with but not me. Right? Wrong! As I was praying God showed me that I emotionally lust after Christian men who are more loving, more attentive and better leaders for their families than I think my husband is. Satan plays these thoughts in my head when I’m disappointed and my expectations have not been met. I need to repent just as much as my husband. Thank you God for showing this to me!!

  3. Kaylee says:

    There is a critical shortage of inomrfative articles like this.

  4. Samantha Ridner says:

    I never thought I’d be the wife with the affair. My first real relationship was with my husband. We both grew up in church. In my religion-based mind murder and adultery were the two worst sins. So it’s no surprise that when I found myself in the middle of a romantic relationship with a man other than my husband, I couldn’t believe it. But that’s what happens when you let the thoughts take place… It started with simple compliments, small talk. It grew into more and more. If I had cut it off when I first made the realization of the thoughts, it wouldn’t have gotten as bad. I should have cut off that “limb”. By the grace of God and the forgiveness of my husband, I made it through. But I wanted to write this message for any other women out there who have made the same mistake as I have. We cannot dwell on it. So many times I find myself thinking of how dirty I am. But truth is, I’m clean. God reminds me daily that He has forgiven me for that part of my life. My husband often says to me “Change your label shirt” which means to take off the shirt on you that says adulterer, murderer, alcoholic, drug addict, etc. and put on your white “clean” shirt so you can see yourself the way God sees you.

    1. elaine says:

      Thank you for this. My story is very similar. Heart achingly similar but yes, we are clean. And how God has allowed me to still have my family intact is literally astonishing to me.

    2. Bevvie Byrom says:

      I really needed this today. God knew it.

    3. Crystal Garvin says:

      My story is also very similar. I was young, naïve, and apparently easy to charm with the wrong kinds of compliments and attention. I had been married 4 years, and my marriage was nothing like I’d hoped it would be. Satan saw my weakness, as did another man, and I found myself in a situation I’d judged others for in the past and could never have imagined would happen in my life. Through the grace of Jesus and love of my husband, I was restored to my marriage, but it was a long, hard road. It nearly destroyed my husband, and I have to forgive myself and turn to Jesus, knowing I’m covered by His blood and grace, again and again when I remember that season. In a few months, my husband and I will celebrate 20 years of marriage. We have 3 sons and a beautiful life together that many people only dream possible. It isn’t perfect, but our love and our home are strong. I rarely tell anyone about this part of my life, and especially not in a public way, but I felt compelled that it may encourage someone reading here. So often women are shamed much more for adultery than men are, almost as if we culturally expect men to act like that but not women, and I find many women hide and don’t have anyone they can confide in. I appreciate the counseling I received from our pastor and his wife during that season so much and implore anyone involved in adultery in any way to get out now, seek counsel, stay accountable, and don’t let Satan tell you God’s grace isn’t enough to cover your sin.

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