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


Post Comments (58)

58 thoughts on "Adultery Begins in the Heart"

  1. Kristen Clegs says: < This links to such a helpful article that digs a little deeper to explain the passage on anger and lust in the context of the Sermon on the Mount.
    The writer brings in James 2:10-11: He who keeps the whole Law but fails in one point is guilty of all.
    Our pharisaical tendencies probably imagine ourselves to be clean on MOST points of the Law, especially the big ones like murder and adultery; Jesus shatters that egotistical little illusion by illuminating the heart, and James confirms our total depravity by pointing out that one little sin makes us guilty across the board. I am guilty of EVERY sin. I need salvation from EVERY sin. That's what Jesus wants His disciples, and the Pharisees, to see in Matthew.

    1. Kristen Clegs says:

      ^^^^^ This links to a helpful article that explains this passage on anger and adultery in the context of the Sermon on the Mount. The writer brings in James 2:10-11: He who keeps the whole Law but fails in one point is guilty of all. Our pharisaical tendencies imagine ourselves to be clean on MOST points of the Law, especially the big ones like murder and adultery. Jesus shatters that egotistical little illusion by looking at the heart, and James confirms our total depravity by pointing out that failing in just one point makes us guilty across the board. In other words, I am guilty of EVERY sin. That’s what Jesus wants His audience to understand – I am utterly condemned and utterly helpless. And that’s where He steps in, offering salvation to the uttermost.

    2. Christy says:

      I just read this link to the commentary on sin, adultery, and divorce. This author explains that Jesus takes an extremely tough stand, much tougher than previously thought. This is an interesting read with great historical perspective. Thank you for sharing…once again, the main idea is that we are All sinners and only through Jesus can we be cleansed and saved.

  2. Rachel says:

    Blinn, I can completely relate to this. As a college student, this temptation and cultural norm of adultery is constantly surrounding me. I struggle with it daily, as well as the guilt of this sin that weighs heavy on my heart even though I know I have been forgiven and His grace covers me. I know that other christians have struggled with this as well, but as you said, satin fills my head with the idea that I am alone in this sin, and that God can never forgive me of this sin. Thank you for you words which remind me that I have been forgiven and Jesus still does love me despite my past impurities regarding this subject.

  3. Kim says:

    I agree with all these thoughts expressed in today’s write up. But I was really hoping for SRT to wade into the waters of truly addressing the issues of adultery and lust. I know that spiritual unfaithfulness, the redeeming work of Christ, the depravity of sin and the faithfulness of God are all important issues. But I’ve been reading SRT for years now and those are covered at length on a regular basis. I had hoped that since this passage was dealing directly with lust and adultery, that there might be some frank discussion about these topics that almost seem taboo among Christian women. The temptations are very real and we make ourselves even more vulnerable to falling if we fail to acknowledge our capacity to sin in these ways and fail to prepare ourselves to face these specific temptations. Truthfully, though I’m sure the author had the best intentions and I see the point of the analogy, using an analogy of cell phones, protection plans etc, seemed to somewhat trivialise a serious and for some, painful topic. I just wonder, is it that this community has never experienced the temptation of lust and adultery and have we never failed (or been victorious) in these struggles? Or is it we consider these matters too private to discuss? Do we fear judgment or feel pressured to keep up appearances? I’m all for discretion and privacy. But surely we could have a real discussion about real matters and still respect the boundaries? Just a few thoughts.

    1. Blinn says:

      I am with you on this Kim. I know it is a big deal. It certainly should not be taken lightly. I just feel like that if what we believe about sin( that sin is sin and there is no level of what sin is worse then another sin) is true, then why are more people not opening up and sharing their testimony. I know I am not the only person who has struggled with this. I am divorced which makes me guilty of adultery on its own, but even before that I did not go into my marriage being completely pure. I did not wait until marriage to be sexually involved with a boy. I am guilty and deserve judgement. I sometimes beat myself up over it even to this day (many years later) and I am overwhelmed with feeling guilt. I know that Gods grace covers all my mistakes, but satin still wants to steal all the glory by making me feel completely alone among other christian believers, as if I am the only one who has failed. There should be glory given to God for healing and restoring, but it seems everyone is too afraid to share about these hard to talk about topics. I wish there were more people who were willing to share about the real issues of adultery and lust so that others, like myself would learn how they have overcome the guilt and how they have learned to be absolutely certain that Gods grace is enough, even for this.

    2. Katie says:


      1. Brooke says:

        Said perfectly.

  4. Jeanna says:

    “Sin is just another name for adultery of the heart”…. That hits me right between my halo and my eyes! How true this is. We can walk around as if we will never do this or that, but all framed as sin, I’ve already committed them.

  5. GinnyB says:

    Karen, God reminds me everyday of the things in my life that I need to change. I hope he never stops. I am aware that we will not reach perfection until we are home. At 68 years old you would think I would have it all together:-) not even close. I feel like we need to work on this everyday, I know myself I will slip back into the old habits if I don’t allow God to change me.

  6. Sarah says:

    This passage hit me right in the gut this morning. How often do I wish that my boyfriend had other attributes? How often do I wish he was more outgoing, cleaner, more adventurous… It is in times of weakness that I think these thoughts, during times when we have disagreements. But is that not a form of adultery? Wishing that he was different… I may not be wishing I had another specific man, but by wishing for different qualities in the man I am dating, I am in a committing adultery by wishing for a DIFFERENT man. I must accept him for who he is, and love him through it, and not try to change him. Or decide that he is not who God called me to love, and leave him – although I do not think this is the case. I have continually prayed for guidance in this relationship; asking God to take this man away if he is not who God had planned. When I struggle with things like this it scares me. I want to love and accept him for who he is. Praying that God will soften and cleanse my heart this morning. That he would take away my desire to control and change.

    1. She Reads Truth says:

      Hi Sarah, thanks so much for being willing to share some of your heart here. We will be praying for you and your relationship, and that God will be glorified in all things! Also, we would encourage you to reach out to a trusted spiritual leader or counselor in your local community. Having someone connected with your local church to process these things with can help so much! So glad to have you here. – Abby, The SRT Team

  7. Karen From Virginia says:

    I need a Savior. Seeing my propensity to sin makes me aware of how much I need a Savior. I can think I’m kinda getting it together in some ways and then in God’s mercy He shows me how evil my heart is. How easily I am bent to jealousy, fear of man, selfishness and others. It’s serious. My only hope is Jesus. Only through Jesus is my boast and hope.
    I love reading of others comments as we see God’s holiness revealed and we desire more of the Lord. How this pleases our God.

  8. Kimberlee says:

    I am not one to normally comment, but I had never looked at adultery in this way. I am very guilty of intentionally sinning. Maybe now that I see this in a different way, I will think more clearly before intentionally sinning.

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