I had decided I didn’t want to do a whole series on Bonhoeffer’s book The Cost of Discipleship, but there is too much here to not take opportunity to hit on some very relevant topics that can be applied today just as they were when the Lord Himself declared them. All of these “struggles” or should I say sin issues sometimes ensnare the saints as easily as they ensnare the sinner.
Matthew 5:27-30 “You have heard it that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.”
Are you an adulterer? Have you noticed how impossible it is to live up to the standard that Jesus set for His followers?
This is impossible isn’t it?
Today’s culture certainly makes it as difficult as possible by placing images of sexuality every place the eye looks. Doesn’t this seem to be harmless enough to lust after a beautiful woman, why would this be equated with adultery?
Lust – epithumeō – to set the heart upon, that is, long for (rightfully or otherwise): – covet, desire, would fain, lust (after).
Bonhoeffer writes – ADHERENCE TO JESUS allows no free rein to desire unless it be accompanied by love. To follow Jesus means self-renunciation and absolute adherence to him, and therefore a will dominated by lust can never be allowed to do what it likes. Even momentary desire is a barrier to the following of Jesus, and brings the whole body into hell, making us sell our heavenly birthright for a mess of pottage, and showing we lack faith in him who will reward mortification with joy a hundredfold. Instead of trusting to the unseen, we prefer the tangible fruits of desire, and so we fall from the path of discipleship and lose touch with Jesus. Lust is impure because it is unbelief, and therefore it is to be shunned. No sacrifice is too great if it enables us to conquer a lust which cuts us off from Jesus. Both eye and hand are less than Christ, and when they are used as the instruments of lust and hinder the whole body from the purity of discipleship, they must be sacrificed for the sake of him. The gains of lust are trivial compared with the loss it brings-you forfeit your body eternally for the momentary pleasure of eye or hand. When you have made your eye the instrument of impurity, you cannot see God with it. Surely, at this point we must make up our minds once and for all whether Jesus means his precepts to be taken literally or figuratively, for here it is a matter of life or death.
Life or death! Do you believe this?
Will you try and soften this teaching, or find a way to justify your “looks”. Some will use the argument that this could be “interpreted” in some other way. Once again the Lord draws a line in the sand to show people their sin and their need for a Savior. He points it all back toward Himself as the only place of refuge.
The culture we live in today has placed a high priority on prostituting its women. Even men and fathers that go to places called churches willingly allow their daughters to be the object of lust from men.
Go to a youth group meeting or a church function and look at the attire of these young women. Does it include the shorts that ride up so high you can see more than necessary? It’s not just the young women showing too much. How about the ladies that are revealing themselves below the neckline? I don’t offer this as a crude response, but for us to consider what we are telling people. This is commonly accepted in churches and nothing is said or preached from the pulpit. Why?
If you’ve allowed this in your family I urge you to repent and seek your daughter or wife’s forgiveness. Then be committed to change, it won’t be easy especially for those that consider this part of the culture acceptable. As a father of three daughters it’s not easy to find chaste and modest clothing. We consistently struggle to live in the world but not be of the world (1 Corinthians 5:10).
Will you do something about this in your household?
If Jesus has shown you sin in your life, what can you do about it? That’s where the act of mortification comes in. “Cut it off”! The act of obedience leads to faith. You can’t have faith without obedience. In the words of that famous theologian Bob Newhart, “STOP IT”.
Jesus was not really promoting mutilation of our bodies, but was telling us it’s time to take drastic measures. Stop going to the places that “offend”. Turn off the television, stop going to R-rated movies, and change your homepage. Do whatever it takes to turn your eyes from sin. Place your faith in Christ, turn from sin and be healed. Stop selling your soul to every woman that walks past you and stop selling your daughter or wife to the gaze of any man that comes along.