Lust • Devotion 1

Look but Don't Touch
John Rigg

When I was a little boy, one of my favorite places to go was the Ben Franklin Store. The local “five and dime” as they were called. This was a place of wonder to me. I would spend months saving my allowance just for the chance to shell it out on a toy or some candy. My favorite part of the store was the plastic model aisle. This area was filled with Mattel, Revel, and AMT kits begging me to purchase and take them home to be assembled. The problem was, however, sometimes we would go into the store before I had enough money saved and I could only walk the aisle dreaming of having one of those kits. Knowing this as we entered the store, my mother would let me head that way but not before commanding, “It’s ok to look, but don’t touch!” Apparently, it was okay with mom if I just stood there longing and looking, as long as I did not touch.

I could not help but think about my mother’s mandate, “It’s ok to look, but don’t touch!” when revisiting the following teaching by Jesus. He said, “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” (Matthew 5:27–28).

Our Lord was taking this opportunity to teach His disciples about a lustful look, its relationship to adultery, and the seriousness of it. When Jesus said, “You have heard it said,” He was making reference to the teaching of the religious leaders of the day. The Pharisees were most likely instructing people in the Law of Moses which forbids adultery and defined death as its penalty. However, the Pharisees must have been taking the “it’s ok to look, but don’t touch” approach to adultery for Jesus to refine their teaching.

The English word lust used here is “epitumeo” in Greek. It means “to set the heart upon, or to long for.” Jesus is saying that everyone who looks at another with lustful intent has already committed adultery with that person in their heart. Notice the past tense of the phrase, “already committed adultery.” If a person “longs for or looks upon another” other than their spouse, the act of adultery has already been committed. Although this act is internal, committed with the heart, the result is the same as if it had been committed physically. It is sin and is worthy of death.

Jesus is teaching that “it is not ok to look and not touch” when it comes to lust and adultery.

As with all sin, death is the penalty (James 1:13-15). Looking with lustful intent brings death into our marriages, into our relationship with God, and into our relationship with others.

So what is the cure? Heart surgery! One’s heart must be changed; repentance and submission to the will of God is always the cure.

In 1 Thessalonians 4:3–5, Paul writes, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God.”

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