One Year Bible
New Testament passage for Monday, January 6, 2014: Matthew 5:27-48
27 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Matthew 5:27-28 (NKJV)
What is Sexual Sin?
On January 26, 1998, we heard then-President Bill Clinton utter one of the most memorable sound bites of his political career: "I did not have sexual relations with that woman." He was referring to his relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
Eight months later, on August 17, President Clinton sat before a grand jury. But, this time he described things differently. "I had an INAPPROPRIATE RELATIONSHIP" with Miss Lewinsky. He had been caught and he "fessed up." But did he?
Beyond plain charges of perjury, the convoluted discussion of those controversial days circled around definitions. What did President Clinton mean by sexual relations? If full sexual intercourse did not take place, was it wrong at all? Was he technically telling the truth? At issue is what has been called the "anything but" argument.
The "Anything But" Argument
The "anything but" argument says that sin or wrong-doing has a narrow definition. It is ok to do anything but the full act. The Clinton controversy exposed a moral vacuum that minimizes wrong-doing and looks for loop-holes.
In Jesus' day, Jewish tradition had done this in numerous areas. The Pharisees interpreted the 7th Commandment very loosely. "Thou shalt not commit adultery" meant only refraining from the ultimate act of sexual infidelity. All else was acceptable -- pornography, voyeurism, and for that matter fornication -- a whole host of sexual experience. In that sense, they were minimalists who adhered to the letter of the Law while ignoring the spirit of the Law.
A Matter of the Heart
Jesus charged directly into this view of minimal morality. He internalized the Law. He looked beyond outward performance and went straight to the heart. Rather than criticizing and nullifying God's Law, He elevated it. He addressed the attitude behind the actions.
God does that with us. He is not interested in mechanical compliance that only produces an external façade. He asks about heart condition. He knows that purified hearts carry the power to perform. The spirit of the Law guides and governs the letter of the Law.
Christ in Me
Bill Clinton never explained what he meant by INAPPROPRIATE RELATIONSHIP. Jesus tells us clearly. He straight up refutes the "anything but" argument. He calls us to the highest standards of purity and fidelity. In fact, the standards are so high they are impossible in human strength. Perfection is impossible without the power of the Perfect Person -- Jesus.
That's what the Law does. It drives us to Jesus. We will never be able by our ability to satisfy God's holiness. But, Christ in me -- Christ in you -- is more than able. We pray today and ask that He live and love through us. In that way, we fulfill His Law.