Winning the Battle of the Mind
Dr. Jim Denison
Dios te bendiga! Estoy contento de estar aqui con nuestra. Thus I began my sermons in Cuba last week: “God bless you. We are very happy to be with you.” And we were, for God did marvelous miracles before our very eyes. Each time I was privileged to preach the gospel, the pastors extended an invitation for people to come forward to trust in Christ. And people filled the entire front of the sanctuary and down the center aisle as well. Sunday morning Jeff Byrd and I were two of eight pastors helping to baptize 156 people in a lake outside Camaguey. I’ll never forget the first person I baptized—a young woman with only one leg. Or the oldest: an elderly woman who came up out of the water and said into the heavens, “Now I have died with Christ.”
She was right. When we follow Jesus, we die to the old life and live only for the new. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus teaches us how to live this new life, the biblical worldview, the life of a disciple. Today he deals with sexual sin and adultery.
Is this an issue for us?
40 million American adults have visited a sexually-oriented site on the Internet. Children spend 64.9% more time on pornography sites than on game sites. Annual rental and sales of adult videos and DVDs top $4 billion. The average American teenager views 14,000 sexual references on television each year.
The incidence of adultery has risen 50-70% in the last decade in America.
The problem is clear, and real. How do we win the battle of the mind?
Refuse adultery of body (v. 27)
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery’” (v. 27). Here our Lord quotes the Seventh Commandment, cited specifically in Exodus 20:14 and Deuteronomy 5:18.
From the very beginning, God made clear to his creation that sexual activity within marriage is normal and good. In fact, he commanded it: “God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it'” (Genesis 1:28).
But God also made very clear that sex is his gift for marriage. Extramarital sex is always wrong.
“If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife—with the wife of his neighbor—both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death. If a man sleeps with his father’s wife, he has dishonored his father. Both the man and the woman must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads. If a man sleeps with his daughter-in-law, both of them must be put to death. What they have done is a perversion; their blood will be on their own heads. If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads. If a man marries both a woman and her mother, it is wicked. Both he and they must be burned in the fire, so that no wickedness will be among you” (Leviticus 20:10-14).
“If a man is found sleeping with another man’s wife, both the man who slept with her and the woman must die. You must purge the evil from Israel” (Deuteronomy 22:22).
Premarital sex is as wrong as extramarital sex:
If a man accuses his new wife of violating her virginity before their marriage, “and no proof of the girl’s virginity can be found, she shall be brought to the door of her father’s house and there the men of her town shall stone her to death. She has done a disgraceful thing in Israel by being promiscuous while still in her father’s house. You must purge the evil from among you” (Deuteronomy 22:20-21).
“If a man happens to meet in town a virgin pledged to be married and he sleeps with her, you shall take both of them to the gate of that town and stone them to death—the girl because she was in town and did not scream for help, and the man because he violated another man’s wife. You must purge the evil from among you” (Deuteronomy 22:23-24).
“If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, he shall pay the girl’s father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry the girl, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives” (Deuteronomy 22:28-29).
Sex is God’s gift for marriage. We are to refuse all adultery, of any kind. We are not to engage in sexual activity until we are married, and then with our spouse alone. This is the clear word and will of God.
Refuse adultery of mind (v. 28)
1. How do we keep this commandment? How do we resist sexual temptations, especially in a culture which so surrounds us with them every day? To refuse adultery of body, first refuse adultery of mind.
Aristotle: “What is a crime for a person to do, is a crime for a person to think.” Jesus proves that this is so.
“But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (v.28).
The “I” here is emphatic—Jesus is asserting his own divine authority. This is just as much the command of God as the Seventh Commandment.
“Anyone”—regardless of religious title, status, or significance. No exceptions are granted here.
“Who looks at”—no problem so far. The sin is not noticing a woman or a man. The sin is not the first look but the second. Luther was right: you cannot keep the birds from flying over your head, but you can keep them from nesting in your hair.
“A woman”—not specifically a wife, though this is implied. But adultery of the mind can be practiced with any woman, or with any man.