Battle for the Mind
27“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’
28But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
29If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell.
30And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.
For the Pharisees, actions were everything. They acted pious and expected everyone to believe that they were righteous before God because they look good. Jesus takes this on without reservation. In our reading for yesterday, Jesus warns against hatred for your enemy, equating it with murder, now He takes on sexual sin. To think impure thoughts is the same as putting those thoughts into action as far as sin is concerned.
One of our greatest challenges in the culture in which we live is to keep our thinking pure. We are surrounded by sexual content. The amount of sexual innuendo in a mainstream sitcom is overwhelming. And you know what – we laugh. Almost worse than the TV shows we watch are the commercials that fill up our minds with semi-clothed people and more innuendo. The pornography industry (and there’s an indictment right there- it’s an industry!) is a multi-billion dollar a year money maker. Our minds are captured by the erotic images the flood the airwaves.
Jesus’ solution seems rather severe. But He isn’t actually espousing self-mutilation. He is pointing out the seriousness we should give to sins of the mind, for they can quickly lead to sins of action. Paul speaks to us about the war that rages in our minds as well in 2 Corinthians 10:3-6.
3For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh.
4For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.
5We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,
6being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.
Just because we have a thought doesn’t mean we have to invite it in and entertain it for a while. It is possible to take that thought and hand it over to Jesus, asking Him to take it away. Satan and your flesh can go ahead and make suggestions for sin, but you don’t have to answer. Will you fail sometimes – yes. But there is a path and Jesus commands in the strongest terms that we seek that path out and follow it. For me, the first step was memorizing the passage from 2 Corinthians, especially verse 5. When sin suggests itself, it is helpful to have that verse at the ready to at least give me something to work with that will take me in the opposite direction.