Series: Student Ministry: The Sermon on the Mount

The Nuremberg trials that followed World War II was a series of military tribunals where top-ranking Nazi criminals were prosecuted. The first trial prosecuted many people whose names still strike terror into the hearts of those who know anything about the atrocities of The Third Reich. These were the highest ranking officials of Nazi Germany. These were the men who were making the rules and calling the shots. These were the men who were ordering mass executions and the building of Nazi Death Camps. These were the men who oversaw this horror. The subsequent tribunals dealt with people carrying on things like experiments on human beings that were so horribly cruel. But after this set of tribunals, it was left to the new German governments to take over prosecution of the remaining Nazi criminals.

There is a rather large justice problem that occurred. Even after the media attention that the Nuremberg trials received the Germans did not prosecute these people as they ought. Many of the people who were war criminals carrying out horrible atrocities were given jobs as they were also acquitted of crimes. Part of this is because the Nazi Party continued to survive the end of World War II. And part of this was because a lot of the people had become numb to the wickedness that surrounded them.

As Jews and others were railed against by the Nazi Party, their businesses boycotted then shut down, their being forced to relocate to ghettos, then forced to relocate again to Concentration Camps, or killed in their ghetto by the point of a gun because it will take too long to relocate them, prisoners of war from Russia and other countries were seen being treated poorly, and atrocities just kept piling up the people were numb to it all. A fish doesn’t know that it is in water. It’s just in water until it’s out of the water and it can’t breathe. Germans living in the Third Reich didn’t realize just how evil everything around them really was. There were signs everywhere, but they didn’t see it.

We fall into a similar conundrum today. The sexualized content that we see on television, on phones, on social media, the pornography that is always at your fingertips, it is so prevalent that we may not see and understand just how wicked it truly is. We are submerged in it like fish in water and because of that, we don’t realize how wicked it really is.

Sexual Immorality is an issue of the heart and must be eradicated.

Adultery Is A Heart Issue (Vv. 27-28)


The Pharisees and others before them interpreted the command not to commit adultery very literally and narrowly. Just like in the last lesson they didn’t get at the heart of the command and here Jesus is going to show it to them. They believed that the command was literally “Don’t sleep with someone else’s spouse.” But Jesus is going to show that it is much more than that. To lust after someone is to break this commandment.

As people who are not yet married, you may be wondering how this applies to you. I’m glad you are wondering and here is how it applies to you. The Scriptures repeatedly discuss the sin of fornication, that is sex with someone when not married. Most often, since we don’t use the word “fornication” in our culture, it is translated as “sexual immorality”. Now, if we are commanded not to commit adultery and lust is breaking that command, don’t you think that lusting after someone is also breaking the commands found in Scripture not to have sex outside of marriage? The obvious answer is, well yeah. It must also be stated here that the Mosaic Law treated fornication as a breaking of this commandment as well. So, not only is it commanded that we not have sex outside of marriage many other places in Scripture, but it is also found later in the Mosaic Law. So, does this apply to you? Obviously, the answer is yes.

Here is a great problem for you. Lust is pervasive in our culture. It is the air we breathe as Americans today. Do you want to get guys to play this video game online? Put a mostly naked almost realistic looking animation of her as an advertisement. Do you want to get guys to eat your hamburger? Have an attractive woman wearing very little clothing eat it in a seductive manner. Hey, let’s add intercourse to this show or movie whether or not it really matters to the plot. And, lust is such a big deal in our culture that young women and young girls think that they have to dress seductively or they don’t look pretty. And this is without even discussing pornography which statistically speaking everyone in this room has likely seen pornography because the average age of its first being viewed is 9-11 depending on what agency you talk to.

Our culture is built on lust and Jesus lets us know that lust is adultery of the heart. Jesus, the fulfiller of the Law and the one who knows and teaches the Law in its fullness tells us that lust which is such a huge part of our society is committing adultery of the heart.

Christian, we need to see that this is wickedness. This is not the sort of thing that you play around with. TV, Movies, Video Games, and pornography along with our already wicked desires work together to cause a perfect storm of wickedness in the heart. Christian, we need to be people who set our hearts toward holiness, not sinfulness. We need to be people who are seeking after Christ, not the pleasures of this world.  And yes, it will be impossible for us to keep from committing adultery of the heart. This does not mean that we should not seek to be people who please the Lord with our lives.

This also means that we fall very short of God’s standard of holiness. It is not enough to simply abstain from committing adultery or just staying pure until you are married. And so we see ourselves as sinners standing before God and in need of a Savior.

Violently Eradicate Heart Adultery (Vv. 29-30)


It should come as no surprise to you that Jesus now states that this sin should be treated with incredible seriousness and urgency. Whereas we will generally look at these sins and laugh a little Jesus is saying something quite opposite. One can barely come up with parts of the body more needed for a society built on physical labor than eyes and hands, yet it would be better to cut those off than wind up in Hell having viewed and thought about whatever your wicked heart can imagine.

Jesus is illustrating for us the horrible nature of sin. Sin, which begins in the heart, seems like a small thing. It’s not. The sin that begins in the mind is worthy of Hell, eternal suffering. That is, of course, the reward for all sin. It is what we all deserve.

So, with all haste and urgency, it must be eradicated. Jesus is not saying to literally take out your eye or cut off your hand but to go to war with the sin that entangles you. Do you dwell on things you shouldn’t in the evening? Well, figure out what else you could be doing instead. Scripture doesn’t just call us to get rid of the bad. It calls us to replace the evil with good (Romans 12:21). Maybe you could hang out with your parents for a little longer in the evenings. Maybe you could spend time reading Scripture and praying before bed, allowing communion with God to fill the space that would have otherwise been filled with wickedness. Is it when you are tired? Get enough sleep and be vigilant when you have to be tired. Sin is worthy of Hell, even when our culture makes it seem like a small thing. Don’t make a small thing of it. Treat it as such.

Christian, you are not to entertain sin. You are to be okay with it even a little bit. Attack the sin in your life with drastic measures. Don’t be people who even come close to tolerating or making excuses for this sin in your life. Be people who work to eradicate it and help others to do likewise.

Again, much like in Verses 27-28, we find ourselves seeing the horrible nature of sin. We fall short of measuring up to God’s standard.


We All Fall Short Of God’s Standard


Though it is probably more prevalent today, there has never been a time in history where people didn’t commit adultery in their hearts with the exception of Adam and Eve and Jesus. God’s standard is so much higher than ours. We think of ourselves as doing pretty well because we compare ourselves to the people around us and feel pretty good. You might be saying to yourself, “I don’t ______, he does __________” But the comparison is not to each other. The standard is God’s perfect holiness. That is the measure of goodness. Perfection is the standard that each and every one of us must meet.

Perfect holiness is the standard that none of us can meet. We all fall short of God’s standard (Romans 3:23). None of us meet God’s standard and all of us deserve Hell.

There is, however, good news and it is this. Even though we deserve God’s wrath and justice He has provided us with His Son. God the Son came to Earth and lived a perfectly holy life, fulfilling all righteousness. He did not sin and did everything that was required to be perfect and totally holy. He died as the substitute of all who would trust in Him. For those who trust in Christ, your sins can be forgiven because Jesus paid the punishment and you can be credited with righteousness because Jesus achieved perfect righteousness on your behalf. He lived a perfect life and died so that your sin could be paid for and you could be called holy.

If you are reading this and are not a believer, turn from ruling your own life (repentance) and trust in Christ (faith). If you are a believer and are plagued by guilt, remember Jesus is a perfect Savior. I may have sinned greatly, but through Jesus, I can be redeemed.


R. Dwain Minor