Read Matthew 5:27-30
27 “You have heard the commandment that says,’You must not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say,anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 So if your eye-even your good eye-causes you to lust,gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your hand-even your stronger hand-causes you to sin,cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. (NLT)
Texts like this can be easily misunderstood. One very obvious misunderstanding is to take Jesus literally when he speaks of cutting off hands or gouging out eyes. He is rather using exaggeration to make a significant point: take radical action to avoid sin. Even if this action might cause discomfort,it is better than the alternative.
Another misunderstanding is to think he is saying lust and the actual act of adultery are the same thing. They are not. One may lead to another,but the consequences of each are vastly different. Jesus is reminding his hearers that simply avoiding sex with a person doesn’t mean we are in the clear. We have to examine our hearts.
Which leads to the third misunderstanding: assuming that lust is the same as finding someone sexually attractive. Unless we go around with paper bags over our heads we can’t avoid noting the attractiveness of certain other people. And since we are sexual beings that attraction will have that component in it. We are bombarded with sexual messages in our culture and can’t avoid them.
What we can do is to not let them draw us in. Lust is not to do with the first look,but the second and third look. Lust is not recognising someone’s attractiveness,it is fantasising about acting on that. Lust lingers,it is more to do with calculated intention than spontaneous thought. We dare not kid ourselves that because we have stayed out of someone else’s bed we are innocent. We dare not conclude that because we find someone attractive we have sinned.