Matthew 5:27-28 (NIV®)
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
It’s popular in some circles to suggest that the God of the Old Testament was a little like a grumpy old man—rigid, harsh, and judgmental. Then, between the Old and New Testaments, something happened. By the time Matthew begins, God had chilled out and lessened His focus on holiness and purity. Our behaviors became secondary to our faith because Jesus’ redemptive work was so complete that anything we do is incidental. If we hold to that idea, we’re not much more than a social club with a little benevolence thrown in. Tolerance becomes the mantra. Holiness and purity become uncomfortable topics, so we set them aside. Jesus certainly didn’t diminish God’s standards of holiness. In fact, He expanded them to include our thoughts, feelings, and responses. So, rather than thinking of the cross simply as an excuse for license that brings liberty to our lives, the cross should be the sobering reminder of God’s judgment on our sin. It should motivate us to holy living.
THINK ABOUT IT
Scripture indicates that Jesus enlarged God’s standards of holiness. Is this a new idea for you, and does it elicit hope or dismay? Take courage—God never sets a standard beyond the power of the cross and the help of His Holy Spirit.
Heavenly Father, I want a truthful view of Your standards for holiness. Thank you that through the blood of Jesus, all my sins are forgiven, and I have great hope. With the help of Your Holy Spirit, I can live an increasingly holy life before You. In Jesus’ name, amen.