It’s spring time and the women [where I live] are not covered with fur coats anymore, if you know what I mean. The battle is on to keep my eyes away from what is being more revealed. I don’t do very well at times. Why does this happen if I am dead to sin? Isn’t that old man dead? Seems mighty alive. Struggling
Well, down here in south Florida we don’t have to wait for a particular season for our women to strip down to their bare essentials! I mean, why would God even give women a shape that, when revealed, drives men crazy? Then again, is it actually the shape or the selected areas of a woman’s body that fan the flames of men’s desires … or is it the perception that one’s desires can be fulfilled by what is hidden, by what is inaccessible, by what is untouchable? Otherwise, how could a man ever lose interest after having acquired the object of his passions?
The fleshly mind wants either what it does not or can not have. Cover an area, restrict its view, and watch how inflamed one can get at even the suggestion of exposure. When women covered themselves all the way down to their ankles so that men would not see their flesh it took only a flash of an uncovered ankle to send a man reeling with passion and desire. Why does it not do this to men now? Why does it take more and more exposure to achieve the same level of temptation? Perhaps it is not the body at all, but instead the perception of what’s underneath the coverings.
This is exactly the same elementary principle upon which the law of condemnation rests. The command says, DO NOT, and whatever that is becomes the very thing the flesh wants to do, the very thing it feels it MUST do. The thing that makes that old dead man seem alive is the common elementary link between the law and the flesh. You hold to a false perception, and one that I am also well acquainted with. We give this false perception imaginary power - but a power that can nevertheless control our actions - by the incessant self-talk that says, Do not look, do not touch, do not imagine, do not contemplate, do not follow up, do not be so evil, do not be so vulgar, do not be so fleshly, do not be so sinful! But that’s not the whole of it, for that self-talk is intertwined with, But it is what I want, it is what I need, it is what will fulfill me, just a look will help, just another look, why should this be denied me? why is it so wrong? how far is really too far? how much is actually too much?
You are engaged in a bogus battle, my friend. For such a struggle cannot be won by averting your eyes, nor can it be overcome by what might seem the logical alternative, that is, by overindulging the senses in hopes of dulling your desires by overexposure. Such battles are waged in the realm of deception and fought with weapons of flesh. Refuse to engage in this losing proposition. When the flesh displays itself before you it creates a unique and living opportunity for you to reevaluate why you are drawn to it and why you feel bound by its demands. Your vacillating desires, judgments and rationalizations stirred by such encounters are all making demands as to who and what you really are. Bring them to the light so that it will become obvious to your own mind as to the insanity found in the elementary principles that seek to define you.
Consider Jesus’ statements regarding the law and adultery … and how he saw it:
For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven …
You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY’; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell. It was said, ‘WHOEVER SENDS HIS WIFE AWAY, LET HIM GIVE HER A CERTIFICATE OF DIVORCE’; but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the reason of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. Matthew 5:18-20;27-32
It must be recognized that Jesus was making a contrast between the Law and the surpassing righteousness he was bringing to pass through what was to come. The righteousness they had “heard that it was said” is the same kind of righteousness we still think of as attached to the law regarding adultery. In truth, the mind of the flesh has been dictating all these things to us in one form or another our whole lives.
The righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees interpreted the command against adultery in such a cut and dried fashion so that they could justify themselves as to the real offense of the Law. Jesus’ “but I say to you” is not an addition to the Law but an expression that touched the heart of the matter found in the Law. It is a clear distinction one might stand behind by which he could claim to have kept the Law of Moses regarding its proclamation against adultery. Any man in the position of scribe or Pharisee could easily claim to be pure as long as he kept his willy away from another woman. And it should be obvious that this is exactly what the people had understood by the command, “You shall not commit adultery”. Men who had kept themselves pure could then condemn others as adulterers by catching them in the act. A woman could even be conveniently condemned through means of a simple sting operation.
When Jesus pushed the envelope by expanding upon the simple sex act that is usually defined as adultery he exposed the loopholes that self-righteous men hide behind. And yeah, we’re all found out by that, aren’t we? :) Under law, which is according to the flesh, to simply look at a woman with lust for her a man has already committed the crime with her in his heart. Do you realize what that means? The woman herself has nothing to do with it. What Jesus declared was that adultery with a woman could be committed without the woman. That is, it could be found only in the mind of the one who was lusting by what he saw. The man not only did not need the woman’s permission, he didn’t even need her body.
Anyhow, in confronting the hidden sin of adultery Jesus established quite a conundrum for law-abiding citizens. If those who stoned the obvious caught-in-the-act adulterers are found out to be adulterers themselves because of their lusting eyes, then what would be the most logical course of action one should take? If one’s right eye makes him an adulterer he should immediately rip it out of its socket and throw it far away to keep him to preserve the rest of himself from burning forever in the fire pits of condemnation (the valley of Hinnom, aka, Gehenna, outside the city).
If in fact that is how one’s acceptance or rejection works (aka, salvation) then it would only make sense to lose a piece to save the whole. And I hope you don’t think Jesus was remotely suggesting any real physical mutilation. For he was instead demanding that the Law cannot be gotten around by man’s manipulation or loopholes. If one is to claim adherence to the Law it cannot be based upon man’s concept of what that means. For by the Law there is only wrath, there is only offense, there is only sin, there is only condemnation, there is no salvation.
Now, why do you suppose Jesus included his comments about one’s hand causing him to stumble within the context of an adultery that takes place without engaging in sexual intercourse with the woman one lusts for? Here the point: On what grounds can a man judge another as adulterer when that man’s eyes are causing him to commit adultery with a woman in his heart or when he is whacking off to her as if he was with her? The condemnation of the Law demands that it would be better that he rip out that eye or cut off that hand. I hope you realize that I am not attempting to make a case for or against either looking at women’s bodies or masturbating, but that to consider oneself pure or righteous in view of God’s standards because a lack of sexual intercourse will only backfire when held to what the law really says.
But we are not under law, nor under the curse of the law, nor under the power of the law, nor under obligation to the law! Please realize that I am not suggesting we are somehow lucky because we’ve been born after the time Jesus did away with the law so that we won’t suffer the consequences like those under it did. We have been removed from it by having been killed by the law in Christ so that we could be now made alive in him. The continual declaration of the good news of Christ is to cause us to refuse the lie that we are even subject to the law so that we only find rest in the freedom he brought about.
Well said, Jim! HarryTick
I agree with you again, Jim. Thanks for the thoughtful feedback. When I see or hear comments about whether or not it’s ‘OK’ or ‘sin’ for men to look at women as this person is doing, I have strong feelings about it, because it’s the singular crux that God used in my life to teach me about true faith, true grace, and true freedom. I won’t go into the details here at that would take many pages of text. But suffice it to say that I now know with certainty the freedom we have in Christ because of His grace in doing everything needed to make us 100% righteous, and that appreciating the “very good” creative work of God himself in men and women by allowing ourselves to take in the wonder and beauty of each individual is both right and good. How I would love it if our culture would permit and encourage it rather than trying to shame us by it. God is not ashamed by what he made. Neither should we be. Nevertheless, regardless of what culture may preach, I will heed the words of God himself: “And He saw EVERYTHING that He had made and it was VERY GOOD.”Curtis
Thanks Jim – keep up the good work Christ has begun in you! An encouraging thing here is that when it comes to lusting after women, a believer can learn from the Spirit of God who tells us (me) that the woman is my sister, my mother – and my lusting is no longer consistent with who I am as God’s new creation – His child. It is much easier to be reminded that it is no longer “normal” to lust after a woman – it is inconsistent with who I am and much easier to avert the eyes – God has Great power and love – through His grace-full teaching! Yay :) Malcolm