“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. ~ Matthew 5:27-30.
In our personal fight against sin, Jesus calls for drastic action, emphasized here through striking illustrations. This involves self-denial, and recognizing that, in the eyes of God, hatred and anger in the heart count as murder (vv.21-26), and lust counts as adultery (v.28).
“adultery” (v.27) — It is a quote from the Ten Commandments found in Exodus 20:14 and Deuteronomy 5:18. In the OT adultery was a sexual affair involving a married person. Jesus redefined sexual sin as an attitude of the heart. Sex is a gift of God, a good and wholesome thing. But God has also put boundaries on its expression for our well-being and long term enjoyment. Prideful, self-centered humans always want to go beyond the God-given bounds. These words of Jesus by inference would also refer to premarital sexual activity.
“looks at a woman to lust” (v.28) — Wrong intent leads to sin.
“pluck it out…cut it off” (vv.29, 30) — The severity of the demand illustrates the radical nature of Jesus’ ethic and our radical need. Jesus is not advocating self-mutilation; not the eyes or hands cause lust, but the heart and mind. Christians must not only avoid the act of adultery (“hand”), but also those things that would lead to a lustful attitude (“eye”).