Matthew 5:21-32: Murder, Adultery, Marriage and Divorce


The interpretations that Jesus gave of the law begin with an acknowledgement of the how the law was taught (You have heard). Jesus made a clear distinction between what was taught and what he would declare by his authority (but I tell you). Jesus did not say that that the initial interpretation was wrong, he only magnified its meaning, and in doing so explained that God desired a pure heart, not merely an outward showing. Jesus intensified the law and fulfilled its true purpose.
The physical action of murder is a sin, but Jesus extended murder to include the malicious slander of another. Slander does not come from a pure heart. We are to lift each other up, not tear each other down. Christians are to make peace with those we have offended before coming to judgment before God. All of our work must reflect the love of God. It is in love that we are to express our sorrow to the brothers and sisters we have hurt and and forgive them any offense, as we are forgiven by God.
The physical act of adultery is a sin, but Jesus extended adultery to include lusting. Lust does not come from a pure heart. The Christian marriage is to symbolize the marriage between Christ and his church, and it requires purity.
Sin puts our souls at risk. Jesus explained the severity of eternal punishment by saying that it would be better to lose an eye or a hand then suffer eternally.

Men would divorce their wives hastily for any reason. Divorce breaks down the family institution which God ordained. Jesus identifies adultery as the only reason to severely limit the justification of divorce. Such a declaration would certainly get the people thinking about the commitment of marriage. Marriage is serious business to God.

This teaching has been used to justify staying in an abusive or dangerous marriage. Jesus in no way advocates for a man or woman to remain in a mentally or physically abusive relationship. His criticism of divorce here is aimed at those who take marriage lightly without regard for God’s purpose of it. God does not condone abuse. If you have a question regarding this issue, please feel free to contact us.

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