The Heart of Adultery

Passage: Matthew 5:27-30

Guide for Group Discussion or Personal Reflection

Sermon Summary

In Matthew chapter 5, Jesus is unpacking what the “righteousness that exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees” looks like in daily life, and in 5:27-30 he addresses lust. The Bible speaks very positively about the gift of sex, and yet it’s also an area where we experience much brokenness. Through Jesus, we can understand the roots of sexual brokenness, know what to do about it, and know how it gets healed.

Though the Pharisees may have prided themselves on never having committed the physical act of adultery, Jesus teaches that the origins of adultery and sexual brokenness go much deeper than our actions. Shockingly, Jesus teaches that “everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (5:28). At the heart of lust is covetousness—harboring an unhealthy desire for something that isn’t ours. These lustful desires will eventually spill over into our lives in all kinds of harmful ways.

Lust, therefore, requires us to take decisive action. Doing nothing about it is dangerous. We might need to “gouge out our eye” (5:29)—decisively cutting off whatever influences may feed the unhealthy desires of our hearts—or “cut off our hand” (5:30)—decisively removing practical opportunities for ourselves to sin sexually, where we know we’re vulnerable. Dealing with sexual sin at any level can be an isolating struggle, and so we need to help one another graciously in community.

Ultimately, God wants to give us an entirely new heart. Jesus came not only to forgive us, but to give us the gift of this new heart, through his salvation. In his life and death for us, Jesus teaches us a whole new way to love. In giving himself away for us, he shows us that love is about self-giving, not about self-gratification, and it is when we are captured by this new vision for love that our brokenness—sexual and otherwise—can be healed at the deepest levels.

Sermon Outline:

• The Origins of Sexual Brokenness (5:27-28)
• The Dangers of Doing Nothing (5:29-30)
• The Healing That is Possible

Group Discussion & Personal Reflection Guide

Re-read the passage(s): Matthew 5:27-30

The Origins of Sexual Brokenness (5:27-28)

1) Re-read Matthew 5:27-28. How do you think Jesus’ original hearers would have responded to these verses? What was your first response to hearing them? Why?

2) In the sermon, Richard described lust as being related to covetousness: “lust is harboring an unhealthy desire for something that isn’t yours”. How, if at all, does this definition of lust change the way you view lust? How does it change the way we address lust?

3) In the sermon, Richard gave several examples of how people may harbor lust and unhealthy desires in their hearts, and the effects this has on us. How have you let unhealthy desires grow in you? What affect has it had on others? (Leader note: Groups should be sensitive to how they ask this question. Leaders might consider splitting up men and women either for this question, or for the whole discussion, as it’s likely not going to go beyond the surface level if you don’t).

The Dangers of Doing Nothing (5:29-30)

4) Re-read Matthew 5:29-30. What does Jesus mean by tearing out your eye or cutting of your hand? What does he warn will happen if we don’t?

5) When have you seen another Christian take decisive action against lust? What was the result?

6) Is there any area right now where you need to “tear out your eye” or “cut off your hand”? What would that look like practically? What would it cost you? What has kept you from doing so thus far?

The Healing That is Possible

7) Read Ezekiel 36:25-27. What is God promising to do here? How might it encourage us in our struggle against sin—sexual or otherwise?

8) In the sermon, Richard said that Jesus demonstrates to us a whole new way of approaching love—namely, that love is about self-giving (or “self-donation”), rather than self-fulfillment. If we really believed this, how would approach the way we view sex? How might it work to heal our sexual brokenness?

9) Sexual sin often brings great guilt and shame—both when we sin, and when we are sinned against. How does the gospel address the shame of sexual brokenness?

Additional Application Questions

Q) How else would you like to engage with God this week?
Q) How can you tangibly care for those in your community this week, both inside and outside of the church?


Spend time praying for yourselves, our church community, the North Shore community, and our nation and world—particularly those most vulnerable.