A Call To Radical Christianity
In the last study A Call To Reconciliation we learned that there are some steps to take to be reconciled to God, and in our next study we are starting today we are learning steps to living a life of Christianity, so without delay lets get started.
A Call to Radical Christianity
Mat 16:24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
27 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:
28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
29 And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.
30 And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.
31 It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement:
32 But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.
The call to follow Jesus is an invitation to a life of radical commitment.
Shouted From The Housetops
Ashley Madison was a matchmaking website for those interested in arranging adulterous affairs. The site’s creators made a business of merging the oldest profession on earth with the latest technology.
In the summer of 2015, a breach of security allowed hackers identifying themselves as “The Impact Team” to access the database of Ashley Madison. The hackers released twenty-five gigabytes of secret and personal details of millions who joined the matchmaking service. Many high-profile people were among the millions of users whose personal account information was made public.
In the Christianity Today online edition of “The Exchange,” a blog by Ed Stetzer, posted August 27, 2015, stated that at least four hundred church leaders were among the names released. These included pastors, elders, deacons, and other church staff members. While it should be humiliating to anyone found on the list, it should be most embarrassing for those who represent the church and the message of God’s Word in this world.
Through this breach of sensitive information and the exposure that resulted, this Scripture verse was again confirmed:
Luk 8:17 For nothing is secret, that shall not be made manifest; neither any thing hid, that shall not be known and come abroad.
And Luk 12:3 Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops.
- A RADICAL CONTRAST
- Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery
- Thou Shalt Not Lust
- A RADICAL METAPHOR
- Metaphor Is in Contrast to the Tenor of the Sermon
- Playing for Keeps
- A RADICAL COMMITMENT
- Living in a World of Easy Divorce
- Until Death Do Us Part
Contemplating the Topic
When Jesus called, “Come, follow me,” it was a summons for change, an invitation to walk in a new direction. What the people did not fully understand was how challenging it would be. Jesus clearly stated what would be required for an individual to follow Him: Mat 16:24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. This call to radical Christianity required a decision for discipleship and an openness to learn His ways.
Jesus spent much of His time teaching. He taught His followers, the crowds who gathered, and even the detractors who opposed Him. His teaching stood in stark contrast to that of the religious teachers of His day. Astonished, the people remarked about the difference:
Mat 7:29 For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.
Not content to leave people in ignorance of truth, Jesus challenged their understanding of Scripture and the error of prevailing teaching when it was contrary to Scripture. He called them to embrace new insights in God’s Word. The Gospels are filled with His teaching, and the Sermon on the Mount formed a foundation for much of His doctrine.
Jesus did not oppose or negate the law of Moses but rather emphasized its importance and built upon its principles.
Mat 5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
Searching the Scriptures
- A RADICAL CONTRAST
Thought patterns reflecting a secular worldview must be altered to align with the Kingdom principles Jesus taught.
The Law said, “You shall not commit adultery.” Jesus expanded their understanding of the Law to include lustful thoughts and visual fantasies in the implication of that commandment. If Jesus were to give that illustration today, He might say, “But I tell you that whoever looks at immodest pictures such as those in an illustrated men’s magazine, or watches online porn causing lustful thinking has committed adultery in his heart!” Jesus clearly has higher expectations for those who have responded to His call of discipleship. When Jesus taught, He went beyond the text of the Law and explained the spirit of the Law. While religion focuses on outward adherence to tenets of faith, a relat-ionship with Jesus calls one to the higher law of love, moving beyond blind obedience to fulfill the principles of His teaching through a changed heart and a new mind. (See II Corinthians 5:17.) Jesus stated the commandments and expanded on them in a way no one else dared to do. His teaching sparked debate, discussion, and sometimes bitter resent-ment from those who felt they were the objects of His pointed comments.
- Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery
The Law was clear. It was inscribed as the seventh of the Ten Commandments: “Thou shalt not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14). When Jesus taught on the mountain, quoting from the Ten Commandments would have been nothing new. But challenging His hearers’ understanding of the Law was new. “But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). Through this statement Jesus brought the truth closer to home. To look on another with lust in one’s heart is considered adultery.
- Thou Shalt Not Lust
We may attempt to categorize sins with some sins ranking worse than others in our esti-mation. We may excuse our sins as “bad habits” or perhaps “mistakes.” It is tempting to excuse our own failings while condemning the failings of others in regard to sins that do not entice us. Yet “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:-23), and “there is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10). We must all bear the cond-emnation of our sins regardless of how we may attempt to justify our failures.
Because it involves more than one person, adultery is more obviously sinful. However secretively it is planned, a clandestine tryst will almost always be revealed in time, and the consequences must be faced. What about lust? Lust may not seem as bad because no one else is involved. In the privacy of our own lives we can hide our attraction for sin from others. Pornography may be viewed secretly as a clandestine indulgence. Lustful thoughts and fantasies can be masked with religious acts and pious pretense. Somehow sins do not seem as bad when cloaked in secrecy. But are “secret sins” less sinful Obviously not. Jesus condemned the Pharisees for making their outward appearance seem perfect but igno-ring the contents of their hearts. (See Matthew 23:27–28.)
What individuals think in secret, what they allow in lustful thoughts, what fills their hearts and clouds their minds will bring destructive results if not dealt with decisively.
Nothing is hidden from God, Jesus said, “For there is nothing hid, which shall not be manifested; neither was any thing kept secret, but that it should come abroad” (Mark 4: 22).
In the context of the Lesson Text, the burden of lust is usually directed toward men: “Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her.” Men by nature are more visually stimulated and may be more tempted by lust. However, lust is not exclusively a man’s problem. Women may also be snared in the trap of fantasy and tricked into believing lust is a harm-less pastime if not acted upon.
In contemporary culture women are projected as objects of sensual desire through dress, use of cosmetics, advertisements, entertainment, and popular music. Women are also por-trayed as engaged in lustful longing for men. Increasingly the boundaries between the sexes are blurred and same-sex attraction is promoted as appropriate. However, if it is not a desire for a God honoring relationship within the context of marriage between one man and one woman, it is just lust.
The Law forbade adultery, but it also condemned covetousness. Coveting is lustful longing, the insatiable desire for something that belongs to another. Paul said he would not have known lust except for the Law’s prohibition against coveting (Roman 7:7). He further instructed the church at Ephesus to “walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us. . But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you. . . . For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God” (Ephesians 5:2–3, 5).
Lust draws an individual down a path of sequences.James wrote: “Every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death” (James 1:14–15).
Every lustful thought will someday be revealed. The grace of God reveals the sin in our hearts and allows us opportunity for remorse and repentance.
So we can now understand that after being reconciled to God there are some changes in the way we live in order to live the way that is God honoring, when we pick up our study of A Call To Radical Christianity-part 2 on Thursday we will begin at A Radical Metaphor, until then have a Blessed week.