In my last post, I said that the English language (or maybe it’s just the Western mindset) makes too sharp of a distinction between one’s thought life and one’s actions.
I also said that in Hebrew, words meaning “strong desire” while not being 100% equal to “taking action to fulfill the desire” are much more closely linked than in English.
Keeping these concepts in mind, I want to take another fresh look at Matthew 5:28, which is the classic verse probably used more than any other to condemn natural God-given and God-ordained sexual desire in men and bring about needless guilt feelings just for feeling sexual attraction towards a woman or women.
“But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
I have to admit, at first glance, the way the English is rendered in this verse (and many other translations) really does give the impression that the instant a man has sexual thoughts for a woman, it is the same as if he has committed adultery with her.
Before I get into the thick of my discussion, let me quickly review two important points.
First, Yeshua is talking about adultery here and by definition adultery can ONLY be committed with a married woman.
Therefore, the “woman” in this verse should be translated as “wife” or “married woman”.
Second, the word “lust” in this verse in the original Greek is EPIQUMEW and simply means“to strongly desire”.
For example, the EXACT SAME WORD is used in 1 Timothy 3:1.
“This is a true saying, if a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.”
There is zero sexual connotation inherent in this word.
There can be both good lusts and positive lusts depending on the object of one’s desire.
Let’s now get into the thick of the discussion.
When Yeshua said “he who lusts after another man’s wife….” in the Sermon on the Mount, he was paraphrasing the 10th Word of God.
Notice in the 10th Word all the other items mentioned other than another man’s wife.
The total list is house, wife, manservant, maidservant, ox, and donkey.
Isn’t it interesting when you look at the word “covet” as applied to this list, you don’t think it’s talking about sex, do you?
You can clearly see that this Word is about people being selfish, and jealous and wanting more and taking what belongs to others.
Now, let’s take the common negative way we interpret “lust” and apply it to Matthew 5:28 with some of the other items mentioned in the 10th WORD.
“But I say, anyone who even looks at another man’s house with lust has already stolen it in his heart.”
“But I say, anyone who even looks at another man’s donkey with lust has already stolen it in his heart.”
Sounds bloody weird, doesn’t it?
Again, the reason it sounds weird is because biblically speaking the word “lust” doesn’t mean what we think it means.
We’ve been brainwashed into thinking that “lust” means “sexual desire”, but it doesn’t!
It just means “strong desire”.
These verses should be rendered as follows.
“But I say, anyone who even looks at another man’s house with strong desire (or “firm intent”) to steal it has already stolen it in his heart.”
“But I say, anyone who even looks at another man’s donkey with strong desire (or “firm intent”) to steal it has already stolen it in his heart.”
Again, in Matthew 5:28, Yeshua was basically just paraphrasing the 10th commandment.
In Matthew 5:28, He only lifted the word “wife” from “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”
For instance, would you consider it sinful to “look” at your neighbor’s house and think to yourself “Wow, what a nice, looking house!”
A pretty silly question, right?
But because of how we falsely interpret Matthew 5:28, that is exactly how we view the term “covet” when it comes to another man’s wife.
It’s okay to think “Wow, what a beautiful house!“
But it’s sinful to think “Wow, what a beautiful or SEXY woman!“
Did you wince because I used the word “sexy”?
What’s wrong with using the word “sexy”?
God created sex and He created sexy women and He created sex to be enjoyed with sexy women.
In fact, you and I wouldn’t be here right now if it hadn’t been for sexual attraction between your father and mother.
Anyway, the moral is it is NOT the look, it is the look with intent to take something that is not lawfully yours that is the sin.
It has NOTHING to do with natural healthy sexual desire for the opposite sex.
Matthew 5:28 properly rendered would be as follows:
“Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery (unlawful intercourse w/ another man’s wife): But I say unto you, That whosoever sets his mind upon another man’s wife to covet after her hath committed adultery (unlawful intercourse w/ another man’s wife) with her already in his heart.”
Again, Yeshua is saying the “desiring of another man’s wife with intent to take her” is what’s wrong.
Sexual desire in and of itself is NOT sinful.
The biggest mistake many people make is to think that the commandment against adultery and the commandment against coveting another man’s wife are the same, and they are NOT.
And actually this ends our treatment of the 10 Words of God.