Lust: When Looking is Sin

April 21, 2013

in Series, Sexuality, Shared walk

This is a continuation of how we can apply the Sermon on the Mount to our marriages.

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” [Mt 5:27&28 ESV]


We don’t have to stretch to find a marriage application for this passage. However, the verses may not mean exactly what you think they do.

The Greek word we translate as lust in this passage is epithumeo. Unlike our English word, epithumeo is not specifically about sex, and it does not indicate sin; the word means nothing more than a strong desire. (For more see Lust: I WANT you.)

So, what Jesus was saying is strong desire to be with a women sexually is sin, even if there is no intention to act on those desires. This means “I would never actually do it” doesn’t excuse us. If we’d like to, we’re in sin. On the other hand, a momentary reaction to a woman showing far too much of her body isn’t necessarily sin, if it’s not accompanied by a desire to do something.

To me this is both less and more than what most of us have been taught about “lust”. Just seeing and being aware of what we saw doesn’t make us guilty of sin. Even a bit of arousal doesn’t mean we’ve sinned. The real issue is our thoughts – our desire. It’s God’s intention for us to sexually desire our wife and only our wife. Desiring any other woman is wrong, even if we’d never do anything about it.

Does this change how you look at lust? Are you relieved noticing a woman isn’t sin? Are you convicted about desire you’ve justified because you’d never act on it? 

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Great tweet of the week:

Obsessed with our past -> shame. Obsessed with our future -> worry. These are the twin thieves that rob us of our present -> love. chuckdegroat

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Black and Married with Kids

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Joe Beam’s Blog

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Should We Stay Together for the Kids?
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Stupendous Marriage

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…to Love Honor and Vacuum

Romance in the Movies: What Does it Teach Us? ◄ It’s not ALL bad.


Was Christ purpose in this passage to make it more clear what sin was, or was it to communicate that no matter what we can never obtain perfection, we are sinners and we cannot change that, and that only by God's grace can we be made pure. The purpose for the passage is important for interpretation.

Aside from this point, your indicate that desire without intent is still wrong based on the definition of the word for lust here, but you ignore the word following "lustful" in this verse: with lustful intent... lustfull is the word modifying "intent". What the verse is talking about is "intent"...what kind of intent? Lustfull intent. This doesn't seems to fit with the logic you give here. Or am I missing something?

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