January 24 | Matthew 5:27-32
Sin Is Strong; It Is Not Stronger Than Christ
by Dan Kidd
One of the many reasons sin is so destructive and harmful is that it can warp the way we understand ourselves and our relationship to the God who created us to know him and love him. On the one hand, we can recognize the weight and wickedness of our sin and then fall prey to the enemy, who will seduce us into believing that we are too broken and too wayward for anything good to come of us. The enemy will poison us with the lie that the finished work of Christ is too little to save us from our miserable mess, to restore shalom to the worst parts of our world, or to transform us into the people we were created and intended to be. Sin is strong. It is not stronger than Christ.
On the other hand, we might be tempted, as so often is the case throughout the Biblical witness, to believe that sin isn't all that awful. The enemy will seed in us the lie that, because we are reconciled to God, we need not worry about sinning here and there, in a few choice ways (that don't make us nearly so bad as the truly terrible people around us). This simply is not so! As often as we sin we disrupt the way and will of God's Kingdom in our lives and in the world around us. Jesus, speaking with his disciples, said, "If you love me, keep my commandments." Our sinfulness denies our love of Jesus. And it's not only that our sin affects our relationship with God, it also does damage to the world, creatures, and people around us in ways that we may or may not ever fully appreciate. Sin is strong. It is not stronger than Christ.
Today's passage is a sobering reminder of how easily we are diverted from God's way, and how disastrous that can be. It was generally agreed upon in Jesus' day that adultery was a grievous sin (remembering how the teachers and Pharisees brought the woman caught in the act to Jesus to be stoned, though we might note the man was absent for this trial). A sin like this was easy enough to peer down one's nose about, as one shook their head in self-righteous disapproval. But Jesus knew the human condition intimately, and he would not let such hypocrites go unaccused. Not only is adultery grievous, but it is as common as a lustful look. Because that too--thirsting for intimacy with someone promised to someone else--is destructive. It is unhealthy for us, for our relationship with the Lord who intends otherwise for us, and unhealthy for the individuals we lust after. Our sin, like lust, like divorce, not only harms and mars us, but it harms and mars those we sin against.