The seventh commandment was the subject of Jesus’ second example of how the scribes and Pharisees kept the letter while neglecting the spirit of the Law. Jesus expected His disciples to be more sexually pure than the scribes and Pharisees.
You have heard that it was said, “You shall not commit adultery”; but I say to you, that everyone who looks on a woman to lust for her has committed adultery with her already in his heart. And if your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out, and throw it from you; for it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off, and throw it from you; for it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to go into hell (Matt. 5:27-30).
Note again that Jesus was keeping with His primary theme—Only the holy will inherit God’s kingdom. He warned again about hell and something one must do to stay out of it.
The scribes and Pharisees couldn’t ignore the seventh commandment, so they outwardly obeyed it, remaining faithful to their wives. Yet they fantasized about making love to other women. They would mentally undress women they watched in the marketplace. They were adulterers at heart, and thus were transgressing the spirit of the seventh commandment. How many in the church are no different?
God, of course, intended for people to be completely sexually pure. Obviously, if it is wrong to have a sexual relationship with your neighbor’s wife, it is also wrong to meditate on having a sexual relationship with her.
Were any among Jesus’ audience convicted? Probably they were. What should they have done? They should have immediately repented as Jesus instructed. Whatever it took, no matter what the cost, those who were lustful should stop lusting, because those who practice lust go to hell.
Of course, no reasonable person thinks Jesus meant that lustful people should literally pluck out an eye or cut off a hand. A lustful person who cuts out his eye simply becomes a one-eyed luster! Jesus was dramatically and solemnly emphasizing the importance of obeying the spirit of the seventh commandment. Eternity depended on it.
Following Christ’s example, the disciple-making minister will admonish his disciples to “cut off” whatever it is that is causing them to stumble. If it’s cable TV, the cable needs to be disconnected. If it’s regular TV, the TV needs to be removed. If it’s a magazine subscription, it should be canceled. If it’s the Internet, it should be disconnected. None of those things are worth perishing in hell over, and because the disciple-making minister truly loves His flock, he will tell them the truth and warn them, just as Jesus did.