Q. I have a question about what Jesus said in Matthew 5:28 and what Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 5. Will fantasies of sexual encounters with women I know keep me from entering into heaven? I know Jesus paid for it all, past present and future, but then I think of these verses. I’m currently battling this sin and it’s a tough one for me. Could you put these verses into context with respect to the finished work of our most excellent God, King and savior!
A. In Matt. 5:27-28 Jesus was demonstrating our absolute need for a Savior. Not actually committing adultery doesn’t mean we haven’t broken the commandment against it. Just looking lustfully at someone makes us guilty. Earlier He said the same thing about committing murder (Matt. 5:2-22) The fact that we don’t go around killing people doesn’t mean we haven’t broken the commandment. Just being angry with someone is enough to break it. Likewise, He could have equated envy of a neighbor’s possessions with breaking the commandment against coveting, and so on. His point was, even a desire to break the Law is a sin. We can’t keep the law no matter how hard we try. That’s why we need a Savior.
1 Cor. 5:1-5 is a little different issue. A man in the Corinthian Church was having an affair with his father’s wife, and the members were proud of tolerating it. Paul said they should have been filled with grief over it. He said to put the man out of the fellowship so he could come to his senses, and so they could understand that public sin was not to be tolerated in the Church.
Later, in 2 Cor. 2:5-11, he said their plan had worked, and they should invite the man back into fellowship to keep Satan from winning after all. He was saying it was not the man they were condemning, was his behavior. As soon as the behavior stopped the man was welcome to return.
Both of these examples are violations of the commandment against adultery and are sins. Like all other sins they can be confessed and forgiven, and committing them won’t keep us out of heaven, any more than any of our other sins will. But we’re repeatedly admonished not to behave like this. We’re children of the King, and should strive to live up to what we’ve already attained (Phil 3:20) as an expression of our gratitude.