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Monday, September 10, 2012

The Cost of Discipleship Chapter 10

Matt 5:27-32 Sermon on the Mount Con’t

“Lust is impure because it is unbelief, and therefore it is to be shunned.”

I’ve never thought of lust as being “unbelief”, but Bonhoeffer new understanding/insight to this passage of scripture in this chapter. While short, this chapter is packed full of information critical for Christians in today’s sexually oriented/dominated world.

“To follow Jesus means self-renunciation and absolute adherence to him, and therefore a will dominated by lust can never be allowed to do what it likes.  Even momentary desire is a barrier to following Jesus…making us sell our heavenly birthright for a mess of pottage, and showing that we lack faith in him.” 

Faith is trusting in the unseen. 

Lust is based on what we do see.

The two are at war.

“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak."Mark 14:38 NIV

Faith vs Lust

Our eyes see. They covet. They desire.  They burn for what they behold. 

From the passage in Matt, Bonhoeffer infers, “No sacrifice is too great if it enables us to conquer a lust which cuts us off from Jesus…When you have made your eye the instrument of impurity, you cannot see God with it.” 

Now we are faced with the question:

Did Jesus really mean we should cut out our eyes and chop off our hands or was He only trying to prove a point? 

This bring us to - Law vs. Grace

 “If we decided not to take it literally, we should be evading the seriousness of the commandment, and if… we decide it was to be taken literally, we should at once reveal the absurdity of the Christian position, and thereby invalidate the commandment…we cannot evade the issue either way; we are placed in position where there is no alternative but to obey.”

What Bonhoeffer means is- the answer, not the question matters. 

When we begin questioning God and His word, we are on a slippery slope to justifying whatever answer we seek. We can either take it literally (and begin chopping off hands) or we can start rationalizing all scripture to fit our needs at the moment and therefore not follow God’s law, but one of our own making. 

How does Jesus answer this question? 

How He answers all questions- KEEP YOUR EYES ON HIM ALONE. 

That way you don’t have to worry if should take Him literally or figuratively. 

“He does not forbid them to look at anything, but bids them look on him.  If they do that he knows that their gaze will always be pure, even when they look upon a woman. So far from imposing on them an intolerable yoke of legalism, he succours them with the grace of the gospel.” 

This short chapter goes on to talk about marriage, divorce and celibacy.

I’m not going to go into detail, instead I’m going to leave you with a few quotes from the book.

“Jesus does not depreciate the body and its natural instincts, but he does condemn the unbelief which is so often latent in its desires.” 

“Christian marriage is marked by discipline and self-denial. Christ is the Lord even of marriage.” 

Jesus doesn’t say if being celibate or married is better, instead he focuses on helping keep His followers from temptations (Irregularity) inside and outside married life. 

“Such irregularity is a sin, not only against our own bodies, but against the Body of Christ, Even our bodies belong to Christ and have their part in the life of discipleship, for they are members of his Body.  Jesus, the Son of God, bore a human body, and since we enjoy fellowship with that Body, fornication is a sin against Christ’s own Body.” 

1.        Can you see how lust is a form of disbelief? What are your thoughts?
2.       Does “keeping your eyes on Christ” help you with “tricky” scriptures such as these or do you feel there is more to it? If you’d like, explain.
3.       Anything we focus on in place of God is an idol, therefore lust can be an idol. How do you think keeping your eyes focused on Christ can help you overcome such temptations?

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