In this past week’s sermon on Jesus’s teaching concerning adultery and lust (Mt. 5:27-30) we made connections between that teaching and a couple of the beatitudes: purity of heart and hungering for righteousness (Mt. 5:6, 8).
In his study of the Sermon on the Mount, John Stott makes one further connection between this teaching and the beatitudes. he suggests that if we take decisive action against our sin and desires it may lead to a form of persecution.
To obey this command of Jesus will involve for many of us a certain ‘maiming.’ We shall have to eliminate from our lives certain things which (though some may be innocent in themselves) either are, or could easily become, sources of temptation. In his own metaphorical language we may find ourselves without eyes, hands or feet. That is, we shall deliberately decline to read certain literature, see certain films, visit certain exhibitions. If we do this, we shall be regarded by some of our contemporaries as narrow-minded, untaught Philistines. ‘What?’ they will say to us incredulously, ‘you’ve not read such and such a book? You’ve not seen such and such a film? Why, you’re not educated, man!’ They may be right. We may have had to become culturally ‘maimed’ in order to preserve our purity of mind. The only question is whether, for the sake of this gain, we are willing to bear that loss and endure that ridicule…It is better to forgo some experiences this life offers in order to enter the life which is life indeed; it is better to accept some cultural amputation in this world than risk final destruction in the next.
John R. W. Stott, The Sermon on the Mount, 91.