IT IS THE SPIRITUAL MAN THAT IS WEAK AND IN NEED OF A SAVIOR
Before going further with the Sermon on the Mount, I want to make sure that some things are very clear. The Ten Commandments were a part of a covenant that God made with the Jews. With them He had a legal relationship. However, that relationship did not give them a way to dwell in Heaven in a loving companionship with God, for man could not keep all of the Law. Paul made it clear in the Galatian letter that anyone who sought to be justified by the Law had to keep all of the Law, and breaking any part of it made him guilty before God. However, this law covenant was between God and the Jews. It was never given to any gentile. So we have never lived under the Ten Commandments. However, the principles behind the Commandments are eternal laws of God, and all men are forever responsible to them. Not being under the Law of Moses does not mean it is all right to murder, lie, steal, commit adultery, etc. The eternal law of God addresses the spiritual man, who was made in the image of God, and all are expected to live up to and strive to maintain those spiritual principles by which we are related to our Creator. Jesus is explaining and making that very clear here in the Sermon on the Mount.
Each of us is a spiritual being, for having been created in the image of God, who is Spirit, we are built a spiritual being. However, this spiritual being is walking around in a physical body, and the behavior of that physical body is controlled by the spiritual person. The physical man will die and be disposed of, but the spiritual man goes on into eternity through the gate of judgement where the Creator decides the eternal fate of this spiritual man. Jesus is trying to tell the Jews, and all men, that it is the spiritual man that must walk with the spiritual laws of God. He is denying the Jewish belief that obeying the physical laws would be enough to please God.
It is possible to be legally correct but spiritually or morally wrong. In the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus, it is clear that the rich man had the legal right to use all of his possessions on himself. However, morally, he was obligated to help the poor man in need.
Our spiritual man has choices to make all day long. These choices are in two forms. First, in moral issues, man is faced with either doing what pleases and satisfies him, or doing what is right. This involves controlling the physical desires of the body and the ego of the individual. Second, in other issues of life, man is faced often with the choice of satisfying himself and his physical or ego desires, or doing what is wise and what is the best thing to do. Again, man has to control the physical man’s desires and his ego, to do the wise thing. At the table, do we eat all we want, or do we watch our diet and protect our health? Or, for the athlete, does he spend as much time on the athletic field as he would like, or does he take time out to pursue his academic needs? The choice is between desire and wisdom.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is introducing the Christian system of spiritual growth, to replace the religion of legal correctness, and personal relationship to a Savior, instead of a legal relationship to the Law.
Of course murder, stealing and lying are wrong, but they are wrong because, if our spiritual self was the way God wants it to be, we would not engage in these activities.
Jesus uses the example of adultery, but notice that He ignores the act itself and talks about the condition of the mind and heart that can cause the person to be a sinner even if he does not commit the act of adultery itself. If you violate the fundamental responsibilities of love, support and loyalty, you are guilty of sin even if you remain in the legal state of marriage. Jesus is pointing past the act itself to the heart and spirit of the person. These are the things that must be right if we are to be acceptable to God.
When Paul admitted that he was condemned by the Law, he did not pick an overt act as his example. Instead he chose a command that related to the inner man and his spiritual state. He said the command not to covet, which is a mental process, found him guilty, and he thanked God for the grace of forgiveness found in Jesus Christ. All of us are weak human beings, and even if we do not violate a command by doing something wrong, we are sure to fail in the area of our motives and desires. Jesus points this out in His sermon, but instead of the ultimate condemnation and rejection which the Law offered, He was bringing to mankind the mercy and grace of a loving God. While pointing out the spiritual failures that all of us have, He was urging us to avoid those things, but when we failed, Jesus Christ was our hope and our salvation. Walk in the light with Him, and you will be pleasing to His Father above.