ANSWER: Let’s begin by reading Matthew 5:27-28, “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” These words of the Lord are part of His ‘Sermon on the Mount’, where the Lord sat and gave these wonderful words of instruction. Matthew 5:1 tells us that Yahushua, “…seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him.” We cannot be sure which mountain this was that the Lord spoke from, but the importance lies in what He said, not in where He said it.
The audience in the Lord’s presence for this sermon was for those who followed Him. The topic of the Lord’s sermon was “The Kingdom of Heaven”. It is here that the King gives instructions pertaining to the character and conduct of His subjects. It is important to realize that this ‘Sermon on the Mount’ is not a Gospel presentation. It was given to those who had already put their faith in the Lord as we read in Matthew 5:1-2, “And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: And he opened his mouth, and taught them…” We see the Lord is addressing His disciples in this sermon. These are principles the Lord has given that should characterize those who have trusted in the Lord Yahushua as savior. While this sermon is expressly Jewish in nature, we would be wrong to assume that it has no application for us today. This grand sermon is just as much for us today, as it was for the Lord’s Jewish followers when He gave this sermon.
With that said, let’s focus our attention on the verse in question, Matthew 5:28 which says, “But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” Is this teaching only for men, or does it also apply to women? The Lord had just spoken out against adultery and then includes the truth that sin begins in the heart. We also learn that truth in Proverbs 23:7 which says, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he…” If a person entertains adulterous thoughts, he is guilty of adultery! The word ‘lust’ comes from a Greek word meaning to long for, desire strongly, or to covet after. To look upon, or even think upon someone with a great desire to have that person would be considered lust, and is condemned by the scriptures.
It is not enough to declare, “Well, at least I didn’t act upon my desires”. No, the Lord expects us to control our thinking and our desires. The Lord expects us to maintain pure and God-honoring thoughts as we read in Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
Does that include women as well as men? Absolutely, it does! The sinful heart of a woman is no different than the sinful heart of a man. Lust in the heart of a woman is just as sinful as lust in the heart of a man. In 2 Peter 2:14, Peter speaks of those people who live in the desires of the flesh. He describes them as people, “Having eyes full of adultery…” I think most women would admit that they have had to resist the urge to lust after someone at some point in their lives. The desire to have someone else is not limited to just men; and women, as well as men, need to be aware of this and guard their hearts and minds from entertaining such thoughts. We are taught in 2 Corinthians 10:5, “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”