A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.
-Ezekiel 36:26, KJV
I can remember when we sat down to hash out THE LIST.
This list was supposed to set guidelines for relationships with the opposite sex. It was more for my (now-ex) wife than it was for me. She wanted “rules” that if she followed would indicate that a relationship with the opposite sex was “okay.”
But rules do not deal with the matters of the heart.
It did not work. Duh!
Cheating starts in the heart. Jesus makes that abundantly clear when He explains how sin flows out of each heart defiling us (e.g. Mark 7:20-23).
External rules addressing behavior may force external conformity, but it does nothing to deal with the sinful root of the problem. Jesus demands more of His followers. You do not have to go to bed with the opposite sex to have committed adultery in your heart with him or her (e.g. Mt. 5:28). That is what Jesus taught.
So, the problem cannot be solved by following rules.
It can only be solved by a heart change.
A change of heart that says, “Adultery is always unacceptable.”
A change of heart that says, “I do not want to hurt my wife or God by even getting close to cheating.”
A change of heart that says, “My priority is fidelity and honoring God over temporary pleasure and sin.”
The Pharisees were good at following rules, but they were far from God. In fact, Jesus called them “whitewashed tombs”–i.e. looking good on the outside but full of bones and death on the inside (Mt. 23:27). We do not want to live as they did.
We want to live as Christ. This is Holy Spirit enabled living where His Spirit speaks to our spirit replacing our fleshly values with Godly values.
Left to our own devices and strength,
the best we can do is make THE LIST and become “whitewashed tombs.”