Vol.XVII No.IX Pg.5
November 1980

If Your Eye Strays...

Robert F. Turner

When the honeymoon is over, and the early excitement of love gives way to the long hall of responsibility and house payments, the heart is tested. The wedding gown becomes a robe, and curlers take the place of the veiled coiffure. Her timid "I do" becomes a harsh "Take your feet off the table!" as she brings the coffee. And brother, your puffy unshaven face is something less than appetizing!!!

So, you go off to work, where the women are well dressed, perfumed, and far removed from the diaper laundry. Does your eye stray? Well, maybe; and that's bad enough. But the critical question is yet to come. Does your heart reprove?? Now that is the test!

When Paul wrote, "That which I do, I allow not: for what I would I do not; but what I hate, that do I" (Row. 7:15-f), he did not mean he never did what he thought he should do. He was demonstrating the inadequacy of law (alone) to cope with weak man's need. (See Rom. 8:3-4.) Deliverance had to come through forgiveness, made possible through Christ's death. But there is more. The individual is profited by this grace on the condition of his faith — and that is a trust that only a changed heart can contain. Belief "to the saving of the soul" begins with a simple acceptance of testimony, but it must produce a cleansed heart (Acts 15:9); one wholly given to God; determined to serve Him without reservation. And that kind of heart puts cold water on those roving eyes.

It works that way, to a limited extent, in a purely human situation. I love my wife so very very much that hurting her is like hurting myself. If I should be untrue to her I know the deep pain she would feel — the unbelieving shock, that would be followed by withdrawal into dismal darkness. I know this because I know how the reverse would affect me. Ours is a mutual trust so complete we understand one another's emotions. If my flesh is tempted, my heart says "No," and turns hurriedly away. I do not want to be untrue, because that would be contrary to my deeper desire: my longing to continue the wonderful, trusting relationship I now enjoy with the woman I have loved so long.

Is not this the principle Paul has in mind when he says, "I serve God, with my spirit, in the gospel" (Rom. 1:9), and "I serve the law of God, with my mind, through Christ" (7:25; both passages condensed)? Again, "He is a Jew which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter" 2:29). He is not saying that unlawful actions are no longer sin, or that they will not be held against him. He is saying that in order to have forgiveness for those sins, one's desire must be to serve God — one's heart must reprove. He was wretched, when he did sin, because of the conflict within — the warring of his deep desire to serve God, with the temptations of the flesh.

Law continues in Christ, but its dominion is broken by grace (6:14). The renewed heart accepts God's law not in fear, but gladly. It has become part of the individual: the real "me" wants to be faithful to the God loved with all heart, soul and mind.