My pleasures or pleasing God?

The Church of England’s official sermons are not merely interested in outward conformity. They press home to the consciences of every Anglican that God desires truth and holiness in the inmost places.

Juxtaposing two texts from the mouth of Jesus himself, the “Homily on whoredom” shows us why pleasing God should be our ambition—and how that is not just a matter of external obedience but mental purity too. So even our daydreams need to be brought under the lordship of Christ. Here’s how the Homily puts it:

“Hear what Christ (the perfect teacher of all truth) says in the New Testament. “You have heard,” (says Christ) “that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:27-28).

Here our saviour Christ not only confirms and establishes the law against adultery given in the Old Testament from God the Father, by his servant Moses, and make it of full strength, continually to remain among the professors of his name in the new law. But he also (condemning the gross interpretation of the Scribes and Pharisees, which taught that the aforesaid commandment only required people to abstain from outward adultery, and not from the filthy desires and impure lusts) teaches us an exact and full perfection of purity and cleanness of life, both to keep our bodies undefiled, and our hearts pure and free, from all evil thoughts, carnal desires, and fleshly consents.

How then can we be free from this commandment, where so great a charge is laid upon us? May a servant do his own will in anything, when he has a commandment of his master to the contrary? Is not Christ our Master? Are not we his servants? How then may we neglect our Master’s will and pleasure, and follow our own will and fantasy? “You are my friends,” says Christ, “if you do what I command you” (John 15:14 ESV). Now Christ our Master has commanded us that we should forsake all uncleanness and lechery, both in body and spirit. This therefore we must do, if we look to please God.”

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