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What does it mean to make a covenant with your eyes?

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In Job 31:1, Job says that he had made a covenant with his eyes—a promise not to look at something: “I made a covenant with my eyes / not to look lustfully at a young woman.” It is clear that Job was speaking about his personal purity. In defending his conduct, Job says that he worked diligently not to look at young women in impure ways.

Job 31 includes Job’s final defense of his integrity. Here, he lists many positive things he had done to walk with integrity before the Lord. Part of living a life above reproach is avoiding lust, and an integral part of avoiding lust is controlling what the eyes are allowed to view.

In Job 31:4 Job offers the reason he would not look at women in sinful ways: “Does he not see my ways / and count my every step?” Job understood that God sees everything we do. There is no way to hide anything from God, including our sin; if we are looking at things that we should not look at, God knows. Job sought to live his life accordingly.

The principle of making a covenant with our eyes is a good one for us in this day of rampant pornography. Like Job, we are to live knowing that God sees everything we do. This includes our thoughts and actions. From entertaining lustful thoughts to stealing lascivious looks to other sexual actions outside of marriage, the idea that God sees everything we do should serve to purify us. “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:13).

Jesus also addressed the issue of how we use our eyes: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:27–28). The Pharisees of Jesus’ time focused on pure living, including keeping the Ten Commandments and its command not to commit adultery. However, Jesus spoke not only to the command but also to the motivation behind the command—God desires purity of heart. God’s standard is higher than ours. It’s not just the letter of the Law that God cares about but the spirit in which it’s kept.

James 1:27 says that religion that God accepts as “pure and faultless” includes “keep[ing] oneself from being polluted by the world.” Part of being “unpolluted” in this world would have to involve maintaining a pure thought life.

Sexual purity is an important aspect of the Christian life. “Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness” (Romans 6:13). “Every part of yourself” includes the eyes. In many ways, our eyes function as gates to the mind, and we must be vigilant gate-keepers to avoid letting sin in. Job made a promise to himself to guard his eyes around women, and his example is worthy of emulation.

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Questions about Job

What does it mean to make a covenant with your eyes?
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This page last updated: January 4, 2022