The Seventh Commandment...
“You shall not commit adultery.” (Exodus 20:14, NIV)
There are three things preachers rarely speak of from the pulpit: Money, death and sex. Now these topics are transparently addressed in the Bible and all three are integral parts of life, but just as we avoid graveyards, we tend to skirt around these three topics. But the 7th commandment is the topic today and there’s no way to avoid what the Bible says about sex. So please bear with me and let’s look together at what God says.
Adultery is breaking the marriage vow by having a relationship with someone else—plain and simple. Voluntary, sexual activity between between a married man and someone other than his wife or between a married woman and someone other than her husband, is adultery.
In the New Testaments another word used for sexual sin is porneia, from which we get the word “porn” and “pornography. It refers to all sexual immorality. But the Seventh Commandment is focused upon the protection and reverence of marriage. So obviously, God intended the sexual relationship between a husband and wife to be an exclusive, intimate bond to strengthen the relationship. Originally, it was intended to be between a man and a woman. Later, for whatever cultural reasons, it become common for a man to have more than one wife. But that was clearly not God’s intention up until the Exodus. It seems to be that this first began because of famine, widowhood, or female infertility.
The creation account shows God’s perfect intention for mankind and for the marriage bond. “And the LORD God said, ‘It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.’ …“And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. “And Adam said: ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.’ Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:18, 21-24 ESV).
Jesus Christ expanded on the Seventh Commandment to show the heart and spirit of the law. He said even looking lustfully is adultery: “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Matthew 5:27-28 ESV)
The only sin we’re ever told to run from is sexual sin. It’s the most entangling, tempting and addictive. “Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body” (1 Corinthians 6:18, NIV). The first example I can think of putting running into practice was Joseph…he fled from the advances of his master’s wife (Genesis 39:6-20 NIV). He was a righteous man, and God richly blessed him—-but he had to ruin away from a beautiful woman to keep himself pure.
Contrary to what we witness in our culture, movies and TV, any type of sex outside of marriage is prohibited and grotesque when compared to what God intended. The problem with prostitution and pornography, in particular, is that it reduces a person into a “thing” of pleasure—-something to be used, exploited and then thrown away. Clearly this obliterates God’s intentions.
Paul said , “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10, NIV). But before we smile and pat ourselves on the back for not being a sodomite or a fornicator, look at the other sins that keep one out of heaven, “stealing, drunkards, folks that covet, etc”. We’re all in trouble!
And yet the same God that forgives you and me of coveting, or lusting in our minds, also forgives the worst sexual offender if he/she confesses and repents. Again, Paul said, “And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11 ESV). God offers to wash away my sinful past and give me a clean, pure heart, but he also expects me to keep myself holy—“set apart”.
Think about what Jesus Himself said about matrimony and adultery:”He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”"-Matthew 19:4-6 ESV. This create a union between a married man and woman that runs deep. So deep in fact that the two become "one body".
C.S. Lewis put it this way: "The Christian idea of marriage is based on Christ's words that a man and wife are to be regarded as a single organism-for that is what the words "one flesh" would be in modern English. And the Christians believe that when He said this He was not expressing a sentiment but stating a fact-just as one is stating a fact when one says that a lock and its key are one mechanism, or that a violin and a bow are one musical instrument. The inventor of the human machine was telling us that its two halves, the male and the female, were made to be combined together in pairs, not simply on the sexual level, but totally combined."
Because of this holy union between husband and wife, Lewis said that it is a great monstrosity to cheat on your spouse. "The monstrosity of sexual intercourse outside marriage is that those who indulge in it are trying to isolate one kind of union (the sexual) from all the other kinds of union which were intended to go along with it and make up the total union. The Christian attitude does not mean that there is anything wrong about sexual pleasure, any more than about the pleasure of eating. It means that you must not isolate that pleasure…”
The point is that sex is intended to be something that one practices within the bounds of marriage…..There is nothing at all wrong with sex. But sex outside of marriage is detestable. Cheating on a spouse is even worse. That is the reason for this commandment!
Cheating on a spouse is an attempt to have part of the union with one mate while trying to keep part of the union with another. It is seeking pleasure in someone else that should be sought with your spouse. When you are married, you are to seek this gratification from your partner alone.
Solomon said it this way: “Drink water from your own cistern, running water from your own well. Should your springs overflow in the streets, your streams of water in the public squares? Let them be yours alone, never to be shared with strangers. May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.” – Proverbs 5:15-19 (ESV)
C.S. describes why divorce is terrible in light of God’s intention for man and woman. He said, ”…churches of all denominations regard divorce as something like cutting up a living body, as a kind of surgical operation. Some of them think the operation so violent that it cannot be done at all; others admit it as a desperate remedy in extreme cases. They are all agreed that it is more like having both your legs cut off than it is like dissolving a business partnership or even deserting a regiment. What they all disagree with is the modern view that it is a simple readjustment of partners, to be made whenever people feel they are no longer in love with one another, or when either of them falls in love with someone else."
But I would like to add a few remarks about adultery and divorce: First, C.S. Lewis himself, after he wrote all of this, married a divorced woman. God commanded Hosea to marry a woman who was a prostitute and had sexual relationships with countless other men! Talk about a monstrosity! Prostitution represents the greatest possible perversion of marriage, and yet God told Hosea to marry Gomer.
Recently many of you may recall that the international apologist Ravi Zacharias, who died earlier this year, sexually abused numerous women in Atlanta. Those who loved him and followed him are aghast that this went on for years! But before you throw away his books, you might want to also stopping reading Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon—-because David and Solomon also committed sexual sin; David committed adultery with Baathsheba and Solomon’s appetite for sex caused him to turn away from God! (Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines!)
Good news: There’s hope for all of us! But heed what Jesus said: “If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell” (Matthew 5:29, NIV). His point is that if I want to come to Him, I must admit my sins (as David did) realize that any sexual activity outside of marriage is a monstrosity (as C.S.Lewis and Hosea did) , turn away from wanting anyone other than the one has given you (as Joy Lewis Anne and Lotz did), renounce my demand to satisfy all my appetites and allow Him to give me the desires as I promise to willfully do whatever it takes to maintain that purity.
Repentance does not mean one will never get divorced or never look at someone else lustfully; repentance mean that we are turning away the bad decisions we made; it’s evidenced when we stop surfing the internet or visiting inappropriate newspapers stands…