Here is the sermon on the 7th Commandment.
As I have stated before, I apologize for the formatting, but I do hope the content is useful for you.
Ministers only get really nervous when preaching on one of two topics: 1) Money and 2) Sex. And I don’t know which would make me more nervous…we did a whole month on money a few months ago…and that was pretty nerve-wracking. We are just going to do, for now, one Sunday, today, on sex. I think we can get through it.
Over the course of the last months, as you know, we have been studying through the TC as given to Moses and the nation of Israel and ultimately to us, by God. They are His words, His foundation for His nation of people…and God’s people. And instead of being rusty old rules, we are finding, as we study them together, that they are alive and well and relevant to us today still…as God’s words should be.
Today, we approach the 7th C—
Exodus 20:14 (TNIV)
14 You shall not commit adultery.
Simple, right? It would seem so…but never in our history has adultery been so prevalent.
We have heard of the term, over the last 40 years, of a sexual revolution that is taking place. And that phrase has become so common that we don’t even think about what that means anymore.
But what is a revolution? Over the course of history, a revolution occurs when a group of people revolted against a government or against principles that they could no longer live with.
The American Revolution—a revolt against King George III of England.
The French Revolution—a revolt against the authority of King Louis XVI.
So, what is the Sexual Revolution? It could be a revolt against God, and the principles He has set down for people to follow. It’s a revolt against God’s laws.
We have talked, as we have studies the TC, that God has given us what we need in order to have life…a full life. Not always an easy one, but a fulfilling one. And we have likened that idea to God as our shepherd and people, us, as His sheep. And like a good shepherd, God has laid down some fence for us…if we stay inside of those fences, that full life is promised. Food to eat…water to drink…friends to play with…and on. If we stray from the fence, there is danger; rocks to fall on or we could get lost or there are predators that could kill us. And we are free to wander outside of the fence…if we want to.
The fence is God’s words…His laws…His commands. If we follow those words, the full life is promised. If we choose not to, there is danger.
And you can see that so clearly when you discuss the words God has given us regarding sex.
Sex is a beautiful thing…meant to be enjoyed. If you have ever read through the Song of Songs or the Song of Solomon as it is called, you will see that God created sex and He created it to be something amazing. The words He has given us for sex is that it is to be enjoyed by one man and one woman…who are married. Outside of that fence, it becomes dangerous.
Sex before marriage…outside of the fence. Can result in things that hurt; unwanted pregnancy, destroyed emotions.
Homosexuality…outside of the fence. Can result in diseases and sickness and scarred emotions as well.
Sex with someone other than your marriage partner, adultery…outside of the fence. Can result in all the same things; emotional pain, pregnancy, destroyed marriages and messed up children.
And that specifically is the word God has for us today…do not commit adultery.
Why would God include this in his TC?
We have talked around, and will again today a bit, about marriage and the family being the foundation of societies. Even at the very beginning, when God had created Adam, did He realize that it wasn’t good for Adam to be alone. So He created Eve.
And if the family and marriage is the foundation of our society that means it’s the foundation of every facet of our society. It’s the foundation of our personal happiness, domestic, and national happiness.
And in our society, this has become kind of messed up. I read a few months ago that, for the first time in our nation’s history, has the traditional family make-up moved into the minority. One mom, one dad, and children is traditional…today, there are more non-traditional make-ups than traditional ones. That means there are more homosexual couples, single parents, or divorced units than there are traditional ones today. More than 200,000 marriages each year end before their 2nd anniversary. That’s about 1 in 10.
In 1970, only about 500,000 couples lived together before marriage. Today that number is 5,000,000 couples.
God created marriage…and marriage today is not the problem; the problem today is that the “revolution” we talked about a few minutes ago has messed up God’s view of marriage. There has literally been a revolt against the way it was designed by God to be.
So, to understand this C, we have to understand how God originally created marriage to be.
- God designed marriage for companionship.
Genesis 2:15-18 (TNIV)
15 The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16 And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will certainly die.” 18 The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”
God knows His creation exactly…and He knew quickly that it was not enough for Adam to be alone. He needed companionship. And Eve was created and the first marriage was instituted.
- God designed marriage for sexual fulfillment.
Let’s keep reading about Adam and Eve…
Genesis 2:19-24 (TNIV)
19 Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. 20 So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals. But for Adam [f] no suitable helper was found. 21 So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs [g] and then closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib [h] he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.
23 The man said,
“This is now bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman,’
for she was taken out of man.”
24 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.
The two shall leave their mother and father and be united…and they will become one flesh.
I don’t want to become too graphic, because we have young ears in here as well…but the very act of sexual intercourse is the taking of two bodies and making them one. In fact, the bearing of children confirms that fact: during sexual intercourse, a part of the man (his sperm) and a part of the woman (her egg) are united…and formed into one body…a child. And this child is two made into one. It’s very beautiful.
But our society has a skewed view on what sex is to be like…if you want to do a fun social experiment, next time you are at the supermarket, look at the top women’s magazines in the check-out line. You will find that each of them will have AT LEAST one, probably more, huge titles of articles of a very sexual nature. We used to get one such magazine at our house when we first moved here…addressed to the previous owner. And one month I was looking at the cover and they had 7 titles on their cover…and 5 of them were about sex. One of the articles stated that if you had had less than 5 sexual partners, than you were considered sexually inhibited.
Larry Crabb, in this book, The Marriage Builder, wrote, “The natural appetite for erotic pleasure has become a mad tyrant, demanding fulfillment with no concern; for neither boundaries nor consequences—ruined reputations, shattered relationships, prematurely ended ministries—no price seems too high to pay for the pleasures of sex. It has become a slave master, driving people to disaster.”
- God designed marriage, as we have seen, for child-rearing.
Genesis 1:27-28 (TNIV)
27 So God created human beings in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.
Be fruitful and increase in number…marriage is designed to be a safe place where children can grow in fear of the Lord, knowledge of Him, protected…but learning how to deal with pressures of the world.
God’s call in marriage is to pro-create.
There is one more design for marriage:
- God designed marriage to be a reflection of Christ.
Ephesians 5:31-32 (TNIV)
31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.
Here, Paul quotes the passage we read in Genesis about making two into one…and he is using the illustration of marriage to remind us that Jesus is the Groom—who loves His church, the Bride, so much—so much that He gave up His life for her. And she is called to love Him back.
Our marriages are to reflect Jesus…I have done a few weddings now, and one of the most fun things I have done in one was to pull out a camera, right in the middle of me marrying the couple, and take their picture. They weren’t expecting it at all…but then I use that picture to remind them that their marriage is a reflection of Christ…just as a picture is a reflection.
Just to see how far we have come in this “revolution” consider this:
This 1st definition of marriage comes from the Webster’s original dictionary, of 1828– listen how this definition reflects the biblical definition: “Marriage: the act of uniting a man and a woman for life. Wedlock: the legal union of a man and woman for life. Marriage is a contract both civil and religious by which the parties engaged to live together in mutual affection and fidelity till death shall separate them. Marriage was instituted by God himself for the purpose of preventing the promiscuous intercourse of the sexes, for promoting domestic felicity and for securing the maintenance and education of children.” And this dictionary quoted Heb 13:4, “Marriage is to be honored by all and the bed undefiled.”
Now…here is what Webster’s says today: the social institution under which a man and woman establish their decision to live as husband and wife by legal commitments, the state, condition, or relationship of being married; a relationship in which two people have pledged themselves to each other in the manner of a husband and wife, without legal sanction.
Notice anything? No mention of God…the exclusivity of a man and a woman…of fidelity…til death do us part…children.
God has designed marriage the way He wants it…and it has been a bit marred.
And this C says we are not to commit adultery. Let’s look at that:
Obviously, this C prohibits extra-marital affairs. And in the OT, when someone had sex outside of the boundaries, the punishment was severe. Here are a couple of examples:
Deuteronomy 22:28-29 (TNIV)
28 If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, 29 he shall pay her father fifty shekels [c] of silver. He must marry the young woman, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives.
This man stepped outside the lines…and God said you must marry this girl you violated. And you can NEVER divorce her.
Leviticus 20:10 (TNIV)
10 ” ‘If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife—with the wife of his neighbor—both the adulterer and the adulteress are to be put to death.
Punishment of adultery in the OT law was death. God takes this C very seriously.
And as we have discussed…sex outside of the boundaries…not just extra-marital affairs, but pre-marital affairs and homosexual affairs are all quite serious.
And Jesus takes it one step further…
Remember last week? We talked about C #6—“You shall not murder.” And we talked about how none of us in this room had committed the act of murder. And how it would be easy for us to mentally check out of the sermon. But we can’t because Jesus enters the picture and shakes us up a bit.
Remember these words? Jesus spoke them in Matthew 5, the Sermon on the Mount:
Matthew 5:17-18, 20 (TNIV)
17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 Truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished… 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.
The Pharisees were quite complacent…they hadn’t committed any actual murders. But then Jesus says, “I want your righteousness to be even greater than that of the Pharisees.” Jesus didn’t come to get rid of the TC…he cam to fulfill them.
For example…from last week…Jesus says:
Matthew 5:21-22 (TNIV)
21 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, [a] and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister [b] will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca, [c]‘ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.
You have heard it said, “Don’t murder.” But I tell you, “Don’t even be angry.” Do you see what he is doing? He is not abolishing the old C of not murdering, but he is taking it even farther…to include anger. If we don’t commit murder, we are as good as the Pharisees, because they hadn’t either. But Jesus wants our righteousness to be even greater than the Pharisees…so he includes not being angry.
The same thing is now occurring with this 7th C—do not commit adultery. Here what Christ says:
Matthew 5:27-28 (TNIV)
27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ [d] 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
You have heard it said, “don’t commit adultery.” And that’s right…but I tell you, “don’t even lust.”
Jesus says not committing adultery or other infidelity is right on…and then he takes it a step further; to include LUST. And again, just like last week when we were feeling pretty good about not killing anybody and then Jesus mentions anger…this week, we might be feeling good about the fact that we haven’t committed the physical act of adultery…but then Jesus includes lust.
And now it’s personal again.
Lust is adultery…Jesus says it’s committing adultery in your heart. It’s looking at a woman or a man and going places with him or her that are forbidden by God…it’s dishonoring to that person, it’s dishonoring to your spouse, and it’s dishonoring to God. It’s having something in your mind that if you actually acted it out, would be sin. It’s a sin. And it’s a non-talked-about-very-often sin.
Why is lust dangerous? I mean, it’s better than actually acting anything our, right? You hear that a lot.
It can destroy any normal desire.
This is true for sex, but also for food or for drink or for sports or anything. When you lust, what is normal goes out the door…say, sex with your spouse.
It can lead to bad decision making.
Just ask King David…he was out on the roof of his palace and lusted after beautiful Bathsheba. He made a bad decision to sleep with her…and everything went down hill from there. He got her pregnant. He killed her husband. The baby ended up dying. The kingdom suffered. All because of a bad decision rooted out of lust.
I think, especially for men today, but also for a growing population of women, lust is becoming even harder to ignore and talk about…and one of the reasons is pornography. Instead of looking lustfully at a woman or man you encounter, now you can lust after a woman or man you have never met…they aren’t even in front of you in the flesh and blood. It’s anonymous and detached…and ultra-dangerous.
Let me create for you, if I can, the anatomy of adultery, as given to us from the Bible. This includes, obviously, the physical act and the mental act that Jesus talks about in lust.
It’s found in the book of Proverbs…chapter 7…let’s read it together bit by bit…
Proverbs 7:5-27 (TNIV)
5 They will keep you from the adulterous woman,
from the wayward woman with her seductive words.
6 At the window of my house
I looked down through the lattice.
(The person writing this is observing life.)
7 I saw among the simple,
I noticed among the young men,
a youth who had no sense.
(He notices a young man…inexperienced…but this isn’t confined only young men)
8 He was going down the street near her corner,
walking along in the direction of her house
(This young man is in the wrong place…he is going near the house of an adulteress; and the observer knew she was an adulteress. He is clearly wandering into danger—and probably knows it.)
9 at twilight, as the day was fading,
as the dark of night set in.
(Look at when this is happening…in the dark! Most adultery, be it physical adultery or mental adultery, especially pornography, happens in the dark. Makes sense, right? Sin thrives in darkness…just like mold.)
10 Then out came a woman to meet him,
dressed like a prostitute and with crafty intent.
(Here we meet the woman…she has a plan, or as it states, crafty intent.)
11 (She is unruly and defiant,
her feet never stay at home;
12 now in the street, now in the squares,
at every corner she lurks.)
(Look at how her activities are described…as lurking.)
13 She took hold of him and kissed him
and with a brazen face she said:
(She is very forward with this young man…grabbing his face and kissing him. Pornography is especially like this…the women and men in the pictures are there, approaching you, just for you. It’s almost as if they have been waiting for you to arrive…which this lady is doing as well.)
14 “Today I fulfilled my vows,
and I have food from my fellowship offering at home.
(Look at her…she is appearing to be holy. She is appearing to be righteous…not blatantly wrong, but someone who worships.)
15 So I came out to meet you;
I looked for you and have found you!
(Here is the greatest lie of adultery, especially porn. “I am here for you. I have been looking for you. The only one I want is you.”)
16 I have covered my bed
with colored linens from Egypt.
17 I have perfumed my bed
with myrrh, aloes and cinnamon.
(Here she states that she has been preparing for him. And now she is seducing him.)
18 Come, let’s drink deep of love till morning;
let’s enjoy ourselves with love!
(See…it’s fun to do this wrong thing. Let’s enjoy ourselves with love…but is it really love?)
19 My husband is not at home;
he has gone on a long journey.
20 He took his purse filled with money
and will not be home till full moon.”
(And she tells him it’s OK…it’s safe.)
21 With persuasive words she led him astray;
she seduced him with her smooth talk.
23 till an arrow pierces his liver,
like a bird darting into a snare,
little knowing it will cost him his life.
24 Now then, my sons, listen to me;
pay attention to what I say.
25 Do not let your heart turn to her ways
or stray into her paths.
26 Many are the victims she has brought down;
her slain are a mighty throng.
27 Her house is a highway to the grave,
leading down to the chambers of death.
(And here is the result…death. It leads to death; spiritual death, the death of this man’s innocence, the death of his family, perhaps.)
The warnings are clear…it’s dangerous. Earlier in the Proverbs, the writer says, “Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned? Can a man walk on hot coals without his feet being scorched?” Adultery, physical and mental, is playing with fire…and everyone who plays with fire will get burned.
And that’s the anatomy of a adultery…going where you shouldn’t, at a time you shouldn’t, and doing something you shouldn’t, even though you know better. And the result is the same…
Now, you know me well enough, hopefully by now, that you know I am not just going to share all of this without hopefully giving some ideas from Scripture about how to avoid adultery…whether it’s the physical act of committing adultery or it’s committing the mental adultery by lusting.
First, to those of you who are married:
Take care of the needs of your spouse.
I Corinthians 7:2-5 (TNIV)
2 But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband. 3 The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. 5 Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
The language of this passage is interesting…Paul states that both the husbands and the wives have a marital duty to each other…and that is to meet each other’s sexual needs. The body of the wife belongs to the husband…and the body of the husband belongs to the wife, and no one else.
Paul then says that if the couple is going to abstain from sex, there have to be certain conditions:
1) It’s a mutual consent.
2) It’s for a set amount of time.
3) It’s for the purpose of prayer.
Those are the reasons to abstain…they are decisions made together, for a time, for the purpose of prayer. From what I can tell, that’s it. Headaches don’t count.
Spouses are called to meet each other’s needs…and this will, according to Paul, help couples refrain from sexual immorality. Of course, this is not a cure-all. Even couples with healthy sexual lives will have immorality creep into the marriage…but if we can strive to keep each other’s needs met, we find the probability decreasing.
Now for everyone…another way to avoid sexual immorality:
Practice radical amputation.
Jesus touches on this in the passage we read earlier…in the SOTM.
Matthew 5:27-30 (TNIV)
27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ [d] 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.
If your right eye causes you to sin…gouge it out and get rid of it. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and get rid of it.
I don’t believe Jesus is teaching us to literally pluck our eyes out, as some think. Rather, he is using a figure of speech to show us how radically we are to treat sin.
If something is causing us to sin, we have to get rid of it.
For example, if someone struggles with pornography online, thus committing mental adultery by lusting, what would be radical amputation?
- Get a filter for the internet.
- Find an accountability partner.
- (Good ideas…more radical?)
- Get rid of the internet.
- Get rid of the entire computer!
Sound wild? It is…but so is cutting off your own hand or gouging out your eye to keep from sinning.
If someone is in a relationship that they KNOW is headed towards adultery, what would be some radical amputation?
- Sever all ties with the person.
- Go and confess your sin to their spouse.
- If they are at your work—change departments, get a new job, something.
Sound crazy? Yep.
If you struggle with watching TV shows or movies on TV that cause you to lust, how could you handle that sin radically?
- Cut out those channels.
- Cut off your cable or satellite.
- Get rid of your TV.
I heard once of a pilot who had lots of stay-overs at hotels when he was in-between flights. Every night for 20 years, he struggled with all the adult programming that comes on those hotel TVs late at night. When he decided to get right, every night he would walk into his hotel room, unplug the TV, and take it out of his room and keep it in his co-pilots room. Sound crazy? Did people look at him funny or accuse him of stealing it? Yep. But did it keep him from sinning…you bet.
Jesus says it’s better to endure life maimed (without the TV or internet or friend) than to sin.
I Thessalonians 4:3-7 (TNIV)
3 It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; 4 that each of you should learn to control your own body [a] in a way that is holy and honorable, 5 not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; 6 and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. 7 For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.
It’s God’s will that we avoid sexual immorality; it’s God’s will that we learn to control our body.
One of the fruits of the Holy Spirit, evidence that He is alive and well in you, is self-control. We must be disciplined…we must be in control…
Adultery begins in our hearts…we must recognize that and control that temptation if it enters in.
If you have committed the sin of adultery…or ARE committing it…either through the actual physical act of sex with someone other than your spouse, or by committing it in your mind by lusting, then today, you must repent and be restored.
One of the things that Jesus does is give new life…he says in the book of Revelation that he can make “all things new.” Paul, in II Corinthians, says:
II Corinthians 5:17 (TNIV)
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
This sin is not unforgivable…seek forgiveness, healing, restoration.