Adultery, Loyalty and Love

Scripture: Exodus 20:14, Matthew 19:9, Proverbs 6:32
Date: 05/25/2013 
God's church should show the world what holiness looks like, and that includes our homes, and in our marriage.

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Doug Batchelor: Can the person have a perverted appetite for food? Yeah. Can a person be a glutton? Same thing with the desires for sex. Everything good that God has made, the devil has sought to corrupt.

We're continuing with our series talking about these laws of love and liberty. And today, in particular, we are on Commandment number 7. Some of you, if you know your Bibles and you learned this growing up and going to church, you know what that is. It's only four words. Sometimes people leave one of those words out. 'Thou shalt not commit adultery.'

You know, it's possible to be distracted to death. That's right. I understand every year that around North America and probably in many parts of the world, that the casualty of deer spikes. Just in Illinois, for instance, they report more than 17,000 deer die each year after being struck by motorists and cars. Most of the time it's in the Fall. Do you know why? That's when the bucks are going through the rut season. They are preoccupied with mating. And because of that preoccupation and they become so concerned about their territory and they can become so concerned about other bucks, they'll get engaged in either fighting another buck or following a doe and they don't even care if a semi is coming down the road and they get to where they are distracted to death.

Unfortunately, this problem does not just happen with deer. And it doesn't just happen with bucks. It happens with human bucks and does. They can become so preoccupied with the opposite sex that it becomes spiritually fatal. And you can find the record of this in the Bible. Of course the command - Exodus 20:14 - "Thou shalt not commit adultery".

What is adultery? Definition - and there's a distinction between the word 'adultery' and 'fornication'. They both fall under the seventh commandment. Adultery is voluntary sexual intimacy between a married person and a partner other than the lawful spouse. Whereas fornication is sexual intercourse between partners who are not married to each other. And both are clearly forbidden in the Bible.

You can find, for instance, in Galatians 5:19, "Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are these: adultery, fornication," - right there he makes a distinction, doesn't he? - "adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness" - and that's talking about obscene behavior - dirty jokes is lewd behavior. 1 Corinthians 6, verses 9 and 10, "Do you not know the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites will inherit the kingdom of God." And I want to include - so that people don't lose hope - "and such were some of you." Paul writes to the Corinthian church - they had all kinds of problems there. Not only with homosexuality but with fornication, with adultery and then Paul goes on to say "and such were" - past tense - "you. But you've been washed, you've been sanctified," - you've been cleansed through power of God.

And so, as we talk about this subject, as with the other sins - you know when we talk about the Ten Commandments, none of them are called the unpardonable sin, but they are called sin and sin is deadly if it is not repented of and forsaken. And Jesus came to save us not in our sins, but the angel said He came to save us from our sins - and this is one of those sins - adultery.

Proverbs 6, verse 32, "Whoever commits adultery with a woman lacks understanding; he who does so destroys his own soul." It not only has sometimes physical ramifications and social ramifications, it definitely has spiritual ramifications. Keep in mind, marriage was part of God's perfect plan. It had nothing to do with redemption. It was a sacred ordinance of God when we had a perfect world and it is still part of His perfect plan.

Marriage doesn't have to do with being saved because man had not fallen yet when God introduced marriage. It's something that is holy because it existed before there was even sin in the world. And when we're invited to participate in marriage and when we make these covenants - it's not just a promise, it's a covenant with another person before witnesses in the presence of God. So God has made marriage, it's part of His perfect plan and He has created us with a desire for the opposite sex partly to procreate.

You know, if it wasn't for that sexual desire, virtually none of us would be here. Isn't that right? And if it wasn't for hunger you probably wouldn't be here also. God gave you the desire to hunger for food or you would eventually die out. And He also planted within us this healthy, holy desire for sex that, governed by a sanctified mind, is a good thing.

Sex is not something the devil invented so we've got to be careful to not communicate that. Sex is a beautiful thing the way - when you think about it - how two people come together through an act of love and embrace and they are able to reproduce another person. It's a beautiful thing in the context that God has designed. But the devil has succeeded in making it ugly and dirty and he can - the devil can warp and pervert everything that God makes.

Can a person have a perverted appetite for food? Yeah. Can a person be a glutton? Same thing with the desires for sex. Everything good that God has made, the devil has sought to corrupt, including marriage and that institution and those desires. Those desires must be restrained, as with the desires for food. If they're not, there are consequences for that. The Bible tells us in Hebrews 13:4, "Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge."

Genesis 2:18, "And the Lord God said, 'It is not good that man should be alone;" - I read that to you already. 1 Corinthians 7:9, it says that "...if a person cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion." You know, I’ve got a quote here from C.S. Lewis. He says, "Either marriage with complete faithfulness to your partner or total abstinence. Those are the only options for the believer." And you can't be making excuses, 'Well, I’m single, God doesn't expect me to just be abstinent and so I’m going to go out and hire a prostitute - male or female. I mean, that's where that logic will take you.

God expects us to use self-control. Did Jesus? Do you think that Jesus wasn't tempted in all points as we are? The Bible says He was. But He lived a holy life. And so can we. When you're a Christian 'Old things pass away, all things are made new.' Now I’m taking this little rabbit trail to just reinforce the principle that everybody that is human is going to be tempted and the devil is even going to tempt people within good Christian marriages to think things they shouldn't think.

Don't fall for the idea that you are a victim and you are helpless and you can't make choices. Everybody can make choices. People who fall into adultery usually have made a series of choices. They are first usually stepping over the line to becoming too friendly or too familiar. Very rarely does it happen just suddenly unexpectedly. People, little by little, start opening the door to a forbidden relationship and they start making friends with the opposite sex while they're married and they start becoming intimate and sharing intimate details and they say, 'Oh, but he just makes me feel so good and then I go home and my husband is so crabby and mean and unappreciative and this person is so nice'.

And the devil will start getting you to make these comparisons and excuses and you can even convince yourself, 'You know, I think the Lord is leading me in this. I know the Bible says one thing, but in my spirit' - people confuse a lot of things for the spirit. Too much pizza can make you think the spirit is leading you and just so, you know, if it's not in the Word, friends, don't fall for that. God's Spirit is never going to lead contrary to God's Word.

You know, one of the ways we learn how to be Christians is through loving the Lord and loving each other. The Bible says you've got to love the Lord and love your neighbor. Who can be more - a closer neighbor than your spouse? How can you say you love God who you can't see when you can't love your spouse that you've made a covenant with. And if the Bible tells us to love our enemies then what excuse do you have for not loving your spouse?

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Doug: Now there are Bible grounds for divorce. What does Jesus say? If you have your Bibles you go to Matthew 19, verse 9, "And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery;" I know, even as I speak about this, a lot of people here you - statistically 40% of even practicing Christians that are of marry-able age or have been married have experienced that. And so we're not here to condemn, we're here to tell you what the Bible says and that we're to be Christians.

The biblical grounds for divorce and, by the way, if there has been marital infidelity, if there has been sexual infidelity in a marriage, it doesn't mean you have to get divorced. There can still be forgiveness and healing. Have you read the book of Hosea? Where even after his wife was unfaithful - and by the way, we're the bride of Christ, the church, and has the church been unfaithful? Look at the history of Israel. So often they went after other gods and He would forgive them and bring them back again. And so can even this be healed and this be forgiven? Yes it can. And so you look here in Malachi chapter 2, verse 16, "'For the Lord God of Israel says that He hates divorce, for it covers one's garment with violence,' says the Lord of hosts."

The reasons for remarriage, biblically, is if your spouse has died - Paul talks about that. If you - if the marriage covenant has been violated through adultery and if there is any hope of reconciliation - if there's any redeemable qualities, the best thing you can do as a Christian is save the marriage. Starting over is tough. And sometimes you might have grounds for separation and we'll talk about that in just a moment.

And, you know, at some point, if the church is not going to be the place where God says, 'Here is the line of what's appropriate and this is a covenant and it's important and it means something, then where in our culture can we look? Tell me. If it's not going to happen in the church where you're going to draw a line and say, 'Marriage is sacred. It is holy. It is to be preserved.' Even if it means at the inconvenience of some, this institution must be carefully guarded. If not at the church, then where?

Where are we going to go? Television? Where one guy's got four wives? Where are we going to go to exalt marriage to the holy place where it belongs? It's here, isn't it? It's in God's word. It's in the church. And so this is the ideal.

Now marriage is not just - adultery is not just something that is revealed in an action. Jesus also teaches us that adultery can happen in an attitude, right? Matthew chapter 5, verse 27, "Ye have heard it said by them of old time, you shalt not commit adultery:" - when He says 'them of old' He's actually quoting Himself in the Ten Commandments - "but I say to you, that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has committed adultery with her in his heart."

Now, if a person thinks a lustful thought, and if you can prove your spouse has thought a lustful thought, and since Jesus says they've committed adultery in their heart, do you now have grounds for divorce? What do you say? Do you want to answer? Anyone want to venture? Bold enough? No. Because there is a difference between a thought and an act.

Think about this for a minute. If you think about murder can you be executed according to our government? No. Because a person thinks a murderous thought doesn't mean they are a murderer and they are not going to be prosecuted as a murderer because they think a thought. Now if you conspire - if you get the tools and the weapons and you're going to plan it - yes, that's a different story. But thinking a thought is not the same as doing it and I’ve had some people who've said to me, 'Pastor Doug, I may as well go ahead and do it because I’m thinking about it and Jesus said if you think about it, it's the same thing.

No He doesn't say it's the same thing. He's trying to show you that He not only wants us to keep the seventh commandment and not literally commit adultery or fornication, He's trying to tell us, “I want you to do it in your heart as well because if you're keeping the commandment in your heart, you will keep it in your marriage.”

And I want to remind everybody, especially our young people or any singles here, the seventh commandment is not just for married couples. The seventh commandment is for everybody because that covers the subject of fornication and that's any kind of sexual activity outside of marriage. And so we're all called to holiness.

He says, 'Blessed are the pure in heart, they will see God'. He wants us to be pure in our hearts. So Jesus wasn't saying, 'Well, you're thinking it, you may as well do it.' He's saying, 'If you'll be saved in your heart - if you'll let Me recreate your heart - you won't have to worry about the letter of the law because you'll be keeping the spirit of the law. You'll automatically keep the letter of the law when you keep the spirit. Isn't that right?

Don't you have to first think it in your heart before you act it out? And let's face it, in the world, people treat sex like shaking hands. That's not the way it is with Christ. The Bible hasn't changed. Yes, our culture has changed but the truth has not changed. Jesus said, I am the Lord. I do not change'. What needs changing is we do.

God's church needs to start being a light on a hill and showing the world what holiness looks like and that means in our lives and in our homes and in our marriages. Peter, describing his age - and it's not much different from ours - Peter - 2 Peter chapter 2, verse 14, "Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin, enticing unstable souls." You notice, it starts with a look and - that lingering look, did it get David in trouble? Proverbs 9:17, "Stolen water is sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant." People think, 'Well, it was a secret rendezvous. No one will know.' Solomon goes on to say, "but he does not know that the dead are there, and that her guests" - speaking of an harlot - "are in the depths of hell."

Adultery does not begin below the belt. Adultery begins above the neck. It starts in the mind. If we keep our minds fixed on those things that are good and if we make a covenant with our eyes, as Job says, it can keep us out of a lot of trouble. You look, for instance, in Job 31, verse 1, “Look away and live.” - he says, “I have made a covenant with my eyes; why then should I look upon a young woman?" We've got to learn how to bounce our eyes when you see something that's not right.

Did Joseph - you know I love the story of Joseph. He's one of the heroes in the Bible, not just because of his forgiveness, but Joseph is one of the rare exceptions you find in the Bible of a Godly man who said no to a temptation that would have been very difficult for most people. He said, 'No, how can I sin against God?' His love was so strong for God he said, ‘I can't do this thing'. He said no to adultery.

So whenever we think, 'Oh, we're all human' - I remember hearing one woman say, 'Any man could be had. Any man could be had' - and I was insulted by that because I don't believe that's true. I think that when people have God's spirit that we can live lives of integrity. Proverbs chapter 4, verse 25, "Let your eyes look straight ahead and your eyelids look right before you" - he's talking about when you're tempted.

Psalm 101, verse 3, “I will set nothing wicked before my eyes; I hate the work of those who fall away; it will not cling to me." And then Solomon also said - Proverbs 5:15 - "Drink water from your own cistern, and running water from your own well. Let them be your own, and not for strangers with you."

Now, you know, it's wonderful if you've got a spring in your backyard and you've got your own well and you can drink all the water you want from your own well - that'd be such a blessing. Within marriage, that intimacy is a blessing. Matter of fact, in the Bible it's commanded that the couples come together. So much of the marriage counseling that happens is almost never because couples are having too much sex. It's because they're not having enough. If the truth be known, nine times out of ten that's a problem. And so, within marriage, it's a wonderful thing. But outside of marriage, with someone that is not your spouse, that's where it's a problem.

Now, having said all this, I think it's pretty clear what adultery is and that it's a sin. I want to also make it clear it is not the unpardonable sin. Have you ever wondered? And even divorce and remarriage without biblical grounds, the Bible does not call that the unpardonable sin. After David sinned with Bathsheba - was that a forbidden adulterous relationship? Yes it was - in every way - connected with murder. Did David suffer? Did Bathsheba suffer? David lost four of his sons. The Lord, directly in the prophecy of Nathan, connected the loss of four children with his action.

So, do you think David thought it was worth it? Sometimes people fall into adulterous relationships and they don't realize what the consequences are going to be. A lot of kids have been permanently scarred because of the decision that their parents made - a very selfish decision, usually. When people commit adultery, who are they thinking about? God and his glory or themselves? What about the woman at the well? John 8:38 - the scribes brought this woman caught in the act of adultery. She was guilty. According to the law she should be stoned. According to the law the man should be stoned too. I’ve always wondered, how in the world was it they were able to catch her in the act but not the man? That's pretty strange. And, evidently, she was set up. Many think this may have been Mary Magdalene's first encounter with Jesus and I could give you my other arguments for that later. But they all stood around ready to execute her. He said, 'He that is without sin, cast the first stone'.

You know one reason that adultery is so rampant in the church is because of this story and no one wants to ever deal with adultery in a church - on a church board - no one wants to - I shouldn't say 'no one' - very few people are willing to address those things because it's so prevalent. We all quote the scripture 'He that is without sin, let them cast the first stone' and people take that to mean that we're not supposed to deal with it at all so we're all kind of ambivalent about something that God's very clear about.

When Jesus said 'He that is without sin, let him now cast the first stone' - they were going to kill Mary! They were going to execute this woman. And when her accusers left he said, 'Woman, where are those thine accusers? Has no man condemned you?' She said, 'No man, Lord'. He said, 'Neither do I condemn you'.

Now was Jesus saying that adultery is okay, I’m not going to condemn it anymore? Some people have read it that way. Whenever someone in the church falls into adultery, instead of there being any kind of censure or counseling, they just say, 'Well, Jesus said I don't condemn' so go and freely sin. Is that what He said? No, He said, I do not condemn you. Go and sin no more'.

You know why He could say, I don't condemn you'? Because He was going to take her death penalty. Is the penalty for sin still death? Is the penalty for breaking the seventh commandment still sin? And so is it still death? And so how could Jesus tell Mary you're free to go? Because He was going to take her death penalty. That's why He told her 'Go and sin no more'. He called it a sin and He said 'Stop it. I'll forgive you. Don't do it anymore because I'll die for you.'

Does that make sense? But isn't it interesting that both - Mary Magdalene was the first one to proclaim the risen Lord and the woman at the well was the first one to proclaim him among the gentiles? So it is something that God can forgive, but God is also telling us He still wants us to obey. Adultery is still a sin. He's not recommending that we do a little less of it, He's saying, 'Thou shall not commit adultery'.

This is the will of God. He wants us to be a holy people and He wants us not to commit adultery on Him because, ultimately, husbands are to love their wives as Christ loves the church. And you, as part of the church, He loves you as a bridegroom. Would you want to break His heart? Any time anybody flirts with the idea of committing adultery on their spouse, they're going to be committing adultery also on the Lord and on their family and on society. It's not just one person that's going to be hurt.

David, when he repented of his sin, in Psalm 51 he said, 'Against thee and thee only have I sinned'. Joseph, when he was tempted to commit adultery with Potiphar's wife - he said, 'How can I do this wicked thing and sin against God?' And so the best reason to keep this commandment and every commandment is because Jesus loves us and He had to die to save us from our sins. Isn't that right? And it's through His shed blood that we're given power to live holy lives. Wherever you are in your experience in your life, whether you're old enough to be married or you've been married before or divorced. Maybe you haven't got biblical grounds - everyone can come to the Lord as they are and thank Him for the power of the blood to live a new life from here on.

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Doug: How many of you wish you could get a new start? I'd like to live my life over knowing what I know now. I don't want to start over and just make all the same mistakes. I want to have my memories so that I don't make the same mistakes. But you do get a new beginning. You become a new creature. That feeling of all your sins being washed away because God promises it. Isn't that wonderful?

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