This study was taught at our Sunday evening service by Sim Forder, one of our pastors, on the 14th June 2020. You can listen to the audio on this web page or save it for later listening.
This is the eighth in a series of studies on the Ten Commandments (you can find the introduction here). At the start of the study we reviewed some foundations that are important when trying to understand the purpose of each law:
- The heart of the matter, is the matter of the heart
- The law exposes our sin
- The law leads us to Jesus
- We are saved by grace, not by works
- Having been saved, we should show our faith by our works
- If you love Jesus, keep His commandments
- God has given us His commandments for our benefit
This study focussed on the seventh commandment that God gave to Moses on Sinai:
You shall not commit adultery.Exodus 20:14
The dictionary definition of adultery is “Voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and someone other than his or her lawful spouse.” That’s pretty clear. And the civil law for Israel didn’t mess around in stating how serious this offence was – both to God and to mankind.
The man who commits adultery with another man’s wife, he who commits adultery with his neighbour’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress, shall surely be put to death.Leviticus 20:10
Here it seems that blame is on both parties, for there is mention of the man being married here. But it would seem in today’s society that attitudes toward adultery have changed for the worse, which will of course affect the chance of it happening.
In a YouGov survey in October 2017 close to three quarters (73%) of the population at large said that not committing adultery is still a top life principle, including 69% of non-religious Brits and 76% of Christians.
There are two things that should bother us about that. First, 27% of the population at large therefore don’t think not committing adultery is a top life principle, including the 9% who said they don’t know. That’s worrying to me as someone who values marriage. Secondly, 24% of Christians don’t seem to think this is a big deal. Either those Christians are not reading their Bibles, not believing their Bibles, or are, in fact, not Christians. And any of those scenarios is a bad thing.
According to a different YouGov survey in 2015, 1 in 5 British adults say they’ve had an affair – 20% of men, 19% of women – while a further 5% don’t know or prefer not to say. The survey also notes that 33% have thought about an affair, with again 5% that don’t know if they’ve thought about it or prefer not to say.
What does the Bible say? The passages and quotes below were discussed during this study;
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. 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. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off 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 5:27-30
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”1 Samuel 16:7
Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.James 1:13-15
Lust is rehearsing for a play in which you shouldn’t have a partMilton Jones
The only thing stopping the husband who will watch pornography from becoming the husband who will commit adultery, is the right opportunity. If you’re willing to cheat with your eyes, then your heart isn’t far behind.Dale Partridge
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the Lord,and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.Psalm 1:1-3
Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.Hebrews 13:4
Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.1 Corinthians 10:12
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.1 John 2:15-17
Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.Romans 13:8-10
Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.Galatians 5:19-26
For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified. For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness. Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit.1 Thessalonians 4:3-8
Also recommended or read were Proverbs 6:20-35 and Proverbs 7:1-27. Additionally, the following song from Casting Crowns was commended, having been written based on Psalm 1.