Exodus 20:14 Psalm 51 1 Corinthians 6:9-20 Matthew 5:8, 17-20, 27-32
So far in working on these sermons on the 10 Commandments, this 7th Commandment has been the hardest. Why has this commandment sermon been the hardest on in which to work? I realize that it is a sensitive issue. We do not like to talk about sexual things in church. When we hear about someone having an affair, we rush to judgment against one or both spouses. Plus, sexual sins outside the bounds of marriage are so prevalent in our society, we don’t want to sound like we are casting stones.
Yet, on the other hand we are still working on how to forgive one another. Then there is the fact that we are told by Jesus Christ to love one another. However, that does not mean we sleep around!
This commandment was given by God to Moses and Israelites for very good reasons. First, marriage is one of the first things for which God made provision. This after creating man and woman then saying that it was “very good.” Second, the reason God wants us to be aware of adultery is the issue of sexuality. Sex is a wonder that a married man and woman can enjoy. It is when we want to have sex with someone other than our spouse that causes problems for us. The final reason that Moses received this commandment is that love is vital to life. The primary relationship between husband and wife needs love in order to survive. Without love in this relationship, then all other parts of society are affected. (David Hazony, The Ten Commandments, (Scribner, New York, 2010), p. 165)
A. Marriage comes from God (Genesis 1 & 2)
1. “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.” (Gen. 2:18) – or a “helpmate suitable”
2. God made woman from man – I picture Adam saying, “Wo, man!” when he saw Eve!
3. Man & woman cling to each other & are one one flesh (Gen. 2:24)
4. Adam knew Eve (Gen. 4:1) – his only wife & he lived to be 930 years old!
5. So, no sex outside the bounds of marriage & be true to only your husband/wife
6. As defined by the Bible, marriage between a man and a woman happens so that neither will be alone. Before we get married, we may be singing like that old Hank Williams’ son, “I am so lonely I could cry.” It is through being married that a man and a woman find security. When a husband and a wife know God as their Lord, then they are a threefold cord that cannot be quickly broken. It is good to have a wife or husband in whom you can relay your greatest fears and hopes. It is very good to for a wife to know that she is the only one to whom her husband is bringing flowers. Yet, in life we know that adultery does occur. Either husband or wife could have a sexual relationship with someone else.
B. Sex happens, but how do we control it? (Psalm 51)
1. David saw Bathsheba on the next door rooftop, lusted after her, got her pregnant, had her husband killed, and was corrected by Nathan the prophet
2. We find David’s confession in Psalm 51
3. Even though David confessed, his kingdom eventually fell apart because the inability of even David’s family to trust him due to his infidelity
4. Later Jeremiah the prophet would say the Israelite men were neighing after their neighbor’s wives, and this caused the downfall of Israel
5. Jesus was brought a woman caught in adultery, and he told the religious leaders, “He who is without sin, cast the first stone.”
6. Jesus told the Pharisees that some may have to be eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom (Matthew 19:12)
7. Following the 10 Commandments is a way that we begin to control sex outside of the marriage bed of a man and woman (Matthew 5:17-20)
8. Plus, Jesus taught even lusting after a woman (and in today’s world, a woman lusting a man), is committing adultery in your heart (Matthew 5:28)
9. It is better for us to control ourselves, than for our bodies to be thrown into hell (Matt. 5:29-30)
10. Jesus did allow divorce if either the husband or wife committed unchastity & remarrying a divorced person is adultery
11. Paul reminded Timothy that when we follow Jesus, he did not give us a spirit of timidity, that is being ashamed of the good news of Jesus, but he gave us a spirit of love, power, and self-control. That is we are to control ourselves, even when it comes to sex. Paul’s use of this idea is about how we interact with non-Christians and the gospel of Jesus Christ. But it also applies when talking about adultery, to prevent adultery each individual controls themselves. (2 Timothy 1:7)
12. Before God gave the 10 Commandments, a story says he presented the ideas to his angels. Some of the angels thought, “You shall not commit adultery,” was too tough and needed to be forgotten. So, God asked for their reasoning. An angel spoke up, “It’s unnatural for humans, who are a little lower than angels & higher than animals to have this restriction when animals can have sex with others whenever.” God replied, “Because men & women were created for meaningful relationships with one another and me. They were made for love. There was no point in making them if they were to live with no more self-discipline than the beasts. If they cannot learn to be faithful to one another in a small thing like sexuality, how will they ever learn to be faithful to me?” (John Killinger, To My People with Love, (Abingdon Press, Nashville; 1988), p. 82-83) What helps us to have control over sex?
C. Love is more than sex
1. What does a young person who is wanting to follow Jesus, read first in the Bible? 1st, the Gospels, then Psalms, the rest of the New Testament, the prophets, and then at last, read the Song of Solomon!
2. The Song of Solomon talks about the passion between a man and a woman
3. It is interesting that Adam did not know Eve until they were thrown out of the Garden of Eden
4. Overcoming loneliness and clinging to one another helps a man and a woman understand a bit about each other
5. The love helps overcome loneliness, completes both the man and woman, & helps build community beyond a marriage (Hazony, p. 168-169)
6. Jacob loved Rachel & was willing to work 14 years for her!
7. A husband is to rejoice over his wife (Isaiah 62:5)
8. We love God with our whole being (Deuteronomy 6:5)
9. In order to see God, our hearts are to be pure, including loving our husband/wife
10. Love is primary to a marriage. Love is also primary in our response to God. When meeting with a man & a woman before they marry, I work with them on understanding the covenant that they are making before God & with God, and one another. That covenant involves love. We hold onto the love we have with our husband/wife, even when times are rocky. Life may throw curveballs our way, but for a married couple to learning to love through it all, it is priceless. John Wayne’s character George H. McLintock explains this idea to his daughter Becky, “All the gold in the United States Treasury and all the harp music in heaven can’t equal what happens between a man and woman with all that growing together.” Love for each other confines a man and a woman to limit their sexual activity to only their husband or wife.
Yes, speaking about adultery is hard. Many people in this world have had their hearts broken by a cheating husband or wife. Many people have broken themselves by committing adultery. And many children have had their view of marriage damaged by knowing one or both of their parents have had adulterous relationships.
God gave us this commandment so that we would not hurt ourselves, others, or our world. God desires us to be faithful to him. And God hopes that we can have enough self-control that the love within our marriages will enable us to be faithful to our husband or wife.
If you committed adultery, then confess your sin to God and your husband or wife. Allow God, and maybe even your husband or wife, to forgive you. If you have been hurt by adultery, then search your heart about forgiving your husband or wife. If your parents have divorced because of adultery, seek to live so that your love will be pure and that you may see God.
For all of us who have lusted or are lusting after a man or woman, I think Jesus’ words to the woman caught in adultery applies to us all: “Go and sin no more.”