Do Not Commit Adultery

Teacher: 
Date: 
Sunday, September 1, 2002 - 11:00am
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Topics I Would Rather Teach Than Adultery

  • How to Attain World Peace in Three Easy Steps

  • Which is the Better Worship Music: Contemporary Choruses or Traditional Hymns?

  • An Old Testament Review of Dietary Laws and Bowel Disorders

Why would I rather not teach on adultery?

  • Because adultery has to do with marriage ... not everyone here is married ... at first glance it seems to be a teaching that only applies to a portion of those gathered here today ... the rest could potentially feel left out ...

  • Because adultery has to do with sexuality ... I don't feel comfortable talking publicly about sexuality ... I'm 43 years old, married, with two children, and I still don't have this sex thing figured out ... I would just as soon not talk about it ...

  • Because adultery has to do with morality ... I don't want to come off as condescending or "holier than thou" ... nor do I want to be honest about my own moral failures ... who looks forward to doing that in a public setting ... especially as a pastor living in a culture drooling after stories of sexual misconduct in the clergy ...

  • Because adultery has to do with unfaithfulness and broken marriages ... I know that many of us in this room are struggling in difficult marriages ... some are hurting from broken marriages ... some of us are the victims of adultery and others of us have committed adultery ... some of us are hurting so badly that we are not even here this morning because we feared the teaching would be too painful to bear ... I hope you get the tape ...

Why I now can't wait to teach on adultery ...

Many of you said you were praying for me this week and I can say with great boldness and freedom that God responded to your prayers and showed me something of His heart regarding the topic of adultery ...

Let's pray and have at it ...

While I was studying this week I began to wonder if this seventh commandment isn't actually two commandments ... or at least one commandment with two very distinct applications ... let me explain ...

I have come to believe that when God told Moses to tell the people, You shall not commit adultery, in Exodus 20:14, he fully intended it to be understood in two distinct contexts ...

The first context is the one we immediately acknowledge ...it is the obvious one ... marriage ... earthly marriages ... do not commit adultery in your earthly marriage ...

The second context came as quite a surprise to me this week ... it is the context of our relationship with God ... do not commit adultery in your relationship with God ...

We cannot fully understand the full impact of the seventh commandment on our earthly marriages until we understand the heart of God concerning adultery in our relationship with Him ...

So let me first talk about the obvious context ... earthly marriage ... and then I want to explore with you the idea of adultery in our relationship with God ...

After we've had a chance to look at adultery in the context of our relationship with God, I want to come back to the context of earthly marriage because we are going to uncover some amazing, life-changing, discoveries about the heart of God toward us and our earthly marriages ...

ADULTERY IN THE CONTEXT OF EARTHLY MARRIAGES

You shall not commit adultery Exodus 20:14

Why adultery? There are a lot of other terrible sins that could have been highlighted by the seventh commandment ... when you think of all the destructive things that go on in this world ... abuse, neglect, slavery, greed, addictions, abductions, oppression ... how is it that adultery made it into the top ten right up there next to murder?

Most people today would say, "that's easy, God has always had a major hang up with sex."

The Bible is laced with references to adultery, fornication, homosexuality, bestiality, lust, celibacy ... God obviously has an enemy and his enemy is sex ... there are some people sitting in churches this morning, maybe even here at Valley View, that feel very uncomfortable with the topic of sex being addressed in the church ... it just doesn't seem right ...

Now this may come as a shock to you ... we've said this here at Valley View before and we'll more than likely say it again ...

Human sexuality, in all of it's glory, was God's idea

Sex was part of God's design for creation ... the book of Genesis tells us that God spent six days creating the universe and everything in it ... at the end of each of the first five days, God looked at his work and saw that it was good ... but at the end of the sixth day, after he had created man and woman, what did he conclude? It was VERY good ... human sexuality was one of God's finest creations!

And let me just say this for the record ... if we can't talk openly about our sexuality in the gathering of the church, we are in big trouble ... up till now it seems we have sat by and watched this glorious creation of God become twisted and perverted and misused to the point that most believe sex was invented by Satan ... we absolutely must talk about it ...

When God said, You shall not commit adultery, He was not expressing his disfavor with sex ... rather just the opposite ... the seventh commandment is God's instruction manual; his wise boundaries for two of the greatest gifts given to mankind ... marriage and sexuality ...

He is saying, "I designed sexual intimacy in marriage as a gift to you but I also need to give you some guidelines so that you can enjoy it to the fullest ... without the guidelines there is the potential for unspeakable hurt and damage ..."

Don't think so? "Come on, this is the 21st century, this idea of sex confined to marriage died out with the Puritans."

Then how do you explain the depth of hurt when a marriage goes bad ... how do you explain the explosive anger and resentment when a spouse is sexually unfaithful ... or for that matter, when unmarried partners cheat ... I know the scary level of hatred and revenge that I witness in teenagers who are sexually active outside of marriage ... they talk about the cheating parties with words of hate and anger ... sex was intended to be a powerful link of intimacy and when that intimacy is violated rational people come unglued ... people murder other people because of adultery ... people kill themselves over adultery ... and whether they act out the violence in their souls or not, the fact remains that most never recover from the pain ...

How do you explain that? If this notion of sex in the confines of marriage is so outdated then why does sex incite so much hurt and explosive anger when it occurs outside of the marriage?

Maybe it's time we stopped and listened to God and held back our 21st century scoffing ... maybe the Creator of our sexuality knows what he is talking about ... the self-proclaimed sexual therapists and sexual researchers did not invent sex ... God did.

What is adultery?

Adultery, technically, is the act of unfaithfulness in marriage that occurs when one of the marriage partners voluntarily engages in sexual intercourse with a person other than the marriage partner.

Jesus moved the definition of adultery far beyond the technical when he said in Matthew 5:27-28 ...

You have heard that it was said, "Do not commit adultery." But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

Jesus is saying, "forget the technical definitions" ... Jesus had heard all the same questions that we ask today ... "what actually constitutes adultery?" ... "what if I kiss someone other than my spouse?"

Jesus says "don't even look at someone other than your spouse as a prospective sexual partner because sex is my gift of intimacy to you and you spouse and if you pursue it outside of that relationship you will unleash every form of pain and destruction.

And that includes every kind of "other person" ... from the other person at work to the other person in a pornographic magazine to the anonymous profile in the chat room to the dashing hero in the romance novel ...

Keep sexual intimacy within the loving environment of marriage ... how do we do that?

How can we protect our marriages from adultery?

  • Take seriously God's seventh commandment

Remember your marriage vows? That promise to be faithful ... forsaking all others ... as long as we both shall live ... that was far more than a few poetic verses ... that was a vow that you made to each other before God ... it was a vow that was intended to be kept NO MATTER WHAT ...

No excuses ... we cannot say to God later in our marriage, "We just kind of lost the thrill" ... "He's not attractive to me anymore" ... "That woman on my team at work, she really understands me"

A vow is a vow ... we have to reclaim the power of a vow ...one of the reasons we make a vow before God and gathered witnesses is to help us through the difficult times when our marriage comes under attack. God will honor us for keeping our vows to each other by delivering our marriages and restoring to them the beautiful intimacy that He intended.

A recent article in the Philadelphia Inquirer was titled, "Instead of Divorce, Endurance is Salve for Unhappy Marriage." The article reported ...

... unhappily married adults who divorced were no happier five years after the divorce than were equally unhappy couples who remain together. And two-thirds of unhappily married people who remained married reported marriages that were happy five years later ...

As we honor our marriage vows during the hard times God will restore and protect our marriages ... take your vows seriously ... take the seventh commandment seriously ... adultery is never an option ...

  • Recognize the unpredictable power of your own sexuality

Bill Hybels, pastor of Willow Creek Community Church, compares our sexuality to going tobogganing with eight people on board ... at the top of the hill you try to point that toboggan in the right direction so it won't hit any trees or big rocks ... put if that toboggan starts moving in the wrong direction, you've got about 3 or 4 feet to stop it before it picks up steam and is soon careening down that hill ... nobody can stop it ...

Can we be honest with God about this ... many of us need to stop the toboggan right now and get off ... some of us have an emotional relationship at work that we are enjoying way too much ... some of us have stumbled onto pornography on the Internet and instead of fleeing from it we've found ourselves revisiting it far more frequently than we ever thought we would ... some of us have entered innocently into an Internet chat room and to our surprise, behind the cloak of anonymity, we have found ourselves chatting about personal things that we aren't sharing with our spouses ...

We have to admit to our weaknesses and we have to stop the toboggan now ...

  • Recognize how our society had eroded the value of marital faithfulness

Be more discerning when you listen to conversations at work or when you watch TV or movies ... challenge the status quo rather than just letting it absorb you and your marriage ...

  • Invest in your marriage

Your marriage is your responsibility ... marriage does not run itself ... a marriage relationship needs to be nurtured ... you are to give yourselves to one another with reckless abandon ... don't just stand back and criticize how the other spouse is failing you ...

Tony Campolo once said marriage is the one place where the husband and wife are commanded to try to outdo each other in submission ...

You need fun in your marriage ... you need adventure in your marriage ... you need romance ... you need time away from the kids ... nobody is going to pursue these things for you ...

I will revisit these after we look at the second context in which God talks about adultery

ADULTERY IN THE CONTEXT OF OUR RELATIONSHIP W/ GOD

Why does Satan exploit and attack our sexuality more than anything else? Why are marriages under attack? Why are so many homes broken? Why so much pain and devastation? It seems obvious that the enemy has intentionally targeted marriages to make them difficult and to ultimately destroy them ... and he has targeted human sexuality to pervert it ... to turn it from a gift to a right ... to reduce it to an insatiable animal appetite or addiction ... why is Satan blatantly targeting marriage and sexuality?

Because when God gave His creation the gifts of marriage and sexual intimacy, he had two purposes in mind ...

  • He wanted to give His creation a gift that they could treasure and enjoy ...

  • He also wanted to give His creation a picture, an illustration, a living metaphor of the kind of intimacy that He in turn wants to enjoy with his creation ...

I started to pick up on this in my study of the Greek and Hebrew words for adultery and fornication ... every definition included two contexts ... the context of human marriage and the context of God's relationship with Israel or God's relationship with the church ...

Listen to the tenderness that God uses to describe his relationship with his people, the children of Israel, through the Old Testament prophets ...

Jeremiah 2:2-3 I remember the devotion of your youth, how as a bride you loved me and followed me through the desert, through a land not sown. Israel was holy to the LORD, the firstfruits of his harvest; all who devoured her were held guilty, and disaster overtook them.

Ezekiel 16:8, 10-11, 13-14 I gave you my solemn oath and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Sovereign LORD, and you became mine ... I clothed you with an embroidered dress and put leather sandals on you. I dressed you in fine linen and covered you with costly garments. I adorned you with jewelry: I put bracelets on your arms and a necklace around your neck ... So you were adorned with gold and silver; your clothes were of fine linen and costly fabric and embroidered cloth. Your food was fine flour, honey and olive oil. You became very beautiful and rose to be a queen. And your fame spread among the nations on account of your beauty, because the splendor I had given you made your beauty perfect, declares the Sovereign LORD.

Listen, now, as God describes their turning away from his love as adulterous ...

Jeremiah 2:20 Long ago you broke off your yoke and tore off your bonds; you said, "I will not serve you!" Indeed, on every high hill and under every spreading tree you lay down as a prostitute.

Ezekiel 16:15 But you trusted in your beauty and used your fame to become a prostitute. You lavished your favors on anyone who passed by and your beauty became his.

But God, the pursuing, relentless lover, refuses to give up ... the prophets go on to describe God's jealous fury toward his wandering lover ... finally we read how God woos his lover back to him ...

Hosea 2:6-7, 14, 16 Therefore I will block her path with thornbushes; I will wall her in so that she cannot find her way. She will chase after her lovers but not catch them; she will look for them but not find them. Then she will say, "I will go back to my husband as at first, for then I was better off than now." ... Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her ... In that day ... you will call me "my husband"; you will no longer call me "my master."

Isn't this the same relentless love relationship that we read about in the New Testament between God and His church?

Ephesians 5:31-32 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This is a profound mystery--but I am talking about Christ and the church.

Jesus often referred to himself as the bridegroom and his followers as the bride. In John 14:2-3 he said ...

In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

These are the very words a young man in that day would say to his bride-to-be when he proposed to her. Jesus is saying, "Marry me ... I want to be in a relationship with you that is even more beautiful and intimate than the most fantastic marriage on earth."

GOD'S HEART REGARDING EARTHLY MARRIAGES

So God's desire is for a man and a woman to hold onto their sexuality as a precious gift until they enter the intimacy of marriage ... God wants that marriage to be pure; a picture of faithfulness; a picture of two people completely transparent with one another; a relationship consummated by the gift of sexual intimacy ... without a thought of ever violating that gift by taking it outside the precious sanctuary of marriage ...

God holds up this pure marriage relationship as a beautiful picture; a living metaphor of the kind of relationship that he deeply desires with us ... Satan, God's enemy, looks at that picture and it makes him sick to his stomach ... he hates it ... and that is why he is so intent on perverting the gift of sexuality and that is why he is so intent on destroying marriage ... he wants to snatch that beautiful picture right out of the hand of God and tear it to shreds ...

And we wonder why marriage is tough ...

We wonder why our sexuality is so confusing ...

We need to open our eyes ... we need to take in the whole picture ... it explains the pain we feel when we take the gift of sexual intimacy outside the walls of marriage ... we are not just violating our marriage we are desecrating the God's beautiful portrait of the relationship that he desires with us ...

You shall not commit adultery Exodus 20:14

Does this commandment really mean to merely avoid adultery ... don't look at that woman or that man ... don't lust after them ... stop visiting those Internet chat rooms ... stop visiting those pornographic sites ...

Of course it means all of those things but there is so much more ... at the heart of this commandment is the very heart of a God who has given his creation the gift of marriage and sexual intimacy ...

He wants us to pursue and enjoy our spouse's ... for those who are hoping to be married someday, he wants us to hold on to that gift of sexual intimacy ... to protect it ... to save it for that one He will give to us to enter into marriage with ... for those who are hurting ... he wants us to understand why it hurts so bad ... to pursue our marriate with Him ... and give us hope of the ultimate restoration that is still to come ...

At the heart of the seventh commandment is the very heart of a God who has never stopped pursuing us as the object of his love ... our God wants us to know that there is so much more that he wants out of this relationship ...

I close with this excerpt from "The Sacred Romance" by Brent Curtis & John Eldredge... I must warn you this may seem harsh and even a bit graphic in places, but it is dead on ... it is written from the perspective of a man ... at first it sounds like the story of two earthly lovers but soon you will detect a shift ...

Have you ever dated someone and you just knew, from the first time you met her, that she was the one you wanted to spend your life with? As you laughed and talked and marveled together, you felt your love deepen to a heart bond that you knew you never wanted to free yourself from. And have you ever been shocked to find one day that the one you loved so deeply and who you thought loved you just as passionately, had been dating other guys and, moreover, was spending more and more of her time with your worst enemy?

Have you ever had to literally turn a lover over to a mortal enemy to allow her to find out herself what his intentions toward her really were? Have you ever had to lie in bed knowing she was believing his lies and was having sex with him every night? Have you ever sat helplessly by in a parking lot, while your enemy and his friends took turns raping your lover even as you sat nearby, unable to win her heart enough so she would trust you to rescue her? Have you ever called this one you had loved for so long, even the day after her rape, and asked her if she was ready to come back to you only to have her say her heart was still captured by your enemy? Have you ever watched your lover's beauty slowly diminish and fade in a haze of alcohol, drugs, occult practices, and infant sacrifice until she is no longer recognizable in body or soul? Have you ever loved one so much that you even send your only son to talk with her about your love for her, knowing that he will be killed by her? (And in spite of knowing all of this, he was willing to do it because he loved her, too, and believed you were meant for each other.)

All this and more God has endured because of his refusal to stop loving us. Indeed, the very depth and faithfulness of his love for us, along with his desire for our freely given love in return, are what give Satan the ammunition to wound God so deeply as he carries out his unceasing campaign to make us into God's enemy.

Do not commit adultery in your earthly marriage ... do not commit adultery in your relationship with God ...