You shall not commit adultery.
If the family is the basic building block of a rightly focussed, and therefore good society in which to live; a society obeying the only ‘You shall’ commandment as opposed to the ‘You shall not” commandments in the second table then, here, sadly, we have that age old sin that undermines the very heart of the family – adultery.
We live in an age where adultery tends not to raise eyelids any more among so many people, as it is a sin (although not seen as that) indulged in from the highest in society to the lowest, for the area of sexual temptation is one of the most common and one of the hardest to resist.
In Jeremiah 29.23 God calls adultery ‘an outrageous thing’ (ESV) and villany (AV). Why such strong language?
With the help of Thomas Watson again this morning two reasons for us to think about.
1. The thing implied in this commandment is that the ordinance of marriage should be observed.
Marriage was established by God when he created man and woman, male and female ,and very clearly declared that ‘a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.’ Genesis 2.24 and Mark 10.9 where Jesus himself adds ‘what therefore God has joined together let not man separate’.
Adultery is the denial of both statements for and is probably one of the greatest causes of marriage breakdown.
2 . The thing forbidden in this commandment is infecting ourselves with bodily pollution and uncleanness.
The question is often asked as to why Christians make such a big deal of sexual sin and surely one of the reasons is that it penetrates deeply inside both mind and body whereas much other sin is effectively external. Watson draws our thinking to two areas where adultery does its dangerous work.
The area of the mind and the area of the body.
In the area of the mind we must be mindful of Jesus’ words in Matthew 5.28: ‘I say to you that anyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart’.
In the area of the body when such ‘lustful intent’ or any other action leads to the breaking of the marriage bond then that, in the words of Job (Job 31.9-11) is a ‘heinous crime’ for it creates a deep defilement.
These are solemn thoughts and history and modern life tell us that this is an all too common and deeply damaging sin which coupled with the free availability of pornography eats away at the very core of any people.,
As Christians we are not immune to such temptations and they are very strong so we need to heed well, the question and answer posed by the Psalmist:
‘How can a young man (or indeed any man) keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.’ Psalm 119.9
That word is unequivocal! Let us pray that all those, including ourselves, who name the name of Christ do just that.