AUGUST 2 2015

The Seventh Commandment

Part Two


[I. Introduction] We are in the midst of a study upon the ten commandments. The ten commandments are a summary of all of God’s laws. The purpose of the law is threefold.


[A.] The first purpose of the law is to be a mirror reflecting to us our own sinfulness, our own corruption, and our guiltiness before a holy God. Our own conscience also serves this function. However, in order to help us, to make it even more obvious, even more clear, God has given us a written law to declare outwardly what all men know inwardly. When we compare what we do, what we think, and what we are to God’s law the honest person realizes that they have done terribly wrong things and are in a woeful state. It drives us towards the God that we have rejected. For He is the only One who can redeem us. He does this through Christ and only through Christ. There is salvation in no other.


This purpose of the law is best summarized in Romans 5:20: “the law came to increase the trespass.”


[B.] The second purpose of the law is to restrain evil. Although the law can never change a heart, it can to some extent inhibit evil acts by threats of judgment. There are promises of judgment for the lawbreaker. The one who seeks to do evil knows that there will be a price to be paid, a terrible price in a place of torment when this life is over. This knowledge inhibits evil acts. This is why atheism is a destructive and wicked idea beyond its first blush. It removes this function of the law by proposing that there is no judgment to be concerned about when, in actuality, there is.


This purpose of restraining evil should be reinforced by having the civil government of every nation enact God’s laws as their laws and not deciding for themselves what is right and wrong as Adam did in the garden in disobedience. Every nation is subject to God to an equal extent as is the individual. And so it was when the colonies were established here in America. The original thirteen colonies had laws that mirrored those of God. We have abandoned all subjection to God’s revealed will in our country and we are seeing the fruit of that presently. One Christian teacher on the radio has rightly observed that the most recent Supreme Court decision on homosexual “marriage” will open the floodgates of permissiveness. He said it will not be long before polygamy, polyandry, group marriages, marriages to children, and even marriage with animals will be lawful. Why? Because the exact same reasoning that was used to support homosexual “marriage” can be used with equal force to each of these other categories. Our society is on the fast track to moral anarchy and debasement because we have abandoned God’s law.


The classic text on the second function of God’s law is Romans 13:3,4 which declares that the civil authorities are to be God’s servants supporting good and punishing evil. And it must be seen that good and evil are defined by God’s law.


[C.] The third use of God’s law is to guide the child of God (that’s us!!) in the way they should live. God desires that we live the abundant life: abundance in our health, abundance in our thinking, abundance in our emotional well being, abundance in living in a way that pleases God, even abundance in our finances. The abundant life is found in obedience to God’s commandments. Especially, abundance in our human spirits. Our spirits rejoice as we live out God’s will!


This is why it is so good and beneficial to understand God’s commandments. This is why we study them.


[D.] We started to look at the seventh commandment. Today, we will finish our study of it. It is found in Exodus 20:14 and consists of only five words: You shall not commit adultery. 


Last time we defined what adultery was. It is primarily a sexual act that corrupts a marriage. However, we also saw that the seventh commandment has application to the single person as well. (See Part One for more information) We saw that three things constitute adultery:


[1.] A sexual act with someone other than our husband and wife.

[2.] Looking upon a man or woman with “lustful intent.”

[3.] Divorcing our husband or wife and marrying another (excepting the reason of the divorce being fornication).


[E.] There is both a positive and negative aspect to each commandment. This is true whether a commandment is stated positively, for example, “You shall honor your father and your mother,” or negatively, “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.”


If you do or say something to dishonor your father or your mother you are guilty of breaking the fifth commandment. So the positively stated command still communicates the sinfulness of doing the opposite: dishonoring our parents. Regarding the third commandment, “You shall not take the name of LORD your God in vain,” it necessarily means that we must use His name in the way He intended. One way He wishes His name to be used is by calling upon Him using His name. So the negatively stated command necessarily communicates the positive aspect of using God’s name the way He wishes.


So it is with the seventh commandment. If adultery, which destroys a marriage, is forbidden with severe sanctions then the promotion of marriage is enjoined by necessity.


[II.] God’s interest is not merely in preventing adultery and divorce but in promoting marriage. God’s interest in not merely in preventing lust outside of marriage, but in promoting the expression of love in marriage.

[A.] If the commandment condemns in the strongest terms sex outside of the marital union, which it does, then it orders sexual relations within the marital union. Why does God desire this? The apostle Paul reveals in I Cor 6 that sexual union brings a oneness between the participants. He terms it a oneness of flesh, following Moses’ words in Genesis. But the oneness cannot just be a oneness or closeness of bodies alone. The word “flesh” stands for persons. We see this in how other biblical authors use the word “flesh.” It is often used to simply mean persons. When the Holy Spirit fell upon the disciples after Jesus’ resurrection in Acts 2, Peter stands up and proclaims in verses 16 and 17:          But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:

            “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares,

            that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,

            and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,

                        and your young men shall see visions,

                        and your old men shall dream dreams;

(Acts 2:16-17 ESV)

Here, it is clear that “all flesh” means “all people.”


Hence, the act of sexual union is a “becoming of one flesh,” meaning a deeper unity of the persons occurs. There is a closeness and an intimacy that is brought about that strengthens the emotional bond between husband and wife. Therefore, it is God’s will that husband and wife enjoy one another so that they will be drawn closer to one another.


The positive side of the seventh commandment is also stated explicitly by Paul in I Cor. 7. Let us read that passage.


            The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

(1 Corinthians 7:3-5 ESV)


This will also help prevent adultery and divorce. When adultery occurs we call the one who did not actually commit the act the “innocent party.” In actuality, there is seldom an innocent party. There is never an excuse for infidelity, but the way one spouse treats the other often contributes to the temptations that the other spouse must face.


Jim and Vanessa were married for five years. The first two years the romance was alive. They went out together, told each other they loved each other, and enjoyed just talking. Then the kids came. Their “alone time” became quite limited and Vanessa started noticing that Jim paid less attention to her and seldom said and did things for her like he used to. She felt as if he did not appreciate her and began imagining that he did not love her.


She met Bill and they became friends. It always starts as “just a friendship,” you know. Bill did express appreciation and affection for her. It wasn’t long before adultery happened. Yes, Jim was innocent in one sense. But he contributed to the temptation that Vanessa had to face because he did not love her in the way that God has called husbands to love their wives.


But Bill has his own story. He was married to Sheila. Whenever he would seek the most intimate relations with his wife she came up with a different excuse to avoid such each time. Bill was a young man in his 20’s and he began finding it difficult to keep his mind off of other women when he was having so little interaction with his wife. Vanessa was not only needing affection but she was an attractive woman as well. It was what might be called a perfect storm for sin to occur.


Sheila might be called the innocent party with respect to adultery but she contributed the environment that made it more difficult for her husband to remain true.


The seventh commandment, in promoting sexual relations between husband and wife, both draws the two closer together and establishes a hedge of protection around the marriage.


[B.] We saw that, on the negative side, the commandment forbids lustful thoughts towards someone other than our spouse. What is lust? Lust is strong desire, especially of a sexual nature. You can lust after food and money, but usually the term applies to sex.


If the commandment forbids sexual thoughts about others then it promotes sexual thoughts towards our husband or wife. Really, pastor? Does it really? Yes, it does. And we can prove that from Scripture. Before we see this, however, it is necessary to understand what betrothal meant in Israel. When you hear the word “betrothal” what other word do you think of that may seem to mean the same thing? [Answer: engagement] Engagement does have similarities to betrothal but there is a great and substantial difference. Engagement in Western society means that there is a serious and sincere intent to marry the person to whom you are engaged, but the option is left open for either party to call off the engagement for almost any reason.


Betrothal in Israel was actually closer to what we call marriage than it is to engagement. This is because, once betrothed, neither party could back out except it be that fornication was discovered to have taken place. Practically, what this meant was that it very rarely ever happened that betrothed persons did not marry. A betrothed person was a person who was already committed for life to another.


It is important to understand this as I read to you some verses from Song of Solomon. It is important because I do not want any engaged persons to think that they are permitted to think sexual thoughts even about their prospective husband or wife. Why? Because the option to call off the engagement and/or marriage is on the table.


The thoughts and fantasies of two people in love is revealed in Song of Solomon. They are betrothed to one another and this betrothal is like a marriage. The thoughts and desires alternate from bride to groom. The imaginations of each is revealed. See how it begins.


HER     Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth!

            For your love is better than wine;

                        your anointing oils are fragrant;

            your name is oil poured out;

                        therefore virgins love you.

            Draw me after you; let us run.

                        The king has brought me into his chambers.

(Song of Solomon 1:2-4 ESV)


            Sustain me with raisins;

                        refresh me with apples,

                        for I am sick with love.

            His left hand is under my head,

                        and his right hand embraces me!

(Song of Solomon 2:5-6 ESV)


            My beloved is mine, and I am his;

                        he grazes among the lilies.

            Until the day breathes

                        and the shadows flee,

            turn, my beloved, be like a gazelle

                        or a young stag on cleft mountains.

(Song of Solomon 2:16-17 ESV)


            I held him, and would not let him go

            until I had brought him into my mother's house,

            and into the chamber of her who conceived me.

(Song of Solomon 3:4 ESV)


HIM     Your lips are like a scarlet thread,

                        and your mouth is lovely.

(Song of Solomon 4:3 ESV)



Your two breasts are like two fawns,

                        twins of a gazelle,

                        that graze among the lilies.

            Until the day breathes

                        and the shadows flee,

            I will go away to the mountain of myrrh

                        and the hill of frankincense.

            You are altogether beautiful, my love;

                        there is no flaw in you.

(Song of Solomon 4:5-7 ESV)


            A garden locked is my sister, my bride,

                        a spring locked, a fountain sealed.

            Your shoots are an orchard of pomegranates

                        with all choicest fruits,

                        henna with nard,

(Song of Solomon 4:12-13 ESV)


HER      Let my beloved come to his garden,

and eat its choicest fruits. (4:16)


It is a good thing to imagine intimacy with one’s husband or wife. Why? God’s interest is not merely in preventing adultery and divorce but in promoting marriage. God’s interest in not merely in preventing lust outside of marriage, but in promoting the expression of love in marriage.


[C.] Since God’s desire is to promote marriage, it is obvious that this promotion goes far beyond sexual expression. The seventh commandment calls us to engage in all activities and demonstrations of love that strengthen the marital union.


The husband promises to love, guide, and protect his wife as Christ does the church. Therefore, expressions of love, compassionate guidance, and courageous protection should be exercised during the whole course of a marriage, not just the first year or two.


The wife promises to love, serve, and obey her husband in accordance with traditional marriage vows which were patterned after the Bible. Alistair Begg has said that he strongly discourages engaged couples from writing their own wedding vows. He used to allow it but then he began to notice that the self-written ones were all focused on feelings. Those with experience and wisdom realize that feelings come and go, even the strongest of them. If one makes feelings the measure of commitment then it a short step to reason that if my feelings are gone then so is my commitment. Indeed, one frequent reason given for divorce is that one party says, “I just don’t love him/her anymore.” And, when they use the word “love’” they mean a feeling. But love is not a feeling.


We should not place undue confidence or reliance on feelings but, rather, on commitment. The wedding vows are promises to be kept. These promises are based on what God says about marriage.


The wife promises to love, serve, and obey her husband. Therefore, expressions of love, devoted service, and humble obedience should be exercised during the whole course of the marriage.


You may have noticed that both husband and wife promise to love one another. Small expressions of love can make a difference. A couple married for 15 years began having more than usual disagreements. They wanted to make their marriage work and agreed on an idea the wife had. For one month they planned to drop a slip in a "Fault" box. The boxes would provide a place to let the other know about daily irritations. The wife was diligent in her efforts and approach: "leaving the jelly top off the jar," "wet towels on the shower floor," "dirty socks not in hamper," on and on until the end of the month. After dinner, at the end of the month, they exchanged boxes. The husband reflected on what he had done wrong. Then the wife opened her box and began reading. They were all the same, the message on each slip was, "I love you!"


The seventh commandment calls us to engage in all activities and demonstrations of love that strengthen the marital union.


[III. Conclusion] The seventh commandment requires that we be true to our husband or wife and that we keep our thought life pure. This even holds true for the single person. It demands that we do not divorce and remarry apart from the exception that Jesus gives in the gospel of Matthew. This is a high standard. It is so high that it is a stumbling block for many.


Regarding keeping our minds free from sexual thoughts, this has been the cause of some rejecting the Christian faith altogether. I had a close friend who was not a Christian. In one of our conversations, as we discussed our relationships to God, he shared why he rejected the Christian faith. He was a teenager and was raised Catholic. In Catechism Class he was taught that it was a sin to think sexual thoughts. When he heard this he said to himself, “This is all too much. I cannot live this way. He decided then and there, in that class, that he wasn’t going to be a Catholic which, in his mind, was the same as being a Christian.


It is the same with God’s intention on the permanency of marriage. When Jesus taught on this subject the second time, in Matthew chapter 19, his own disciples replied, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” (vs 10) And many in the Christian community try to add to what Jesus said because, in their minds, the requirement is too high.


Some of you may not have been true to your spouse. Some may have broken a marriage covenant. There is a path to forgiveness. The Bible says that if we confess our sins he is faithful to forgive us our sins and cleanse us of all unrighteousness. Jesus said that every sin and blasphemy would be forgiven (Mat 12:31). That includes the sin of adultery.


My friend thought that it was too much that we should not lust. He didn’t know the half of it. God’s interest in not merely in preventing lust outside of marriage, but in promoting the expression of love in marriage.


The seventh commandment includes living in such a way that our actions and thoughts strengthen the divine bond, especially expressions of love. If he understood that he may have said along with the original disciples, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.”  But it is better to marry! God plainly affirms that in the very beginning of the Bible.


It is not only that forgiveness is available for the adulterer and for the one who has failed to support their marriage. The power to live out this commandment in its fullest measure is also available.


The high demands of the seventh commandment can be lived out only by the power of the Holy Spirit, which is given to every true believer in Christ. Do not depend on your human will, but turn to Him who is ready and available to change both your heart and your mind.


When we do this we discover it is easier to obey this command than we thought. And we discover the benefits of obedience: For the single person it is the preservation of our hearts for our future husband or wife. For the married it is a greater love for our husband or wife. This is, in the words of Isaiah, “what is best” for us. This is the good life!