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Author:Rev. Mendel Retief
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Congregation:Free Reformed Church of Kelmscott
 Kelmscott, Western Australia
 frckelmscott.org
 
Title:You shall not commit adultery
Text:LD 41 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic: 7th Commandment (Adultery)
 
Added:2016-02-21
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Old Book of Praise (2004):

Ps. 145: 1

Ps. 145: 2, 3

Ps. 139: 1, 2, 13

Ps. 51: 1 – 4

Ps. 128: 1 – 3

 

Scripture reading:       Mt. 5: 17 – 32; 1 Cor. 6: 12 – 20

Text:                          LD 41

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Mendel Retief, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


You shall not commit adultery         

Ps. 145: 1

Ps. 145: 2, 3

Ps. 139: 1, 2, 13

Ps. 51: 1 – 4

Ps. 128: 1 – 3

 

Scripture reading:       Mt. 5: 17 – 32; 1 Cor. 6: 12 – 20

Text:                         LD 41

 

Beloved congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ,

 

Over the last 20 years there has been an average of about 110 000 marriages each year solemnised in Australia.   During the same period of 20 years there has been an average of about 50 000 divorces in Australia every year.   That means that almost half of the marriages in Australia end in divorce.   That has been the case for the last 20 years.

 

On top of that there has been a growing number of people who don’t marry at all; who simply live together.   The separation rate among these couples who simply live together, is even much higher than the divorce rate among married people.  

 

And the fact that 50% of marriages do not end in divorce, does not mean these marriages are happy and blessed marriages.   There are not many marriages to the honour and glory of God.

Furthermore, the very institution of marriage, in our society, has come under great stress.

Marriage, as instituted by God, is in every way under the attack of Satan, the world, and our own sinful flesh – and even more so in the increasingly secular society in which we live.

 

The corrupt Hollywood culture, which is so much promoted in movies and on TV, has become international.

Also many church people have brought this culture into their own homes as they sit in front of the TV, and allow their children to spend hours in front of the TV, or to watch movies that breed such a culture of infidelity and licentiousness.  

Drinking in the filth of the world, many have become like the world.

 

It is inevitable that those who sit in the circle of scoffers, become scoffers themselves.

If you watch movies that entertain you on the lifestyle of the world, the seed of decadency will grow in your heart and bear its bitter fruit in your life. 

We cannot expose ourselves to what the world offers, and think that we will remain pure.  

 

Dear congregation, our Lord Jesus expounded the meaning of the 7th commandment, and taught us that adultery starts in the heart.   It starts with a lustful glance!

 

Living in a society where the transgression of the 7th commandment has become so blatant – with the added temptations of movies, internet, and other means by which the temptations have been carried into almost every home – living in a society where the transgression of this commandment is aggressively promoted in the media and in shopping centres and wherever you go, yes, living in such a society, we are all the more in need to watch and pray lest we enter into temptation.

We need to safeguard our homes, and our own hearts, against the snares of the devil.

 

Let us then turn to God’s Word for instruction, and pray the Lord to give us hearts to hear; hearts to love the Lord, and to obey His commandments.

 

Dear congregation, the Holy Spirit, through the proclamation of God’s Word, works faith in our hearts, and, through faith, joins us to Christ.   He makes us share in the resurrection of Christ in order that we, through our union with Christ, may live a new life of obedience unto God.  

But the Holy Spirit will work this in us by no other means than by the instruction of God’s Word.   Only by this means will the Spirit of Christ sanctify and equip us, so that in every temptation we may say: “It is written…”

 

Let us then pray for the power of the Spirit, but also remember not to separate the Spirit from the Word.   Let us pray for sanctification, but also use the means of sanctification; that is: the Word of God.   The Holy Spirit will teach and sanctify and equip us through the detailed instruction also of this commandment.  

 

And thus we turn to this commandment with eager expectation, that the light of God’s Word may enlighten our lives, and correct us, and where necessary may call us to repentance.

I proclaim God’s Word to you with the theme:

You shall not commit adultery

 

We will note…

  1. The sin committed with our eyes
  2. That our body is a temple of the Holy Spirit
  3. God’s will for marriage and procreation

In the first place we note…

The sin committed with our eyes

 

A lustful glance – is that a serious sin?

Our Lord Jesus taught us that a lustful glance is a transgression of the 7th commandment, and that it deserves to be punished with the fire of hell!

 

 “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.” (Mt. 5: 27 – 29)

 

When the Lord says, “You have heard…But I say to you…,” He makes a correction on the teaching of the Pharisees and the traditions of men by which the law of God became twisted.   Just a few verses before He said:

 

“…unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” – Mt. 5: 20

 

The scribes and Pharisees did not obey the law.  Jesus says in Mt. 23 that the scribes and Pharisees were hypocrites; they did all their works only to be seen by men (Mt. 23: 5), they cleaned only the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they were full of extortion and self-indulgence (Mt. 23: 25).   They were like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead bones and all uncleanness (Mt. 23: 27).   Therefore the Lord said to them:

 

“Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” – Mt. 5: 28

 

The Pharisees were lawless.   They did not obey the law.   All their religion was only outward show to impress men.   They explained the law, or rather twisted the law, to be nothing more than a long list of outward rituals.   

Over against their false teaching and twisting of the law, the Lord Jesus restores the correct meaning of the law as it was intended from the beginning: to guide first of all our heart and mind in the path of righteousness.   And thus the Lord restored the original meaning of the law, when He said: “But I say to you…”

He was not correcting the law of Moses, but correcting the twisting of the law by the Scribes and Pharisees.

 

He confirms that the law is spiritual and that the commandments are first of all kept and observed in a pure heart.   Over against the outward show of the scribes and Pharisees our Lord Jesus taught us again how we should obey the law.   That is: from the heart, in spirit and in truth.  

 

And thus He also explains the 7th commandment:  “You shall not commit adultery”.  

He explains and teaches this commandment by saying: a lustful glance is adultery.

 

A lustful glance deserves the fire of hell.

 

Is that really what Jesus said?  Is His teaching really that radical?

Yes, He really taught this!  

Let us look at it more closely.   He says:

 

“…whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

 

Note that He does not say: Whoever looks at a woman with the intent to commit adultery has already committed adultery with her in his heart.  

No, He is not speaking about any intention to commit adultery.   He simply speaks of lustful looking.    

Someone may look at a woman without any intention to commit adultery, and yet he transgresses this commandment with a lustful glance.  

 

There in Matthew 5 the Lord places His finger not on the intent to commit adultery, but on the sin of lustful looking.  

 

The apostle Peter refers to the same thing when he refers to men who have “eyes full of adultery” that cannot cease from sinning – 2 Peter 2: 14.

Their eyes are full of adultery.   When they look, they sin.   And they sin by looking.

 

It starts already at school when boys, among themselves, say to each other: “Look at that girl’s legs!”   A pretty girl with a short dress walks past, and the heads are turning.

 

The Lord calls it adultery.

 

Job says:

 

“I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I gaze at a virgin.” – Job 31: 1 (ESV)

 

He made a covenant with his eyes not to look lustfully at a young woman.  

Job did not read Mt. 5: 28, but he lived according to the same law.

 

The Lord requires of each of us to make such an agreement, such a covenant with our eyes.

 

But is this sin only committed by the boys and men who turn their heads to look?

The girl who walks past with her short dress, or tight jeans, who causes the heads to turn – she is also committing adultery.   

 

The Lord said:

 

“Woe to the world for temptations to sin!   For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes!” – Mt. 18: 7 (ESV)

 

If a woman dresses in such a way that she causes men to look at her with lustful glances, she is transgressing this commandment by the very way she dresses.  

Then, by the way she dresses, she causes adultery in the hearts of those who look at her, and she herself is also transgressing this commandment by being unchaste.  

 

In the last sentence of Lord’s Day 41 we confess:

 

“Therefore He forbids all unchaste acts, gestures, words, thoughts, desires, and whatever may entice us to unchastity.

 

Note these last words: “and whatever may entice us to unchastity.”

Speaking in general terms, there is only one thing that causes a man to look at a woman with lust.   That is: when she is not dressed properly.  

 

Dear congregation, it is not enough to mention this in passing.  

It happens also that sisters in the congregation sometimes dress, or fail to dress, in accordance with the Lord’s instruction.

When you address such a sister, the reaction is often: “It is not my fault that the men have such desires; they must just keep their eyes off me!  I can’t help it if they look at me!”

 

But, does the Lord not teach you that you have a responsibility to be chaste, and to dress with decency and propriety? (compare for example 1 Tim. 2: 9)

 

How then must a woman dress in order to be chaste?   You must dress in such a way that you are not the cause of lustful glances.   Your clothing, or lack of clothing, must not draw the attention to your body.

 

Dear congregation, the fashions of our day specialises in unchastity.   Sometimes the whole body is covered, but in such a way that all the curves of the body can be seen.   The whole body can be covered with material and still be exposed and advertised.

The world has made it into an art.

 

Therefore it may happen that you are not able to buy the right clothes in any shop.   You may even need to search far before you find something decent and chaste.   But God requires it of you.   Mothers should teach their daughters to be careful and chaste, and set the example.

 

Sometimes young people ask the question: “How far may I go before I transgress?”

But we should rather ask: “How far can I stay away from transgression?”   The question is not: how close may I come to the border of transgression, but rather: how far can I flee from sin and temptation?

 

If the Lord calls even a lustful glance adultery, and if such transgression deserves the fire of hell – if it is all that serious – will you then cause your brother in Christ to sin, and say: “I may wear what I like!”?

I speak to the sisters of the congregation: Does it reveal any love or consideration for your brother in Christ if you say: “He may be tempted, and sin, and enter hell, but I will wear what I like!”?

 

Let us not blame the weather, and say, “It is too warm to dress with chastity!”

Let us rather have concern for the souls of one another, and be no stumbling block.

 

For the men this teaching of Christ has a very clear application also to movies and internet.   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.

 

The Lord teaches us that we have to remove anything that may cause us to sin; we must get rid of anything that may tempt us to sin, no matter how dear it may seem to us. 

If the TV in your house causes you to sin, cast it out.

If the internet causes you to look at pornography, then you need an internet service or program that blogs out all pornography.  

We need to protect ourselves.   We need to flee from temptation.

 

This is confirmed by a parallel passage in Mt. 18 where the Lord speaks about stumbling blocks and temptations, and says:

 

“Woe is the world for temptations to sin!   For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes!  And if your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away.   It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire.” (Mt. 18: 7, 8 – ESV)

 

Also in that passage, the cutting off of your hands or feet, means: remove the stumbling blocks, remove the things by which you are led into temptation.  

Of course, it is not your eye or your hand that causes you to sin, and therefore also not the eye or hand that needs to be cut off.   But the meaning is clear: take drastic action to cast any means of temptation far from you!

 

Sin is a destructive force.   We may not play with it.   We have to remove everything from our homes and our lives that may tempt us to sin.  

Any temptation should be flung aside immediately, and decisively.   Without any delay the obscene book must be burned, the scandalous picture destroyed, the soul-destroying video thrown out, the unlawful relationship broken, and the pernicious habit stopped.   There may be no dillydallying with sin.   Drastic action has to be taken to avoid temptation as far as possible.   Any measure that can be taken to avoid temptation has to be taken – for the sake of our very salvation.

 

It will be better for you to live without a TV, and without a stack of movies, and to restrict your access to internet, than to have all these things and enter hell.  

That is the application of our Lord’s teaching.   We have to be very careful and do everything in our power to avoid allurements – not least with regard to the 7th commandment!

 

Young men, brothers, let us say with Job, “I have made a covenant with my eyes…”

Let us confess our sin before the Lord, and ask Him to keep us.  

Let us keep this teaching of the Lord, and flee from the hidden adultery of heart and mind.

 

Brothers and sisters, this commandment is not only about what God forbids.   It does not only teach us to flee from sexual immorality; it also positively instructs us in being pure and chaste.   It also teaches us to live as temples of the Holy Spirit.

 

We note that in the second place that…

Our body is a temple of the Holy Spirit

 

We read this from 1 Corinthians chapter 6:

 

“…do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you…and that you are not your own?” (6: 19)

 

Already in 1 Corinthians chapter 3 the apostle spoke about the church being the temple of God; for God, through His Spirit, dwells in His church – among us, and in us.

But now the apostle refers to our physical body of flesh and blood, and says: your body is a holy dwelling place for God’s Spirit.  

 

He starts by saying that our bodies are members of Christ.   Not only our spirit is joined to Christ; also our bodies are joined to Christ.   

Not only our spirit, but also our body is sanctified and consecrated to be possessed and occupied and inhabited by His Holy Spirit.

 

That is what it means when our body is called the temple of the Holy Spirit.

The temple is a holy and consecrated place where God dwells.   It is separated for His use only.

Our bodies were made for God, and Christ died on the cross to purchase also our body to be His possession.  

It is then not only our soul that needs to be kept pure from defilement.

Also our bodies must be kept holy and undefiled.  

He says this with regard to sexual immorality.  

 

Shall we take the temple of the Holy Spirit and defile it with sexual immorality?

Or shall you take the temple of the Spirit and dress it like a harlot?

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit?

 

Brothers and sisters, we are duty bound to glorify God, not only with a pure heart and spirit, but also with a holy body, sanctified and consecrated for holy service.   Our bodies are now set apart as holy instruments to glorify God.

We should not use our bodies according to our own pleasure, but according to God’s holy will, for His glory, as the apostle concludes:

 

“…you were bought with a price, therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (verse 20)

 

The point is that we serve God not only with our soul, but also with our body; and that our Lord Jesus sanctifies not only our heart, but also our flesh to be His temple.

It is then not as if we serve God with our spirit while our body belongs to ourselves to do as we please.   Also our flesh has become the sole possession of God, consecrated for His service only.

 

In the third place we note…

God’s will for marriage and procreation

 

When God created man, He created them male and female.

 

“Then God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it…”

 

That creation ordinance is further regulated by the 7th commandment.  

The seventh commandment has everything to do with the marriage institution and with the creation ordinance to be fruitful and to multiply.  

The 7th commandment protects marriage from anything that deviates from this holy institution, and it forbids anything that may defile it.  

 

The 7th commandment limits procreation to marriage only.   But marriage is much more than a sexual relationship.   It is first of all a spiritual relationship between one husband with one wife.  

For this reason a believer may only marry in the Lord.   We may not marry the seed of the serpent.  

If you seek a wife you have to seek a godly wife in order to have a godly offspring.

Choosing whom to marry, your choice may not be determined by fleshly desires. 

Even our choice of marriage should have God’s glory as the ultimate goal.   That includes the purpose to raise a godly offspring: seeking a godly wife that may be the mother of godly children.

 

Yes, also in marriage there is one ultimate goal: the glory of God.

Therefore, do not seek a pretty wife, but a godly wife – one that fears the Lord.

 

Congregation, our service to the Lord, in marriage, also includes procreation and raising children for Him.

It is part of the creation ordinance, and regulated by the seventh commandment.

Our marriage then has a religious purpose which includes procreation, being fruitful, in order to raise children for the Lord.

 

How then does the 7th commandment apply to our task of receiving and raising children?

First of all, the Lord commands husbands to love their wives, and wives to love their husbands, and to be faithful to each other.   Husband and wife are joined together to be one in an intimate bond of love and faithfulness, being united in the Lord.   And it is this bond of love and faithfulness between husband and wife that is required, first of all, for the raising of godly families.

 

The prophet Malachi speaks about this and says: God made husband and wife one.  And why did He make them one?   Because: He seeks godly offspring – Mal. 2: 15.

He says: the unity in marriage serves to raise a godly seed.  

Therefore God hates divorce – not only because divorce mutilates and defiles the institution of marriage, and violently harms the spouse, but also because of the children who should be raised in a godly family to be a godly seed.  That is: children that fear the Lord.

 

When Scripture speaks about procreation and the task of raising children, it also compares it to building a house.   When Boaz took Ruth as his wife the witnesses said to him:

 

“…We are witnesses.   The LORD make the woman who is coming to your house like Rachel and Leah, the two who built the house of Israel…” – Ruth 4: 11

 

Husband and wife build a house for the Lord; together with the rest of His church, they are building the temple of the Lord.

Dear congregation, having children and raising them for the Lord is kingdom work by which the church of Christ is being built.  

 

But what happens when husband and wife refuse to have children, or decide to restrict children to a small and comfortable number?   

Is that not a transgression of the 7th commandment?

Is it not distorting and denying one of the main purposes of marriage?

Is it not a refusal to serve God according to His design for marriage, and changing marriage into a manmade institution where we may do as we please?

 

Yes, to some God does not give children.   Their marriage is still just as much in service of God.   Or to some He allows only one or two children.   That is not the issue.

We are speaking of wilful refusal to procreate according to God’s command.   And the point we are making is that our obedience in this regard does not only belong to the creation ordinance, but also to the marriage institution itself, which is regulated by the 7th commandment. 

 

Did God not punish Onan with death because he refused to have children with Tamar?   Yes, he refused to build the house of his brother who passed away.   His refusal was for selfish reasons.   He did marry Tamar and enjoyed the privileges of marriage, but refused to have children with her.   He did not only sin against his brother, but also against Tamar who were longing to have children.   It displeased the Lord so much that He killed Onan – Gen. 38: 10.

 

Brothers and sisters, if we realise that Christ builds His church mainly by this means, that covenant parents receive and raise covenant children for the Lord, let us then not try to separate marriage and procreation, or refuse the children which the Lord wants to give us, or restrict their number for selfish reasons.  

If the Lord killed Onan for not building the house of his brother, what will He do to us if we refuse to build His house, the church?

 

Let also our marriages be God centered; not self centered.   Let us build the church also by procreation and raising our children for the Lord.   That is no fleshly business, but a wonderful and most holy task committed to us.

 

Love your wife, love your husband, and do not refuse children, but receive them from the Lord’s hand, and raise them to His glory – godly seed from a godly marriage.

 

Dear congregation, now that we have looked at various aspects of this commandment, we again have to acknowledge that we fall far short of the perfect obedience that God demands.   Without Christ we would all be condemned under God’s righteous curse.  

 

But we do not receive this law without Christ.   God called us and adopted us to be His beloved children in and through Jesus Christ our Saviour.   And through Him this law becomes to us as sweet as honey.   Through Him we find our delight in doing God’s will, also in our married life.

And also outside of marriage.

 

Let us make a covenant with our eyes not to sin.

Let us flee all temptation.

Let us consecrate our bodies as temple of the Holy Spirit.

Let us serve God and build His kingdom, also in the duties and privileges that belong to marriage, that there may be a godly offspring from godly marriages.  

 

Amen.




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Mendel Retief, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright, Rev. Mendel Retief

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