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Author:Pastor Keith Davis
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Congregation:Bethel United Reformed Church
 Calgary, Alberta
 www.bethelurc.org
 
Preached At:Lynwood United Reformed Church
 Lynwood, IL
 www.lynwoodurc.org
 
Title:Preserving the Purity of Marriage
Text:LD 41 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic: 7th Commandment (Adultery)
 
Preached:2004-04-25
Added:2004-05-20
Updated:2007-08-19
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Scripture:
I Thessalonians 4. 1-8;
Matthew 5. 27-32
LD 41

Psalter Hymnal #196, 81, 270, 379
* As a matter of courtesy please advise Pastor Keith Davis, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


Beloved congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ, last week Sunday night, we learned that the sixth commandment calls us to love and protect our neighbor's life, and to love and protect (to be good stewards of) our own life. We said how that command was rooted in creation--God is the author of life. God not only condemns the act of murder, but everything that threatens life, even the very root of murder: envy, hatred, anger, and vindictiveness.
This morning we consider God's will for us in 7th commandment, you shall not commit adultery. This command calls us to honor and protect our neighbor's marriage, and also to love and protect our own marriage. We find that the basis for the 7th commandment is also rooted in creation. God created Adam out of the dust of the ground, and seeing that it was not good for him to be alone, seeing that man was not whole or 'complete' by himself, God formed woman out of man. God gave the woman to the man (not to be a live-in maid) but to compliment him in every aspect of his being.
So in Genesis 2, the perfect marriage is instituted, Adam and Eve in Paradise. We hear Adam singing his own wedding ballad, she is now bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh. In the very next verse, this perfect marriage is set before us as the pattern for all marriages thereafter. For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to (cleave)his wife, and they shall be one flesh.
Jesus quoted that passage while speaking to Jews who were sinfully divorcing their wives away for any and every reason. To that verse Jesus added these words, they are no longer two but one, therefore, what God has joined together, let not man separate.
God's Word teaches that marriage is an institution ordained by God, intended to be a source of great happiness for man, an institution of the highest significance to the human race, and according to Ephesians 5, it is even a symbol of the mystical union of Christ and His church.
So it's no wonder then, why God issued the 7th commandment-you shall not commit adultery. Because in essence, adultery does to the marriage covenant, what killing does to the human body. It destroys it. It rents it asunder. But the 7th commandment not only condemns the act of adultery, it condemns everything that incites adultery: lustful eyes, sinful desires, immoral behavior, unchaste thoughts, and impure motives.
Basically, our God demands purity for his people-both within the bonds of the marriage covenant, within the single life. In LD 41 we're taught about the purity God requires.

Here we see that God Calls us to Preserve the Purity of the Marriage Covenant. We do so two ways:
1) By Detesting the Perversions which Endanger Marriage;
2) By Exemplifying the Conduct which Promotes Marriage


1. By Detesting the Perversions which Endanger Marriage

People of God, let's start off with a little self-survey. I want each of you to think of the one thing (1 perversion) which you would consider to be the greatest detriment and danger to the marriage covenant today. What stands at the top of your list? Is it a particular lifestyle? Is it wide-scale immorality? Is it a particular philosophy or political view that's hostile to marriage?
In the wake of all the turmoil and chaos caused by those pushing for homosexual marriage, I can easily see how many of us would put that at or at least near the top of our list. Homosexual marriage is not only a repulsive improvisation of man, it is nothing less than an assault on the marriage covenant, an attack on the family, and a scourge to society in general.
It's really nothing more than people living in sin who want the courts to give legitimacy, to legalize their wicked and depraved way of life. The advocates of gay marriage have posed the same arguments to those who stand against them, saying, How does our getting married affect your marriage? This has nothing to do with you at all. We're not endangering your way of life. Besides, almost 50% of heterosexual marriages end in divorce, so let's not pretend that marriage is some sacred union. Our old fashioned ideas of marriage need to change with the times.
Yet, the truth of the matter is, homosexual marriage does affect us. It affects our life, because it affects our entire society around us. The basic family unit which stands as the foundation of our society, is crumbling to pieces. For generations, our world has accepted the truth that marriage, the act of marriage, and having babies is inseparable, that goes hand in hand.
Now our society faces the spectacle of sterile marriage, where a marriage is severed from it's God given design and purpose, and it's built on nothing more than two people indulging in selfish and sinful desire, with no chance of procreation. So, I can certainly see where this perversion would be at the top of many people's list.
But when I read an article in the latest edition of the Christian Renewal, I came across a unique perspective on all this. The article speaks of a Methodist minister from Tennessee who wrote an editorial column in the Wall Street Journal. In his article, he wrote how the attack against marriage did not start with homosexuals in our day and age, rather it started 40 years ago, in the 1960's, with the introduction of the birth control pill.
This minister points out how the convenience and popularity of the pill gave rise to a new set of problems within marriage and outside the bonds of marriage. For couples who got married, the pill also presented the possibility of a sterile marriage. Technology made it possible for man to avoid (for as long as he wanted) the fundamental basis for marriage.
Many couples simply enjoyed the perks of marriage without worrying about 'biological baggage' (children). They ignored the God ordained charge to "Be fruitful and multiply", and women feel free to leave the home in pursuit of their own careers. How is that really any different, in philosophy, in principle, from a homosexual marriage?
But the pill also led to perversions outside of marriage. Young ladies and young men who once feared the consequences of their immoral behavior, now had nothing to fear. Our nation saw a staggering increase in the rate of premarital sex. To this day, the same perversions exists among young people.
Thanks in large part to the pill, marriage rates have declined because couples no longer feel an obligation to get married. Instead they choose to live together for months, even years. In the event they do get married, their marriage is nothing more than a formality, a reallocation of their assets. As we see it in our world today, marriage is a dying institution, and our society, our abuse of technology, our immorality, has caused this widespread degeneration.
Yes, homosexual marriage is certainly a sign of that degeneration. But as the minister keenly points out, that in itself, it is not the cause of marital degeneration, it is merely the result of it. As a society, we have set ourselves up for a fall.
But what about the church? Where have we been through all this? As Christians, have we been careful to set the standard, to show the world what marriage is really all about? As couples, did we get married (are we getting married today)with the right motivation and mindset? To be a family? To advance the kingdom of God for the sake of Jesus Christ?
Or do we allow some of the world's sinful and selfish motives and principles to spill over into our lives? This is definitely something we must be aware of, as parents of children who are at the age of marriage, for you newly weds, and for those thinking of marriage.
And do not think that just because a couple has a child or two that their motives are good. We can also have very selfish motives about having children. When I worked in the trades, I came across a couple in their early 30's who had been married several years, both were professionals and quite wealthy. They were adding on to their (already quite extravagant) house because they had decided that this was time to have their first, and only, child. They wanted to enjoy the experience of parenting, but only wanted that one child.
So even the very motivation for bringing forth a child into the world was self-centered. For us in Christ's church, that should give us reason to pause, and ask ourselves, do our young children, do our young couples understand the incredible blessings involved in bearing children for Christ's Kingdom?
Or have we bought into the world's idea that having children is just too much of a financial burden; they cramp our style; they will tie us down, we want to go on cruises and see the world, we couples need a few years alone just to get to know each other; having children at this stage of our marriage will just take too much of our time.
That's a pity especially when you consider how many couples in Christ's church are trying to have children but for whatever reason, they can't, or they're having difficulty. So if that's our mind-set, then we're no better off than the world. Then the church has also contributed to the degeneration and perversion of marriage, and we have to repent of our ways.
We have to take to heart the message of the Psalms which say, Children are a heritage from the Lord.blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. True, not everyone has the same capacity in his quiver. But the Lord is not so much concerned about the number of children as He is, our motivation. Whether we are blessed with 1 child or 10, or adopted children, we must be faithful to God. So, are we Christians honoring the purpose and design for marriage?
Can those in the world look at us, at our families, at our lives, at our priorities and see that we hold marriage in high regard? That we are committed to carry out God's calling? Can the world see Christian parents trusting in God for the present and the future, and trusting in Jesus Christ for the salvation and protection of our children. Can the world see God's perfect design for marriage through our families? Then we are preserving the purity of marriage.


2. By Exemplify the Conduct which Promotes Marriage

But beloved, as we know, there is more to preserving the purity of marriage than being faithful to the marriage mandate. The scope of the seventh commandment reaches beyond that, it not only tells us to detest worldly perversions which threaten marriage, but it also call us to exemplify the purity which promotes marriage. In other words, the Lord commands us to keep marriage pure by our day to day conduct.
Here we look to the text of LD 41, q. 108-109, Q. What is God's will for us in the seventh commandment? A. God condemns all unchastity. We should therefore thoroughly detest it and, married or single, live decent and chaste lives. Q. Does God, in this commandment, forbid only such scandalous sins as adultery? A. We are temples of the Holy Spirit, body and soul, and God wants both to be kept clean and holy. That is why He forbids everything which incites unchastity, whether it be actions, looks, talk, thoughts, or desires.
So first of all, we're reminded that the call to chastity, the call to purity is expected of each one of us, regardless of our marital status. You single men and women are to keep yourselves pure. The Lord's will is that while you are single, you are to abstain from sexual intercourse and any other form of fornication. The act of marriage is a privilege and blessing reserved for a man and a woman who (not only love each other) but who have been legally married and joined together as one in the eyes of the Lord, and by the laws of the state.
But even married couples are called to refrain from sexual immorality. From the Song of Solomon, we learn that a man can feel great passion and desire for his beloved. God is not opposed to romance and the healthy expression of love. But while we husbands and wives are free to indulge our passion for one another, there is still a responsibility to express our desires, to indulge our passions in a godly way. We are not to pervert the act of marriage. We are not to distort it, or allow the fantasies, ideas, and images of this sinful world to influence our desires.
Maintaining the purity of the marriage bed also requires that we keep the act of marriage in proper perspective. I stress this in pre-marriage counseling, because in our world, there is an enormous imbalance when it comes to the priority of sex. To state it simply, sex has become an obsession in our society. Not a day goes by when you don't see an ad for Viagra or Levitra.
Those commercials make it seem like a man's marriage is a failure until and unless he takes that product, and after that, his life is completely turned around. His wife is suddenly happy, his whole outlook and attitude is changed, even his performance at work is better. But that's all an illusion.
To speak quite frankly, that has very little to do with man's ability to love his wife purely, and be the spiritual head of their household, and be a faithful father to his children, and work hard every day. In fact, that kind of intimacy in marriage (while it is certainly important and not to be neglected-as Paul says in I Corinthians 7), yet it is only a minute aspect of the totality of your marriage and life. As Christians, we have to keep that all in perspective.
Now, you may have noticed that LD 41 draws heavily upon the teaching of Jesus in Matt. 5. In vs. 27-28, Jesus said You have hear that it was said, Do not commit adultery. But I tell you anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart!
In saying those words, beloved, Jesus alerted the people to the fact that the sin of adultery ran much deeper, was much more subtle, than someone sleeping with his neighbor's wife. Jesus demonstrated the internal nature of sin (perhaps here more than any other sin). Jesus emphasized the inner desire of the heart, the secret thoughts of the mind, the lust that lies behind the stares.
I think what so very crucial to verse 28, is that the verb 'lust' is in the form of an infinitive, which means that it is to be translated "to lust". So, the verse literally reads, anyone who looks on a woman to lust after her (with lustful intent), has committed adultery with her in his heart. That translation speaks of a man who does not offer an incidental glance or a casual look at a woman, but rather he looks at the woman with the goal and design of lusting after her.
It gives the impression that this is a repeated action of looking. His eyes simply can't get enough. This is a man person who looks because he desires. This is a person who drives to out-of-town video stores to rent X-rated videos. This is the person who selects a TV show based on it sexual content. This is a person who toys with pornography on the internet or maybe in magazines. This is a person who feeds the desire of his heart, through is eyes.
It is not lustful looking that gives way to desire in the heart, rather, it is the desire on the heart that gives way to lustful looking. Lustful looking is the result of an immoral adulterous heart. And that was exactly the point Jesus was making. Adultery is not first and foremost physical betrayal (infidelity) against our spouse and against God, but it is a spiritual betrayal (infidelity). Our eyes have shown the evidence of our own heart's unfaithfulness.
And for that we husbands and wives, we need to repent. We need to humble ourselves before God and each other, confess our sins, and pray for God's Spirit of contentment and self-control to be upon us. Just as we read in I Thess. 4: 3-8. (Good passage to put to memory that we might call upon it in a time of temptation!): It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God.For God did not call us to be impure but to live a holy life. Therefore he who rejects this instruction does not reject man, but God who gives you His Holy Spirit!
When Jesus Christ ascended into heaven and poured out His Holy Spirit upon the Church, He equipped us for success. He equipped us fro battle. He put every tool, every spiritual weapon in his arsenal at our disposal, so that we might stand strong against Satan, resist temptation, and live holy and pure lives before Him.
Now, I realize that many things in these passages are directed t men, most likely because we men are far more prone to fall into this temptation and sin than women. However, that does not mean that women are exempt from this struggle. You also must resist the temptation to look for the purpose of lusting.
Even more than that, you young ladies and wives bear an immense responsibility to dress in such a way that does not invite or encourage the lustful looks of men and boys. There is nothing wrong with dressing yourself beautifully, there is nothing wrong with wearing clothes that make you look attractive.
However, when you young ladies come to church, or go to school, or go out with friends wearing tiny skirts that do not even hang down to your knees, if you wear shirts that are tight fitting, or have a low neckline, or don't even cover your mid-riff, then I think you're just as culpable in making boys look at you with lust.
I think we moms and dads alike have to do a much better job in this area. Wearing clothes (bathing suits!) that are fashionable and stylish is one thing, but parents, modesty comes in all styles and in all colors and in all fashions as well. Contrary to what many YP think, modesty does not mean 'ugly'. Modesty does not mean 'prudish'.
Modesty merely means that we choose to wear clothing that is attractive but does not expose or draw unnecessary attention to the parts of our bodies that we are to treat with special consideration. I think back to all the weddings of last summer, and how many Christian young ladies wore immodest party dresses to the weddings. Think of homecoming at Illiana, or the junior-senior banquet, where high schoolgirls wear the same kind of immodest clothing.
Again, this is an area where father and mother have to exercise more supervision and restraint. We need to teach our daughters the virtue and value of modesty. And we need to teach our sons the virtue and the value of self-control, of being able to look upon a young lady without lust, without sinful desire. To appreciate beauty in the godly sense of the term.
As we look at Matthew 5, there is one more point that deserves our attention. That is, the extreme remedy that Jesus proposes as the cure for lustful eyes, for a heart full of sinful desire. Jesus says, if your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it from you. For it is better for you to lose one part of your body, than for the whole body to be thrown into hell. And, if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away, It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go to hell.
We know that Jesus is speaking figuratively here, because he has just made the point that sin and desire emanate from within our hart. The eye and the hand are merely the instrument through which the sinful heart works. Even cutting off a hand will not purify a heart that's infected with sin.
Jesus is just driving home the point that living the Christian life calls for a dramatic severing of the sinful impulses which can have such a controlling influence over us. The right hand and the right eye were considered to be the person's most precious facilities. So in his radical words, he illustrates the extent of the sacrifice we need to be willing to make to keep ourselves free from sin, and causing others to sin.
Men, if you're struggling with temptations of lust, if you're tempted to search for porn on the internet or TV, then isn't canceling your internet access and canceling the movie channels in your home a reasonable sacrifice to make for the sake of your own purity and morality and salvation? If you're tempted to stare in lust at women in public, then isn't it the shame of telling your wife that you struggle with this so she can help you?
Ladies, isn't the principle of modesty and decency worth the sacrifice of throwing out those immodest skirts and dresses, and buying something that's appropriate for church and homecoming? God is not setting before us unreasonable expectations. No. God merely expects His children, whom He's washed in Christ's blood, to keep ourselves pure from evil.
After all, as the catechism says so beautifully, We are temples of the Holy Spirit, body and soul, and God wants both to be kept clean and holy. We are called to live holy lives, to live chaste lives, because Christ dwells within us. Because Christ purchased us on Calvary's cross with His own precious blood. He owns us body and soul.
We are not to defile these temples which God has made pure. Rather, we called to serve and honor God with our bodies. Married or single, we are to live chaste lives, proving by the purity of our thoughts, looks, and actions, that our hearts have been purified from evil. Amen.


* As a matter of courtesy please advise Pastor Keith Davis, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
The source for this sermon was: lynwoodurc.org

(c) Copyright 2004, Pastor Keith Davis

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