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Author:Rev. Stephen 't Hart
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Congregation:Free Reformed Church of Baldivis
 Baldivis, Western Australia
 frca.org.au/baldivis/
 
Title:Live pure lives in the covenant of grace.
Text:LD 41 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic: 7th Commandment (Adultery)
 
Preached:2009-07-19
Added:2011-05-03
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

From the 1984 Book of Praise.

Hymn 40:1

Hymn 4:1,3

Psalm 101:1,2,3,4 (Collection)

Psalm 25:5,6

Hymn 55:2,4

Read:  Ephesians 4:17-5:33.

Text: Lord's Day 41.

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Stephen 't Hart, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


Congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Although this whole sermon is for everyone, I'd like to begin by saying a few things to the younger boys and girls.

This afternoon the sermon is about the 7th commandment, "You shall not commit adultery."  In many ways, this is a commandment especially for the teenagers and the adults.  When I was a boy of about 9 or 10, I remember thinking that it was good the 7th commandment was in the Bible, because at least I could keep that one.  I did not really understand what adultery was all about, but for me it was easier to keep that commandment than others like not lying or listening to your father and mother.  And when you are young, that is true. 

The commandment about not committing adultery is in the first place for grown-ups.  This commandment teaches that men and women are not allowed to live with each other unless they get married first.  It also teaches that husbands and wives need to be happy in their marriage and care for each other and love each other.  Dads and mums should not fight and they should not get divorced.  God wants your dad and mum to live together and love each other always.  In that way you will have a healthy, Christian family.

Boys and girls, that is how Christians should be when they are married.  And even though you are much too young to think about getting married, it is good that you know how God wants people to live when they are married and when they are not married.

The Catechism says that God wants us to be pure and holy.  That means that we should be clean and set apart as Christians.  Later, when you are older, you will learn that the seventh commandment is very hard to keep.  But you need to start keeping this commandment already now so that when you are older you will keep doing that.  And so you need to be pure and holy also now when you are children.  That means that being rude or telling dirty jokes or having silly talk is really, really bad.  (I think you know what I mean.)  Make sure that you never do that or laugh at other children who are being silly.  Because that is breaking the seventh commandment.  And you also need to learn to be modest.  Some clothes, even for younger girls, are not modest.  You need to look nice in a way that is pleasing to God.  If you do that when you are young, it will be easier for you to keep doing it when you are older.

And do you know why this is so important?  Because your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit!  When you were a baby, you were baptized, and God said, "You belong to me!"  You have a special relationship with God, and that relationship is called a covenant.  And in that covenant relationship, we must be pure and holy, because God is pure and holy.

And that brings us to the theme for this afternoon's sermon:

Live pure lives in the Covenant of Grace.

1.  Be pure as God's children.

2.  Be pure as God's Temple.

 

1.  Be pure as God's children.

The Ten Commandments are also called the "Ten Words of God's Covenant."  In the introductory words to the 10 Commandments in Deuteronomy 5, Moses said, "The LORD our God made a covenant with us at Horeb.  The LORD did not make this covenant with our fathers, but with us, those who are here today, all of us who are alive.  The LORD talked with you face to face on the mountain from the midst of the fire."  (Deut. 5:2-4)  God Himself explains elsewhere what it means to live in a covenant with Him when He declared, "I am your God, and you shall be my people."

Now we know that God is pure and holy.  And so in order to live with God and have fellowship with Him, we also need to be pure and holy.  God made that very clear to the people of Israel just before He gave the 10 Commandments.    In Exodus 19:6 the LORD said concerning Israel, "And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priest and a holy nation."  Then in preparation to hear God speaking the 10 Commandments, the people of Israel were told to make themselves clean and pure.  As a symbol of their inward purity, they had to wash their clothes.  And in Exodus 19:15 the people of Israel were told, "Be ready for the third day; do not come near your wives."

The men and women of Israel were to be pure and holy when they stood before the Lord.  Although this being pure and holy included the abstinence of sexual activity, this does not make marital relations wrong or unclean in themselves.  Rather, it set the people of Israel apart from the nations around them. 

The religions of the nations around Israel were not pure and holy.  They were basically fertility cults.  Fertility cults see life through the eyes of procreation and sexual activity.  In these religions, cult prostitutes and deviant behavior formed a central part to their worship.  You might have noticed that a lot of so-called primitive art and carvings is very rude, and a lot of their dances were as well.  Much of their religion centred around wickedness.  And so these religions encouraged people to become even more depraved.  As Romans 1 puts it, they were given over to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonour their bodies among themselves.

The people of Israel were taught to detest the abominable practices of the heathens around them.  After describing what these wicked things were in Leviticus 18, the LORD said in verse 24,25, "Do not defile yourselves with any of these things; for by all these the nations are defiled, which I am casting out before you.  For the land is defiled; therefore I visit the punishment of its iniquity upon it, and the land vomits out its inhabitants.

Then in verse 30 of Leviticus 18, the LORD says, "Therefore you shall keep My ordinance, so that you do not commit any of these abominable customs which were committed before you, and that you do not defile yourselves by them: I am the LORD your God."

And that is the point.  You are not to follow the wicked perversions of the world because "I am the LORD your God."  He's got His claim on us.  He wants us, body and soul.  At Mount Sinai, the men and women of Israel had to wash their clothes and prepare themselves for three days so that they would be ceremonially clean and pure as God's children.  And even then, their sin was still before the Lord.  And so they were not allowed to come close to God.  They could not touch the mountain, not even at its base.  For God is a holy God, and so the people of Israel could not come too close to Him in their unclean state.

But God did plan to live with His people Israel.  He established His covenant with them, saying "I will be your God and you shall be my people."  He declared to then, "You shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation."  And then to teach them how to be pure as His covenant children, God gave them many detailed laws about how to keep their bodies pure. 

And another thing God specifically told His covenant children was this:  You shall not commit adultery.  In other words, there is to be complete faithfulness in marriage.  The covenant of marriage must reflect the covenant of grace.  A husband is to be faithful to his wife and a wife to her husband, just as God is faithful to His children and His children must be faithful towards Him.

That was the Old Testament.  But what about today?  Is the call to be pure as God's children just as strong as it was in times past?  No, it is not just as strong:  It is stronger!  Because in Christ, we have been brought even closer to Holy God.  In Christ the wall of sin that separated us from our Covenant God has been broken down.  With Christ, we are seated in the heavenly places (Eph. 2:6.).  We are a new creation in Christ, reflecting the holiness and righteousness of God.  And therefore we must be "imitators of God" (Ephesians 5:1).  God did not redeem us to be enslaved to a perverted lifestyle.  He did not wash us and clothe us in white robes just so that we could let them be dirty again by the filth of this world.  As Paul wrote in Ephesians 5:8, "For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.  Walk as children of light."

 

2. Be pure as God's Temple.

We need to live pure lives in the covenant of grace.  We need to be pure because we are God's children.  And because God owns us body and soul, all sin against the seventh commandment is first of all sin against God.

But the Catechism goes deeper than that.  Our union with God through Christ is not just a spiritual thing.  1 Corinthians 6:19 says, "Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God?"

Your body is God's temple.  There was a temple in the Old Testament, the place where God chose to dwell in the midst of His people Israel.  Everything connected to that temple had to be set apart, holy, consecrated to the Lord.  And in the Most Holy Place, where the LORD Himself dwelt between the Cherubim, the High Priest could only enter once a year.  The Temple of the LORD was the most holy place in the whole world.  And now that temple is you.  The Greek word here used for Temple makes it clear that you are that holy place where God himself dwells.  Indeed, God's Holy Spirit lives in you.  He has made His home in you. 

The body of each one of you is God's holy temple, the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit.  And that means that your body is sacred.  Really, really sacred.  And if God was particular about people being clean and pure when they entered His Temple in the Old Testament, do you think that He would be any less particular about His dwelling place today?  Your body today is equivalent to that Most Holy Place in the Temple of Jerusalem.  No wonder then that God wants your body to be pure, to be clean, to be holy.  God's temple is holy and precious.  Guard it well from being defiled or destroyed.

And that has to be your primary reason for keeping your body pure.  You do not live chaste and disciplined lives to save your body for your future husband or wife in the first place.  And if you are married, you do not remain pure just because your body belongs to your wife or husband.  Nor do you want to be pure just because you are revolted by the gross things that go on around you.  In the first place you keep your bodies pure because your body belongs to God, because God makes His home in your body.  It is important to keep this focus.  For the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately corrupt.  In our hearts we can often justify sexual sins because "I could not help it" or "my husband, my wife does not give me what I need" or "I know we will get married soon anyway, so it does not really matter too much."  Or, "Hey, that lady is easy on the eyes.  I'm not hurting anyone by taking a second look!"  But when we remember that we belong to God and that He has made His home in our bodies, that is a powerful motivation to keep our hearts, minds and bodies pure.

But for most of us, that is not easy.  It is an uphill battle.  As in the days of Paul, the message of the world is a different one.  From dress to movies to magazines to conversations at work to the music you have on in the car, the world is screaming at you: "Forget that chastity thing and start living!  Get yours when you have the chance!"

Some of you might remember that song from the 70's,  "I believe in miracles" -

         Only yesterday I was on my own


         Just another day later my mind was blown


         You sexy thing come into my life


         Forever and a day it feels so right

(from Hot Chocolate, "I believe in miracles.")  That's the message that is being pushed down our throats.  If you've got the chance and it feels so right, do it and just have fun.  And when you are young, or not so young, and those hormones are racing, it is so very easy to be sucked in to the devil's lie.

But it is a lie.  The truth is this:

Whoever commits adultery with a woman lacks understanding. 

He who does so destroys his own soul.

Wounds and dishonour he will get,

And his reproach will not be wiped away.

(From the book of Proverbs, chapter 6:32,33.) 

 

"He who does so destroys his own soul."  That's how serious sin against the 7th commandment is. 

Or how about Proverbs 9:17,18 -

Stolen water is sweet,

and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.

But he does not know that the dead are there,

That her guests are in the depths of hell.

Ephesians 5 says the same thing, but in a more direct way:  "For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.  Let no one deceive you with empty words. ...  Therefore do not be partakers with them."

Do not be partakers with them. 

Most of us are having our senses assaulted and even dulled almost daily through music, newspapers, advertisements, the internet, television and so forth.  What you know is true from God's Word is so very different to what is promoted as a good life.  Do not be partakers with them.  That has to be an active choice.  I fear that we lay ourselves open to the sin of not keeping our bodies pure too often.  Sins against the seventh commandment do not normally just "happen".  They normally happen when there is a chink in our armour.  When we allow ourselves to flirt with the dirt of this world just a little bit.  "Do not be partakers with them."  As in all wars, we need to have a strategy to avoid becoming partakers with the sinful talk and walk of the world.

Desperate wars call for desperate measures.  This is the strategy that we need.  Matthew 5:27-30.  "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.  And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you . . ."

Pluck out your eye.  Cut off your hand.  Detest all unchastity from the heart, and don't get near it. 

To get you started, here are a few things to consider.  What is the radio station you listen to in the car?  What are the words of those songs, and what do those breakfast show hosts laugh about?  It might feel like cutting off a hand and losing a friend, but if you need to switch stations to keep your mind pure and holy, then do it!  The same, of course, applies to television programs.  Perhaps you need to hang a Bible text above your television, or stick it to the back of your remote.  Psalm 101:3, "I will set nothing wicked before my eyes." 

But a very powerful tool in the hand of Satan today is the internet.  With the internet's websites and social sites and chat groups, there is suddenly so much more opportunity to flirt with sin.  What is your strategy to ensure that you do not look or interact with anything that might entice you to unchastity?  How do you monitor the internet to ensure that your husband, wife, or children are not led into temptation?  What do you do to limit the chance of stumbling across something that is wicked in the eyes of God?  There are things you can do to protect your family.  Keeping your computer and internet access in the living room and out of the bedroom is the first step.  But there are also many excellent filter programs such as "Safe-eyes", "Covenant eyes", or the "K9" program that block out all those things that Christians should not see.  If you are prepared to invest in an anti-virus program to keep viruses and worms out of your computer, why not also invest in a program to keep even more serious viruses and worms out of the hearts and souls of yourself and your family?  Remember, you do not have to feel tempted, nor do you have to be suspicious of anyone in your family to take away the possibility of Satan using the internet to cause you to sin.

"Since we, body and soul, are temples of the Holy Spirit, it is God's will that we keep ourselves pure and holy."  It is because our body belongs to God.  It is because our body is God's temple.  It is because we have been redeemed and all the filth of this world has been washed from us by the blood of Christ.  It is because we live in a covenant of grace with Holy God.  It is because of these reasons that we must live chaste and disciplined lives.

For many of us, sin against the seventh commandment is one of the most alluring.  It is also one of the most deadly.  1 Corinthians 6:18 rightly points out, "Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body."  Yes, whoever commits adultery with a woman lacks understanding. He destroys his own soul.

Is there then forgiveness for sin against the seventh commandment?  Yes there is.  Of course there is!  In Christ, there is full and complete forgiveness.  For God made Jesus Christ, who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."  (2 Cor. 5:21.)  In Christ you have received the righteousness and holiness of God.  And when you come to God in Christ, asking for forgiveness, those sins against the 7th commandment will be washed away.  They will be removed as far as east is from west, to be remembered no more.  And God will take away those dirty and stained clothes, and He will clothe you in white.  And you will be a part of that great multitude spoken of in Revelation 7, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and crying out "Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!"  And then the promise of Revelation 21:6,7 will be yours as well:  "I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts.  He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be my son."  Then you will join the throngs, being part of the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.  And then all that sexual sin will be shut out and Satan will no longer be around to tempt us with it.  But we will live in perfect communion with God, in complete righteousness and holiness.  Yes, may the Marriage feast of the Lamb come soon!  Amen.

 




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Stephen 't Hart, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 2009, Rev. Stephen 't Hart

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