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7th Commandment

7th Commandment

July 14, 2024 by Pastor David Hubbard
Passages:Exodus 20:14

Sermon Synopsis

The Ten Commandments are a set of biblical principles relating to
ethics and worship. They play a fundamental role in Judaism,
Christianity, and certain other faiths. Today, we’re going to focus
on the 7th Commandment. In the traditional Judeo-Christian
interpretation, the 7th Commandment states, In Exodus 20:14
“Thou shalt not commit adultery.” This commandment
underscores the importance of fidelity and trust in marital
relationships. It serves as a reminder of the sanctity of the marriage
bond and the moral obligation to remain faithful to one’s spouse.
Exodus 20:14
Thou shalt not commit adultery.
MODERN LOVE; ANCIENT RULES
Before we begin, I want to share some statistics related to the
impact of adultery in relationships:
Statistics:
1. Infidelity is a common occurrence in marriages, with
prevalent estimates for extramarital affairs in the United
States ranging from 20% to 40%12
.
2. Men were more likely than women to engage in infidelity, and
do so more than once. Women were more likely to have
emotional affairs, and with someone their primary partner
knows
1
.
3. Other data finds that 40% of adults who have ever cheated
during a marriage are separated or divorced, while only 17% of
partners who had not cheated are separated or divorced
3
.
4. A 2021 survey reported that a little over 46% of respondents in
a monogamous relationship said they had affairs
4
.
Sandra and Philip are falling in love. Sandra is 26; Philip is 28.
They’re both single, and they met at work. They felt attracted to
each other right away. By the time they encountered each other,
both had already experienced intimacy, yet they wouldn’t classify
themselves as promiscuous. Philip and Sandra don’t believe in
sleeping around with just anybody. They both believe you shouldn’t
go to bed with someone unless you’re in love.
They’ve both been in love before, and now they’re in love again.
They don’t feel ready to make a permanent commitment like
marriage—Sandra’s parents went through a nasty divorce, and she
doesn’t want to be tied down until she’s sure she’s got the right
man—but both she and Philip agree that they’re serious enough to
move in together. If it works out, who knows? Eventually they
might get married. In the meantime, they plan to enjoy their love
one day at a time.
Amber and Jeremy are falling in love. Amber is a senior in High
School, and Jeremy is in his first year at the local community
college. They met at a restaurant where Amber liked to hang out
with her friends. Jeremy worked there three nights a week, waiting
on tables. Sometimes Jeremy would serve Amber and her friends,
and when he wasn’t too busy, he’d hang around their table and joke
around. One Friday night, he told Amber that he had Saturday night
off, and he wondered if she’d like to go see a movie with him. That
sounded good to her, and they had a great time. Now they’re falling
in love.
There’s just one problem. Amber grew up in a family that takes
faith very seriously, but not Jeremy. He has little interest in going to
church, and he has no strong beliefs. When Amber’s parents ask
why she’s dating someone who’s not a committed Christian, she
replies,
“We’re just dating. It’s not like we’re getting married or
something. And besides, even if we would get married, I think that
for a marriage to be happy, companionship is more important than
having the same religion.”
Amber still believes most of what her parents and her brother
believe—she believes that God exists and that Jesus is his Son—but
she’s not about to let her family’s Christianity ruin her love life or
keep her from happiness. Amber loves Jeremy. He’s good-looking,
he’s smart, he’s funny—and Amber can’t imagine meeting
someone who’s more right for her.
Mark and Julie are falling in love. Mark is in his late thirties. He’s
divorced, with two kids that he sees every other weekend. He met
Julie at a ball game. He was there to watch his kids play, and Julie
was there to watch hers. Julie is married, but her husband wasn’t
with her that night. He was too busy with his work, as it seemed he
always was. Somehow Mark and Julie got to talking while they were
watching the game, and they hit it off right away. After seeing each
other at a few more games, Mark and Julie started planning how
they could spend more time together with just the two of them.
They’re falling in love, but they’re uneasy about it. Mark is
divorced, but he doesn’t really believe in divorce, and he’s never
thought much of a man who would steal someone else’s wife and
break up their marriage. But how can he let go of Julie? She makes
him feel so alive.
Julie’s misgivings are even more serious than Mark’s. She’s in love
with Mark, but she also cares about her family. She adores her three
kids, and she also has at least some feeling left for her husband.
Still, no matter how much Julie cares about her family, she’s never
felt about anyone the way she feels about Mark. How can she
possibly stop seeing him? Doesn’t she have a right to be happy?
Falling in love is mysterious. It can happen in a variety of places in a
variety of ways, but no matter how it happens, once you fall in love,
it can feel like the most important thing in the world. Nothing can
stand in the way. It seems your only choice is to do whatever you
think love is telling you to do.
Sandra and Philip are falling in love, so they’re living together.
They can’t let old-fashioned ideas about marriage get in the way of
love. Amber and Jeremy are falling in love, so they keep their
relationship going. They can’t let the fact that they have different
religious beliefs get in the way of love. Mark and Julie are falling in
love, so they carry on an affair that threatens to break up Julie’s
marriage. They can’t let moral qualms about adultery get in the way
of love.
What should we make of all this? Maybe you’re falling in love with
someone. Maybe you’re in a situation like one of those I’ve
described, and you’re wondering where to go from here. We could
look at it from a number of angles, but I invite you to focus with me
on one simple question: What does God say?
Honoring Marriage
God created us male and female, so it’s fair to say that falling in
love is his invention. The question is, what does he say about how
we should handle this mysterious invention of his, this powerful
attraction between male and female? What does God say about
unmarried couples living together? What does God say about falling
in love with someone without a living faith? What does God say
about leaving your spouse to be with someone who makes you
happier? God says in the Bible in Hebrews 13:4,
“Marriage is
honorable in all”. That’s the most basic thing to keep in mind when
it comes to falling in love.
Why is marriage so important? In God’s plan, when marriage
flourishes, so do men and women and children and the entire
society. We can’t make light of marriage or pretend it doesn’t
matter. There’s too much at stake.
In schools, the workplace, and the military, there’s concern about
sexual harassment, and there are efforts to define sexual consent.
Now, I agree that we need a good definition of consent, but we need
a definition that’s a lot older and a lot better than any modern list
of rules. You have legitimate, God-approved consent to sexual
intimacy only if both of you have said,
“For better, for worse, for
richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, as long as we both shall
live.” Marriage is the only sex policy that works. Any other
approach means trouble.
Engaging in casual intimacy can be seen as a form of disrespect
towards the sanctity of marriage, but it’s not the only way. What
about couples who fall in love and live together without getting
married? They say it’s okay as long as you love each other and
you’re both willing. But what does God say? He says,
“Marriage
should be honored by all.” Unmarried couples living together
dishonor marriage.
Why is it that so many people think that “living together” is a good
idea? Some couples live together because they think marriage
doesn’t mean much. “Who needs a piece of paper or a wedding
ring? We love each other. That’s all that matters.”
But not all who live together feel that way. Some see marriage as a
serious commitment, and they don’t want to make promises they
can’t keep. They don’t want their marriage to fall apart like so
many others they know, so living together makes sense to them.
They can enjoy each other for the time being, and they can also use
it as an experiment to find out if they’re compatible. If it works out,
they can always get married later. If it doesn’t work out—well, no
harm done.
The irony of this is that, according to every study that’s ever been
done, people who live together before marriage are much more
likely to get divorced than those who don’t live together first. And
besides, it’s not true that when people live together and then go
their separate ways, there’s no harm done. The Bible teaches that
when two people are physically joined, they become one flesh. You
become vulnerable to each other, and your lives become
intertwined with each other. If you then split up and go your
separate ways, you lose part of yourself.
And what about children? Millions of children are born to
cohabiting partners. What about them? Kids whose parents are
living in a disposable relationship don’t have much security. Is
there anything they can really count on?
Also, a disproportionate amount of child abuse is at the hands of
cohabitating partners, and the kids most likely to join gangs are
those whose parents don’t bother getting married. When marriage
crumbles, so does society. Just look around.
God says,
“Marriage is honorable in all.” When you decide that you
know better than God, that it’s okay to live together without being
married, you betray yourself, you betray the person you love, you
betray your children and your society, and you betray the God who
created you for something better. To really honor marriage, you
must seek to remain pure before marriage and faithful within
marriage. The Bible says in Hebrews 13:4 “Marriage is honorable in
all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God
will judge.” So on top of all the other trouble that comes with
dishonoring marriage, you face the judgment of God.
Unequal Yoke
Let’s look now at decisions on whom to date and whom to marry. A
girl may think it’s okay to fall in love with a boy even though she
claims to be a Christian, and he’s not interested. But what does God
say? The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 6:14,
“Be ye not unequally
yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath
righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath
light with darkness?” 1 Corinthians 7:39 says “She is at liberty to
be married to whom she will; only in the Lord.” He says that a
Christian woman is “free to marry anyone she chooses, but he must
belong to the Lord”.
In Malachi chapter 2, the Bible says that some of God’s people
broke faith and did something detestable. What had they done?
They had married persons who worshiped other gods, who didn’t
have a commitment to the one true God. This breaking of faith was
so serious that the prophet Malachi said,
“May the Lord cut off
from his people those who choose such marriages, even if they try
to keep being religious by bringing offerings to God.”
God prohibits marriage outside the faith, and that means you
shouldn’t even be dating outside the faith. After all, if you can’t say
no to the offer of a date with a non-Christian, how are you going to
break it off once you’re deeply in love? God wants you to be one in
body and also one in spirit with the person you marry. If you serve
Jesus, how can you ever be one in spirit with someone who ignores
Jesus? It’s a question of loyalty.
If you claim to be a Christian, but you marry a person from another
religion, or you marry a person who has a church background but
whose faith means very little, you’re taking a giant step away from
Jesus Christ. You may think you’ll win the person over to Christ, but
far more often, it works the other way. God becomes less and less
important to you. You’re under constant pressure to put the will of
your husband or wife ahead of God’s will, and the fact that you
married that person in the first place is proof that when push comes
to shove, Jesus does not come first in your life.
And there’s more. When you marry outside the faith, you’re risking
not only your own soul but also the souls of any children you might
have. What’s going to happen to your kids? You can try to show
them God’s way, but your spouse lives another way. You may be
tempted to resent your spouse for jeopardizing the children’s souls.
But you’ve got nobody but yourself to blame. You’re the one who
knew the way of Christ but chose someone who didn’t share your
convictions. You’re the one who chose to risk the souls of your
children for the sake of your own happiness. If you’re a Christian,
God calls you to marry someone who makes your commitment to
Christ stronger instead of weaker, and who has the kind of faith
you’d like your children to have.
Adultery
Let’s move on to still another aspect of falling in love. What if
you’re married to one person, but you’re in love with another? You
can’t imagine how you can be happy unless you leave your spouse
for this other person. That’s how it feels to you, but what does God
say?
In Malachi 2, the Bible talks to a number of divorced people who are
upset because God won’t bless them.
You flood the Lord’s altar with tears. You weep and wail because he
no longer pays attention to your offerings… You ask,
“Why?” It is
because the Lord is acting as the witness between you and the wife
of your youth, because you have broken faith with her, though she
is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant.
Has not the Lord made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his.
And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard
yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your
youth.
“I hate divorce,
” says the Lord God… (2:13-16).
When you’re madly in love with someone who excites you more
than the person you married, you might wonder,
“How can it be
wrong when it feels so right?” But the real question is,
“How can it
be right when God says it’s so wrong?”
I know, some people find themselves in situations where separation
and divorce are forced upon them, but right now I’m talking to
those who have decided to break their promises just because the
grass looks greener on the other side of the fence. For God’s sake,
for your spouse’s sake, for your children’s sake, honor your
marriage. Don’t break faith.
It seems almost everybody these days is trying to make kids feel
better about divorce, right down to children’s television. A little
bird lives with mommy bird in one part of the forest, while daddy
bird lives in another part of the forest. The little bird sings,
“Over
there is daddy’s tree, and here is mommy’s tree. They don’t live
together, but they both love me.”
Adults expect kids to adapt themselves to cope with divorce, but
the adults refuse to adapt themselves to prevent divorce. Grownups
stop loving each other, and then wonder why their kids are worried
their parents will stop loving them. Is it fair to expect
four-year-olds and fourteen-year-olds to be more mature and
flexible than forty-year-olds? We should do all we can to support
children of divorce and reassure them of their parents’ love, but if
you want to help children the most, don’t get divorced in the first
place.
Following God’s Plan
We can’t dishonor marriage and then say it’s okay because we live
in changing times. No change can improve on God’s plan of two
people committed to each other for life and committed to him, the
Lord of life.
When you’re single, keep yourself pure, and when you’re married,
give yourself fully and joyfully to your spouse. Enjoy the miracle
that happens every time two people give each other the gift of
themselves, when you promise to love each other and walk with
each other and be one with each other no matter what. Let your
marriage serve as a picture of the amazing love between Jesus and
his church.
The Lord is faithful, and he expects his people to be faithful. God
keeps his promises, and he expects his people to keep theirs. He
says,
““Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled: but
whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.”
Seek to obey God and shun evil. If you’re not already in a live-in
relationship, don’t start. If you’re not dating outside the faith,
don’t start. If you’re not having an affair or considering divorce,
make sure you never do. But what if you’ve already blown it, and
you’re getting this message too late? Well, in one sense it’s never
too late. God is not only the Creator who shows us what is right, but
he’s also the Savior who can forgive us and change us when we’re
wrong.
This can happen only when Jesus’ blood washes away your sins and
his Holy Spirit renews your life. So stop pretending you’re your own
boss and bow before God. Stop pretending that the choices you’ve
made are okay. Admit your sin, ask God’s forgiveness for Jesus’
sake, and then start obeying God from this point on.
If you’ve been living with someone, confess your sin to God. Then
either get married or else end the relationship. Don’t keep living in
sin.
If you’re dating a non-Christian, break it off before the relationship
goes any further. It’s hard, but you have to do it. You can’t commit
your life to someone with different loyalties.
If you’ve already married such a person, the situation is different.
You’ve made your promises. You can’t erase the past. Abandoning
your husband or wife now would only make matters worse. Seek
God’s forgiveness for your past choice, and then pray for his help.
Pray that God in his mercy will yet win your spouse and children,
and dedicate yourself to becoming an example of love and godliness
that may help win them to Christ.
If you’re having an affair, end it now. Then seek God’s forgiveness
and the forgiveness of your husband or wife.
If you’ve already divorced your husband or wife to marry someone
else, ask God to forgive you and cleanse you. Then confess to the
person you abandoned that you were wrong. You’re bound to
someone else now; you can’t undo the damage to all the people you
hurt. But at least you can admit that you did wrong and seek their
forgiveness.
Closing
To sum it all up, God says we must obey his will for marriage, and if
we fail to obey, we must repent, ask forgiveness from the Lord and
from others, and honor God’s will for marriage from this point on.
As we conclude our discussion on the 7th commandment,
“Thou
shalt not commit adultery,
” let’s reflect on the profound wisdom it
imparts to us.
This commandment, at its core, is about faithfulness, trust, and
respect. It’s not just about marital fidelity, but also about the
commitment we make to our relationships, the promises we make
to each other, and the respect we show towards the sanctity of these
bonds.
It teaches us to value and honor our commitments, not just in
marriage, but in all aspects of life. It reminds us that our actions
have consequences, and that breaking trust can lead to pain and
suffering.
As we go forward, let’s carry the essence of this commandment in
our hearts. Let’s strive to be faithful in our relationships,
trustworthy in our promises, and respectful of the commitments
others make to us.
Remember, the strength of our character is tested not when things
are easy, but when they are hard. It’s easy to be faithful when no
one is watching, but the true test of faithfulness comes when we are
faced with temptations.
Let’s pray for the strength to resist temptation, the wisdom to
understand the consequences of our actions, and the courage to
uphold our commitments even when it’s difficult.
May God guide us and give us the strength to live according to His
commandments. Let’s continue to learn, grow, and support each
other in our spiritual journey.

Exodus 20:14

14 “You shall not commit adultery.

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