“You shall not commit adultery.” Exodus 20:14
In the Hebrew language, God’s seventh word to His people is simply two words, but as we unpack it, we discover that obedience to the heart of this commandment is rarely a simple endeavor. We will each pull out of our study this week different points that speak to our individual stories and challenge how we think about and act to faithfully preserve the covenant of marriage whether currently married or single.
Pause to Read or Listen
And God spoke all these words, saying, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. “You shall have no other gods before me. “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain. “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you. “You shall not murder. “You shall not commit adultery. “You shall not steal. “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. “You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor's.”
What is one thing that has stood out to you so far in this week’s chapter and/or commandment?
While our world has generally discarded absolute truth and biblical standards for living, it’s interesting to note that this commandment, like others that form the basis for laws governing how we relate to people, is still generally accepted. One online resource notes that “adultery is viewed by many jurisdictions as offensive to public morals, being a mistreatment of the marriage relationship.” As defined by modern dictionaries, adultery is “voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and a person who is not his or her spouse.”
Yes, this is the definition the pharisees pre-Jesus would have likely used when summing up the seventh commandment, though in more archaic language, but Jesus took it further, saying in the Sermon on the Mount:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”Matthew 5:27-28
Jesus goes on to mention the eye that sees and the hand that acts (5:29-30), returning to the theme in 6:22-23:
“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!”
How do our eyes relate to this commandment concerning purity?
Many in our world today, including in religious circles, focus merely on outcomes and miss that what we fix our gazes upon will guide our thoughts, our emotions, and then our actions. The cultural norms include lingering gazes upon what belongs to another with an appetite of self gratification rather than selfless love.
This commandment asks us to treasure others as God’s image bearers and to put to death the lust of the flesh, which sees people as objects to consume, often through pornography (gratification through sexual images) and promiscuity (glamorization of sex), both without commitment.
Did you catch that? God tells us to put to death every hint of lust in our lives. Obedience is only obedience when it is complete and immediate. He tells us that even entertaining thoughts and daydreams that go against His best for us is sin. The discontent and ingratitude for what He has given us is sin. The linger looks of desire outside the gift of marriage are sin. The words and actions that entice others away and draw us toward what belongs to another is sin. We must not accept even little bits but instead put to death every sinful temptation that the enemy dangles in front of us. In Jesus Christ, we can claim full victory over the sin of lust that can lead to adultery.
What practical steps have you taken or would like to put into practice to put to death lust and ultimately protect your marriage and/or the marriage of others?
Dear Lord, Obedience to the seventh commandment seems easily obeyed until we get to the heart of Your words. Honoring marriage is a hard task in a world of temptation, but through Your Spirit in us, You have empowered us to obey You. Forgive us for the times we have broken this commandment or haven’t valued full obedience to You. Lead us in honoring others, in seeing them as You see them. May we trust in You with all our hearts, not leaning on our own understanding. May we acknowledge You in all our ways, for You promise to make our paths straight. May we not be wise in our own eyes but fear You and turn away from evil. We love You, Lord. — taken in part from Proverbs 3:5-7