SBS Sermon Notes

SBS     Sermon Notes     Note 05/05

Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery

1. Introduction

Suppose someone were to ask you this question: "What in your opinion is the worst thing that could happen to your marriage?" I'm sure that most married couples would say: "For my partner to be unfaithful to me - to commit adultery." Yes, unfaithfulness has become today's number one cause for the break-up of marriage. Visit any country, read any newspaper, look at or listen to any programme, and the news is the same - adultery, fornication and a general lowering of moral standards is evident in the lives of millions. It has reached an all-time high and the results are all too evident: broken homes, abandoned children, battered wives, venereal disease and death by suicide. The evidence is everywhere. It is at a time like this that Yahweh's commandments take on special importance. In a world of conflicting moral opinions and standards, they alone point the way.

The 6th Commandment says:
Exodus 20:14 Thou shalt not commit adultery.

Commands and commentaries hanging on this commandment are as follows:
Leviticus 18:20 Moreover thou shalt not lie carnally with thy neighbour's wife, to defile thyself with her.
Proverbs 6:32 But whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul.

2. Physical / Spiritual Adultery

Strange as it may seem the physical act of adultery is merely a reflection of a moral departure from God - of being unfaithful to Him. Idolatry is spiritual adultery. Spiritual adultery is being unfaithful to the Most High, the husband of the church. Spiritual adultery is mixing truth with error. Here is a picture ofspiritual and physical adultery going hand in hand:
Jeremiah 3:6 The LORD said also unto me in the days of Josiah the king, Hast thou seen that which backsliding Israel hath done? she is gone up upon every high mountain and under every green tree, and there hath played the harlot.
7: And I said after she had done all these things, Turn thou unto me. But she returned not. And her treacherous sister Judah saw it.
8: And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also.
9: And it came to pass through the lightness of her whoredom, that she defiled the land, and committed adultery with stones and with stocks.

Jeremiah 5:7 How shall I pardon thee for this? thy children have forsaken me, and sworn by them that are no gods: when I had fed them to the full, they then committed adultery, and assembled themselves by troops in the harlots' houses.
8: They were as fed horses in the morning: every one neighed after his neighbour's wife.
9: Shall I not visit for these things? saith the LORD: and shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this?

Hosea 4:12 My people ask counsel at their stocks, and their staff declareth unto them:
for the spirit of whoredoms hath caused them to err, and they have gone a whoring from under their God.
13: They sacrifice upon the tops of the mountains, and burn incense upon the hills, under oaks and poplars and elms, because the shadow thereof is good: therefore your daughters shall commit whoredom, and your spouses shall commit adultery.

3. Love of the World is Adultery

Strange as this may sound, the inordinate love of the world (the religious customs and moral behaviour of sinners) is classified in the Bible as adultery.
James 4:1 From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?
2: Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.
3: Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.
4: Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

4. The Penalty for Adultery

One can usually judge the seriousness of a sin by the punishment meted out to the offender.
When adultery is examined we find that it is as serious a sin as murder - for the penalty is death!
Leviticus 20:10 And the man that committeth adultery with another man's wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.

In our society the church is not be in a position to physically administer so severe a sentence; but Yahweh is not mocked by man's rebellion; and His law is not violated with impunity. Yahweh has set His mind against blatant sinners and according to His word He will personally punish them.
Malachi 3:5 And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not me, saith the LORD of hosts.
Hebrews 13:4 Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.
Psalm 106:14 But lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tempted God in the desert. 15: And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul.

Those who persistently violate Yahweh's laws begin to die within. This internal death, called here 'leanness of soul' is absolutely certain if pardon, cleansing and restoration are not sought. There is no other remedy no matter what people may say. Consider the example of King David (2 Samuel 11). His act of adultery resulted in enormous tragedy.

5. Prophecies about Adulterers

Regardless of popular opinion the Bible makes it clear that adulterers will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
1 Cor. 6:9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?
Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind.

Revelation 2:20 Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.
21: And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not.
22: Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds.
23: And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.

5. The Answer to Adultery

The only answer to adultery (unfaithfulness) is faithfulness in a lawful marriage. Back-sliding believers, who perhaps have committed physical adultery, should repent and return to their legal partners. Married couples must make every effort to stay true to each other. For make no mistake about it, adulterers spell death to their marriage, to their long-term happiness and also to their future life.

Divorce and remarriage are not the answer to adultery. Indeed the marriage of divorced persons is strictly forbidden in the Scriptures. (Matthew 5:32, Matthew 19:9)

Return to Yahweh

Spiritual adulterers must give up their pagan ways and return to Yahweh, their God.
Jeremiah 3:12 Go and proclaim these words toward the north, and say, Return, thou backsliding Israel, saith the LORD; and I will not cause mine anger to fall upon you: for I am merciful, saith the LORD, and I will not keep anger for ever.
13: Only acknowledge thine iniquity, that thou hast transgressed against the LORD thy God, and hast scattered thy ways to the strangers under every green tree, and ye have not obeyed my voice, saith the LORD.

Hosea 14:4 I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely: for mine anger is turned away from him...

9: Who is wise, and he shall understand these things? prudent, and he shall know them? for the ways of the LORD are right, and the just shall walk in them: but the transgressors shall fall therein.

6. High Moral Standards

Often we read of standards in Scripture which appear to be so high that most people dismiss them as impossible. They don't want to know. They write the Scriptures off as outdated instruction. But these people are wrong. With Yahweh's Spirit the highest moral standards can be reached. Here is one such standard.
Matthew 5:28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

This text is generally levelled at the men folk, to which it obviously applies. But adultery is not a solo act. Women are equally to blame for behaving provocatively or exposing themselves. When they do so, they are equally guilty of adultery as the males who lust after them. Yahweh wants His people to be faithful to Him and to each other. This is the pathway to life. Adultery is the road to death. Consider the good example of Joseph (Genesis 39:7-20).

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Elder: David B Loughran
Stewarton Bible School, Stewarton, Scotland
Placed on Internet May 1996 ... Updated August 1999