Exodus 20:14

Sermon preached on June 1, 2008 by Laurence W. Veinott. © Copyright 2008. All rights reserved. Other sermons can be found at http://www.cantonnewlife.org/.

Yikes! The seventh commandment. The one about sex. Someone actually suggested to me that I leave this commandment out—that I not preach on it. That would be good wouldn't it? I could call it, "A Sermon Series on Nine of the Ten Commandments". That wouldn't work.

But sex can be a difficult and embarrassing subject. When I attended Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia there was a guy in my class whose father had written a book. I forget the exact title but it was something like, "
Sex and the Bible". Now seminary students tend to be a pretty tame bunch but I remember being at the seminary bookstore and someone pointed out that book to me and then pointed to him and said,

"His father wrote that book."

I said, "You're kidding." I don't know if guys ribbed him about it directly or not, but there was a bit of eye-brow raising behind his back. It wasn't because the book wasn't good or anything like that. In fact, it might have been quite good. I don't know. I never read it. I mean, I wouldn't read a book with the word, 'sex' in its title, would I?

Throughout much church history sex has been much maligned. The church father
Tertullian, who lived from 160 A.D. to 225 seemed to have little regard for women. Although he got married, in De Cultu Feminarum,' section I.I, part 2, he wrote about women,

"Do you not know that you are Eve?… You are the gateway of the devil; you are the one who unseals the curse of that tree,"

He (the following are all quoted from Philip Ryken, Written in Stone, p. 151)

"regarded the extinction of the human race as preferable to procreation."

The church father Ambrose said that,

"married couples ought to be ashamed of their sexuality."

The great Augustine,

"was willing to admit that intercourse might be lawful but taught that sexual passion was always a sin."

For quite a while it was downhill from there. As time went on priests were forbidden to marry. After awhile the Roman Catholic church taught that sex was merely utilitarian—that it was only for procreation. Philip Ryken writes, (p. 151)

"Many priests counseled couples to abstain from sex altogether. The Catholic church gradually began to prohibit sex on certain holy days, so that by the time of Martin Luther, the list had grown to 183 days a year!"

We can laugh at that but one of the books I consulted for this sermon suggested that many Christians today are more prudish than the Bible. I believe he's right. Probably the most neglected book of the Bible is the Song of Songs. How many sermons have you heard on it? Have many times have you heard portions of it read publicly? Some passages would be embarrassing for many of us. We're more prudish than the Bible, more prudish than we should be. What should our attitude be about sex in marriage? Does our text have implications for that?

Our commandment says,

"You shall not commit adultery."

Let's begin by considering the positive side of this commandment.

The truth that should be stressed is that

marriage and the love between husband and wife (including romantic love) is one of the greatest gifts that God has given to mankind and the seventh commandment seeks to protect and preserve that gift.

The romantic love that God gives to couples within (and before) marriage is absolutely wonderful. There's nothing like it. In Proverbs 30:18-19 Solomon wrote,

"There are three things
that are too amazing for me,
four that I do not understand:
the way of an eagle in the sky,
the way of a snake on a rock,
the way of a ship on the high seas,
and the way of a man with a maiden."

Solomon couldn't understand the way of a man with a maiden. Two young people courting and falling in love—can you understand it? It's a mysterious and wonderful gift from God.

Consider how the Holy Spirit extols romantic love in Song of Songs 1:2-4. We read,

"Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth—
for your love is more delightful than wine.
Pleasing is the fragrance of your perfumes;
your name is like perfume poured out.
No wonder the maidens love you!
Take me away with you—let us hurry!
Let the king bring me into his chambers."

And in the Song of Songs 1:12-16 we read,

"While the king was at his table,
my perfume spread its fragrance.
My lover is to me a sachet of myrrh
resting between my breasts.
My lover is to me a cluster
of henna blossoms
from the vineyards of En Gedi.
How beautiful you are, my darling!
Oh, how beautiful!
Your eyes are doves.
How handsome you are, my lover!
Oh, how charming!
And our bed is verdant."

Or consider how the Bible urges married people to find satisfaction each other. In Proverbs 5:18-19 we read,

"May your fountain be blessed,
and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.
A loving doe, a graceful deer—
may her breasts satisfy you always,
may you ever be captivated by her love."

This great love, this great gift from God, needs to be protected. That's what the seventh commandment is all about. The reason it needs to be protected is because it is so valuable, so wonderful, so helpful to men and women.

Let's consider some of the ways.

First of all,

marital fidelity is to be protected because it

it was given to man (even before the fall into sin) to be a blessing to him.

Genesis 2 tells us that God saw that it was not good for Adam to be alone. He needed a suitable helper. Thus God created Eve and brought her to him. What we should understand is that she was brought to him as a wife. It was in the role of wife that she was to help Adam exercise dominion over God's creation and to help him love and serve God better. That is the woman's great purpose in marriage. Ephesians 5 tells us of the husband's great purpose—to love their wives, (verses 25-27)

"just as Christ loved the church
and gave himself up for her to make her holy,
cleansing her by the washing
with water through the word,
and to present her to himself as a radiant church,
without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish,
but holy and blameless."

Marriage is foundational. If men and women are going to live correctly, if men and women are going to serve God correctly, if men and women are going to exercise dominion over the earth correctly—then marriage must be protected. It is in marriage that men and women receive one of the greatest blessings from God—the ability to help and support one another.

Now don't misunderstand me. I'm not saying everyone needs to get married. God has given some, like the apostle Paul, a gift, whereby they don't need to get married. But nevertheless—that is rare and the fact is that God has intended that it is in marriage that men and women are to be a blessing to each other—spiritually, emotionally, physically.

Perhaps the best way to see the good that we are supposed to do and be to one another in marriage is to consider the damage that couples can do to each other. This is easier to see. Consider
Eve for example. All by herself she was responsible for leading Adam into sin. Single-handedly she put Adam into hell (it seems). She didn't need anyone else's help to do that.

Or consider
Jezebel and how she led Ahab to destruction. Ahab was upset and depressed because Naboth wouldn't sell him a vineyard. So she arranged to have Naboth murdered. What destruction she brought upon Ahab. His punishment was that his whole family line would be cut off. Not one of his descendants would escape.

Or think of
Job's wife. She urged Job to curse God and die. If Job had listened to her Satan would have been proved right—Job would have cursed God to His face.

Or think of
Ananias and Sapphira. They agreed to lie to the Holy Spirit. Both of them were struck down because of their lie.

The great damage that a spouse can do. What horrible evil they can influence to. Why is that? It's because God has put them in the best place to be a great influence on their spouse. As strange as it may seem—these examples, showing the extreme evil influence that a spouse can be—shows the extreme good influence that God intended spouses to be to each other. The potential for good that a married couple can be to each other is so great that it's almost incalculable.

Unlike Eve, who put Adam into hell (it seems), a Christian wife can save her husband from hell and put him in heaven. In 1 Peter 3:1-2 Peter says to Christian wives,

"Wives, in the same way
be submissive to your husbands so that,
if any of them do not believe the word,
they may be won over without words
by the behavior of their wives,
when they see
the purity and reverence of your lives."

The apostle Paul speaks of this as well in 1 Corinthians 7:16 where he wrote,

"How do you know, wife,
whether you will save your husband?
Or, how do you know, husband,
whether you will save your wife?"

A good Christian spouse can save a partner from hell.

Husbands and wives, be a blessing to each other. Marriage fidelity should be protected so that spouses can truly influence each other for extreme good, as God intended. They can be a great blessing to each other—spiritually, emotionally, physically.

The second reason that marital fidelity is to be protected is because

there is a connection between sexual purity and spirituality.

Sexual sin dishonors our bodies. Because our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit sexual sin adversely affects our spirituality. In 1 Corinthians 6:18-20 the apostle Paul wrote,

"Flee from sexual immorality.
All other sins a man commits
are outside his body,
but he who sins sexually
sins against his own body.
Do you not know that your body
is a temple of the Holy Spirit,
who is in you,
whom you have received from God?
You are not your own;
you were bought at a price.
Therefore honor God with your body."

Our bodies belong to God as the temple of the Holy Spirit. Philip Ryken writes, (p. 157)

"This means that whatever we do with our bodies is directly related to our fellowship with the triune God. In addition to damaging ourselves and others, committing adultery dishonors the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit."

1 Corinthians 6:13 reads,

"The body is not meant for sexual immorality,
but for the Lord,
and the Lord for the body."

If you indulge in sexual sin you greatly damage your spirituality.

The third reason that fidelity in marriage should be protected is because

the marriage relationship is designed to show to the world the relationship between Christ and the church.

By living together correctly in your Biblical roles of husband and wife—you show to the world not only the relationship between Christ and the church—but the great sacrificial love that Christ has for the church, and the love that the church has for Christ. We read about this in our Responsive Reading in Ephesians 5:22-33.

"Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.
For the husband is the head of the wife
as Christ is the head of the church, his body,
of which he is the Savior.
Now as the church submits to Christ,
so also wives should submit
to their husbands in everything.
Husbands, love your wives,
just as Christ loved the church
and gave himself up for her
to make her holy,
cleansing her by the washing
with water through the word,
and to present her to himself as a radiant church,
without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish,
but holy and blameless.
In this same way, husbands
ought to love their wives as their own bodies.
He who loves his wife loves himself.
After all, no one ever hated his own body,
but he feeds and cares for it,
just as Christ does the church—
for we are members of his body.
For this reason a man will leave
his father and mother and be united to his wife,
and the two will become one flesh.
This is a profound mystery—
but I am talking about Christ and the church.
However, each one of you also
must love his wife as he loves himself,
and the wife must respect her husband."

The union between a husband and wife illustrates the union that exists between Christ and the church.

There are many aspects of this. Philip
Ryken mentions one. He writes, (p. 156)

"There is something transcendent about our sexuality. In the same way that husbands and wives give themselves to one another—holding nothing back—God gives himself to us and wants us to give ourselves to him. In the Old Testament God often compared his relationship with his people to the romance between a husband and wife."

In some very real ways the relationship between husband and wife in marriage patterns the relationship between Christ and the church. It declares it and teaches it (or should teach it) to the world.

Husbands and wives, don't think that how you behave in marriage is unimportant. Your relationship is a teaching tool that is to reflect the relationship between Christ and the church. Marriage is not only a great institution wherein husband and wife help each other—it's a teaching tool whereby they teach the world about Christ and His love for the church. Teach the world correctly.

Those are some of the reasons that marriage should be protected and what the seventh commandment is all about.

Now let's consider some applications.


You Christians ought to be praying for our country in this regard.

The path that our country is taking, if continued in, is going to lead to the destruction of our country. The dangerous path we are on.

This past week the Supreme Court of California overturned a ban on same-sex marriage. They said that it's a civil rights issue. Some of taken that and run with it saying that people who are against same sex marriage are like the prejudiced and racist people who were against blacks 60's. They're saying that they're like those who didn't want to give women the vote, like those who were opposed to inter-racial marriages etc. etc.

That is not so. Don't buy into it. Same sex marriage is nothing but a fundamental attack on marriage and the family. Same sex marriage is a violation of the seventh commandment. Marriage is between a man and a woman.

Pray for our country. It has started down this very dangerous path. It needs to be recalled from it. Here's why.

Christians, don't buy into the mores of our society. It's constantly telling you that sexual sin is good and right. Society will tell you that if you find someone younger and prettier, that it's okay to leave your wife and move in with her. No. That's the way to death.

Young people, society today accepts people
living together before marriage. It's not longer called 'living in sin'. Indeed, if you call it that, you will get criticized. But living together before marriage is a violation of the seventh commandment.

Today's society will tell you that if you're a virgin that that's something almost perverted. Isn't there a movie out called, 'The Forty Year Old Virgin' – or something like that? I haven't seen it but I have a vague recollection of seeing the preview and my recollection is that it's consider so weird for an unmarried young person to be a virgin. It's not weird. It's call being pure and righteous.

Don't indulge in any sexual sin.

Sexual sin is the way to death.

Proverbs 5:3-5 reads,

"For the lips of an adulteress drip honey,
and her speech is smoother than oil;
but in the end she is bitter as gall,
sharp as a double-edged sword.
Her feet go down to death;
her steps lead straight to the grave."

God wants to protect marriage and he warns us that we must not violate it. Proverbs 6:27

"Can a man scoop fire into his lap
without his clothes being burned?"

Proverbs 7 says about the young man who met an adulteress. We read, (Proverbs 7:21-27)

"With persuasive words she led him astray;
she seduced him with her smooth talk.
All at once he followed her
like an ox going to the slaughter,
like a deer stepping into a noose
till an arrow pierces his liver,
like a bird darting into a snare,
little knowing it will cost him his life.
Now then, my sons, listen to me;
pay attention to what I say.
Do not let your heart turn to her ways
or stray into her paths.
Many are the victims she has brought down;
her slain are a mighty throng.
Her house is a highway to the grave,
leading down to the chambers of death."

It's the way to death—not just physical death—but eternal. In 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 we read,

"Do you not know that the wicked
will not inherit the kingdom of God?
Do not be deceived:
Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters
nor adulterers nor male prostitutes
nor homosexual offenders nor thieves
nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers
nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God."

Secondly, Christians, strive to keep yourself pure. Guard yourselves from sexual sins. Keep yourselves pure.

Proverbs 7:24-26 warns against the adulterous and says,

"Now then, my sons,
listen to me; pay attention to what I say.
Do not let your heart turn to her ways
or stray into her paths.
Many are the victims she has brought down;
her slain are a mighty throng."

So many have fallen here. Guard your eyes. In Job 31:1 righteous Job told us one of the keys to keeping this commandment. He said,

"I made a covenant with my eyes
not to look lustfully at a girl."

Guard your heart. Philip Ryken writes, (p. 154)

"In the case of the seventh commandment, what is forbidden is everything that causes adultery. Most adulterous relationships don't start with sex; they start with inappropriate intimacy. The seventh commandment forbids a married man to flirt with another woman, or a single man to get close to someone else's wife. In order to forestall temptation, a certain social distance needs to be maintained. The commandment also forbids a married woman to seek primary emotional support from some other man, whether at work, at church, or in an Internet chat room. To put things more positively, the seventh commandment requires husbands and wives to nurture their love for one another, emotionally and spiritually as well as sexually."

Guard your thoughts. Don't entertain lustful thoughts. This commandment also regulations your thoughts. In Matthew 5:27-28 Jesus said,

"You have heard that it was said,
'Do not commit adultery.'
But I tell you that anyone
who looks at a woman lustfully
has already committed adultery
with her in his heart."

Lastly, don't look down on people who have sinned sexually.

That's what the Pharisees did. Remember what Jesus said to the chief priests and elders of the people in Matthew 21:31-32?

"I tell you the truth,
the tax collectors and the prostitutes
are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you.
For John came to you to show you
the way of righteousness,
and you did not believe him,
but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did."

But what everyone here today should realize is that

there is hope for people who have sinned sexually.

You'll remember what Jesus said to the woman who was caught in the very act of adultery. After everyone left Jesus said to her, John 8:10f,

"Woman, where are they?
Has no one condemned you?"

"No one, Lord," she answered. He said to her,

"Neither do I condemn you:
go, and sin no more."

David committed adultery and he's in heaven. I've already quoted from 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 where it said that,

Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters
nor adulterers nor male prostitutes
nor homosexual offenders nor thieves…"

would inherit the kingdom of God. But then Paul continued, 1 Corinthians 6:11,

"And that is what some of you were.
But you were washed,
you were sanctified,
you were justified in the name
of the Lord Jesus Christ
and by the Spirit of our God."

There is forgiveness for those who have broken this commandment if they turn from their sin and go to Jesus.

The story of the woman who anointed Jesus' feet also teaches this. The Bible doesn't teach what her sin was but it implies that she was a prostitute or had committed some other sexual sin because it says that she had lived a sinful life. (Luke 7:37f) The Pharisee Simon looked down on her and on Jesus when he saw her crying behind Jesus. He thought that if Jesus was a prophet He would know what kind of woman she was and He wouldn't let her near him—for she was a sinner. But Jesus knew what kind of woman she was and He forgave her much.

If you have sinned sexually, know that there is hope for you. Jesus loves sinners. Go to Him today. Leave your sin and follow Jesus.

Isn't it wonderful that

Jesus has been faithful.

We have all failed. We could be likened to ancient Israel where God likened Israel to an adulterous, forsaking Him and following their lusts.

But there was One who kept faith for us. Jesus was perfect. He came to do the Father's will and He did it perfectly. There was no unfaithfulness or sin in Him. During His life He was faithful for you. On the cross He died for your unfaithfulness.

What a Savior we have in Jesus. He has taken away our filthiness and made us clean. Praise Him, rejoice in Him—live lives of purity for Him.