This series of blogs has been following the teachings of Jesus. Having covered the top ten teachings according to the frequency with which Christ taught (which can be seen on page 133 of the download ‘What on earth have we done with the teachings of Jesus’). We are now continuing with the additional teachings of which there are 83. The next of these additional teachings is ‘do not commit adultery’.
What is the true definition of ‘adultery’?
In the Old Testament – Exodus 20:14 – ‘Do not commit adultery’ in the Strong’s Hebrew 5003: Usually of a man always with the wife of another, but also adultery of women. Was also a word to mean idolatrous worship.
In the New Testament – Mark 10:11 – Jesus said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her.” In the Strong’s Greek 3429: To commit adultery, not only of a married woman but of a married man. From moichos; to commit adultery
Clearly we can be guilty of committing adultery against the Lord by worshipping false idols. But the predominant meaning here is of divorcing one and marrying another. The Lord classed that as adultery. This has to be one of the most emotive subjects. Particularly as the divorce rate in the church is not too dissimilar to the divorce rate outside of the church. That means the church has many within it on their second and third marriages.
What are the repercussions of adultery?
1 Corinthians 6:9 – Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers…
It says adulterers, which according to Jesus – are those that divorce one and marry another, do not inherit the Kingdom of God. It’s for each of us to give this is the most serious of considerations. Take it to the Lord and seek Him on our own individual matters.
But Jesus goes further
But Jesus, the Word of God, goes further, I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart, Matthew 5:28
Even if we are physically drawn to someone and lust after them. Lust in the Strong’s as meaning: To long for, to set your heart upon, lust after, to covet for yourself, then we commit adultery in our heart.
If Jesus gives stern warnings of marrying one, divorcing one, then marrying another. Then it is for us to sit up and take heed. In this age of making all things luscious, is this not a subject that has been swept under the carpet?
Thou shalt not commit adultery
Henry says – The command is here laid down (Matt. 5:27), Thou shalt not commit adultery. This includes a prohibition of all other acts of uncleanness, and the desire of them.
We are here taught, that there is such a thing as heart-adultery, adulterous thoughts and dispositions, which never proceed to the act of adultery or fornication.
Whoever looks on a woman (not only another man’s wife, as some would have it, but any woman), (or woman to men) to lust after them, has committed adultery in his heart, Matt. 5:28. This command forbids not only the acts of fornication and adultery, but, all appetites to them. All lusting after the forbidden object. This is the beginning of the sin, lust conceiving (Jas. 1:15).
Where lust is dwelt upon
Where lust is dwelt upon and approved, and the wanton desire is rolled under the tongue as a sweet morsel. There wants nothing but a convenient opportunity for the sin itself.
All approaches toward them, such as, feeding the eye with the sight of the forbidden fruit. The eye is both the inlet and outlet of a great deal of wickedness of this kind. Joseph’s mistress (Gen. 39:7), Samson (Jdg. 16:1), David, 2 Sam. 11:2. We read that the eyes are full of adultery, that cannot cease from sin, 2 Pet. 2:14.
Make a covenant with our eyes
What need have we, therefore, with holy Job, to make a covenant with our eyes, to make this bargain with them. That they should have the pleasure of beholding the light of the sun and the works of God, provided they would never fasten or dwell upon anything that might occasion impure imaginations or desires. Under this penalty, that if they did, they must pay for it in penitential tears! Job 31:1.
This forbids also the using of any other of our senses to stir up lust. If ensnaring looks are forbidden fruit, much more unclean discourses, and wanton flirtations, the fuel and bellows of this hellish fire.
If looking be lust, they who dress and deck, and expose themselves, with design to be looked at and lusted after (like Jezebel, that painted her face and looked out at the window) are no less guilty. Men sin, but devils tempt to sin.
Such looks and such flirtations are so very dangerous
Such looks and such flirtations are so very dangerous and destructive to the soul, that it is better to lose the eye and the hand that thus offend then to give way to the sin, and perish eternally in it. This lesson is here taught us, Matt. 5:29, 30.
A nature that is corrupt soon objects against the ban on heart-adultery; “It is a hard saying, who can bear it? Flesh and blood cannot but look with pleasure upon a beautiful woman; and it is impossible to abstain from lusting after and lingering with such an object.” Such tricks as these will scarcely be overcome by reason, and therefore must be argued against with the terrors of the Lord.
We must resolve to bring the body into subjection
We must resolve to bring the body into subjection. To live a life of mortification and self-denial. We must keep a constant watch over our own hearts, and to suppress the first rising of lust and corruption there. Avoid the occasions of sin by resisting the beginnings of it. And to decline the company of those who will be a snare to us, though ever so pleasing.
To keep out of harm’s way and to seek unto God for his grace, and depend upon that grace daily. So to walk in the Spirit, that we may not fulfil the lusts of the flesh. This will be as effectual as cutting off a right hand or pulling out a right eye. It is the destruction of the old man.
There are some sins from which we need to be saved with fear
It is not unbecoming a minister of the gospel to preach of hell and damnation. He must do it, for Christ himself did it. We are unfaithful to our trust, if we give not warning of the wrath to come. There are some sins from which we need to be saved with fear, particularly fleshly lusts, which are such natural brute beasts.
When we are tempted to think it hard to deny ourselves, and to crucify fleshly lusts, we ought to consider how much harder it will be to lie forever in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone.
In hell there will be torments
In hell there will be torments for the body. The whole body will be cast into hell, and there will be torment in every part of it. So that if we have a care of our own bodies, we shall possess them in sanctification and honour, and not in the lusts of uncleanness. Our Master requires nothing from us but what He knows to be for our advantage.
Men’s divorcing of their wives for dislike, or for any other cause except adultery was a violation of the seventh commandment, as it opened a door to adultery, Matt. 5:31, 32.
The matter now stood with reference to divorce. The law which involved having to give a written Bill of Divorce prevented rash and hasty divorces. At first, when writing was not so common among the Jews, that made divorces rare things. But in the process of time it became very common, and it became a permission of it for any cause, Matt. 19:3.
How this matter was rectified and amended by our Saviour
How this matter was rectified and amended by our Saviour. He reduced the ordinance of marriage to its primitive institution: They two shall be one flesh, not to be easily separated, and therefore divorce is not to be allowed, except in case of adultery, which breaks the marriage covenant. But he that puts away his wife upon any other pretense, causes her to commit adultery, and him also that shall marry her when she is thus divorced.
Those who lead others into temptation to sin, or leave them in it, or expose them to it, make themselves guilty of their sin, and will be accountable for it. This is one way of being partaker with adulterers Ps. 50:18.
Adapted from the Matthew Henry Commentary
He who is able to accept it, let him accept it
After this teaching the disciples said to Him, “Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?”
He said to them, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning, it was not so. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.”
His disciples said to Him, “If such is the case of the man with his wife, it is better not to marry.”
Jesus Teaches on Celibacy
But He said to them, “All cannot accept this saying, but only those to whom it has been given: For there are eunuchs (those committed to celibacy) who were born thus from their mother’s womb, and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He who is able to accept it, let him accept it.”
Flee from idolatry (1 Cor 10:14) Do you have an idol? A favourite wish or pet idea; One that preoccupies your thoughts Maybe occasioning your heart to fear? Do you have a false attachment? To certain possessions or a human being. Remember that God will not share His love With a person, concept or thing. God will give Himself to you wholly. He will not withdraw from you If you flee from your idols Holding on to all that is true. By the late Andrew Feakin (passed away 16th March 2019)
Prayer: Father, forgive me for every adulterous and idolatrous trace in my life. Reveal to me my hidden sins and grant me the gift of repentance. That I be true to You alone. In the name of Christ I pray. Amen.