Nathaniel Hawthorne tells the fictional story in 17th Century Boston, then a Puritan settlement, of a lady named
Hester Prynne. She had committed a crime of passion with an adulterous affair resulting in a little child, to be named Pearl. Hester Prynne would be imprisoned for a time and then sentenced to wear a scarlet letter “A” on her dress. It would be a public symbol and statement of her sin.
One passage of the book says it like this,
“Madame Hester… – the naughty baggage – little will she care what they put upon the bodice of her gown. Why, look you, she may cover it with a brooch, or such like heathenish adornment, and so walk the streets as brave as ever. [Another said…] ‘Let her cover the mark as she will, the pang of it will always be in her heart.’”
In truth, no sin is silent. Every sin will go public and come to light eventually,
– Numbers 32:23 “be sure your sin will find you out”
– Proverbs 5:21 “For a man’s ways are before the eyes of the Lord and he ponders all his paths.”
– Isaiah 59:12 “For our transgressions are multiplied before you, and our sins testify against us”
– Psalm 51:3-4 “For I know my transgressions and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight”
Look at the biblical examples of King David with his adulterous affair with Bathsheba, or modern day examples of Tiger Woods relational affairs or the steroid scandal of Lance Armstrong. God’s light always exposes the darkness.
ILLUS: Last week I was able to sell our house in SOMD. I gave away a single key from my keychain. The physical weight of that key could be measured in grams but the non-material weight represented a long-term burden. The experience of freedom now understands the significance of that weight.
Likewise, the weight of secret sin seems insignificant. However, over the course of one’s life sin is enslaving and encumbering; it binds and burdens.
This message will continue our series with a focus on the 7th command: “You shall not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14).
Recently I heard some of our children’s Bible Group teachers wondered how to communicate this to children (ex. stealing a spouse/parent is difficult to understand much more explain). They even wondered if the children should know about this since they are young and naïve to the subject; perhaps they should move on to general topics.
I responded and continue to say – PLEASE TEACH THE WORD, EVERY TRUTH, EVERY PROMISE, EVERY COMMAND. When will we stop lowering the expectations for children? When will we realize that every other secular arena from academics to athletics, raises the standards for children? – And yet when it comes to faith we want to keep the bar low. No, instead lets be a church that believes in the next generation. Let’s be a church that has a vision for developing children spiritually (personal faith), theologically (doctrine & discipleship), relationally (purity, manhood/womanhood, marriage), and vocationally (calling, integrating faith & work).
EXAMINE Love Others: Marriage Exodus 20:14
Once again as every command, God gave the 7th Commandment as representation of His own character. God is not an adulterer. God is faithful.
Deuteronomy 7:9 “God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations.”
Psalm 145:13 “The Lord is faithful in all his words and kind in all his works.”
2Timothy 2:13 “if we are faithless, he remains faithful – for he cannot deny himself.”
The command is also for the good of the family (parents of 6th Commandment) and ultimately the health of a nation. Healthy families, and healthy churches, produce healthy communities and nations.
The command not to commit adultery highlights the sacredness of marriage and reserves sexual intimacy to marriage between a man & woman. It is not merely a command to not do something but instead a command to prioritize & protect the most sacred of all relationships – marriage! A spouse is to be trusted and treasured, loved and lifted up as a most precious jewel.
Adultery = is sexual relations among a person whom is married.
Fornication = is sexual relations among a unmarried persons.
Immorality = is any sort of sexual misconduct
Adultery breaks every command.
1. No other gods: The adulterer places their own pleasure over God’s priority.
1John 2:16 “For all that is in the world – the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions – is not from the Father but is from the world.”
2. No idols: The adulterer idolizes another person over faithfulness to God and their marriage.
1Corinthians 6:15-20 “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”
3. Name in vain: The adulterer blasphemes God’s name by turning marriage, which resembles God’s relationship to His people, into a mockery of unfaithfulness.
Ephesians 5:3-5 “But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous ( that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.
Ephesians 5:27 “so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.”
4. Sabbath: The adulterer cannot worship God rightly because they are out of fellowship with their spouse and God’s will.
Matthew 5:24 “leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”
5. Parents: The adulterer disrespects parents whom God expects to be married with godly offspring.
Malachi 2:14-15 “The Lord was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth.”
6. Murder: The adultery is murdering the relationship with their spouse.
Proverbs 6:27-29, 32 “Can a man carry fire next to his chest and his clothes not be burned? Or can one walk on hot coals and his feet not be scorched? So is he who goes into his neighbors wife; none who touches her will go unpunished…He who commits adultery lacks sense; he who does it destroys himself.”
7. Adultery (Hosea)
8. Stealing: The adulterer steals the innocence of another along with what belongs to another – God and then that person’s spouse or future spouse.
1Corinthians 6:10 “adulterers… and thieves… will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
9. Lying: The adulterer lies to either start the sin or continue the sin.
Revelation 21:8 “But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”
10. Coveting: The adulterer desire and demands what does not belong to them.
Proverbs 6:25-26 “Do not desire her beauty in your heart, and do not let her capture you with her eye-lashes; for the price of a prostitute is only a loaf of bread, but a married woman hunts down a precious life.”
Further, Jesus shows that adultery is not just an external action but an inward affection.
Matthew 5:27-28 “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.”
Lust (inward affection) = Adultery (external action). In other words, the reward for lust is adultery.
– For the man who lusts over pornography, your reward will not be short-term satisfaction but
long-term relational illusionment.
Invest the wasted time from a screen on your spouse!
– For the woman who lusts over romantic story plots, your reward will not be a fantasized escape but a foolish standard of manhood that does not exist.
Invest the wasted time from a story on your spouse!
– You do not have a preferred style (blonde/brunette; tall; dark; built, etc.) but a spouse.
Lust: You cannot stop a bird pecking at your head but you can stop it from making a nest.
− Remove and limit the opportunity to sin. Keep your computer & television in a public location. Do not use either alone, especially at night when you are physically and emotionally exhausted from daily activities. If you travel then block specific channels at the hotel.
Matthew 5:29 “If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.”
− Report to a close friend. Have your friend hold you accountable by asking you pointed questions which you must answer honestly.
Proverbs 27:6 “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.”
− Repent immediately after failure. This should not neuter the power of all the above principles, yet it should empower you to move forward growing in grace every day. Repentance keeps close ties with God so that you do not stray too far down the wrong path. Repentance also helps put on godliness as much as it puts away sin.
Titus 2:11-13 “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for our blessed hope – the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ”
− Relish in the gospel and fill your imagination with the pleasures of God. Jesus says a man is made up of what is stored inside his heart and mind (Matthew 12:33-35). Therefore you must saturate yourself with God and the promises from His word.
Put simply, adultery is awful anarchy. God sees adultery as sinful and severing to relationships. Strangely, for a fleeting moment of pleasure adultery looks appealing but its consequences are nothing short of anarchy;
– Anarchy in the marriage. There are few relationships that survive adultery. I have seen some die and some live, in my own extended family and in ministry. Regardless, there is a price to be paid with the invasive hurt and enduring healing to take place.
– Anarchy among the children. Personally, this makes me weep the most. Children are scarred for life… for life by adultery & divorce; regardless what anyone says. Yes, children can be resilient and learn to persevere in relationships but the lessons learned are not the right manner to learn. Children impacted by adultery & divorce experience anxiety, anger, bitterness, blame, insecurity and not to mention developed relational issues with others to lack trust and genuine ability to love others.
– Anarchy among the extended family. Families get divided into subsets. Blended families have become the new norm among 21st Century (not a judgment but observation). This often creates challenges and many times conflict on time spent with certain members of the various extended family relationships.
– Anarchy among the friends & neighborhood. These people mean well but there is complexity and confusion of how these friends relate to the offender and offended. Should the relationships continue… who stays friends??
– Anarchy among the church. Scripture calls for pastors and church leaders to hold sinful actions accountable, discipline and unrepentant sin demands removal from fellowship (Matthew 18:15-17; 1Corinthians 5:1-13).
– Anarchy and an atrocity to the name of God. God is faithful and even the gospel shows God’s desire for a pure church to reflect His character (Ephesians 5:26-27).
Adultery Proof Marriage:
– Acknowledge it can happen to anyone (Proverbs 16:18 pride before fall)
– Attention with time (entries & exits)
– Affirmation with word & deed
– Affection with touch
– Adventure with experiences
– Accordance with dreams, goals, purpose
Adultery is Forgivable
John 8:3-11 “The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.
– Divorce should not be actively pursued though is permissible: grounds of adultery or if one spouse is unbelieving and separates (abandonment). Remarriage is biblically permissible only if there were biblical grounds for the divorce.
Matthew 5:32, 19:9 “But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery… And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”
We are all adulterers spiritually! The Bible presents God as a husband to His people, with the Church as His Bride (Eph 5:25-32, Isaiah 54:5, Revelation 19:7-9). When the OT believers were disobedient to God they were noted to be unfaithful and even strongly labeled as committing whoredom or harlotry (Hosea 1:2)
God is a jealous God, to whom belongs our full allegiance, devotion and love. Spiritual adultery violates the sacred covenant and betrays the trust given to us by God. God is like a jealous spouse who will not tolerate infidelity or idolatry.
And yet, God provides security as seen in the book of Hosea 14:1ff “Return to the Lord your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity… I will heal… love…[forgive].”
Your actions cannot be reversed but they can be redeemed!
Jesus seeks lost sheep, He waits for wandering & prodigal children, He forgives failures, He provides second chances & fresh starts, He rescues & redeems.
“God loves his children with a Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love.” – TJSB
In The Scarlet Letter, Hester Prynne removes the “A” from her gown and it says, “The stigma gone, Hester heaved a long, deep sigh, in which the burden of shame and anguish departed from her spirit. O exquisite relief! She had not known the weight until she felt the freedom!”