The Ten Commandments are the bedrock of a moral, ethical, and righteous society. The seventh commandment, which prohibits adultery, is a clarion call to personal purity. Here are some more insights of this important commandment from the words of Jesus. Warning: Be prepared for some strong undiluted statements from the Lord Himself.
And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell — Matthew 5:29-30
- Right eye and right hand: Hard to believe but true, Jesus advocates removing a bodily member that causes you to sin, rather than keeping it and going to hell. Exceptionally robust words, indeed. Since we are not aware of anyone in the New Testament, or church history, taking such extreme action, what are we to make of His quote? Sin, especially sexual sin, should be viewed with the utmost seriousness. It is not a game, a joke, trend or a movie plot, but a death trap. If we had a life-threatening disease, we would submit to life-saving surgery that would cut out the offending growth? In the case of lust and sexual sin, the options include cut off the offending bodily member, though that is unlikely and undesirable. The demonstrably better way, in every way, is to repent, confess sin, be set free by God’s Spirit and truth, then go and sin no more. Simple principle, but how to implement it practically? Sometimes sin does not easily go away. If the sin is particularly stubborn and resistant, do not hesitate to work with a spiritually mature person for support and accountability. Other helpful practices include Scripture memorisation, meditation, and confession, prayer in the Spirit, and anointed worship. Remember the power of the cross of Jesus to deliver you from the sin-dominated self-life. Romans 6 describes this in glorious detail.
It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery — Matthew 5:31-32
- Marriage & Adultery: If you thought the previous verses were heavy-duty, what about these? Moses apparently gave the Israelites an easy track to divorce – just write a bill of divorcement and send your spouse away. Jesus tightens the rules, saying Moses allowed this because of the hardness of their hearts (Matthew 19:7-8), but it was not God’s original intent in the created order. To divorce one’s wife is to cause her to commit adultery – if she remarries – and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. Or, to divorce one’s wife without a cause in order to marry someone else is adultery. Wow. Even the twelve apostles choked when they heard these words; better to not marry at all (Matthew 19:10). Is there any way forward? Or is this in the ‘too hard basket.’
- Exception clause: No, not every person who divorces and remarries has to wear the ‘scarlet A’ around their neck. Like a traffic accident, divorce is something you do everything in your power to avoid. Yet, it can happen. Are there ever any cases where divorce and remarriage are allowed by the church and the Bible? Many Biblically-based churches hold a high view of the sanctity of marriage, but believe the New Testament does allow for limited exceptions to divorce and remarry. These include sexual immorality (Matthew 5:32); desertion (1 Corinthians 7:15); and proven physical abuse (Ephesians 5:28-33). In addition, some denominations will remarry a person if their divorce occurred before they came to faith in Christ. Let it be said that you are well-advised to speak to your pastor and find out your church or denomination’s position on divorce and remarriage, what is allowed and what is not.
In our fourth and final part of The Seventh Commandment, we will look at the New Testament view on sexuality and adultery. See you next month.
TO BE CONTINUED
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