The seventh of the ten commandments is an outright prohibition of adultery. It is also a clarion call for moral purity. In our last edition, we learned that Jesus had strong words to say on the subject. Now, in our 4th and final part, we focus on the New Testament’s stance. Again, remember there is both law and grace.
A Christian theologian and culture war blogger sent out an SOS message to his readers: Help. He had just posted a blog on the benefits of Biblical Christian sexual morality and was being mercilessly attacked online. Yes, the unchurched were at him but he could handle it. He’s an experienced debater. It was the putative Christians who criticised him as well that precipitated the SOS. The blogger wanted his readers to comment in support of his stance.
It may sound strange that there is not a solid consensus on something as fundamental as Biblical morality. One of the key reasons is that only a fraction of Christians have a Scriptural worldview whereby they live. Biblical illiteracy is the key reason for this.
This author simply asks those who dissent:
- Did God relax His holy standards in the New Testament?
- Did God tighten His standards in the New Testament?
- Are God’s clear standards still applicable today?
- Finally, is western society better or worse off by adopting the ways of the 1960s sexual revolution?
In this fourth and final part of The Seventh Commandment, which condemns adultery, we focus on what the New Testament actually says. As you read, please ask yourself: do these standards still hold true today?
A key New Testament passage on this subject is 1 Corinthians 6:15-20, originally written to a church that was zealous for spiritual gifts but showed shocking tolerance towards sexual immorality.
Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid. 16 What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh. 17 But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit. 18 Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. 19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.
Our bodies (v. 15): While there has been modern emphases about ‘It’s my body, I can do what I want with it,’ the Biblical Christian response needs to be ‘my body is now Christ’s body’ and the ‘temple of the Holy Spirit.’ Keeping these points in mind, the exhortation to moral purity becomes all the more real and sensible. After all, to take a ‘member of Christ’s body’ and physically team up with a harlot, or any other non-spouse, is abhorrent. Physical intercourse renders a person as ‘one-flesh,’ whether with a spouse or stranger. The ramifications are massive.
Practical side: The same apostle who tells us to fight the good fight of faith (1 Timothy 6:12) tells us also to flee (6:11; 1 Corinthians 15:20), in this case, fornication. It is a sin against the body and God himself. Please remember, all you who name the Name of Jesus: it’s God’s body now (Romans 12:1). Don’t do anything with it without His leading or permission. Our bodies and spirits are to be used for His glory.
Sexual sin is bad news for anyone, anytime. It can disappoint, discourage, and destroy. When it happens in the church, and especially among leaders, it is beyond scandal. While we want to avoid being harshly judgemental, discipline of the offender is the only recourse. They have despised the LORD (2 Samuel 12:9-10) and used His name in vain (Proverbs 30:9). There can be discipline and eventual restoration, but not without repentance and a period of probation. Such moral failure need not be inevitable, but remember, it doesn’t happen overnight, either. Failure to repent can have harrowing consequences (1 Corinthians 6:9; Galatians 5:19-21). Of interest, (spiritual) adultery is labelled the condition of an apostate church (Revelation 17:1-5).
An exorbitant price
In order to encourage people to walk in moral purity, bear in mind that sexual sin has a very high price tag. Please consider:
- Disease: For many people, the Russian roulette of fornication/adultery is that the woman may become pregnant. It is always better to have a child after marriage, but conception outside of marriage is not an excuse for abortion, either. The child within, made in the image of God, needs to be protected and cared for like anyone else; it is not a punishment from God. Practically speaking, pregnancy is only possible three days out of the month. However, a more serious issues is sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), which can be contracted 24/7. Just one encounter can give you a life-sentence of STDs, even if they are of the non-fatal variety. Is it really worth it?
- Emotional: Since physical intercourse brings ‘oneness’ between the two parties, anything less than sex with a person who has made a Godly commitment towards the other, is a big gamble. In the absence of such a commitment, one party can walk away and leave the other in tatters. It can take months and years to recover, if ever.
- Spiritual: Even if a person escapes STDs and emotional upset, this last one is unavoidable. There is a spiritual dimension. One Bible teacher likened marital sex as a life-giving stream but sexual immorality as a broken sewer pipe. Again, graphic terms but they convey the fact that highest price tag of all is alienation from the living God (Revelation 21:8; 22:15). Only repentance, the gospel of Christ, and the new birth can give you the forgiveness and cleansing necessary, to start a new chapter.
Are you ready?
It is time to get right and cleansed before the LORD; the coming revival requires nothing less. Moral purity is a small price to pay for a lifetime of blessing and honour from Almighty God Himself.