Monday, October 03, 2005

Adultery

This passage was next in line. It was a very difficult sermon to preach, but it needs to be heard, especially in today's lassez faire attitude toward sex. The passage is Matthew 5:27-30. True Love C.S. Lewis once stated this profound thought: “The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust them; it was not IN them, it only came THROUGH them, and what came through them was longing. These things-the beauty, the memory of our own past- are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshippers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune which we have not heard, news from a country we have not visited.” Someone else has said that when a man knocks on the door of a prostitute’s house, he is really searching for God. Jesus knows what real love is. That is the solution to the sin problem. What sexual temptation shows us is that we have longings in our hearts that can only be filled by God Himself. Our longing is for Him. That is what we are really looking for. Jesus has given us now the inspired God-given interpretation of the sixth commandment. He now moves on to the seventh commandment, which states: You shall not commit adultery. As Jesus did with the sixth commandment, so also He does with the seventh. If you will, the heart of the seventh commandment has to do with what is in the heart of a person. The background to this is that the world constantly says things like this: “You can look but you can’t touch.” The world thinks that you are okay as long as you don’t actually engage in adultery itself, the physical act. What they fail to realize is that adultery is a matter of the heart. In fact, it is a heart idolatry. All sin is the result of some idol in the heart. As C.S. Lewis noticed, the physical things that lure us into sin are but the shadows of the real thing. They are twisted ones at that, if they are sinful. But we idolize them, both in the culture and even in the church. So what does Jesus say here? Well, he says that adultery is not merely a matter of outward disobedience, but of inward disobedience. Adultery starts long before the actual physical act. It starts in the heart, even before a person looks with lustful intent. Verse 28 is very interesting in this regard: He says, “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” In Greek grammar, there is a way to express that this is what you intend to do. That is what we have here. The sentence could be paraphrased this way: if someone looks at a woman in order to lust after her, he has committed adultery. In other words, the lust is already in the heart before he even looks with lustful eyes. That greatly helps to explain what Jesus means in the next few verses. Jesus is not teaching that we should mutilate ourselves. In any case, that would not get rid of the problem. One of the early church fathers tried it. His name was Origin. He did not understand that Jesus was using hyperbole, and that what Jesus really meant was, “Deal with sin as drastically as possible.” It is a fact that blind men can still lust. Remember that we said that lust begins in the heart. It was his intent to look on the woman with lustful eyes. That was the problem. So what does Jesus’ command cover? Well, the Heidelberg catechism again helps us here: Q 108: What is God’s will for us in the seventh commandment? A. God condemns all unchastity. We should therefore thoroughly detest it and, married or single, live decent and chaste lives. 109: Does God, in this commandment, forbid only such scandalous sins as adultery? A. We are temples of the Holy Spirit, body and soul, and God wants both to be kept clean and holy. That is why he forbids everything which incites unchastity, whether it be actions, looks, talk, thoughts, or desires. The WLC says this: 138. What are the duties required in the seventh commandment? The duties required in the seventh commandment are, chastity in body, mind, affections, words, and behaviour; and the preservation of it in ourselves and others; watchfulness over the eyes and all the senses; temperance, keeping of chaste company, modesty in apparel; marriage by those that have not the gift of continency, conjugal love, and cohabitation; diligent labour in our callings; shunning all occasions of uncleanness, and resisting temptations thereunto. 139. What are the sins forbidden in the seventh commandment? A. the sins forbidden in the seventh commandment, besides the neglect of the duties required, are, adultery, fornication, rape, incest, sodomy, and all unnatural lusts; all unclean imaginations, thoughts, purposes, and affections; all corrupt or filthy communications, or listening thereunto; wanton looks, impudent or light behaviour, immodest apparel; prohibiting of lawful, and dispensing with unlawful marriages; allowing, tolerating, or keeping of brothels, and resorting to them; entangling vows of single life, undue delay of marriage; having more wives or husbands than one at the same time; unjust divorce, or desertion; idleness, gluttony, drunkenness, unchaste company, lascivious songs, books, pictures, dancings, stage plays; and all other provocations to, or acts of uncleanness, either in ourselves or others. Well, that was a mouthful. What does it all mean? Anything that hinders us from the duties required of the seventh commandment is a sin. Anything that eggs us on to engaging in the sins forbidden in the seventh commandment is a sin. That is why drunkenness and gluttony are listed here. They often lead to other sins. That is why drunkenness is a violation of the seventh commandment. So men, since we are visually oriented, what does that mean specifically for us? It means that we must give up that favorite sin of ours. We must give up looking a woman up and down. We must give up certain movies and books, magazines and internet sites. That is what it means to cut out your right eye. Cutting your right eye out would be extremely painful. William Gurnall says this, “Soul, take thy lust, thy only lust, which is the child of thy dearest love, thy Isaac, the sin which has caused most joy and laughter, from which thou hast promised thyself the greatest return of pleasure or profit; as ever thou lookest to see my face with comfort, lay hands on it and offer it up: pour out the blood of it before me, run the sacrificing knife of mortification into the very heart of it, and this freely, joyfully, for it is no pleasing sacrifice that is offered with a countenance cast down- and all this now before thou hast one embrace more from it.” Men, who is sufficient for this task? Are we sufficient? The moment that we think that we are is the moment that we fall. I’m sure that most of know that feeling of horror when we think that we have left that sin behind once and for all, only to fall prey to it that very same day. What Jesus would have us do is to remember before we are tempted to sin that we must deal with sin as drastically as possible. We must deal with the temptation to sin as drastically as possible. What does that mean? If your TV causes you to sin, smash it up and throw it away. If your computer causes you to sin, smash it up and throw it away. It is better for you to have no entertainment at all in your house, than to have entertainment in your house, and go to hell. Get rid of temptations wherever they occur. If you cannot go into a bookstore like Barnes and Noble without going to the magazine rack, then avoid Barnes and Noble, or take someone along with you, preferably your wife. If you can’t use a computer without visiting sites that you shouldn’t, then get protection. Of course, you can visit bad sites accidentally, without meaning to do it. All the more reason for protection. There is a great program that I use called Covenant Eyes that monitors everywhere a person goes on the internet, and reports it to the accountability partner, whoever you choose that to be. Every computer should have some form of protection, whether it is Covenant Eyes, or a filter of some sort. If you choose to go with a filter, then you should not get what is called a negative filter. A negative filter merely screens off bad sites. The problem is that hundreds of new web-sites are launched every day. A negative filter cannot keep up with all those. A positive filter, on the other hand, keeps a list of web-sites that are okay, and you can only go to those. That is a much better filter. If you have sons in your house, or even if you have men off to college or out in the work force, you need to question them about this, and work with them in a compassionate manner. The reason I say “a compassionate manner” is because there is no worse time to live in with respect to sexual temptation than in our own age. You can’t even go to most grocery stores these days without there being some form of visual temptation. Women, there are two main things that you can do. The first is to be compassionate toward your husband. You have to realize just how bad the temptations are. Many husbands will not confess secret sexual sin to their wives precisely because they fear that their wives will divorce them if they find out, or at least they would judge them too harshly. If you feel that a man can jolly well take care of himself without your help, then you are on the fast-track to a divorce, or at least disillusionment. He needs your help if he is going to make it. Women, there are temptations for you too, aren’t there? What about what you wear? You might say that a man should control himself. Yes, he should. But how much harder is it when all the women around him are almost dressed? This is especially prevalent in today’s youth culture, where it is hard even to find modest clothes that aren’t dorky. But that is a quest that is essential if you are to minister to those men around you. Don’t be a source of provocation. The question here is not about fashion, but about intent. Why do you wear what you wear? Women, what about romance novels? Those are dangerous. Even some so-called Christian romance novels are but thinly disguised emotional pornography. If men are visually oriented, women tend to be emotionally oriented, when it comes to temptation. If a man other than your husband makes you feel a certain way, then don’t be around him. If certain books are a problem, then don’t read them. If you have a problem, the place to go is not within yourself. You will never find strength within yourself for fighting this battle. You don’t have the strength. I don’t care how much of a cowboy you are, you still don’t have the strength. You need to find your strength in God. But another place you can find strength is in other believers. Now, you shouldn’t go confess your sin to just anyone. However, sexual sin in particular thrives in the darkness. As long as someone else doesn’t know about it, it will thrive, just like cancer. Cancer cannot survive in the presence of oxygen. It cannot survive out in the open. So also is lust. What you need to do is to find a compassionate, wise, older Christian who knows what this struggle is like. You need to hold one another accountable. James 5:16 says this, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.” We have this unnatural fear of our community. We think that if anyone knows any of our dirty little secrets, then everyone will know. What we need to do is to trust God, find that discreet person, and confess our sin to that person. It takes bravery. But the results are worth it. Now, again, who is sufficient for these things? No one is sufficient. There is no one who can come even close to honoring the seventh commandment all the way, no matter what our age. And older people can be just as susceptible as younger people. Hugh Heffner, manager of Playboy magazine, is in his seventies. Do not think you are immune just because you are older. There is no one sufficient. The key here is to realize what we are really looking for. We are really looking for Jesus. Lust is a parody of love. Lust is a twisted version of love. What we are really looking for is love. That can only be found in God Himself, through Jesus Christ, who loved us with an everlasting love. That is true love.

11 Comments:

At 10/03/2005 06:26:00 PM, Blogger Adrian C. Keister said...

In words highly unoriginal, "Preach it, brother!"

 
At 10/03/2005 07:19:00 PM, Blogger Nate said...

I see that you use the Heidelberg catechism..but you have RPCNA guys linked. What is your denomination?
Where did you go to seminary?

Also I am wondering about your attachment parenting ideas? To what extent are you AP? Do you have kids (making you practicing AP) or just the one on the way?

Interested

 
At 10/03/2005 07:37:00 PM, Blogger non-farming agronomist said...

Lane
Have you considered how "adultery" refers to relationships that we have chosen to enter, while "honor father and mother" refer to relationships into which we are born?

I don't think that concept opposes what you are saying, but merely gives a wider context in which to apply...

 
At 10/04/2005 10:14:00 AM, Blogger Mr. Baggins said...

To answer Nate, I am PCA, serving an RCA and a CRC church. So that is why I use both the 3FU and the WCF. WRT AP, I am actually starting to write a book on it with my mother-in-law. I am *militantly* AP. I am practicing, because I have one daughter, and a son due in three weeks. I can't stand what Gary Ezzo is doing to the Christian community. I think he is a wolf in sheep's clothing.

 
At 10/04/2005 10:15:00 AM, Blogger Mr. Baggins said...

in reply to NFA, I hadn't considered that aspect of the Ten Commandments. That goes to show how inexhaustible God's Word is. Thanks for that!

 
At 10/07/2005 09:02:00 PM, Blogger Susan said...

Wow, that was an excellent post and very well thought out. So much to think about.

I do have a objection/query to bring up regarding your statement that adultery is really man searching for God:

"Someone else has said that when a man knocks on the door of a prostitute’s house, he is really searching for God. Jesus knows what real love is. That is the solution to the sin problem. What sexual temptation shows us is that we have longings in our hearts that can only be filled by God Himself. Our longing is for Him. That is what we are really looking for."

Unless I am mistaken, this statement is inconsistent with a pillar of Reformed theology, namely that sinful unsaved man is depraved and unable to search for or desire God on his own.

Please correct me if I am wrong, as you have far more theological training than I do :). Perhaps I misread your meaning or need to sharpen my Reformed doctrine a little more.

Soli Deo Gloria

 
At 10/08/2005 09:27:00 AM, Blogger Mr. Baggins said...

No, not at all. That's an excellent question. You are correct that sinful man cannot seek God in the sense that his sin is in his way. His sin nature is in his way. However, it is also true that man has a God-shaped hole in his heart (this is part of the remaining image of God, however corrupt that image is). He will look...but only in the wrong places. So he is not searching for God in his own mind. But what he is looking for can only be found in God. He will instinctively look for idols to fill up that void. And then he will fail to find that for which he is looking. God is the last place he is looking. And yet that is where he needs to find him. Great question.

 
At 10/08/2005 10:57:00 AM, Blogger Susan said...

Thanks for the response. Excellent clarification. Perhaps it was the original wording that at first confused me.

Also, just to clarify, I realized after my first post that I was basing my objection/query on reformed theology, rather than the Word of God. I did not mean to indicate that reformed beliefs should be our final authority; rather I was asking my question from that angle since I knew you were also of the reformed persuasion and since I believe that the reformed doctrine of total depravity accurately represents scriptural teaching.

 
At 10/08/2005 02:30:00 PM, Blogger Mr. Baggins said...

Right. A good, but in my case superfluous clarification.:-) I take an oath that the WCF contains the system of doctrine contained in Scripture. The WCF is Reformed: therefore Reformed equals Scriptural, from my point of view. I know what you meant, and agree with it whole-heartedly. If we are Reformed, nevertheless, we cannot put our tradition above Scripture, since that would be to drop into the Catholicism that the Reformers were so desirous to avoid.

 
At 10/26/2005 03:25:00 PM, Anonymous Bear said...

Why do you assume that lust is a temptation faced only by men? Do you believe that women's sexual desires are not as strong as men's?

 
At 12/01/2005 08:40:00 PM, Blogger blahpth said...

interesting. will return to read again.

 

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