Immorality Before Crossing the Jordan

“Thou shalt not commit adultery.” Exodus 20:14

God said in five words what others take many thousands to explain.

Martin Luther’s right hand man, Melanchthon, once said that the Bible must first be understood grammatically before it can be understood theologically. In other words, we must first determine what the words are, then determine what those words mean individually and only then can it be determined what those words mean compositely. Only after that groundwork has been done can we then deduce a theological meaning.

The word Thou is of the second person pronoun which can be either singular or plural. In other words, it is you, the second person. The word shalt, or shall, in the more familiar English, is a strong assertion or an intention, you shall.

The word not is added to any auxiliary verb in the English language and forms the negation of that verb. You will not do this. The word commit means to carry out, to accomplish.

The fifth and final word is adultery. Mr. Webster defines adultery as a violation of the marriage bed via sexual intercourse, unchastity. God therefore commands that you will not violate the marriage bed, you will not be unchaste, you will not be immoral. You will not be licentious. It is very interesting to note that the very command, you will not do this, implies that you can. What would be the purpose in God commanding something that we could not do? When we talk about the moral law of God, God is asking us either to do or not to do that which we are capable of doing.

In the Hebrew text this command is even clearer, because it is stated in just two words: no adultery. We have already modified this statement into the English, “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” In the Hebrew it simply states, “No adultery.” Is that unclear? The essence of the command is, “Do not be sexually involved with anyone who is not your spouse.” Often we take a very narrow view of adultery, and I have had people say to me that they cannot break that commandment because adultery is only violating the marriage vow, so if they are not married, how can they violate the marriage vow?

The essence of this command is to prohibit any sexual involvement outside of a marriage commitment. This commandment can also be violated by those who are not married. Jesus utterly affirmed this in Matthew 5:31 where He intensified the command: “Furthermore, it has been said, Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.” “You have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her has already committed adultery in his heart.” Verses 27, 28. Jesus does not diminish the requirement of the law; He does not take away from the letter or the spirit, but He magnifies it and says, You thought it only pertained to the literal act, but I am telling you, you can be found guilty of this command somewhere between your ears.

Immorality is widespread today and it has become a major problem even in the Christian church. Not only are there blatant affairs going on, but many are looking at magazines and computer screens depicting every imaginable thing. People’s lives are being ruined, families are shattered and children are left with little or no direction with no proper role models to follow and it is happening all within the private confines of their own perverted imagination.

Jesus says in verse 32, “I say to you, That whosoever divorces his wife for any reason except for sexual immorality, causes her to commit adultery.” Our definition of adultery is the violation of that marvelous union that God has instituted. Whoever marries a woman who is divorced without proper Biblical grounds commits adultery. Jesus magnified the law when adding that if you look on a woman to lust after her, and if you divorce a woman for a non-Biblical reason, that is the proliferation of adultery. Jesus in no way diminished the command, but He intensified it.

Jesus said, “Out of the heart proceeds all these evil thoughts, murders” (Matthew 15:19), which is commandment number six. And then He says, “adulteries, fornications,” referring to the seventh commandment. Jesus used two words to encapsulate this. He then goes on to say, “thefts” referring to commandment number eight. “Thou shalt not steal” and then, “false witness,” which is commandment number nine. This is very interesting; Jesus here describes commandments six, seven, eight and nine in a single word, except in the case of “Thou shalt not commit adultery” where He uses the words, adulteries and fornications. Here again Jesus is letting us know, as He did in Matthew, chapter five, that the command, “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” is not simply something a married individual can do. It involves the whole umbrella of sexual vice and impurity. He uses two words, adulteries, which is the Greek word for the violation of the marriage bed and the word fornications which is the word for porneo, pornography.

This commandment Jesus describes, is as broad and does not just refer to adultery between married people. This commandment covers all kinds of sexual perversity and immorality. I don’t think anyone would disagree with the fact that we live in a sex-crazy, sensual, seductive society. Our culture is sex consumed.

God made man to be a social creature, and not be alone. The vast majority of us are social beings with a desire for a permanent relationship in which to share the most intimate experiences of life. God gave man the institution of marriage as a haven of safety, a place of sacred trust, in which to enjoy and to satisfy this most basic longing to be one with another. The oneness that a man shares with his wife in mind, body and soul is designed to be a type of the oneness that Jesus desires of His people, giving all to that relationship and forsaking all others.

Primarily there are two groups of people that fall into sexual sin, which is plainly forbidden: the unmarried, that is to say the single, whether never married, or married and divorced, and the unhappily married. As a general rule, those who are happily married in a wonderful, mutual, godly relationship are not usually the people who fall into sexual sin. This does not mean that they are immune and cannot fall, but it does mean that the people who are generally struggling with sexual sin are either single, or they are unhappily married. A happy, contented marriage will not only solve the problem of adultery, but it also solves the problem of pornography.

This is not to say that there would not be some who would remain single. Jesus did say and Paul agreed that there were certain people who could receive the gift of celibacy and these people are in the minority, but to those who desire companionship, the Apostle Paul advises in I Corinthians 7:9, “It is better to marry than to burn.”

Pornography has grown into a multi-billion dollar per year industry, destroying morals, people and marriages along the way. Internet pornography has not gotten any worse in terms of its substance in the last twenty years, but it has just become more accessible. Previously it used to be only available in the more seedy places, in truck stops, along the wrong side of the tracks and the red light district. Some people had the victory over pornography because they were afraid of being seen in these places, but now it is readily available in the public library or right in the living room of your own home. The percentage of pornography related Internet usage is off the charts and, incidentally, the top Google search words are all porn-related.

Tragically, pornography has become too accessible, and almost impossible to escape. Regular advertising of general products now often use sexual innuendos with suggestive pictures plastered on billboards and simply going through the checkout at local grocery stores makes it difficult to ignore the numerous magazines advertising the sexual exploits of the rich and famous.

But what a blessing to be able to have victory over the curse of a sin that is completely accessible!

Just as the children of Israel were on the borders of the land of Canaan preparing to cross the Jordan River Satan attacked with one of his most effective weapons—ungodly licentious adultery. Women were brought into the camp and the men became far too familiar with them, causing many to lose sight of the Promised Land.

When Satan’s temptations are the strongest and the most accessible, that is the time when God’s people will stand the strongest. It is of no great virtue to have victory over an inaccessible temptation, but it is a tremendous honor to God when standing strong in the face of overwhelming temptation. Licentiousness is the special sin of this age. I believe that the person who is committed to the lifestyle of pornography is in an absolute violation of their marriage vow.

This is distinguished from the person who falls and makes a mistake and stubs his toe and utterly repents. If you are struggling with this sin, you need two things. You need Biblical spirituality and you need genuine accountability. The Bible says the flesh lusts against the Spirit (Galatians 5:17). You need the Spirit in your life. Jesus said in John 6:63, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you, Jesus said, they are spirit, and they are life.” You need to daily be filling your tank with spiritual food. If you find that you are failing and falling and fumbling, it is likely because you have not filled up your spiritual tank with true spiritual words from Jesus. His words are spirit and life. You need accountability.

The Bible says in II Corinthians 10:3–5, “For though we walk in the flesh [that means we are stuck in these bodies], we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses, the pulling down of strongholds. We are destroying speculations, and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” Spiritual food is needed to fuel the spiritual energy in your tank if you are going to get the victory over these specific temptations, which are the sin of our age. No one is immune to sexual temptation. You would need to be wiser than Solomon, more godly than David, stronger than Samson, and that seems unlikely.

It is a proven fact that men are primarily driven by their eyes and they are visually stimulated. This is why Jesus said in Matthew 5:28, “If a man looketh on a woman …” He constituted men that way. The Bible says, “God made Adam.” Genesis 1:27. But when it comes to Eve the Hebrew text says, “He built her.” The temptation for women is to build castles or have fantasies. Women are more likely to watch soap operas and read romance novels where all the characters are beautiful, rich and famous, leaving her discontented with reality. While women are castle-building, dreaming up the ideal life, and the men are looking around being driven sensually or visually, you can see what happens when a conflict arises in the marriage. The woman starts going her way, looking for that perfect man bearing flowers to come and sweep her off her feet. And the man starts to go his way and he is looking for a woman who is looking to be swept off her feet, and these two collide neither recognizing in each other what they need because they think the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. Men have the ability to size up a woman in one second with just a passing glance. So, the advice I have for men is simply this: Stop looking! There are way too many lookers. Make a covenant with your eyes to turn them away and stop looking! Jesus said, “Husbands, love your wives.” Ephesians 5:25. Learn the true meaning of love and you will never be happier than with your wife.

For women, stop being dissatisfied with your husband. Maybe he doesn’t have six pack abs, and maybe he doesn’t bring you roses every single night, but get over it! You are his helpmeet, the one God has chosen to help your husband meet his potential. You have the power to make your home a sanctuary where peace and love reign if you will but take seriously your God given responsibility to your husband and your children. Learn the meaning of grace; learn the meaning of forgiveness and your home will be a haven where angels love to dwell.

Beloved, I suggest to you a simple remedy for a good marriage: It is the five “Cs.”

Get converted—Figures show that the divorce rate is going down, now at about 42%, but research shows that it is because fewer people are getting married. Think about it. Marriage is a Christian institution and it is understandable not to expect unconverted people to do well in a Christian institution. So, if you want a good marriage, get converted. If two people are genuinely converted in a marriage, they cannot get a divorce. The reason for this is that God hates divorce and He would not lead two godly people, two converted people, to do something He hates.

Be committed—Not for a day, not for a year, not for a decade, but be committed for life.

Learn to compromise—You want the blue car and she wants the red car —you get the black car.

Have a little compassion—My advice to newlyweds who come into my office is, “You worry about the compassion, and the passion will take care of itself.”

Have a healthy dose of communication—Spend time talking together. There are many resources available that are excellent tools to help you develop your communication skills. e.g., Love and Respect, by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs.

Beloved, in closing, I just want to appeal to your hearts. Some of you are divorcees and God does give Biblical grounds for divorce. I believe in my heart He gives only one single ground for divorce on Biblical grounds and that is the violation of the marriage bed, adultery. In the book, The Adventist Home, 341, God sent a message through His prophet because we were mistaking the plain words of Jesus. It says, “Nothing but the violation of the marriage bed can either break or annul the marriage vow.”

Nothing, nothing, but the violation of the marriage bed can annul the marriage vow. Is that clear enough? Is there any confusion there? Now, if you have been divorced on Biblical grounds or even non-Biblical grounds, and you want to start anew, you want to start afresh, the good news about our God is that He meets you where you are. But grace is not a license to sin.

I stand before you here today as a man who has been happily married for almost ten years and I can say in the fear of God and with absolute candor, I am more in love with my wife today, ten years later, than I was the day I married her. She is more beautiful to me. She is a fantastic mother. She has put up with all of my idiosyncrasies. She is a godly woman. Perfect? Not yet—close, but not perfect yet! But I would invite you to give your marriage to God, give your struggles to God, give your sexuality to God, and I would close with five simple words: “Thou shalt not commit adultery.”

David Asscherick’s sermon was taken from the Ten Commandment Weekend, 2008 series aired on 3ABN. For more information contact