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UCG-A Bible Insights Thursday, July 11 2024

The seventh commandment

The Bible is all about relationships, and our most important relationship is with God. Another very important relationship is marriage, with the seventh commandment instructing us: “You shall not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14; Deuteronomy 5:18)

God wants us to regard His Instruction Book, the Bible, as the foundation of all knowledge, including the vital knowledge about marriage and sex it contains. Modern society is increasingly immoral and actually amoral, leading to catastrophic consequences. When the building block of society—the family—collapses, society begins to collapse.The Seventh Commandment promotes, preserves and protects marriage.

God’s first recorded statements to Adam were, in essence, “Don’t eat the forbidden fruit” (Genesis 2:16-17). Then He told Adam, “It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him" (Genesis 2:18). He then created Eve, the perfect complement to Adam. Genesis 2:24 tells us, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Various Bibles translate the Hebrew word for “be joined” as cleave, cling, hold fast, be united, be married.

When God told Adam and Eve to “become one flesh,” He was specifically telling them to come together for sex. God did not design their sexuality only for reproduction, as He did when He designed animals. He also meant them to come together for companionship, partnership and love. God’s intent that sex would be pleasurable is emphasized by various scriptures including Proverbs 5:15-19, Ecclesiastes 9:9 and the Song of Solomon.

1 Corinthians 7:3-5 warns husbands and wives not to be selfish by depriving (KJV: defrauding) their spouse of their sexual needs. Regularly becoming “one flesh” strengthens and enhances marriage. God created us male and female so husbands and wives can become intimately united physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

God forbids anything that spoils marriage. “Adulterate” means to contaminate or make impure. Adultery is so serious that under the Old Covenant, adulterers were to be put to death (Leviticus 20:10; Deuteronomy 22:22). Marriage is viewed as a sacred covenant in which husband and wife make a commitment before God to faithfully stay together and unselfishly love and serve each other. The man and woman begin a new family when they switch their primary dependency and commitment from their parents to their spouse.

In Mark 10:9, Jesus instructs: “Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” God says He “hates divorce” and breaking a wedding vow is dealing “treacherously” with one’s spouse (Malachi 2:14-16). In the Bible, “love” is primarily an action verb, referring to how we treat others, not to an emotional feeling. When God commands husbands to “love your wives” and wives to “love their husbands” (Ephesians 5:25; Titus 2:4), He is referring to how we treat our spouses. The Second Great Commandment is to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39) and our most important neighbor is our spouse.

The Seventh Commandment forbids more than extra-marital sex. It is an umbrella command prohibiting premarital sex (fornication), homosexual sex, incest, prostitution, bestiality and other forbidden relationships, some of which are listed in Leviticus 18 and 20. In addition to adultery, the New Testament condemns in many places all forms of “sexual immorality” (the Greek word being porneia, from which we get the English word pornography).

As we have previously addressed in Bible Insights, sinful actions begin with sinful thoughts (James 1:14-15). Jesus Christ magnified the Seventh Commandment explaining the sin of adultery also includes how you think: “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:27-28). The Greek word for “to lust” is epithumeo, meaning carnal coveting, craving and fantasizing.

Then in verses 29-30, Jesus uses dramatic language to emphasize we must do whatever is necessary to avoid temptation. Jesus’ commandment forbids any viewing of pornography and the “soft porn”so prevalent in many movies, TV shows and magazines. Furthermore, it strongly implies that passionate physical affection (kissing, caressing, etc.) by a man and woman, or by a boy and girl, resulting in sexual arousal should not be done until the two are married.

Both the Old Testament and the New Testament have many warnings against immorality. In the book of Proverbs, it’s significant that much of the first nine chapters is devoted to warning about the temptations and foolishness of sexual sin. The consequences of immorality are self-destructive and also destructive to others (Proverbs 6:26-33). If a person does not deeply repent of those sexual sins, he “will not inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).

1 Corinthians 6:18 (New Living Translation) says: “Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body.” In this context, “body” includes one’s mind and heart. Paul is quoting from Proverbs 6:32: “But the man who commits adultery is an utter fool, for he destroys himself.”

A husband and wife who both have the Holy Spirit have a monumental advantage—they are truly like-minded, as both of them have the spiritual understanding, and the fruits of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), which are also the virtues needed for a good marriage. When you are “agreed” on biblical issues, you can “walk together” and strengthen one another (Amos 3:3). If you are married to someone who doesn’t share your religious convictions, God still wants you to be a devoted, loving spouse and a humble “light” to your mate (see 1 Corinthians 7:12-17; 1 Peter 3:1-2, 7; Matthew 5:14-16).

Some worry they are missing out on sexual pleasure, but God is offering us the opportunity to have a glorious, everlasting life in the Kingdom of God (Psalm 16:11). In God’s Kingdom, we will never miss any of the pleasures we experienced or did not experience in this life, nor will we ever regret the sacrifices we made to be in God’s Kingdom.

Idolatry is spiritual adultery. God’s relationship with His people is portrayed as a marriage (Jeremiah 3:14; Ezekiel 16:1-63). When Israel—whom God referred to as His wife—turned to false gods, God called it “commi[ting] adultery” and “play[ing] the harlot” (Jeremiah 3:1-9). The relationship between Christ and the Church is also portrayed as a marriage in Ephesians 5:23-32 and Revelation 19:7-9.

In conclusion, let's always remember God is extremely merciful. No matter what sins a person has committed, when God sees he or she has sincerely repented, He will always forgive (Psalm 103:8; Ezekiel 18:30-32; 1 John 1:9). True repentance includes both godly sorrow and a determination to “go and sin no more” (2 Corinthians 7:9-10; John 8:11). God promises: “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow” (Isaiah 1:18).