Adultery and the Bible

The seventh of the Ten Commandments, which God spake in the long ago, "Thou shalt not commit adultery" Exodus 20:14. This has always been God's law. We are told in I John 3:4, that sin is the transgression of God's law, therefore, to commit adultery is to transgress God's law, and therefore, sin. Not only has God forbidden adultery, but the son of God himself said, "Whoso looketh on a woman to lust after her, hath committed adultery with her already in his heart" Matthew 5:28. If the adulterous thought is sin, surely the adulterous act is sin. The Holy Spirit through the inspired apostle has told us plainly that adultery is a sin. Peter described some sinners of his day as having "eyes full of adultery, that cannot cease from sin" II Peter 2:14. Paul warned the Corinthians to "flee fornication" I Corinthians 6:18.

We are living in an age where sin is portrayed as a mere illness of the body or mind; when sin is denied or laughed off, when sin is rationalized as merely doing one's own thing, or doing what comes naturally. But a belief in the Holy God and respect for the authority of his word demands that adultery be recognized and acknowledged for what it is . . . sin.

The seriousness of the sin of adultery can be seen in several ways. Under the law of Moses the penalty was death by stoning. (Deuteronomy 22:21 ff, John 8:4,5). Again, the only ground that God gave for divorcing one's mate was sexual immorality. He said, "Whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery. And whosoever marry her that is divorced, committeth adultery" Matthew 5:32. But the seriousness of adultery is seen most clearly in the eternal punishment of those who commit the sin. An impenitent adulterer cannot go to heaven. Ephesians 5:5 says: " "No whoremonger, no unclean person hath an inheritance in the Kingdom of Christ and of God." And in Colossians 3:6, we are told that because fornication, uncleanness, and inordinate affection, the wrath of God comes on the children of disobedience.

What is adultery? Technically there are differences in the original Biblical language as there is in the English between adultery and fornication, but as used in this brief study, adultery is illicit sexual intercourse between married or unmarried persons. God has graciously provided -for the sexual desires of men and women to be satisfied only in marriage and to engage in pre-marital, or extra-marital sex, before or outside of marriage is to sin in God's sight. It should be made clear, however, that the sin of adultery, as serious in God's sight, and as hateful as it -is to those who commit it, it is forgivable! The story of Jesus and the woman who was taken in adultery (John 8) shows that adultery may be forgiven when God's conditions of pardon are met.

When sexual immorality of all kinds surrounds us on every side, may all of us desire to be, and strive to be, pure in heart and life. Like Joseph, when tempted by Potiphar's wife, can say "How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?" Genesis 39:9.

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