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“Thou shalt not commit adultery
Welcome to the Foundational Tutorial lessons on the Ten Commandments! These lessons are intended for you to learn what you need to learn; they are not meant as a condemnation or judgement. As born-again followers of Jesus, we’re all still here on Earth because we’re all still learning about the Kingdom and how to live in it. As much as he was the Messiah, Jesus was also a teacher during his time here. His followers are likewise expected to teach others, after they themselves have learned what they need to learn, and practiced it.
We aren’t expected to be perfect (even Jesus wasn’t perfect), but we are expected to strive for perfection (“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in Heaven is perfect”) and to constantly work at improving ourselves.
The foundation of Jesus’ teachings was the Ten Commandments and everything that stemmed from the Commandments, so we clearly need to focus on them. They are the lifeline for staying on God’s Way, particularly in times of trouble and temptation. You’ll note that there are no asterisks (*) on any of the Commandments. That means there are no exceptions to these ten rules. You break them, you pay the price.
For an overview of the blessings that come from keeping the Commandments and the curses that come from not keeping them, see Deuteronomy 28.
LESSON FOUR CONTENTS
1. ADULTERY: A DEFINITION
– What Is Adultery?
– Physical Adultery
– Spiritual Adultery
– Are You Committing Spiritual Adultery?
– How to Avoid Committing Spiritual Adultery
– Is Your Marriage Adulterous?
– Will You Do the Right Thing or Look the Other Way?
3. tl;dr: SUMMARY
When I started this blog several years ago, I made a point of stating that I wouldn’t shy away from speaking God’s Truth, even if it drove people away. My personal experience has been that when I hear something in God’s Word that makes me turn away, it’s because I need to hear it. I’m resisting hearing it because I need to hear it.
I mention this because I’ve been resisting doing something that I should have done months ago, and that’s to present the teaching on adultery as part of the Ten Commandments foundational series. In direct violation of what I said I wouldn’t do, I have shied away from speaking God’s Truth, solely because I knew it would hurt some people to hear it. It wouldn’t just prick them; it would hit them like a tidal wave, and I didn’t want to do that to them. God let me shy away for a while, but now he’s on my case, and I have to go forward with it. I have to speak God’s Truth, because to do anything else is unacceptable to me.
I heard someone ask recently why people don’t preach (or teach) on sin anymore, and I guess one of the reasons is because they don’t want to discourage and alienate anyone, knowing that many people who consider themselves Christians are so deep in sin, they no longer realize that what they’re doing is actually sin.
So without any further ado, and with my apologies both for delaying the publishing of this installment of the series and for any (hopefully short-lived) grief this may cause you, I present the teaching on God’s Commandment not to commit adultery.
As I mentioned in the preamble, I’ve been putting off dealing with this Commandment because I know it’s going to hit some people hard and I don’t, despite the force of my words on this blog, enjoy hitting people. I don’t want to be the bearer of the message that causes them emotional suffering. I understand that people steeped in this sin don’t want to think of their marriage as adulterous and therefore illegitimate in God’s eyes. They don’t want their back pushed to the wall, forcing them to choose between God and their lover.
But I’ve finally gotten to the point where, firstly, I have to do what’s right in God’s eyes (not necessarily in people’s eyes), and secondly, my business isn’t your feelings: My business is your soul. I’d rather hurt your feelings if it leads you to repentance, than to coddle your emotions and leave you wallowing in sin.
If you’re in a relationship that puts you in violation of God’s Commandment on adultery, you need to end it. You can choose to stay in the relationship (you have free will), but it would be the wrong choice and you’ll suffer for it. Every part of your life will be adversely affected by your wrong choice, and you will contribute to the sin of others. You will not only be the sinner in that case; you will also be the tempter.
WHAT IS ADULTERY?
The Bible defines two types of adultery – physical adultery and spiritual adultery. Both are equally sinful in God’s eyes and both require the sinner to repent and not to sin that sin again.
A. PHYSICAL ADULTERY
Physical adultery is illegitimate sexual relations, that is, sexual relations that are illegitimate in God’s eyes. They may be legitimate in the world’s eyes, but if they’re not legitimate in God’s, they are adulterous. Jesus is very clear that marriage forms the sole basis for legitimate sexual relations. His definition of marriage is God’s definition, which is the life-long union of one biological man and one biological woman, joined in a life-long contract with, by, and under God.
Life-long means just that – you remain married until one of you dies. It is not an eternal union, but an earthly union that ends at death. Jesus tells us that in Heaven, there are no marriages and no people living as husband and wife. Marriage is only for our time on Earth.
Physical adultery also includes intense flirting, fantasy, and pornography. As Jesus says, for a person to lust after someone other than his or her spouse is the same as committing adultery with that person. Even just thinking about someone other than your spouse in a sexual way is the same as committing full-fledged adultery. So when those thoughts come to you (and they will come to you as a temptation, be sure of that), you need to pray to God to take them away. Let God know that you don’t want to entertain those thoughts, and he will take them away from you. If you don’t ask God to take them away, if you purposely entertain adulterous thoughts, you are guilty of committing adultery.
God permits you to be tempted, but he will always be there to remove the temptation, if you ask him. And if you do ask him for his help (always recommended), you then need to do whatever he tells you to do.
Fornication, which refers to sexual relations prior to the consummation of a marriage, falls under the category of adultery as well. You don’t have to be married to commit adultery; any illegitimate sexual relationship – however fleeting – outside a God-sanctioned marriage is considered adulterous in God’s eyes.
The devil has been working overtime over the past few centuries to discredit God’s Law on adultery and fornication as “old-fashioned” and irrelevant. People even joke about the word fornication now, the way they joke about the word “sin”. But who cares what the devil is telling people to think and believe; as born-again believers, we should only be concerned with what God is telling us. The world, inspired and guided by the devil, celebrates and encourages adultery through condoning pre-marital sex, multiple marriages and divorces, civil unions of people who are biologically the same sex, civil unions of people and their pets, etc., all of which is adulterous behaviour. We don’t have to participate in what the world encourages us to do; we need to stay on the strait and narrow course set for us by God. Understanding and following God’s Commandment on adultery is part of that course.
B. SPIRITUAL ADULTERY
The Old Testament is full of warnings against committing spiritual adultery, but what is it, and how do we know if we’re committing it?
We need to know what spiritual adultery is, because like sexual adultery, spiritual adultery is forbidden by Commandment. Spiritual adultery is just as much a sin as physical adultery.
To commit spiritual adultery is to give your love, adoration, and worship to someone or something other than God. The children of Israel were notorious for committing this type of adultery, and they suffered accordingly for it, but modern-day Christians aren’t much better. I know people who call themselves Christians, but who have Buddhist statues in their house and do yoga (including chanting mantras). Then there are the so-called ecumenical Christians who believe that all of the “Abrahamic” religions worship the same God. Or they believe that all religions deserve the same respect, and so bow down to whatever idol is presented to them so as not to offend the idol worshipers.
When you stray from God and embrace other “gods” (a.k.a. fallen beings), even out of politeness, you’re committing spiritual adultery. It’s not only a sin, it’s breaking the Commandment on adultery and so leading you away from God. Your back is to God when you’re committing spiritual adultery: You turn your back on God. That is not the way to Heaven.
ARE YOU COMMITTING SPIRITUAL ADULTERY?
Let’s take a moment to take stock. It’s possible that you’re committing spiritual adultery without knowing it.
- If you do yoga, you’re committing spiritual adultery.
- If you have a dream catcher, you’re committing spiritual adultery.
- If you have statues, effigies, or pictures of any “god” or “saint”, and if you defer to those items in prayer or touch them for “good luck”, you’re committing spiritual adultery. The Bible calls such things “abominations” that have no place in the life of believers.
- Superstitious cultural beliefs are a very deep well of spiritual adultery and should be banished from your mind and heart.
- Using the services of spiritual mediums is a huge no-no, even when they claim to be channeling God’s Spirit or a holy angel or the spirit of a departed loved one.
- Anything or anyone that takes your spiritual focus off God and his Word is a temptation to spiritual adultery.
HOW TO AVOID COMMITTING SPIRITUAL ADULTERY
There is only one God and only one Messiah. God should take all your love, adoration and worship, and Jesus is your one and only leader and so the only one you should be following. As a born-again believer who has God’s Spirit with you night and day, you don’t need to go through Jesus to get to God; you can pray to God directly, as Jesus promised us we would be able to do, but you still need to go to God in Jesus’ name, as a follower of Jesus. Jesus doesn’t need to intercede for us (he did that already); we can go to God directly as Jesus’ born-again, Spirit-filled follower. Note that you do not go to God in your own name or in the name of your pastor or priest or in the name of an angel or a saint; you go to God in Jesus’ name and Jesus’ name only. Going to God in any name other than Jesus’ is spiritual adultery.
I could go on, but hopefully you understand. Scripture tells us that God is a “jealous God”. We need to grasp not only that God is intensely jealous over us, but that his jealousy is for our benefit, to keep us on the strait and narrow and from consciously or unconsciously straying down paths of demon worship. We should never invoke or pray to angels or saints or try to ‘make contact’ with a deceased loved one or the spirit world in general. Our prayers should exclusively be directed to God (in Jesus’ name) and to Jesus (as Jesus’ follower and friend). We should NEVER, under any circumstance, talk to the dead or to other spirits, unless we are casting a spirit out (sole exception). We should ONLY and EXCLUSIVELY talk to God and Jesus, through the power of God’s Holy Spirit.
If we worship only God and follow only Jesus, and if we direct all our prayers to God and Jesus, we’ll be safe from committing spiritual adultery.
IS YOUR MARRIAGE ADULTEROUS?
Jesus said that divorce, which is the process of ending a marriage before death, has only one legitimate grounds in God’s eyes, and those grounds are fornication. Note that the fornication must occur before the consummation of the marriage. The best example in the Bible of a marriage that could have ended because of fornication was, ironically, that of Jesus’ own parents. When Mary got pregnant with Jesus, she was betrothed (that is, married, but the marriage had not yet been consummated) to Joseph. He could have divorced Mary based on fornication, as he knew he wasn’t the father of her child, which meant she must have had sexual relations with someone else. However, God intervened and assured him that Mary was still a virgin and that the child was conceived by none other than his Holy Spirit.
Based on God’s assurance, Joseph did not divorce Mary. However, you can imagine that the couple would have been the source of village gossip about Mary’s pre-marital pregnancy, and Jesus would have suffered from the gossip as well. Even during his ministry years, Jesus’ adversaries made snide remarks about his parentage. In any case, Joseph could have legitimately chosen to divorce Mary, according to Jesus’ explanation of the one acceptable grounds for divorce, but he chose not to.
Adultery is not grounds for divorce. Adultery is a sin, but it is not grounds for divorce. The mainstream church has for centuries willfully or out of ignorance misinterpreted Jesus’ teaching on adultery, and in so doing has led millions of souls into sin by permitting them to divorce on the grounds of adultery. The mainstream church then throws oil on their conflagration by “remarrying” those who have received an illegitimate divorce, plunging them even deeper into an adulterous situation. Many high-profile preachers are living in adulterous marriages according to Jesus’ definition of adultery and divorce. You can bet that Satan put those high-profile preachers in front of people as a way to normalize and condone adultery through illegitimate divorces.
WILL YOU DO THE RIGHT THING, OR LOOK THE OTHER WAY?
Jesus’ teaching on adultery is as plain as plain can be. It hasn’t changed for thousands of years and will not change now. If you are born-again and living in an adulterous relationship or engaging in fornication through intense flirting, fantasy, or porn or through a relationship that is illegitimate in God’s eyes, you know you need to stop. I’m not the one telling you to stop – God and Jesus are telling you to stop. I’m just the messenger.
If you’ve divorced and remarried, and your first spouse is still alive, then your second marriage is illegitimate. There is no arguing that; it’s a scripture-based fact.
If you’re in an abusive marriage, you leave the abuser and live separately from him or her, but you don’t divorce and you don’t remarry. You remain living separately and celibately until you reunite with your spouse. If you don’t reunite, you remain living separate and celibate until you or your spouse dies.
Jesus presented his teaching and then left it for people to choose on their own. He didn’t strong-arm them or force them this way or that; he simply made it abundantly clear which choice they should make, which one was the right one in God’s eyes. (That’s what I’m doing here.) But whether they chose to remain in their sin or do the right thing he left up to them, even while strongly urging them to do the right thing in God’s eyes. (That’s also what I’m doing here.)
Jesus told us that considering the dangers of sexual temptations, it’s better not to marry or have children. The path Jesus chose (to remain unmarried and childless) was the optimal one for those in the Kingdom who are Homeward-bound, but he also cautioned that being a spiritual eunuch for the Kingdom of Heaven’s sake is not for everyone. When the disciples got the call and started following Jesus, the first thing Jesus had them do was to leave their spouse and children, along with their jobs and homes and everything that had previously defined them. So even if you’re married and have children, those ties need not prevent you from following Jesus with the same commitment as the disciples, if you’re called to do so. You’ll know you’re called because you’ll know: There will be zero doubt in your mind. When Jesus calls, he doesn’t whisper. His call is loud and distinct, and his sheep clearly hear his voice.
3. tl;dr: SUMMARY
- If you’ve been breaking the Commandment on adultery without knowing it, now is the time to stop; tomorrow may be too late for you.
- Marriage is a life-long contract between a biological man and a biological woman that only ends with the death of either of them. The marriage does not continue in Heaven.
- Adultery is a physical (sexual) relationship that takes place outside of marriage, and spiritual adultery is the spiritual worship, adoration, or reliance on anything or anyone other than God. Spiritual adultery is just as sinful as physical adultery.
- Divorce is only valid in cases of proven fornication, which must take place prior to the consummation of the marriage. Mary falling pregnant while betrothed but before consummating her marriage with Joseph is a good example of the one legitimate grounds for divorce in God’s eyes.
- The best way to avoid all these potential problems is to live single and celibate – to become, as Jesus called it, a eunuch (spiritually) for the Kingdom of Heaven’s sake.
“I have sworn and I will perform it,
that I will keep thy righteous judgments.”