The Seventh Commandment
Over the summer, I walked through the Ten Commandments with the college students at FBC Durham. This proved to be a helpful series that was filled with application. For the purposes of this blog, I just want to mention some applications that I gave in light of the seventh commandment which states: “You shall not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14). But before we get to the applications, let’s briefly look at the meaning of the seventh commandment.
The Narrow & Broad Meaning
The seventh commandment contains far more meaning than we think (this is the case with each commandment). Because of this, I am not going to spend a ton of time extracting all the meaning that’s within the seventh commandment. That would make this blog entirely too long. All I want to do is mention the narrow meaning and the broad meaning of the seventh commandment.
- The narrow meaning of this commandment is that you should not have sex with another person’s spouse, and that you should not have sex with anybody other than your spouse.
- The broad meaning of this commandment is best stated by Luther: “This commandment applies to every form of unchastity, however it is called. Not only is the external act forbidden, but also every kind of cause, motive, and means. Your heart, your lips, and your whole body are to be chaste and to afford no occasion, aid, or encouragement to unchastity.”
As you can see, the narrow meaning of this commandment focuses on the actual external act being mentioned (adultery), and the broad meaning of this commandment focuses more on the sinful inclinations of the human heart. Nobody comes out unscathed when examining themselves with both the narrow meaning and the broad meaning of this commandment. Some have broken this commandment as it is espoused in its narrow meaning. All have broken this commandment as it is espoused in its broad meaning. What I am saying is this; we have all broken the seventh commandment in some way.
Now, at this point, it is important to mention that much more could be said about this commandment. For example, we could talk more about all the sexual sins that this commandment forbids (homosexuality, bestiality, pedophilia, adultery, sexual immorality, sensuality, premarital sex, pornography, lusting after somebody with our heart, crude joking, etc.). We could talk about the purpose of this commandment (to protect the marital union). But I do not want to spend my time on all of this.
Rather, I want to give Christians some applications that will help them flee from sexual sin and to pursue purity. For, when there is a, “You shall not,” there is by implication a, “You shall.” What this means is that this commandment is not only forbidding sexual sins, it is also commanding us to pursue purity with utmost diligence. Here are some applications that might help us in this God glorifying endeavor.
Applications that Follow
First, we must have the Spirit of God if we want to obey this commandment.
You see, the Old Covenant gave you a law to obey without giving you a heart to obey. This means that the Old Covenant says, “You shall not commit adultery,” but it does not give you a heart that is able to put sexual sin to death and to pursue purity. This is the terrible plight of those who are apart from Christ and under the law.
However, the blessing of the New Covenant is that it comes with a heart to obey. If you believe in Christ, then the Lord has given you a new heart that enables you to obey the commands of God. This means that, when an individual is born again, the Spirit of God gives them a new heart that allows them to put sexual sin to death and to pursue sexual purity in every area of life. Thus, if you want to be obedient to this commandment in faith, the Spirit of God must do heart surgery on you; He must take out your rebellious heart and give you a new one. Attempts to obey this commandment apart from this are futile.
Second, we must remember our positional status before God.
Who can honestly say that they haven’t sinfully desired that which is contrary to God’s will for sex? Who can honestly say that they have done all that they can to pursue purity of heart, mind, words, and actions? Is it no evident that all of us have fallen short of the glory of God here? Of course it is.
This is why, if we are to actually make progress in putting sexual sin to death and in pursuing purity, we must remember our positional status before God. Before our coversion, we were sinners before God. We were people who had either committed the actual act of adultery or who had committed adultery of the heart. This is who we were positionally: lawless adulterers deserving of the full wrath of a holy God.
However, through faith in Christ, this is no longer our position. We now have a different positional status before God. In Christ, we are now righteous, holy, and pure. Our sins, yes, even sexual sins, have been cleansed. They have been forgiven. We are seen as positionally righteous before the God of all creation. And if you want to fight sexual sin, you must always remember your positional status before God because of the finished work of Christ.
Third, we must study sexual sin.
In Hebrews 3:13, we read that sin is very deceitful. This is the case with sexual sin as well. So think about sexual sin like this: it is your enemy, it is seeking to rob you of your joy in Christ, it is seeking to strip you of your assurance of salvation, it is seeking to keep you from using your spiritual gifts to serve Christ, it is seeking to keep you inactive and unproductive in the faith, and ultimately, it is seeking to kill you.
Therefore, study up on this enemy. Learn about it and how to fight it! You can do this by memorizing Scriptures that are directly related to the topics of sexual sin and purity. You can do this by reading good books about how to kill sin. You can do this by talking to other people who have, by the power of the Spirit, put this particular sin to death.
Fourth, we must be mindful of our eyes.
Job 31:1 says, “I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I gaze at a virgin?” As you can see, Job had made a covenant with God that he would not gaze or lust after a woman. Job intentionally sought to be mindful of where he would and would not place his eyes. We would do well to do the same.
Also, as Solomon gives counsel to his son about the adulterous woman, he says, “Do not desire her beauty in your heart, and do not let her capture you with her eyelashes” (Proverbs 6:25). As you can see, the beginning stage of adultery is desiring the beauty of another woman in your heart. Therefore, we must be mindful of our eyes. We must make sure that we are not desiring sexual things that are contrary to God’s moral law in our heart. This will help us in the pursuit of purity.
Fifth, we must be mindful of God’s eyes.
When the Scripture teaches about the dangers of sexual sin it says, “For a man’s ways are before the eyes of the Lord, and he ponders all his paths” (Proverbs 5:21). Here, Solomon is teaching his son that the all seeing eye of God is upon him. God is pondering all his ways. He is enthroned in the heavens and sees every inclination of our heart and every action that we take.
This kind of teaching is important because sin usually comes with a deceptive voice saying, “Nobody will see. Nobody will notice. This will be easy to cover up!” And we must remember that this is sin’s deception. It is not reality. The reality is that God, who sits enthroned in the heavens and is incomprehensibly pure, sees all the ways of man. He sees our hearts desires. He sees us at the computer. He sees us on our phone. He sees us as we watch T.V. And he sees us when we are with our boyfriend, girlfriend, fiancé, boss, co-worker, etc. A robust understanding of the all seeing eye of our heavenly Father will help us to be children without the stain of sexual sin.
Sixth, we must be aware of who we are dating or considering dating.
If the person you are dating wants to enjoy sex with you without the covenantal promise that goes with it, then you have a huge problem. I mean, you must understand that God is protecting you when he commands you to only have sex within the marital union.
It really is a beautiful thing for God to reveal to you that your body is so incredibly valuable that the only person that has the right to it must look you in the eyes and vow to be your spouse for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness, in health, till death separates you. Is that not beautiful? The only guy or girl that has the right to your body is the one that promises to be with you as long as you both are still breathing!
With this in mind, find somebody that is willing to marry you; to vow before God to never leave you. Then, after they make that vow to you, gladly and joyfully give your body to them. But, and this is a serious matter, be wary of an individual that wants the right to your body without making vows before God. They are not looking out for your good. They are only seeking to experience the fleeting pleasures of sexual gratification, and they are willing to use your valuable body in order to experience them.
Seventh, you must take delight in heavenly things.
God has given you innumerable blessings that will satisfy your soul. He has given you a buffet of soul satisfying blessings. He has given you Christ whom you can feast on by faith. He has given you His word which is like honey from the honeycomb. He has given you prayer which is direct access to the King of the cosmos! So why in the world seek to be satisfied with sexual sin? Why go to the broken cistern of sexual sin seeking refreshment? We have an infinite stream of eternal blessings flowing from our heavenly Father that will satisfy us greatly!
Eighth, you must be aware of entertainment.
Make sure that the books you are reading, the shows you are watching, the social media you are consuming, and the company you are keeping aren’t polluting your mind and tempting you to lust in your heart. If you can’t thank God for the book, show, movie, social media account, or the conversations that you are having with your friends, then you need to rid yourself of them. Seek to only do that which makes you love Christ more zealously! Do what keeps your love for Christ hot and vibrant. Refrain from doing what makes your love for Christ grow cold. It is when your love for Christ is cold that you turn to sexual sin.
There is much more than could be said. There is more that could be said about the seventh commandment in general, and there is more that could be said regarding applications. This is simply written to remind Christians of the importance of putting sexual sin to death, and to help people think about how they can practically put sexual sin to death. I do hope and pray that God will enable you to put sexual sin to death and to pursue purity by the power of the Spirit, for the sake of Christ, and to the glory of God.