Jun 12, 2012
neil

Sex is a signpost – God’s purpose in the 7th commandment

Preaching through a series on the 10 commandments on Sunday we reached the 7th .  Yesterday I posted the first part of the sermon on the relationship between sex and marriage. Today the second part looks at God’s purpose in the 7th commandment.

What is the 7th commandment?

The seventh commandment reads ‘You shall not commit adultery’.  Pretty much every Jewish adult who first heard those words of God would either have been married or engaged to be married. Every adult could expect to be married by the age of 20. So in that culture the biggest challenge to honouring God with your body was remaining faithful to your spouse.  But the commandment clearly speaks against all kinds of sexual sin.

Paul in Ephesians says ‘ Among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality or any kind of impurity.’ The word there for sexual immorality is porneia and refers really to any sex outside of marriage.

So why is faithfulness in your marriage so important to God?

We’ve been learning over again in this series is that each of the commandments that call on us to ‘love our neighbour’ depends upon a more fundamental  commitment to ‘love God’.  There is a right and necessary ordering of the commandments.  It is the nature of our relationship with God that compels us to remain faithful to our spouse.

Covenant faithfulness in marriage is an expression of our covenant faithfulness to God.  As God is faithful to us and as we are to be faithful to him so we are to exhibit the character of faithfulness in all our relationships, especially marriage. As his people so we want to be like him, to say to the world how great it is to have God as our God and so being faithful to our promises is part of saying thank you to God for being faithful to his.

I was at a wedding a while back, chatting to a non-Christian couple. They asked how long my wife and I had been married and at the time it was something like 10 or 11 years.  One of them was surprised that having married so young we had lasted so long and then the other commented ‘it’s only the Christians who stay married.’ Sadly, in a fallen world marked by sin that is not always the case but it often is.

Our faithfulness in marriage is a reflection of God’s faithfulness we reflect God’s character as the faithful one who loves us with a never-breaking love. A husband and a wife are in their marriage to model the exclusive relationship between God and his people.

What makes adultery so serious it is both one and the same time a betrayal of a spouse and a denial of our God.

In Genesis  39:9-10 Joseph refuses to betray Potiphar by sucombing to the advances of Potiphar’s wife. He refuses out of loyalty to an earthly master. But more fundamentally he recognises that to break a human marriage is to do a wicked thing and sin against God.’

The 7th commandment is given by God to protect marriages, to protect children in marriages and to protect God’s own name and reputation in the world.

Jesus and marriage

No wonder then that Jesus in Matthew 19:3-6  issues a solemn warning that it is God who joins a couple together in marriage. Through marriage they are now to be considered as one person (v.6) and therefore Jesus issues a command ‘let not man separate.’ It is not that it is impossible but rather that it is should not happen.

And the consequences for those who do break this commandment are serious. In the book of Hebrews Christians are reminded of the seriousness of honouring God with their marriages. 13:4

Marriage should be honoured by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.

Yesterday we saw that sex outside of marriage damages ourselves. Today that it dishonour’s God and we are warned judgement awaits those who dishonour God through adultery or sexual immorality.

Tomorrow’s post looks at how we all break the 7th commandment and how through Jesus we can keep the 7th commandment.

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