From: Su Min
Jesus says, "You have heard that it was said to those of old 'You shall not commit adultery'. But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart (Matt 5:27)." Jesus goes on to expand that concept, teaching that it is better to loose one part of your body than for your whole body to go to hell (Matt 5:30).
Adultery. It is a common theme in the bible. God's Word teaches again and again against adultery. Two dimensions of adultery are spoken of, firstly the common garden type, horizontal relationship, between man and woman, and the second, the vertical relationship with spiritual dimension, between man and God. The very abhorrence of the horizontal adultery gives us an insight as to how painful the vertical version of spiritual adultery is to God.
Right early in Genesis, as Adam's helpmate is presented to him, God declares "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh (Gen 2:24)." Jesus reinforces the honour of the institution of marriage, by choosing a wedding banquet as the site for his first miracle (John 2: 1-11). Marriage should be honoured by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral (Hebrews 13:4).
In the book of Proverbs, the wisdom of the wise is consolidated into 31 chapters of pithy sayings that reflect eternal truths: read and find at least 8 warnings to young men against adultery and warnings to avoid the adulteress.. can you find more than 9 direct warnings about the topic? Note that none of the warnings are addressed to women. The ancient wisdom recognised that daughters of the kingdom of God are usually much more controlled in their sexuality: but the counterpart is obvious when you read, for Proverbs warns so much about the grumbling woman, the quarrelsome wife, like a constant dripping.
The spirit of wisdom teaches us that men find it difficult to control their sexuality and women find it difficult to control their tongues! In Ephesians, the Word of God teaches men to love their wives as Christ loved the church (Eph 5:25). Part of this love is expressed by building a castle to live in, a castle with stones of turquoise, foundations of sapphires, battlements of rubies, gates of sparkling jewels (Isaiah 54:11-12.). Part of this love is a selfless commitment to serve the interest of the other. Part of this love is a constant desire to feed the emotional needs. I believe that as such a love is expressed, all grumbling fades away, and we are presented with a radiant bride, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish (Eph 5:27). Praise be to God! In today's reading Jesus teaches us that just as murder was to be abolished from our hands, hearts, tongue, lips, mouth and brain, so too was adultery to abolished from the inner most being of all true believers.
King David's adultery with Bathsheba (2 Sam 11& 12) is an object lesson for us. Beloved David, writer of the psalms, had his moment of weakness. In a short moment of weakness (ten seconds or less is all it takes to make such a wrong decision), he saw her and lusted. He already committed adultery in his heart at that moment. As Nathan put it, he saw the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and took it. He ordered the death of Uriah. He misappropriated Bathsheba. He committed adultery. David sinned. Uriah paid a deadly price. His son, born to Bathsheba, paid a fatal price. Eventually David repented and was forgiven. But surely God's heart must have ached at this wrong doing.
If such as a great man as David could succumb to the temptation to commit adultery, what more us lesser mortals? Yet Jesus teaches us to guard our hearts and minds against mental adultery. "If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away". As you hear these words feel also the spirit of the law, not just the letter of the law. Does Jesus mean this in a literal sense, that we should actually pluck out an eye to save ourselves from going to hell? Or does he mean, by this hyperbole, to express how carefully we should guard our thoughts, lest they lead us down the slippery slope.
Jesus teaches us to guard against adultery. Not that sex in itself is wrong. But the joy of sex as designed by God was to be experienced within the marriage covenant alone. Anything beyond that is beyond God's design. Jesus taught us to pray, "Thy kingdom come on earth, as it is in heaven". Let us be hearers and does of the Word.
- The spiritual adultery of Israel as a nation was clear soon after the Israelites took possession of the promised land (Judges 2:10-17, 1 Chron 5:25, Ezek 6:9).
- The spiritual adultery of man as an individual and Israel as a nation may be best depicted in Hosea, where the prophet is required by God to marry Gomer, a harlot, the relationship between Gomer and Hosea much reflecting Israel's relationship to God. Gomer runs away and seeks worldly pleasures, rich lovers and worldly things (Hosea 2:5). Hosea seeks her out and pays a ransom for her to buy her back (Hosea 3:2). God then speaks through Hosea to draw the parallel between Gomer and Hosea and Israel and God. Indeed Jesus sought us out and bought us back for God with a price.. his blood no less, shed on the cross.
Let us pray.
Father in heaven.
Thank you for your lesson today.
God, you abhor adultery, both the human kind and the spiritual kind.
Teach us to so order our hearts and minds and soul that we honour you in everything we do.
In Jesus name
For any comments or enquiries please write to Dr. Lim Su Min
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