10 Healthy Habits for Building Strong Families ❧ Part 12
KEEPING MARRIAGE PURE
Exodus 20:14 “You shall not commit adultery.”
I read about an elderly couple sitting by the fireside. He looked over at her, had a romantic thought, and said, “After fifty years, I found you tried and true.” The wife’s hearing wasn’t very good, so she said, “What?” He repeated, “After fifty years, I’ve found you tried and true.” “After fifty years, I’m tired of you too,” she replied. I don’t know if this story is true, but I hope it is not your experience. God designed marriage to be life-long fulfilling relationship. But it requires some work and some wisdom. That’s why He gave us the seventh commandment: You shall not commit adultery (Ex. 20:14).
This morning I want us to look at “Keeping Your Marriage Pure.” Nothing destroys a family faster than adultery. God says this is My protection plan. I don’t want you committing adultery. If you want to build a strong family, then keep your marriage pure. Even the mere mention of the word adultery causes some of you pain and memories and shame. The purpose of today’s message is not to resurrect your past. If you have confessed a sin to God and you’ve been forgiven God has forgiven it and you need to too.
- What Is Adultery? The Bible says at least four things about adultery.
- Unfaithfulness.You shall not commit adultery (Exodus 20:14). There is an old joke
that says when Moses came down from Mount Sinai he announced, “I have some good news and some bad news. The good news is I got Him down to ten. The bad news is adultery stays.”This is a sad but telling joke. One study said that 50% of all husbands and probably 35% wives admit to having been unfaithful at some time in their marriage. Adultery leaves ugly wounds that scar people for life. God says, don’t do it. Adultery threatens the very building block of the civilization that the Ten Commandments seek to create, says one author. He’s right.
- Fornication. Having sex before marriage. Today, this has become so normal that
most people think it’s okay. Even here though God says, don’t let the peer pressure tell you otherwise. There’s a price to pay. The Bible is very clear about sex outside of marriage. (Jesus) For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications (porneia – pornography), thefts, false witness, slanders (Matt. 15:19). Flee from immorality (1 Cor. 6:18). God says, don’t do it. Why? Because God made everything for a purpose. God invented sex and He has a purpose in it: Marriage. God also invented marriage. Sex outside of marriage is like a kite without a string or a train without tracks – it may feel free and be fun for a moment, but it’s a disaster waiting to happen.
Why is it so wrong? It reveals a lack of respect for the other person. Most people don’t want to marry someone they don’t respect. There is a high probability that person won’t want to marry you. This is true more of men than women. Second, when you do get married, you take all those relationships into your marriage. You start comparing one partner with another. Dissatisfaction enters. God says the best way to be the most satisfied with your spouse is don’t have sex outside of marriage. God created sex for the purpose of marriage.
- Lust. Jesus literally gets to the heart of this command when He says in Matt. 5:27 You
have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart (Matthew 5:27). He’s saying adultery is a mental before it is physical. A lot of people don’t think there is anything wrong with undressing someone in their minds, having lustful thoughts about them. Jesus says, don’t be so gullible. Where do you think lust comes from? Where do you think the fire comes from when you burn with desire? It comes from your thoughts.
Most of us wouldn’t have a problem agreeing with Jesus. Our real problem is how to stop them. All of us are tempted with lust from time to time, even Jesus was tempted. But how do you keep it from taking over your mind? Here’s what you don’t do. Don’t tell yourself, “Stop thinking about that!” You can’t resist lustful thoughts.
Try this. Have you ever had a Cinnabon cinnamon roll smothered in butter and frosting? Makes your mouth water just to think about it. Now, try to stop thinking about it. What happens? That’s all you can think about. The way you resist temptation is by replacing it – change your thinking. That’s what Jesus did when He was tempted. He replaced the temptation with God’s truth. Each time Satan through a temptation in His face, Jesus would turn His eyes from the lie and turn them to the truth and respond, “It is written!”
- Divorce. . . .anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes
her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery (Matt. 5:32). Sincere Christians have different thoughts on this, but what is clear is – divorce outside of marital unfaithfulness is wrong. God says divorce outside of marital unfaithfulness is wrong. As of 2019 all 50 states across our nation have no-fault divorces. America has had the highest divorce rate of all the nations since the beginning of the 20th century. One of the things I share with every couple in premarital counseling is this: don’t allow divorce to become a part of your vocabulary. The reason is simple. If I know there is a way out of facing my problems, I’ll take it. Divorce prevents people from dealing with the real problems and overcoming them. More than 60% of all second time marriages end in divorce. And from there the percentages just keep going up and up. Problems are seldom solved in divorce, only increased.
- Why Is This Command So Important? Why is God so concerned about it? Because He
knows the pain and ruin it will cause in our lives. The problem with the media and adultery is they only look at one side of the coin. They focus on the pleasure but fail to tell you about the other side of the same coin: pain, betrayal, rejection, shame, guilt. Imagine the consequences. Imagine looking your wife in the eye when she eventually finds out. Imagine the untold hurt you will bring into the lives of your children, friends, family. Loss of trust, integrity. Not to mention the increasing risk of sexually transmitted diseases. Above all, the grief you would bring to the One who died for you, who redeemed you. God says this is important because it’s for your own good.
Let me take this a step further. We are currently witnessing the devastating effects of breaking
God’s command in our nation and the world as a whole. Because we have turned our backs on God
as a nation, we are experiencing His wrath. The Bible tells us the wrath of God is (being) revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them(Romans 1:18-19). It is no secret that our nation is experiencing God’s wrath because as a nation, we’ve turned our backs on Him. When we break God’s commands, we are really only breaking ourselves. Recently I was reminded of this in Romans 1:24-31. Three times it says God gave them over (Vv. 24 Immorality, 26 Homosexuality, 28 Depravity). Each one is worse than the former.
- ImmoralityTherefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that
their bodies would be dishonored among them(Romans 1:24). When did God give us over to immorality? The sixties and seventies, even the eighties, were known as the sexual revolution. We became a culture where when it comes to sex, anything goes. There was an increased acceptance of sex outside of marriage, pornography, the legalization of abortion. It was during this same time we took God, the Bible, and prayer out of the public classroom (1963). Crime, drugs, violence, divorce skyrocketed. God gave our nation over. The sexual revolution opened the door to increased acceptance of homosexuality. We rapidly degenerated from immorality to homosexuality.
- HomosexualityGod gave them over to degrading passions; for their women
exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another (Romans 1:26-27). Wide-spread acceptance of homosexuality became the norm, even though those who practice it represent a very small percentage of our nation. Now, we have children who are being taught they can choose their gender, that is one of 64 different types.
- Depravity as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over
To a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful(Romans 1:28-31). God gave them over to a depraved mind, a mind that no longer recognized what is right. Insanity. This explains what we’re seeing today that we can’t believe. Defunding the police. Releasing violent criminals. Reparations for slavery. Now, reparations for homosexuality. Releasing criminals without bail. Turning a blind eye to mass lootings, violent rioting, all the while shouting down voices of reason. How else would you describe this but depravity, insanity?
Where is all this going? For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah.
For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be (Matt. 24:37–39). Dr. Andy Woods, a renowned prophecy expert says Jewish tradition says before Noah’s flood there an increase in homosexuality – much like Sodom and Gamora. Why is God’s command so important? It serves as guardrails to protect your marriage and your family.
- How Can I Protect My Marriage?
- Build your faith. Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
(2 Pet. 3:18).The best defense is a good offense. Decide to honor Christ with your life. God says those who honor Me, I will honor. God will honor you. God invented marriage so that He would be the strengthening power that holds it together.
One of the things I like to do during wedding ceremonies is called: The cord of three strands. The idea comes from Eccl. 4:12 A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart. If you braid two cords together, they will quickly come undone. But if you add a third, they retain their shape. So it is with marriage, the more you weave your faith into your relationship, the stronger it will get and the better defense you will have.
- Establish guidelines. Many people do dumb things, make stupid mistakes because
they don’t really think about what they are doing. Let’s be very practical here. If you’re single, don’t go to someone’s home of the opposite sex. If you’re in a relationship, don’t spend time alone where you know you’re going to be tempted. Find some place where you can be alone but have accountability. Think before you put yourself in a tempting situation.
If you’re married don’t spend time alone with the opposite sex; taking them to lunch, giving them rides in your car, going to their home alone. Don’t do it. My wife knows my schedule and is able to reach me at any time. One of the guidelines we’ve established in our marriage is that if someone we’re working with of the opposite sex concerns either of us, we have the right to tell the other. It doesn’t matter if I don’t see a danger or she doesn’t, what matters is respecting and protecting our relationship first. Flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart (2 Tim. 2:22).
- Guard your affections. Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the
springs of life(Prov. 4:23) Jesus has already shown us, adultery begins when you start entertaining thoughts and feelings for someone outside of your marriage. As Christians we know we shouldn’t cross over to the physical side of adultery, but many are willing to take up residence on the mental side of it. Just because you’re not having a physical affair doesn’t mean it’s okay to have an emotional affair with someone. What is an emotional affair? It’s when you start looking to someone outside of your marriage to meet your emotional needs. You start looking forward to being with them or talking with them. There’s an electric sense. You find yourself thinking about the other person a lot. When you get dressed, you think, “Will so and so like this shirt or this shirt?” You need to be honest about your feelings. Expose them to God. Don’t hide them or they’ll be like a time bomb. If the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, then it’s time to water the lawn. Guard your affections.
- Make time for romance. Set up regular dates with your spouse. Get away together.
Find things that you both enjoy doing an invest in them together. Do things that will protect and
nurture your friendship with one another. The reality is men and women are very different and
sometimes all we can see are the differences. One list of differences comes from a Dr. Willard Harley
(His Needs, Her Needs). He has identified through thousands of couples what he thinks are the top 5
needs of most men and the top 5 needs of most women. See if you see any similarities
between these two lists: The top five needs of most men are: 1. Sexual fulfillment 2. Recreational
companionship 3. An attractive spouse 4. Domestic support 5. Admiration
The top five needs of most women are:1. Affection 2. Conversation 3. Honesty and openness 4. Financial support 5. Family commitment. Did you see any similarities between those two lists? No. No wonder we have so much trouble adjusting and protecting marriage. Men come into marriage thinking for some strange reason their wife’s needs are the same as theirs, so they set about trying to meet the needs they have in their wife and feeling very, very frustrated when she does not respond the same way he does. The same is true for the wife. The point is, become a student of one another. You will never stop learning. Your goal is to be the best friends you can be.
- What If I’ve Failed? The Bible is very clear, sexual sin is serious business, but it is not
unforgivable. In John 8 Jesus finds Himself caught in a web of conspiracy being spun by the religious leaders trying to trap Him. They drag a woman before Him and throw her at His feet accusing her of adultery. They want to see Jesus’ answer. The funny thing is they never bring up the man. They know that according to the Law of Moses she should be put to death. And if Jesus agrees, they can accuse Him of being an insurrectionist before the Romans because only the Romans had the right to put someone to death. On the other hand, if He said No. Then He would be discredited before the people for not upholding the Law of Moses.
Jesus does the unexpected. Unaffected by their plot, He quietly kneels down and begins to write in the dust with His finger. Some think He was writing the Ten Commandments or the names of those standing there who’d themselves committed adultery. Whatever He was writing, He quietly comments, “Go ahead and stone her. Whoever among you is without sin, let him be the one who throws the first stone” (Jn. 8:7). Silence. . . Then you could hear stones dropping on the ground, one by one. The quiet steps of their feet could be heard as they quietly and awkwardly walked away. Then it was only Jesus and the woman. He looks at her and says, “Where’d your accusers go? I don’t accuse you either. Go and leave your life of sin” (8:10). This story teaches us two things:
- Repent. Stop. It doesn’t mean that you just feel sorry, but it means radical change.
You acknowledge the wrong and you change. You stop. You don’t go back. You don’t look back.
- Receive forgiveness. No matter how bad your failure, God’s grace is greater still.
That’s why Jesus died. Accept His forgiveness for all of the failure and then go on with life. If you’ve asked Him to forgive you, you have to trust Him to do what He says He’ll do if we ask Him. If you’re still feeling guilty, ashamed, self-condemnation even though you’ve asked God to forgive you it means one of two things. You haven’t changed your lifestyle, or you haven’t accepted God’s forgiveness and you’re believing the lie that you can never be forgiven.