2015-06-14 - The Seventh Commandment
The Call to Purity
Editor's Note: Could this one be more apropos for our times (and all others)?
This is another command where it is necessary to define terms.
According to the dictionary, adultery is:
“Voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and a partner other than the lawful spouse.”
This brings up an immediate question: Is this command limited to a specific sexual sin, or can it be understood in more general terms? The word is “na’ap” in the Hebrew. The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament says:
“This root represents ‘sexual intercourse with the wife or betrothed of another man.”
While the command refers to the physical act of adultery, there is a general view in scripture that would support an expansion to a more general unfaithfulness, which includes emotional unfaithfulness, which can occur anywhere, even on the internet.
But the focus of the command, while dealing with a specific sin, is against a sin which leads to the destruction the family. We must go elsewhere in Scripture, to find the injunctions against, fornication, homosexuality, etc. All sexual abuse is a sin, from God’s point of view, but here the focus is very specific, for important reasons we shall be reviewing.
As with the previous commandment this one has also been used beyond the intent of the text. In a number of commentaries the authors take off from the call against adultery, or sexual purity within marriage, as a basis for speaking out against all sexual immorality. Scripture does speak out against all immortality. While there is nothing wrong with their intent to teach on sexual purity in general, the focus of the command is more specific and deals with the sanctity of the family.
The call of the Seventh Commandment then is to morality within the confines of the sacrament of marriage. We will see there is also a spiritual application that can be drawn from this command beyond the surface understanding. Throughout Scripture adultery is also seen as a picture of unfaithfulness to the Lord. To follow after other gods is called by the Word adultery. The Lord pictures the relationship between adultery in the marriage and the spiritual adultery of Israel against Himself with His instructions to the Prophet Hosea in Hosea 1:2:
When the Lord first spoke through Hosea, the Lord said to Hosea, “Go, take to yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the Lord.” (ESV).
As you read through the entire book of Hosea, this is the constant theme, the unfaithfulness of the nation to her God. Unfortunately for poor Hosea, God uses his marriage as an illustration of this unfaithfulness. Just as Hosea takes back his wife, so God promises to take back the adulterous Israel, a people that He loves. In this way, Hosea demonstrates the truth that God has never forsaken His people Israel - and never will.
One final point, regarding this command, is: Though it is given to Israel, it is clearly one of God’s universal standards. Its application is for all mankind, regardless of where they stand in relationship to Him.
In Genesis 2:23-24 we read first the words of Adam.
“Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (ESV).
Marriage was instituted by God at the time of Creation. Adultery violates this institution. I always remember what my uncle said at our wedding: “Matrimony isn’t a word; its a sentence.”
Pastor Geoff Kragen
For part 1 of this commandment study, go to the May 3rd 2015 devotional.
For more information about the author, podcasts and additional studies visit www.GKRAGEN.com.