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Lesson 7 of the Discipleship Making process.
I left you last time with the question of “How does Jesus’ teaching on adultery contrast with our society’s views?”
Jesus continues His Sermon on the Mount teaching the family values in the Kingdom of God. His next topic is adultery. Jesus is not dealing with the subject of fornication, which is a general term for all improper sexual relations and includes adultery, bestiality, sodomy, harlotry, incest, and homosexuality. Adultery however involves more than just improper sexual relations. It constitutes a violation of covenant relationship.
Many people today do not have a proper understanding of the term adultery. Most would say that adultery occurs when a married individual engages in sexual relations with another who is not their spouse. Engaging in this practice is considered immorality and often leads to adultery. However it is, in and of itself not adultery. The Hebrew meaning of adultery means to break wedlock or breaking oneness. Immoral sexual relations can happen within marriage, but if the couple remains married then there is no breaking of wedlock or oneness, hence adultery does not occur. To be considered adultery three events must occur: marriage, divorce and remarriage.
It is in Matthew 5:27-32, that we find Jesus’ next commands.
It is here that Jesus wants His disciples to see the root causes of adultery, rather than just the legal issues that we have already briefly discussed.
Jesus here discloses the pattern of steps that lead to adultery. Each of the steps also serves as a warning and instruction for overcoming the temptation. Committing adultery is about being unfaithful to one’s vows, and it all starts with a look.
In Matthew 5:28, Jesus says that everyone who looks on a woman to lust for her has committed adultery with her already in his heart. He places the responsibility for the sin of adultery squarely on the shoulders of the man.
The temptation to commit the sin of adultery comes through the lust of the eyes. Jesus gives His disciples the solution for preventing the lustful look. He commands them to pluck out their right eye and throw it away if it offends them. This Aramaic idiom simply means, “stop envying or coveting.”
Jesus continues His command to His disciples by saying, "If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off, and throw it from you; for it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to go into hell.” This Aramaic idiom means, “stop stealing,” step two.
The final step and warning is divorce. Jesus demands that His disciples not divorce their spouses for any reason other than the hardening of heart due to infidelity in the relationship, with the understanding of no future marriage (1 Corinthians 7:10-11).
Read: Mark 10:3-12
Spiritual adultery with God, called apostasy/falling away/idolatry, follows the same path.
The point of the lesson is to avoid covetousness, which is the root of adultery, known as the lustful look.
With that, allow me to leave you with this question to consider, along with a little homework assignment until my next posting:
“Why do people make promises?”
. . . and the homework assignment . . .
Prayerfully consider the following two examples of Adultery found and taught in the Bible.
The Eighth Day of the Feast of Booths ... A Woman is Caught in Adultery
An interesting point arises when the scribes and Pharisees brought a woman caught in the act of adultery to Jesus. What was this act of adultery? Most believe that she was a married woman caught in the act of having sexual relations with a man. If this were the case why wasn’t the man stoned as well, since it was the law in Israel. The most likely scenario is this. The woman probably divorced her first husband and was in the process of marrying her second husband, who was a single man. She was caught in the act of committing adultery at the wedding ceremony.
The story above involves the legal issues of adultery, but Jesus wants His disciples to see the root causes for it. The story of King David and Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11) shed light on these causes and contrast the moral and legal issues of adultery. Following is a summary of their story.
King David watched Bathsheba, a married woman bathe. The Law did not forbid this. Then David initiated physical contact with her. They had sexual intercourse and she became pregnant. Immoral sexual relations were forbidden under the Law. David tried to hide the consequences of his sin, the unborn child. If he can’t find a way out of the predicament Bathsheba will be shamed, more than likely divorced and possibly stoned to death. David’s first plan had Bathsheba’s husband’ Uriah, who is a commander in the army and away at war, return to Jerusalem. David wanted Uriah to have sexual relations with Bathsheba so that it appeared that the unborn child was theirs. However, Uriah didn’t lie with Bathsheba. David knew that if Uriah divorced Bathsheba, he would be committing adultery if he married her. His second plan unfolded.
David sent Uriah back to war and instructed his commander to allow Uriah to be killed in the fighting. Under the Law this was not murder since Uriah died in warfare. After Uriah died David married Bathsheba. Under the Law, David did not commit adultery since Bathsheba’s husband died and did not divorce her. So in the legal sense, David did not commit adultery or murder but morally he was guilty on both counts. God knew the intentions of David’s heart and brought judgment against him: 2 Samuel 12:1-23 & Psalm 51.
. . . And . . .
Establish two accountability relationships, the first being your spouse, if you are married.
Until next time . . . Godspeed!
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