Study of Exodus 20:14 Thou shalt not commit adultery.
Posted by adventbiblestudy on June 20, 2011
Most people, who have read the Bible, will recognize the connection between this commandment and Jesus’ words from the sermon on the mountain.
Matthew 5:27-28 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: (28) But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
Is the application of guilt by association within the heart restricted to adultery, or does it apply to other commandments?
Peter compares adultery to coveting. This is an obvious comparison. Desire and lust, or covetous, take control of the heart before performing the act of adultery. A man must first look upon a woman before the thought of adultery enters the mind. In the matter of minutes, or seconds a decision is formed, and the heart either follows, or ignores the desires. Once the heart and mind are allowed to follow desire, the ability to turn back becomes more difficult with each passing moment.
There is something made up of a physical/emotional nature which accompanies desire. It is referred to as passion, which can build, into a emotion referred to as lust. Once lust controls the heart, common sense is lost. The sinner begins to behave in an unnatural manner. Lust may be a temporary sensation, quickly disappearing after the physical act of adultery, or it may linger on in an emotional status often confused with love.
2 Peter 2:14-15 Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children: (15) Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness;
When the lust of adultery is confused with love, people loose the common sense required to judge between right and wrong. In an attempt to hide the act, lying is often the second sin to fall. The act of adultery is always followed by a deep feeling of guilt, which if not dealt with in the proper manner, works to confuse and dull the senses. They think they feel love, but are controlled by an emotion of quite the opposite nature. Love never hurts. It is always tender, kind, and has a desire to serve others. Lust, controlled by desire has quite the opposite effect. It forces a person to lie, and perform other sins, in an attempt to hide the act, and deal with the guilt. The harder a person tries to hide their guilt, the more unnatural their behavior becomes. Guilt creates a need to either directly, or indirectly hurt those closest to them.
They often lash out in unnatural, and uncontrollable anger at loved ones. They may also encourage their spouse to pursue a course of adultery. Adultery blurs the senses. Satan uses this tactic to force people away from God. He convinces them, the lust they feel is a type of love sent by God. While they are drifting away from God, Satan tells them they are serving God, by hurting others. In the confused state they believe inflicting pain will relieve the guilt.
Adultery always results in pain on two levels. The first caused by guilt. The second inflicted on others in an attempt to cover the first. They become emotional organisms, feeding off one another.
Often the guilty party may suggest their marriage partner enter into an affair, thinking this will relieve the pressure of guilt. In their confused state they remove God, and the Spirit from their lives. They are blind to the pain they are causing. They are convinced the guilt is caused by their spouse, which they use as an excuse to inflict more pain and suffering.
Guilt can only be dealt with by confessing the sin, and turning to Jesus to seek forgiveness. Confessing to your spouse will also provide relief from the pain.
Paul compares adultery with a number of other sins specifically mentioned in the ten commandments.
Romans 13:9 For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
James describes sins of the heart on a different level by pointing out, the transgression of one sin is a violation of all the commandments. When a new relationship is formed under the sin of adultery, lying becomes a necessary byproduct in an attempt to hide the act.
Adultery commits two forms of murder. It seeks to kill any true love the offender has, murdering the marriage relationship. It dulls and kills the senses, making it impossible to think rationally. It also steals time away from the marriage relationship. Time which could be spent building the marriage relationship is lost to the relationship formed through adultery.
The Bible uses the word adultery in both the physical, and spiritual forms.
Leviticus 20:10-11 And the man that committeth adultery with another man’s wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death. (11) And the man that lieth with his father’s wife hath uncovered his father’s nakedness: both of them shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.
This is the verse at the center of the controversy created by the priests, when Jesus was asked to judge a women caught in adultery. Instead of pointing out the law, Jesus approached the situation on quite a different, unexpected level. Jesus knew each man present had already battled the temptation of adultery. Some had fallen victim to only the level of desire, while others sunk to the physical act. Jesus knew the emotional battle each victim had faced. Jesus answered the question not on the physical level the priests had expected, but turned to the emotional, and spiritual levels. In His own way, Jesus remained each individual how far they had drifted from God.
Jesus recognized the entire event was staged by the priests, and allowed them to consider the implication of the sin they had just committed, thou shall not bear false witness. For the woman, adultery may have been an act of survival. The act of adultery may have occurred on the physical level, but the intended purpose of the priests was a sin of the heart. No matter what the circumstances are, one sin will never justify another.
Adultery was common throughout the Bible. Abraham had more than one wife. His wife suggested he break the seventh commandment to start the nation God had promised Abraham. It was also practiced by a number of kings of both Judah, and Israel, beginning with David. One of the most famous offenders was his son Solomon, who thought it was wise to forge relationships with neighboring nations through a number of marriages. After years of trial and error, Solomon wrote; But whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul. Proverbs 6:32.
Solomon’s acts closely paralleled the spiritual use of adultery in the Bible. The Bible compares God’s followers to a bride; as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee. Isaiah 62:5. Spiritual symbolism also compares disloyalty to adultery.
Jeremiah 3:9-11 And it came to pass through the lightness of her whoredom, that she defiled the land, and committed adultery with stones and with stocks. (10) And yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah hath not turned unto me with her whole heart, but feignedly, saith the LORD. (11) And the LORD said unto me, The backsliding Israel hath justified herself more than treacherous Judah.
Jeremiah 23:14 I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem an horrible thing: they commit adultery, and walk in lies: they strengthen also the hands of evildoers, that none doth return from his wickedness: they are all of them unto me as Sodom, and the inhabitants thereof as Gomorrah.
Revelation 2:22-23 Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. (23) And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.
On the spiritual level adultery is any disobedience to God’s law. Just like the physical act results in a separation between marriage partners, disobedience to the law results in a separation from God. Adultery with sticks and stones refers to any object which causes attention, or faith to drift away from God to a physical object. When the Spirit calls the sinner back from God, the feeling of guilt is often confused with a desire to worship the material item with a greater zeal. Satan’s plan is to end the relationship with God, and replace it with a false love for an object.
Just like one could never receive love from an object, they can not receive real love from a partner in adultery. People often think they have the ability to turn a passion, or lust into love. They do not realize, love comes from God, and that is where it must begin.
Within the commandments are lessons of life teaching dedication to God, and social standards to live by. In His teaching, Jesus expounded on these lessons. Without the commandments, there would be no lessons to learn. The meaning of the great controversy between Christ and Satan would loose its meaning. There would be no distinction between right and wrong, light and darkness, black and white. Everything would turn into an endless shade of gray. Without God’s simple ten commandments, the universe would have an endless list of laws, much like we have in this world. When the simplicity of God’s law is lost, the mind of man will forever seek to exploit loop holes for personal gain.