"You shall not commit adultery." (Exodus 20:14)
In 1975, Jimmy Carter bravely told an eager reporter that while he never physically committed adultery, he knew that he had failed God in this commandment because mentally he had entertained adulterous thoughts in his mind. Of course, the press did not know how to receive such honesty from a man who openly shared his Christian beliefs, so they reacted in typical fashion and mocked the then-presidential hopeful for his candid interview. Rather than uplift this man as a refreshing example, one who transparently admitted an area of weakness where he openly struggled to remain pure in the eyes of God, the world scoffed and belittled. (Isn't that just like this sinful world!) But Mr. Carter wisely shared his story knowing that every battle against adultery always begins in a person's mind... none of us is immune to it's bidding.
Just as he did with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, Satan continues to tempt us with distractions and sinful pleasures that continually challenge our faithfulness to God and commitment to do what is right. When we start longing for what exists outside of God's healthy structure, and when we begin focusing on what we want over what God has instituted for our benefit and well-being, we begin to forget the seventh commandment and seek hollow, temporary forms of gratification. The result: we sin.
I'm certain that many will not like what I am about to say, however, I firmly believe that the greatest cause for divorce is irresponsibility and immaturity... not incompatibility! On average, virtually every couple goes through the same challenges together in marriage, but the difference between couples who make it vs. couples who don't boils down to one word: commitment. What is commitment? Commitment is a covenant, a solemn agreement, a pact, a promise, a purpose, an oath, a pledge. It is unchanging... unending.
Filled with feelings, emotions and romantic desires, most couples blurt out their lifelong "commitment" to one another without fully considering the covenant they are entering into. Without thought, they swear a solemn oath before God, "Til' death do us part." That is quite a statement. However, the statistics show us that many do not hold true to their promise and break their word at the first sign of unmet expectation. It would be better if they had entered into marriage stating, "Til' desire do we part," for that is more fitting to what really takes place. Instead, we irresponsibly enter into marriage looking for someone to serve us, rather than someone to serve. And we do so by immaturely pledging our lives to be bound to one another without thought to the Creator of this universe - the Maker who dictates the intake of oxygen into our lungs this very moment! When things get difficult in marriage, I wonder what would happen if more couples would consider their oath to God and follow His plan at all cost. What if we made it a priority to keep our promises to each other as He has kept His Word to us?
"Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.' But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God's throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one." (Matthew 5:33-37)
Jesus shows us that true love is lasting - anchored in service to those with whom we've committed ourselves. While many view love as a "feeling", Christ shows us that genuine love remains - even when feelings cannot be found. No, love is not a feeling... love is a commitment. Think about it. Was it a warm, mushy feeling that kept our Savior on the cross? Is it a feeling that drives our Father to love and forgive us when we sin? No. It is love - real love. Lasting love. Committed love. It is imperative that we understand this so that our commitment to love God first, to keep our oaths to Him and follow His ways before our own, overshadows our desire to follow through with the flesh-feeding act of adultery.
"You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.' But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell." (Matthew 5:27-30)
Seems to me that although the text above is speaking first to how a man can fall into lust after a woman... the principle must still be applied to how any one of us can fall into lust with one another. In general, men and women lust after things differently. Men are visually stimulated by anything that reminds them of physical intimacy. Women are emotionally stimulated by anything that reminds them of relational intimacy. There can be cross-over in these two forms of stimulation depending on how prone an individual is to lust. However, in God's eyes... lust is lust. There is no getting around it. If anyone (man or woman) looks lustfully (in any way - at anyone) outside of God's biblical plan of marriage, they have already committed adultery in their heart. The grass is never greener in God's eyes. Desiring a different pasture than what He has given you will only cause you to sin and lead you away from His presence and healthy way of living.
The road to adultery carries so many sins with it. While those may jump to look at the parade of nudity, seduction and suggestive sexuality out there... while some may be misled into the trap of false romance driven by feelings and excitement... God warns us that behind such lust and irresponsibility lives shame, deceit, betrayal and ugliness. He knows that if we fall prey to follow our fleshly hunger, we will be imprisoned by the sin of adultery and burdened by many, many troubles.
God will not stay near to those whose sin is fed to flourish. No, God is holy and will only encourage what is best for you. Irrespective of how you "feel" at any given moment, your Redeemer wants you to be blessed with His perfect intimacy and the rewards of His marital union. God takes our commitments very seriously. To lust after what is unholy is to ultimately cheat against your relationship with The Almighty. So, by engaging in adultery when married, not only are you being unfaithful to your spouse, but you are being unfaithful to your Creator. This is a big deal. You can not have it both ways and still receive God's blessing. You must choose who you will follow. If it is God... you will find LIFE. If it is Satan and flesh... you will find death and destruction. It is that simple.
Pornography, infidelity, emotional affairs and self-gratification are all traps of the enemy that will move you farther away from God. You will either stand firm against them in Jesus name and remain close to His presence or you will not. If you choose the latter, you will be consumed with your fleshly desires, imprisoned by your sin, and unable to experience the true love, joy and intimacy God has planned for your life. In short, you will destroy yourself.
Who commits adultery lacks judgment; whoever does so destroys himself. (Proverbs 6:32)
Although adultery is not the only irresponsible reason that couples divorce, it is one of the biggest issues on the table. Unfortunately, such temptation will never be removed while we are alive on this earth. For Satan's greatest goal is to lead us away from our relationship with God. In doing so, he is resolved to do all he can to break up God's structure for marriage and church. Why? Because God made these sacred institutions to represent His perfect love. The enemy wants us to think that our struggle is only against our own flesh and blood, but God knows that our struggle is bigger than that... WE ARE AT WAR! We are fighting against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms that are against God. In this war, the enemy wants us to be destroyed... plain and simple. Flesh is an easy avenue for him to use, since we are full of sin and hungry to feed our selfish desires.
It is important to note that adultery is not a sin exclusive to married couples. Singles are easily able to fall into Satan's trap and be caught up in activities that go against purity and holiness. Furthermore, the desire to be married to another sometimes becomes so great that many single women forget that keeping God first in their life is more important than nabbing a husband. We must all realize that God gave us #7 of "the ten" to help us avoid pain and trouble brought on by this self-serving sin. By keeping our hearts and minds pure and focused on our Creator, we are promised great reward for all eternity. In Him, we have a blessed, exciting future!
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11)
Ladies, I encourage you to pray over this matter individually as well as with your husbands (if married). I challenge you to not lay idle and allow Satan to tempt and distract you and your family away from God. We must always make the effort to keep our eyes on what is eternal and, in Jesus name, attack the ongoing issue of lust with prayer and appropriate biblical repentance. For those married, we must build up our husbands and give them the physical and spiritual nourishment they require by serving them sexually and walking with them as holy help-mates. For those single, we must give up romantic notions that lead us into ungodly relationships merely because they hold a potential for marriage. We must stop lowering our standards while thinking, "I'll change him." or "I'll save him." No... I'm sorry, but if God has not touched their hearts to seek after Him, what makes you think YOU will be able to change them? End ungodly intimacy NOW, singles. Only court potential mates who are also resolved to seek Jesus first!
Lastly, as ladies, we must act and dress accordingly so as not to lead another into temptation. Our beauty should reflect Christ's beauty and our sexuality and heart should be exclusively reserved as gifts for our husbands. I am always amazed at some of the things Christian women wear and allow into their homes. Ladies, we must remain committed to our God and our spouse. We must love each other as God loves us. We must present ourselves as pure and clean - washed by the blood of Christ. Take an inventory of how you dress, what pictures you post online, what shows you watch and encourage your girlfriends to watch - are they holy? Do they support purity? If not - lose them and gain more of God's presence!
I am certain that we have all allowed an impure thought or adulterous idea to linger in our mind. No one is immune to this sin. That said, when it happens, it is critical for the sake of our spiritual growth to repent and confess our sin to God immediately and change our course. When we do so, we have the security in knowing that the Lord is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9)
I once heard of God's ten commandments referred to as a fence at a rodeo. (I know, weird huh?) But here is the premise... when a cowboy rides a bull and falls off, he immediately realizes he is in danger. His first instinct is to seek safety. So, he gets up and runs as fast as he can to the fence surrounding the parameter of the rodeo. He does this while barely escaping the inevitable pain, destruction and death that would surely await him had he stayed in front of the raging bull that was charging at him with eyes blazing in hatred. In this parallel, the fence was likened to God's commands. The fence was not put there to keep the cowboy confined and imprisoned from living. Rather, the fence was put there to keep the raging sin that so desperately wants to destroy the cowboy contained. This way, the cowboy can live safely. When on the right side of the fence, the cowboy is relaxed and unharmed and free to go live his life. Before Christ, we too were riding a violent, angry bull of sin. At one point, we fell hard and realized that we were in danger. So we ran to the safety of our Savior. We ran to Christ who had a greater life waiting for us outside the rodeo of this earth. When we jumped to our safety over His fence, we were free to enjoy His promise of a new life. To jump the fence and return to the rodeo would be foolish. To get back on the bull would sooner or later lead us to fall again and be destructive. No, the fence was put there for our good. We must stay on the correct side of it and move past our desire to ride the bull so that we can enjoy the abundant world that God has prepared for us. We must leave the rodeo with our faithful Shepherd and remain committed to Him alone.
Lord Jesus, help us to remain pure and faithful to You (and to the husbands we have made an oath to love til' death do us part). In every word, every thought, every deed we act out... give us Your grace and example to follow. Keep our eyes focused on Your ways always. Let us stand firm against the enemy in Jesus name. Keep our hearts pure and protect us. Keep us fresh and renewed each and every day we are on this earth so that we are victorious followers of our King. We are at war and we trust Your headship and wish only to look to YOU longingly... and forever. Praise Your name, dear Father in Heaven. We love You more than life... more than our own flesh. Give us the strength and resolve to live holy and honor You in all we say and do. Amen.
© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson