The Reigning Sin of the Time
The picture above is a 19th century brothel in Nashville, TN that was recently torn down to make way for modern development.
You shall not commit adultery. - Exodus 20:14
This commandment reminds us that God is pure and holy. That purity and holiness is completely opposed to uncleanness. Thus, we are called in this commandment to mirror God in our bodily actions. In this commandment something is both tacitly implied and expressly forbidden.
Implicitly commanded is that we should honor marriage (1 Cor 7:2; Heb 13:4). Marriage is to be honored and observed because it is a reflection of the union between Christ and the church. This commandment implies that love and fidelity are to be present in marriage (Eph 5:25). There is a sense then that we are called to love our spouses. That means that love is not just a feeling, but a choice. Fidelity to our spouse is also a demand of marriage. That is to say, we are to be faithful to one another. Making a choice to say yes to that person means that we are saying no to all other people. We are to be faithful in marriage.
The thing expressly forbidden in this commandment is defiling or making ourselves unclean by way of sexual immorality. This is not just physical acts but also thoughts (Matt 5:28). Thomas Watson comments on his day and says, "Adultery is reigning sin of the times." Not much has changed in 400 years. One can turn on the TV to watch something as benign as the Olympic and be shocked by the content in commercials. The ease at which one can break marriage vows either online, in a bedroom, at work, or reading a book is startling. However, we know the truth of Jerome's statement, Delectat in momentum, crucial in aeternum [He gains momentary pleasure and then eternal torment]. Sexual sin comes back and haunts us. Unconfessed sexual sin will ultimately destroy us.
If this sin is everywhere how do we fix it? Well, there are many ways, but let me suggest at least two. First, we must work to have the fear of the Lord constantly in our hearts. The fear of the Lord functions much like levies on a flood plain. The levies keep back the water and the fear of the Lord keeps back filth in our life (Prov 16:6). This is what is seen in the story of Joseph. Joseph in Gen 39 when tempted with sexual sin says that it is a great wickedness and a sin against God. Bernard of Clairvaux calls the fear of the Lord, "the doorkeeper of the soul." The fear of the Lord functions to guard the door from sinful temptations sneaking into the heart. The second remedy against sexual sin is taking delight in the word of God (Ps 119:103). If we take pleasure in Scripture, we will not seek sexual sin where it will not ultimately be found. Augustine said, "Let the Scriptures be my pure pleasure." Chrysostom called the word of God a garden. If we are walking through that garden enjoying all the pleasures of it, we will not want to eat of the forbidden fruit. If we have something better, we will know that we cannot be satisfied by a lesser pleasure.
The seventh commandment confronts the reigning sin of our times. It does this by calling us to mirror God. We are to be clean and pure. To do this the Lord has given us marriage. If we burn with desires, we should be married (1 Cor 7:2). We should observe and honor marriage. We observe marriage by getting married and being loving and faithful to our spouse. We also mirror God by fleeing from all forms of uncleanness and impurity. We need this commandment in this day where it is easy to run after false pleasures. Delectat in momentum, crucial in aeternum [He gains momentary pleasure and then eternal torment].
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