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Sermon Message

"Keeping Marriage Sacred"

Exodus 20:14
Theme: In the seventh commandment, God calls His people to be faithful to, and keep morally pure through, His institution of marriage.

(Delivered Sunday, October 26, 2003 at Bethany Bible Church. Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotes are taken from the New King James Version.)


We continue our study this morning of the Ten Commandments; and we look specifically today at the seventh commandment, which reads, "You shall not commit adultery" (Exodus 20:14; also Deuteronomy 5:18).

* * * * * * * * * *

Before we begin to consider what this commandment itself has to teach us, I want us to first think about its place in relation to the other commandments.

A casual look at the Ten Commandments as a whole might lead someone to think that they are randomly given, with no specific order in mind. But the more we've gotten to know them over the past few months, the more we've grown to appreciate that there is a very logical order to them - a divinely intentional order! God gives these ten commandments twice - once in Exodus, and again in Deuteronomy; and in both places, the order of the commandments is the same. The order of these commandments is purposeful; because the individual commandments have a very systematic relationship to one another, and build upon one another.

We have seen this, of course, in the two broad categories that the commandments fall under. The first four commandments - that is, the "first table" of the law - govern our behavior toward God; and the remaining six - the "second table" - govern our behavior toward our fellow man. This broad order of the commandments is intentional; because we cannot properly relate to our fellow man until we have first been properly related to God. One must follow the other.

Many people have made a terrible mistake of thinking that they can keep the last six commandments while largely ignoring the first four. But Jesus' teaching on the matter makes this impossible. He summarized the last six commandments in what He referred to as 'the second great commandment', "You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Matthew 22:39). But in summarizing the first four commandments, Jesus gave the command, "You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind"; and said, "This is the first and great commandment" (vv. 37-38); and He added, "On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets" (v. 40). So, to try to keep the last six commandments while ignoring the first four is to try to put what is "second" before what Jesus Himself declared to be "first." To do so would constitute an effort to do the impossible - that is, to be righteous before men while ignoring our relationship with God. But if we are truly keeping the first four commandments - and truly love God with all our heart, soul and mind - then we will be prepared spiritually to keep the last six, and will truly love our neighbor as ourselves. You can see, then, that the broad order of the commandments is crucially important and intentional. One broad category is inseparably dependent upon the other.

We can also see this importance of order of the commandments with respect to the first four commandments that govern our relationship with God. One individual commandment builds upon the other. The first commandment is the foundation for all the commandments, and says, "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage" - and then, having specified who God is, we're told, "You shall have no other gods before Me" (Ex. 20:2-3). This foundational commandment teaches us WHO we are to worship. And then comes the second commandment. It builds on the foundation of the first commandment and tells us HOW we are to worship the one true God; "You shall not make for yourselves a carved image - any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments" (vv. 4-6). Can you see how the second commandment is built upon the first?

And the third and fourth commandments are further built upon those first two. The second commandment having kept us from all false forms of worship toward God, the third then goes on to teach us to reverence the truth about the one true God by telling us, "You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain" (v. 7). His "name" is a symbolic reference to God in the whole of His being - all that He is, all that He does, and all the authority He holds over us. To reverence His "name" is to reverence all that is true of Him in our worship. How could we do this if we didn't first know who to worship and how we are to worship Him?

And then, the fourth commandment teaches us how far that reverence toward the truth about God is to extend into our lives - teaching us to live in dependency upon Him, to cease from our labors once a week, and to hallow His holy day: "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it" (vv. 8-11). This fourth commandment brings the three that precede it into the area of every-day, practical living.

These four commandments begin by telling us "who" to worship, then "how" to worship Him, then "what attitude to have" in our worship of Him, and then "how far into practical life" that worship is to extend! And so, if we worship God as He commands us in the first four commandments, our hearts would be rightly prepared to keep the remaining six. Can you see the wonderful logic in all this? And can you see the importance of the specific order of these commandments?

We can take this matter of the specific order of the commends even further still, as we consider the relationship between the fourth and fifth commandments. They are placed together intentionally - as the last commandment of the first table of the law, and the first commandment of the second table of the law. Together, they serve as a link that joins together the first and second broad categories of the law; that is, the love of God and the love of our neighbor. The fourth commandment, concerning the keeping of the Sabbath day, retains the broad theme of a right relationship with God; but takes that theme as far into our daily life with our fellow man as it can go - telling us how to honor God's authority over us in our daily work among the people around us. And then, the fifth commandment, concerning the honor we owe to father and mother, retains the broad theme of a right relationship with our fellow man; but takes that theme as far into our worship of God as it can go - teaching us to reverence God-appointed authority in all our basic human relationships.

Those two broad categories - our practical love to God and our practical love to our fellow man - must be joined together in daily living for us to truly be holy people; and that's why God has seen fit to place them together elsewhere in the Scripture. We are told very clearly, in Leviticus 19:2-3, "You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy. Every one of you shall revere his mother and his father, and keep My Sabbaths: I am the LORD your God."

And there's more evidence of the marvelous order of the commandments! Just as there is a successive relationship between the commandments in the first table of the law, there is also a successive relationship between the commandments in the second table of the law. In fact, you can detect a successive order in the commandments following the sixth commandment that mirrors the themes of the commandments that proceed it. For example, immediately after calling us to hold sacred the life of our fellow man that had been given to him by God, we're commanded to hold sacred that relationship by which life is given to his offspring - marriage; and this mirrors the commandment God gives us to honor those who gave life to us - our father and mother. Then, we're commanded in the eighth commandment to hold sacred the possessions that our fellow man has gained through the work of his hands by not stealing from him; and this mirrors God's fourth command to cease from our labors on the Sabbath and honor God as our Provider. Then, we're commanded in the ninth commandment to honor the name of our fellow man by not bearing false witness against him; and this mirrors the third commandment in which we're commanded not to take the name of the Lord our God in vain. Then, we're commanded in the tenth commandment not to covet what God has given to our fellow man, and to be content with what God has given us; and this mirrors the second and first commandments, in which we're commanded not to covet a different way to God than He has commanded, but to be content with God as He has revealed Himself to be.

The more we look at the commandments as a whole, and see their relationships to one another, the more we marvel at the wonderful symmetry and logical order God has given them!

* * * * * * * * * *

Now, the reason I felt that it was important to point out the marvelous order and interrelationship of these commandments is to stress to you that the seventh commandment is where it is for a reason. It follows immediately after the commandment which calls us to hold all human life sacred. And building upon this, the seventh commandment then calls us to hold sacred the life-relationship that God has given our fellow human being - the basic relationship that makes human society possible and tolerable - that is, marriage. It calls us to protect and honor the relationship from which human life springs; and it commands us not to violate that relationship through adultery.

The famous Baptist minister Aurthur Pink has written about this. He says that the seventh commandment is concerned with a whole class of duties that are implied by it; and he writes,

"The class of duties here involved is second only to those which preserve man's existence. Hence it is that, immediately following the commandment which declares the sacredness of human life, there is that precept that is a hedge about the highest relationship of creaturehood, thus safeguarding the holy function of the procreation of life. Nothing is more essential for the social order than that the relationship upon which all others are subsequently based should be jealously protected against every form of attack."1

Dear brothers and sisters; I can appreciate very much why this commandment is set after the one protecting human life. I can testify from pastoral experience that the violation of this commandment is more destructive to the life of people than anything else I know - with the exception, of course, of murder. If you steal from someone, they will recover from the material loss. If you lie about them, they will recover their reputation. If you covet their things, they might not even know that you did so. But no one completely recovers from the breaking of the marriage covenant. Nothing is more destructive to the life of another than to violate their marital relationship. If their marital vow is broken, and the sanctity of the union between someone and their spouse is violated - even if they live to an old age, neither they nor their children nor their family and friends will fully regain what was lost.

My wife has sometimes said that an adulterer might as well throw his or her children on the ground and kick them repeatedly in the stomach; in the long run, it would be more merciful to do that to them than what happens when the marriage of their mother and father is violated through adultery. I can truthfully say that, by the breaking of this one commandment, I have seen more marriages brought to a tragic and grievous end, more useful ministries humiliatingly destroyed, more happy homes shattered, more children emotionally disillusioned and left with a lifetime of resentment, more testimonies for Christ completely spoiled, more homes lost, and more household finances completely wasted, than by any other sin. It is one of the devil's most effective tools for bringing about human misery.

The Proverbs are very honest in telling us of the destructive power of adultery. These short words of Scripture usually warn of "the adulteress" (not because women are more prone to this sin than men, but because the writer of the Proverbs was speaking as a father to a son). In Proverbs 5:5, he warns against the adulteress, saying, "Her feet go down to death, her steps lay hold of hell." Verses 8-15 urge,

Remove your way far from her, and do not go near the door of her house, lest you give your honor to others, and your years to the cruel one; lest aliens be filled with your wealth, and your labors go to the house of a foreigner; and you mourn at last, when your flesh and your body are consumed, and say: "How I have hated instruction, and my heart despised correction! I have not obeyed the voice of my teachers, nor inclined my ear to those who instructed me! I was on the verge of total ruin, in the midst of the assembly and congregation" (Prov. 5:8-15).

Proverbs 6:26-29 similarly says,

For by means of a harlot a man is reduced to a crust of bread; and an adulteress will prey upon his precious life. Can a man take fire to his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? Can one walk on hot coals, and his feet not be seared? So is he who goes in to his neighbor's wife; whoever touches her shall not be innocent (Prov. 6:26-29).

Proverbs 6:32-33 says, "Whoever commits adultery with a woman lacks understanding; He who does so destroys his own soul. Wounds and dishonor he will get, and his reproach will not be wiped away." Proverbs 7:25-27 says, "Do not let your heart turn aside to her ways, do not stray into her paths; for she has cast down many wounded, and all who were slain by her were strong men. Her house is the way to hell, descending to the chambers of death." Proverbs 23:27 tells us how much of an entrapment this sin is, saying that "a harlot is a deep pit, and a seductress is a narrow well."

God has communicated to us the seriousness of this sin through the law He gave Moses. Leviticus 20:10 says, "The man who commits adultery with another man's wife, he who commits adultery with his neighbor's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress, shall surely be put to death." Deuteronomy 22:22 says, "If a man is found lying with a woman married to a husband, then both of them shall die - the man that lay with the woman, and the woman; so you shall put away the evil from you." In Old Testament Israel, this was done by taking them both out of the city and stoning them both to death (v. 24).

Our culture does not make adultery a capital crime. But nevertheless, the eternal consequences of clinging to this sin is communicated through these words: "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God" (1 Cor. 6:9-10). What evil company this sin keeps! And what condemnation and hurt it brings upon those who live by it! And what a dreadful destiny is theirs who will not turn from it! God very deeply loves the people He has breathed life into; and that's why He has given us this command: "You shall not commit adultery." God, I believe, places this commandment next to the commandment to protect life; because one act of adultery can result in an entire lifetime of grief, misery and loss for so many lives around those who commit it. The greatest and most godliest king of Israel's history - David - committed just one act of adultery; and he and his children suffered miserably for the rest of his life because of it; and he brought untold sorrow and loss upon his kingdom as well. Next to murder, it is the most damaging sin one can commit against human life. Truly, as Solomon has said, whoever commits it "destroys his own soul".

* * * * * * * * * *

Let's look closer into the matter by first considering ...


The Hebrew word used is one that specifically refers to intimate relations with the spouse or fiancee of another. In giving this commandment, God is drawing a defining line around the sanctity of marriage; and commanding that the line not be in any respect crossed. God is saying, "Do not take someone to yourself that does not belong to you through marriage; and once entering into the covenant of marriage, do not give yourself to anyone other than to your spouse."

Now this brings up an important point. Many years ago, I was working for a printing company that had just hired a young, single woman on as a receptionist. In our conversations with each other, I had the privilege of sharing the gospel with her. (I should add that, for obvious reasons, developing a "friendship-evangelism" relationship with someone of the opposite sex is something that ought to only be done with great caution. As a safeguard, I always kept my wife informed of our conversations.) I told this young woman - as I often tell people when sharing Christ with them - that it costs to follow Jesus Christ. He demands that we turn from our sins and repent of them if we would follow Him. She understood this and considered it; and in time, she prayed a prayer to receive Christ as her Savior.

Not long afterwards, I had the chance to talk with her again to see how she was doing; and in the course of our conversation, she mentioned something about her live-in boyfriend. I didn't know that she had been living with a man and was intimately involved with him; so on learning this, I reminded her about what I had said earlier - that it costs to follow Jesus. I told her that, in order to follow Christ, she needed to repent of this sexual relationship apart from marriage and leave it behind in order to go on with Jesus. And this was, apparently, something she had already thought about; because she very confidently and proudly declared, "But the commandment in the Bible says that I am not to commit adultery. This isn't "adultery", because neither of us are married." And of course she was right; the specific prohibition in this commandment is against "adultery", and technically, she wasn't committing that specific sin.

But that's when I took her to Hebrews 13:4. I quoted the New American Standard translation of this verse, which reads, "Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge." I explained that, biblically, what she was doing was not called "adultery", but rather "fornication" - which is the biblical term for sex apart from marriage. I explained that the intention of this passage of Scripture is that all people everywhere properly honor God's institution of marriage; and that the second half of the verse has a point-for-point relationship with the first half. The writer of Hebrews mentions "fornication" because it is a failure to hold marriage in honor - treating it as if it were merely an option; and he mentions "adultery because it is a defiling of the marriage bed - introducing someone into the marriage union that does not belong there. I explained that both "fornication" and "adultery" equally constituted a failure to hold marriage in honor; and that therefore both sins fall equally under the condemnation of God: "for fornicators and adulterers God will judge".

As I explained all this, I noticed that her face grew more and more pale. She admitted then that she knew she was violating the intention of the seventh commandment - if not the specific letter of it. She repented, broke off the sinful relationship she was in, and moved into her own apartment. I believe that, in doing so, she acted upon this commandment rightly. It speaks specifically against "adultery"; but it's broad intention is to call us to treat God's institution of marriage as sacred; and neither violate its sacredness by behaving as if the covenant of marriage were not necessary, or by breaking our vows before God once we are in a marriage covenant.

* * * * * * * * * *

Why does God call us to sanctify marriage by giving us this command? This leads us, next, to consider ...


The most obvious reason for this commandment is because God invented marriage for the good and happiness of humanity.

When we talked before about the sixth commandment, I affirmed that its basis was in the story of man's creation in the first and second chapters of Genesis. And that same story also gives us the basis for God's commandment against adultery. The Bible tells us that God beheld His creation, and saw that it was not good for man to be alone; and so, "male and female He created them" (Gen. 1:27). After he created the first woman from man, and brought them together as husband and wife, God declared that His creation was now "very good" (Gen. 1:31).

Moses wrote, "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh" (2:24). And in those words, we have the three essential elements that constitute a marriage before God. First, a man, with their consent, steps out from under the legal and formal authority of his father and mother. We symbolize this today through a public wedding ceremony before family and friends. Second, the man is joined - literally "glued" in a permanent bond - to his wife with the consent of her parents. We symbolize this through the father giving the bride away; and by the two publically exchanging vows to one another before God. Finally, the two become "one flesh" - that is, one in physical intimacy, one in life and legal property, one in name, and one in kin. We recognize this in our culture through a marriage license - signed and witnessed, and filed with the state government in accordance with its laws. This constitutes the man and woman entering into a permanent covenant of marriage before God. Jesus Himself quoted these words of Moses and said, "So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate" (Matthew 19:6).

God gave this wonderful covenant to men and women for their happiness and fulfillment. He has blessed it. Humankind would not be what God intended it to be without it. And so, God issued this commandment to protect that blessed covenant - and the happiness and fulfillment it is meant to bring about. I believe that the marital happiness God intends to protect through this commandment is described beautifully in Psalm 128:

Blessed is every one who fears the LORD, who walks in His ways.

When you eat the labor of your hands, you shall be happy, and it shall be well with you. Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine in the very heart of your house, your children like olive plants all around your table. Behold, thus shall the man be blessed who fears the LORD.

The LORD bless you out of Zion, and may you see the good of Jerusalem all the days of your life. Yes, may you see your children's children (Psalm 128:1-6).

* * * * * * * * * *

That last line - the one about seeing one's children's children - leads us to a second basis for this commandment. Marriage is God's appointed means of bringing blessing to the world through the production of a godly offspring; and this commandment protects the means of bringing about that good objective.

We find this in the Old Testament book of Malachi. God was speaking through Malachi to the disobedient priests of Judah, who were behaving sinfully toward their wives. Many were cheating on their wives, or divorcing what the Bible calls "the wife of one's youth" - that is, their first wife - in order to marry someone else. God says, "... The LORD has been witness between you and the wife of your youth, with whom you have dealt treacherously; yet she is your companion and your wife by covenant" (Mal. 2:14). And then, I believe He points back to the story of Adam and Eve, and says, "But did He not make them one, having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth" (v. 15).

After the fall, God had promised that the Seed of the woman would be born and would crush the head of the serpent (Gen. 3:15); looking ahead to the coming of the Messiah, and thus blessing of the world. And every Jewish couple that married had not only a desire for their own happiness, but also a sense of responsibility to pass on a godly heritage to the next generation. Concerning His law, God told Jewish families, "... These words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up" (Deut. 6:6-7). Christian men are taught in the Scriptures, "And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord" (Eph. 5:4). The world is blessed through men and women raising a "godly offspring" and passing the godly heritage on to the next generation; and that is one of the things God sought to protect by giving this commandment.

In a report for the National Marriage Project, conducted through Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, researchers Barbara Dafoe Whitehead and David Ponenoe published their research on the condition of marriage in America. In it, they stated this as one of their conclusions: "One of the best things that the society can do for children is to create the conditions for healthy marriages."2 A failure to keep this commandment brings harm upon marriages, and therefore harm directly upon their children, indirectly to society at large, and ultimately to the cause of the spread of the gospel message that brings blessing to the world. That, I believe, is another reason why God gave the command, "Do not commit adultery."

* * * * * * * * * *

But I believe there is a third and most important basis for this commandment. It's because of the character of God Himself. All of the commandments have their ultimate basis in the character of God. Lying is wrong, for example, ultimately because God Himself is a God of truth. Murder is wrong, ultimately because God is the giver of life. And the same is true for this commandment: adultery is wrong, ultimately, because God is a God who is faithful and pure in His love.

The Bible communicates Jesus' relationship with His church through the picture of a marriage; and Jesus Himself is presented to us as utterly faithful to His Bride. Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus, and said;

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband (Eph. 5:22-33).

God is faithful and pure in His love for us. And He likewise demands faithfulness and purity in our relationship with Him. James wrote of this in his letter to Christians who were flirting with worldly values and priorities; and he said, "Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, 'The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously?'" (James 4:4-5).

Therefore, as God Himself is faithful and pure in His love, and as He insists that we be faithful and pure in our love for Him, He also demands that we model His behavior and demonstrate faithfulness and purity in our marriage. This stands as the ultimate basis for this commandment against adultery.

* * * * * * * * * *

But as we all know, we live in a world that celebrates adultery. Its in many of our movies and television programs and songs. The world often portrays marriage as the most miserable situation in which anyone could ever imprisoned. It equates marital faithfulness and morally pure singleness with "dullness"; while light-heartedly referring to adulterers and fornicators as "swingers". And what's more, direct temptations for marital unfaithfulness and sexual impurity are all around us and continually pressing in on us. What then, in actual practice, can we do to keep this commandment?

This, finally, this leads us to consider ...


First, implicit in the words of this commandment is what we must do to avoid sexual temptation. The Bible gives us our only sure defense in this world against sexual immorality - marriage! The apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian believers, who lived in a culture like ours that was given over to sexual sin; and he wrote,

Now concerning the things which you wrote to me: it is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband. Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband (1 Cor. 7:1-3).

God's appointed defense against the cultural temptations and pressures toward sexual immorality is marriage! If someone is tempted in the sexual area, they need to get into a marriage - their own, that is!

This leads us to a second implication of this commandment. Once in a marriage, we must learn - with God's help - to truly love our spouse. Extra-marital affairs almost always begin with a breakdown in the relationship between a husband and a wife; and when their emotional and relational defenses are down, an outsider to the marriage is easily welcomed in - whether through visual images, or phone calls, or flirtation, or in acts of sexual intimacy. The great Puritan preacher Thomas Watson once very wisely wrote, "It is not having a wife, but loving a wife, that makes a man live chastely."

When a husband truly loves his wife, and a wife her husband, their marriage becomes a strong wall of defense against the temptations that are in the world. They become protective of what they have. We're taught about Jesus love for His church in Ephesians 5; and no one who truly loves his or her spouse as Jesus loves them would ever cheat on them.

A third implication of this commandment is that we must be serious - even radical - about getting rid of anything in our lives that may cause us to stumble in the sexual area. Jesus has taught us that adultery is not just a sin we commit with our body; but we are equally guilty when we commit it in our hearts. He said,

You have heard that it was said to those of old, "you shall not commit adultery." But I say to you that whoever looks upon a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell (Matthew 5:27-30).

Jesus spoke these words to show us how seriously and how radically (which means, "down to the root") we need to deal with anything that leads us toward a disregard for - or toward unfaithfulness in - marriage. Anything on television, or in magazines, or on the internet that repeatedly inflames our sexual lusts, or causes us to fantasize of intimacy with someone other than our spouse, must be severed from our lives. Any friendships, or work relationships, that tempt us or cause us to be drawn away from our marriage covenant must be broken off.

A fourth implication is a matter of habit. We must get into the habit of turning our eyes away from lustful images or sights that tempt us, and turning our attention instead to devoted faithfulness and love for our spouse. Job 31:1 teaches us about this. It says, "I have made a covenant with my eyes; why then should I look upon a young woman?" Apparently, Job went so far as to make a contractual agreement with his own eyes - defining in that agreement what he would or would not look at.

I remember one of my professors in college speaking to us as a group of men. He told us that he once caught himself gazing on an attractive woman walking down the street and lusting after her. He said he stopped himself, asked God's forgiveness, and said, "God; thank you for making her such a beautiful woman - but now, help me to protect that beauty, and preserve it for the man for whom it was intended, by turning my own eyes away." Husbands should set their eyes aside for gazing upon one woman only - their wife; and women should set their eyes aside only for their own husbands.

Finally, a last implication would be that we must, above all else, guard our hearts. Jesus taught us that the heart is the place from which adultery springs forth. He said, "For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies ..." (Matthew 15:19). Proverbs 4:23 says, "Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it springs the issues of life" (Prov. 4:23).

1Arthur Pink, The Ten Commandments; from The Best of Arthur Pink (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1978), p. 243.

22David Popenoe and Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, The State of Our Unions: The Social Health of Marriage in America (http://marriage.rutgers.edu/); June 2003.

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