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Avoiding Adultery

By J. Stephen Lang -- One book about extramarital affairs is titled The Myth of the Greener Grass. For many people, even for many Christians, the grass always seems greener somewhere away from one's own spouse. The world used to take adultery seriously, but how things have changed. The tabloids and TV chat shows send the message that adultery is -- well, normal. "Everybody's doing it" becomes a moral guideline, pushing aside that rather blunt statement in the Ten Commandments:

Do not commit adultery.

Exodus 20:14

But the attractions of the "greener grass" are strong. God's Word takes a painfully realistic view of the lure of adultery -- and of its consequences as well.

The lips of an immoral woman are as sweet as honey, and her mouth is smoother than oil. But the result is as bitter as poison, sharp as a double-edged sword.

Proverbs 5:3-4

A prostitute will bring you to poverty, but sleeping with another man's wife may cost you your very life. Can a man scoop fire into his lap and not be burned? Can he walk on hot coals and not blister his feet? So it is with the man who sleeps with another man's wife. He who embraces her will not go unpunished. But the man who commits adultery is an utter fool, for he destroys his own soul.

Proverbs 6:26-32

Why be captivated, my son, with an immoral woman, or embrace the breasts of an adulterous woman? For the LORD sees clearly what a man does, examining every path he takes. An evil man is held captive by his own sins; they are ropes that catch and hold him. He will die for lack of self-control; he will be lost because of his incredible folly.

Proverbs 5:20-23

Give honor to marriage, and remain faithful to one another in marriage. God will surely judge people who are immoral and those who commit adultery.

Hebrews 13:4

We don't like to think of God as Judge, do we? It goes against the modern grain, for we are expected to be tolerant and nonjudgmental. But the Bible pulls no punches: God is a merciful Father -- and also the great Judge. The prohibition of adultery isn't just an arbitrary rule designed to kill our pleasure. It's a moral guide to being the type of person whom God wants for his eternal Kingdom.

The apostle Paul, confronted with the many sexual sins of the church of Corinth, made this clear:

Run away from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body.

1 Corinthians 6:18

Don't you know that those who do wrong will have no share in the Kingdom of God? Don't fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, who are idol worshipers, adulterers, male prostitutes, homosexuals, thieves, greedy people, drunkards, abusers, and swindlers -- none of these will have a share in the Kingdom of God.

1 Corinthians 6:9-10

Harsh words, aren't they? Lumping adulterers together with thieves, swindlers, and drunkards. In spite of the world's indifference toward adultery, the Christian standard is higher. Jesus took the "no adultery" standard one step further:

You have heard that the law of Moses says, "Do not commit adultery." But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust in his eye has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

Matthew 5:27-28

Did Jesus mean that every wayward glance was as wicked as the act itself? More likely he was saying something we all know to well: Our hearts and imaginations can be sinful even when we're unwilling to commit the actual sin. There are many adulterers in the world. There are even more people who fantasize, who are unfaithful inside while remaining faithful outside. Jesus' message to people who want to be part of God's Kingdom was this: Keep your body and your mind from being unfaithful.

From the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all other sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander. These are what defile you.

Matthew 15:19-20

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The Book of God's Promises -- Copyright, 1999 by J. Stephen Lang. All rights reserved, used with permission.

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