The Seventh Commandment

Let us examine ourselves this morning in light of the seventh commandment, which is: “You shall not commit adultery.”

Adultery is a violation of the covenant of marriage, either one’s own, or someone else’s, or both. It is one of several different kinds of sexual sin, and its prohibition in the Ten Commandments ought to be understood as a prohibition of every kind of sexual sin: not only adultery, but fornication (which is pre-marital sex), and homosexuality, and every other kind of intimate relation other than between a lawful husband and wife.

But the commandment goes further than simply forbidding illicit sexual acts. It forbids everything that leads to or accompanies them.

It forbids all immodesty in talk, dress, and behavior. It forbids flirting with anyone other than one’s spouse. It forbids forming emotional attachments with anyone other than one’s own spouse. It forbids fantasizing about being with someone other than one’s own spouse. It forbids lustful thoughts. And of course it forbids all use of pornography.

Jesus shows us something of the scope of the commandment when he says in the Sermon on the Mount, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery. But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matt. 5:27-28).

Now more than ever, it seems, we must take these words to heart, and stand very careful watch. We live in the midst of an ever increasingly sex-obsessed culture. We live in a time when marriage vows are lightly made and easily broken, and no one seems to care. We live in a time when sex is no longer an exclusive expression of loving commitment between a husband and wife but simply a cheap and casual form of recreation. And we are paying a staggering cultural price for it.

Solomon said a long time ago, “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life” (Prov. 4:23). In other words, guard your heart! Don’t allow yourself any thought, feeling, or affection that would lead to any kind of sexual impurity.


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