Summary: Sermon on Sixth Commandment: "You shall not commit adultery."
What would you do if I told you that I have a bag of Hershey Chocolate Kisses to hand out? Would you be among the first to bound up here for one…or two? I think you would change your mind pretty quickly, however, if you saw that before I gave away a chocolate I unwrapped it, popped it into my mouth, and rolled it around a bit before spitting it out into a waiting hand? Yuck! It makes me feel gross just talking about it.
Well, that’s the feeling God wants us to have about sex outside of marriage. In the Sixth Commandment God said: “You shall not commit adultery.” With this command God is protecting his gift of marriage. Although today’s sermon may make you squirm, it’s imperative for you to hear because of all the commandments, the Sixth is not only under heaviest attack by our society, it’s one that our sinful nature would just as well do away with too. The shame of past sins may come flooding back as you listen to this sermon, but don’t tune out because we’ll also learn how Jesus has reached out to take away your guilt over these sins.
The reason we don’t like to be reminded of the Sixth Commandment is because it seems designed to harness an urge that is so natural. And the desire for sex is natural. That is how God created us. So why is the church against sex? It isn’t. What God wants us to be against is the misuse of this gift. Sex between husband and wife is like a fire in the fireplace. That’s where it belongs and it gives off heat and warmth. Sex with someone who is not your spouse, however, is like fire in the curtains. It can ruin your house! God put it this way in the book of Proverbs. “Drink water from your own cistern, running water from your own well. 16 Should your springs overflow in the streets, your streams of water in the public squares? 17 Let them be yours alone, never to be shared with strangers. 18 May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth…20 Why be captivated, my son, by an adulteress? Why embrace the bosom of another man’s wife?” (Proverbs 5:15-18, 20)
But what happens if your spouse is never in the mood? The temptation may be to search for satisfaction elsewhere. But that isn’t an option God gives. He’s not just being difficult but is protecting us because he who made us knows that a sexual encounter doesn’t just form a physical bond, it creates an emotional one as well. Hooking up with someone who is not your spouse is to take a bit of yourself and give it to someone else. But when you spoke your marriage vow, you pledged to give yourself to one person in this world. You said that this bond would remain even through hard times. This pledge is not unlike the one God gave you in baptism – a promise of love that doesn’t depend on how well you do at returning that love.
Now if you’re the spouse that doesn’t crave regular intimacy, it can be easy for you to withhold this gift as a way of leveraging power over your husband or wife. But that’s nothing less than the sin of selfishness. Offering yourself to your spouse is a way to serve him or her. The Apostle Paul wrote: “The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. 5 Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control” (1 Corinthians 7:1-5).
So far I’ve been speaking to those who are already married. But what does the Sixth Commandment have to say to you who are single? For one, acknowledge that you can become guilty of breaking the Sixth Commandment without even touching someone. You know Jesus’ words: “I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). Watch yourself. Don’t let your eyes linger when your web-browsing stumbles across an ad for women’s lingerie or for men’s underwear. Likewise if you’re sitting across someone in the library or lunch room who is dressed in such a way that makes your heart beat faster than it should, get up and leave. Find another place to study or to eat. Don’t just tell yourself that you’ll stop looking. You know that doesn’t work. Follow the example of Joseph who refused to be in the same room as Potiphar’s wife because he knew that she would keep trying to seduce him and that he would probably give in if he didn’t actively flee from that temptation.