Forerunner, "Bible Study," August 1997

The Creator God directly devotes two of His ten great laws to protecting family relationships. In the fifth commandment, we saw how important honoring parents is in maintaining a Christian family relationship. God gave the seventh commandment, "You shall not commit adultery" (Exodus 20:14; Deuteronomy 5:18), to protect the honor and sanctity of marriage. It is through marriage and the family that we learn how to conduct proper relationships, both with other people and with God. Since it is such an important institution to character development, God does not tolerate its defilement. Within marriage, sex is fully sanctioned by God, but otherwise, its practice causes great harm. In principle, this commandment covers all forms of illicit sex, including fornication, homosexuality, bestiality and pedophilia.

1. Is adultery only a physical act? Matthew 5:27-28, 31-32; Luke 16:18. Does adultery lead to death? Leviticus 20:10; Proverbs 2:16-22; 7:22-27.

COMMENT: According to the letter of the law, adultery is sexual intercourse outside of marriage, but Christ emphasizes the spirit of the law. If a man even looks at a woman to lust after her, he has committed adultery. This sin so defiles the land and its inhabitants that it must be removed. Thus, the law's penalty for adultery is death.

2. Does the adulterer care if he or she is found out? Job 24:15-17. Is adultery and divorce considered treachery? Jeremiah 9:2; Malachi 2:14-16.

COMMENT: No one wants to be found guilty of adultery! It is not only an offense to the aggrieved husband or wife involved, but also to their home and their children. It strikes at the very basis of a decent society. Treachery is a violation of trust and confidence, like that placed in us by our spouses and by Almighty God.

3. Is violence associated with adultery? II Samuel 12:9-10; Hosea 4:2. Does adultery curse the land? Hosea 4:3; Jeremiah 23:10, 14.

COMMENT: Violence is a fruit of adultery because of its treachery and self-centeredness. It destroys loyalty and submission to authority, and it teaches disrespect for others.

4. What does the act of fornication and adultery bring upon a man? Proverbs 6:24-29, 32-35; 29:3.

5. How does God feel about divorce? Malachi 2:16. Can marrying a divorced person be adultery? Matthew 5:32; 19:3-9; Romans 7:2-4. Can sexual immorality be grounds to exclude someone from Christian fellowship? I Corinthians 5:1-13.

COMMENT: Although God hates divorce, He allows it in rare cases under certain circumstances (Matthew 5:32; 19:9; I Corinthians 7:15). If someone is continuously and flagrantly committing sexual immorality, it is necessary for the spiritual health of the church "not to keep company with sexually immoral people."

6. Is committing adultery a sin against God? Genesis 39:7-9; Psalm 51:3-4. Does it merit God's judgment? Malachi 3:5; Hebrews 13:4; Jeremiah 5:7-9.

COMMENT: Psalm 51 is David's confession after he had committed adultery with Bathsheba (II Samuel 11:4-5; 12:13-14).

7. Can adulterers inherit the Kingdom of God? I Corinthians 6:9-10; Galatians 5:19-21. Can adultery be forgiven? II Samuel 12:13-14; John 8:10-11.

COMMENT: God will forgive an adulterer if he genuinely repents, and He will give him eternal life. However, the consequences of sin still have their harmful effect, as we see in the death of David and Bathsheba's child. Although forgiven, David and his household endured violence from that point forward because of his adultery and murder.

8. What is spiritual adultery? Judges 2:11, 17; Hosea 4:12-14; Malachi 2:10-11; James 4:4; Revelation 2:14-15, 20-22.

COMMENT: Symbolically, adultery is used to express unfaithfulness to God, and we can easily see this in Israel's idolatry. God is represented as the husband of His people. Ezekiel 16:15-59 gives a graphic description of Israel's spiritual adultery, and Hosea 1:1-2 shows the same symbolism in Hosea's marriage. We can fall into spiritual adultery by relying on the world and its false teaching rather than God.

Revelation 19:7-9 shows that the Bride of Christ will be a chaste and pure spouse. As verse 9 states, all those who are part of this righteous Bride are truly blessed!