Welcome to the Cornerstone Baptist church podcast. My name is Justin Wheeler, I am the preaching pastor for Cornerstone and today we are in week 41 of our journey through the Heidelberg Catechism. Today, I will be talking to you about question 108 -109.
This week our question deals with the seventh commandment, which reads:
Deuteronomy 5:18 You shall not commit adultery.
Adultery is a term that we are all familiar with because it refers to a sexual act that is far too common. In fact, adultery, voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and a person who is not their spouse, is not really seen as a big deal at all by many in our culture. Sure, there are and will always be people, I suppose, that would prefer their spouse not have sex with another person; but the fact that adultery has become so common has made it seem fairly tame compared to some of the other sexual practices taking place in 21st century America.
We live in a culture where our entire lives are inundated with sexuality. It’s on our TV, in our movies, and on the catalogues and ads that are delivered to our door. It’s on billboards as we drive into downtown. It’s plastered across the magazine racks in high-gloss photos as we approach the checkout counter at the grocery store. And of course, it’s almost as if the internet was made for the specific purpose of pushing sexuality into our lives in every imaginable way.
This has had a huge impact on our lives and our culture. Adultery is so common that it is simply accepted as a normal part of adult life, especially for our political leaders. In fact, if a political leader takes measures to remain faithful to their spouse they are mocked as being sexually repressive. Sex before marriage is just normal and it has been this way for generations. Homosexuality has been declared a basic human right by our Supreme Court. Transgenderism and transsexualism are just this cultural moment’s examples of sexual deviance being made to look normal and God’s standards being made to look obscene.
But what does all of this have to do with the command of God forbidding adultery? Well, actually it has everything to do with it because Jesus teaches us in the NT that there is an underlying issue of the heart behind this command.
Matt 5:27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
Lust is adultery of the heart. It is the strong sexual desire for something or someone that is forbidden. It is the sexual desire for someone or something that doesn’t belong to you, and therefore this seventh command, along with Jesus’ expansion of it makes any sexual act outside of marriage between a man and woman sinful.
And that is what the Heidelberg Catechism helps us to understand.
Lord’s Day Focus...
Question 108: What is God’s will for you in the seventh commandment?
Answer: God condemns all unchastity. We should therefore thoroughly detest it and, married or single, live decent and chaste lives.
Adultery is a word we all know but unchastity may need a definition simply because we don’t use that word very often. Chastity refers to the practice of refraining from any sex outside of marriage. In some cases, people will take a vow of chastity for religious reasons and that means that they intend to refrain from all sexual intercourse by not getting married.
So, when the Heidelberg says that God’s condemns all unchastity, it is saying, and rightly so, that any sexual act outside of the covenant of marriage between one man and one woman is sin. Our understanding of all sexual immorality is rooted in the fact that any form of sexual identity, sexual temptation, or sexual satisfaction that is contrary to what God declares to be good is sin.
What I mean is that when we look to Scripture to develop a Biblical theology of sex, we must start with the type of sex that God declares to be good and pleasing in His sight, and anything other than that is determined to be sinful. Anything outside of God’s design for human sexual expression is wrong.
Question 109: Does God, in this commandment, forbid only such scandalous sins as adultery?
Answer: We are temples of the Holy Spirit, body and soul, and God wants both to be kept clean and holy. That is why He forbids everything which incites unchastity, whether it be actions, looks, talk, thoughts, or desires.
The proper starting point for a discussion on the biblical theology of sex must start in the Garden of Eden. Because in the Garden, God gave us His plan for human sexuality.
Gen 2:18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” 19 Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said,
“This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”
24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.
This is the foundation for what the Bible teaches on sex. Human sexuality was created by God as a pleasurable gift to be enjoyed only by a man and his wife. Sex was a means to build families, and as a way to strengthen intimacy/unity between a husband and wife. Any type of sexual act that falls short of this standard is a disordered sexuality. Any deviation from this norm, is wrong.
Any type of sexual gratification, any type of sexual activity that falls outside the scope of God’s revealed plan is sin. God condemns all unchastity. We should therefore thoroughly detest it and, married or single, live decent and chaste lives.
Now, I am very aware of the fact that this view, this teaching isn’t popular, especially in our culture today. But I don’t think it has ever been popular. C. S. Lewis, wrote,
Chastity is the most unpopular of the Christian virtues. There is no getting away from it; the Christian rule is, either marriage, with complete faithfulness to your spouse, or else total abstinence. Now this is so difficult and so contrary to our instincts, that obviously either Christianity is wrong or our sexual instinct, as it now is, has gone wrong. One or the other. Of course, being a Christian, I think it is the instinct which has gone wrong.
Lewis wrote this in 1952 in the culture of Great Britain and I have no way of knowing if it was true at that time, but I take his word for it. I also, agree with his conclusion about where the problem lies. It is not Christianity that is the problem it is our sinful sexual instinct that is the issue.
God’s commands about sexuality and His commands against our sexual immorality will always seem out of place to us so long as our sexual instincts are driven by our sinful brokenness. So, what can we do to counteract our sinful sexual brokenness? What can we do to honor God and seek to obey His commands?
One step in our approach to battling sin and temptation is, “If our right eye causes us to sin…don’t look.” Behave as if you had actually plucked out your eyes. Jesus actually commands us to take real and drastic measures to battle against sin and temptation.
For some of us that means you need to put filters on your computers and home network. For others, this means that you need to stop reading the books you’re reading. For others, this means you need to delete your social media accounts or stop watching the movies or HBO and Netflix shows you enjoy so much.
Yes, I’m sure that your friends will say, “What are you talking about? You’re not going to know how this end. If you’re not going to watch this new show or read this new book…you won’t be as culturally educated as you could be.” That may be true, but it is better to be culturally maimed and preserve your purity. The question is whether you are willing to go to this extreme to battle sin and temptation.
Jesus says that it is better to live life culturally maimed, to avoid certain experiences in this life, than to risk final destruction in the life to come.
Now, in many ways, this approach to change is good But this approach is not enough because this approach cannot change your heart. This approach is simply not complete because it focuses on the outward behaviors only and the root of the problem of sexual sin is a heart problem. Behavior modification alone will not solve this problem of our hearts. Only Jesus can solve this problem.
One of my deepest Christian convictions is that the gospel is so much more than simply the minimal doctrine that one must affirm in order to go to Heaven. The gospel is the power of God that saves us from sin’s guilt and sin’s control and turns the entire world upside down.
The gospel is so powerful that it can turn an enemy of God into a worshipper of God. It is so powerful that it can change your eternity as well as your life here and now. The gospel changes us at the very core of who we are. It reorients our heart around the weight of God’s glory and when the gospel takes root in us it begins a process of reorienting all of life around our growing love for God over our love for sin.
As believers in Christ our identity as gospel people is going to propel us into battle against sexual sin. Jesus doesn’t command us to embrace a Biblical sexual ethic in order that we can be saved, but instead as the born-again people of God he calls us to embrace a God-honoring view of sex. Obedience to God flows out of a renewed relationship to God.
I think that our battle against sexual sin begins not with what we need to do but with something we need to believe…
Our identity is in Christ, not our sexuality. The culture says, “You are your sexuality.” The culture says that to deny our sexual urges is to deny our humanity. The culture wants us to believe that If we reject its views of sexuality and the practice of those views then we are rejecting what it means to be human.
But the Bible teaches us something else about sex?
a. The Bible teaches us the context in which sex is a gift. Within the context of monogamous, heterosexual marriage sex is an amazing gift of God that is to be enjoyed for pleasure, for procreation and for the joy of intimacy. Outside of monogamous heterosexual marriage sex in all its forms is sin.
b. The Bible teaches us that sex and romantic fulfillment are not the keys to life. They are gifts but they are not the ultimate point of life. Jesus was celibate and lived the fullest and most God-glorifying life ever lived. Therefore, Jesus teaches us that the key to a full life is not intimacy with another person but rather intimacy with God.
In American culture, we have completely distorted this. Our culture promotes the pursuit of sexual pleasure first and foremost and then in the context of our sexual enjoyment we are to then find religious teaching that affirms and supports our sexuality.
But Jesus wants us to pursue our relationship with God first and foremost and then in the context of that relationship we are to enjoy God’s gift of sex in a way that glorifies Him.
Trusting Christ with our sexuality is hard because it goes against the grain of what culture says and in many ways, it goes against the grain of what we feel. Our natural predisposition is to sin. It is to go against God’s glory, Gods rule, and Gods word. We are dead in sin, we are enemies of God, we are blinded to God’s glory and through the gospel Jesus calls us out of this and into a life with God that is going to be hard.
But I want us to remember something about Jesus as we seek to navigate through this issue. In His life, Jesus dealt with a lot of sinful people, even those caught up in sexual sin. But something you will notice is that He never seems to want to push people away. No matter the issue, Jesus invites people in close so that He can talk to them and offer them grace. Even when He encountered people who were involved with deep sexual sins we see that Jesus draws near to them and offers them grace, He is honest with them about their sin, but then He looks them in the eye and He says, “Now, come and follow me.”
Thank you for joining me today to learn about the seventh commandment. Next week, we will continue to study by looking at the eighth commandment, which addresses stealing and taking what doesn’t belong to us. I hope you will join me for that discussion as we look at Lord’s Day 42 and questions 110 - 111.
If you want to learn more about Cornerstone Baptist church, you can find us online at Cornerstonewylie.org. You can follow us on Twitter or Instagram @cbcwylie. You can find us on Facebook at facebook.com/cornerstonewylie. You can also subscribe to this podcast on iTunes or google play to stay up to date on all the new content.
Thanks for listening.
 C.S. Lewis Mere Christianity: Sexual Morality (pg. 95)