Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery

by Wade Webster

Through the great lawgiver Moses, God instructed the children of Israel not to commit adultery (Exodus 20:14; Deuteronomy 5:18).  Although the law of Moses is not in effect today (Colossians 2:14; Ephesians 2:15), adultery remains wrong.  Today, adultery is wrong because it is condemned under the law of Christ (1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Galatians 5:19-21; Hebrews 13:4).  As we study our Bibles, we find three basic types of adultery which are forbidden by God.

Physical Adultery

Generally, when we think of adultery, we think of physical adultery.  Adultery is spoken of in this way in the Bible.  For example, the Pharisees brought a woman to Jesus who had been taken “in the very act” of adultery (John 8:4).  In like manner, Moses wrote, “If a man be found lying with a woman married to an husband, then they shall both of them die, [both] the man that lay with the woman, and the woman: so shalt thou put away evil from Israel” (Deuteronomy 22:22; cf., Leviticus 20:10).  Don’t you think that those who lived under that law seriously considered the consequences of adultery?  Yet, men and women today act as if there are no consequences to adultery.  They commit adultery every day without giving a second thought to its consequences.  Although it is true that adultery is no longer punished by stoning, it still carries serious consequences.  In addition to the harm that it brings to individuals, families, and congregations, it destroys the souls of men.  Solomon wrote, “[But] whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he [that] doeth it destroyeth his own soul” (Proverbs 6:32).  Ultimately, adultery will rob a person of a home in heaven.  Paul wrote, “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are [these]; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told [you] in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19-21).  I sincerely believe that when men and women today consider the consequences of adultery, they will flee as Joseph did (Genesis 39:10-12).

Mental Adultery

Jesus pointed out that not only is the act of physical adultery wrong, mental adultery is also worng.  He said, “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Matthew 5:27-28).  In like manner, Peter spoke of those who had “eyes full of adultery” (2 Peter 2:14).  As Christians, we must carefully guard what we see.  The children’s song, “Be careful little eyes what you see,” is certainly fitting for those of all ages today.  We are living in a world which lends itself to mental adultery.  Adultery is the subject of songs, sitcoms, and movies.  Through these avenues, the devil is trying to plant the seeds of adultery in our minds.  If we are not careful, these seeds will find fertile soil.  The devil knows that if he can get us to think immorally, he can get us to live immorally (Proverbs 23:7; Matthew 15:18-19).  Sadly, you cannot go anywhere today without seeing those who are provoking lust by their manner of dress or undress.  One does not have to be on the rooftop today to see bathing beauties (2 Samuel 11:1-4).  They can be seen at the grocery store, restaurant, or mall.  For this reason, we must always be on guard against adultery.  We must keep impure and unholy thoughts out of our minds.  We must strive to think only on good things (Philippians 4:8).

Spiritual Adultery

Men cannot only commit physical adultery and mental adultery, they can also commit spiritual adultery.  In fact, those who commit physical adultery or mental adultery have already committed spiritual adultery.  Spiritual adultery occurs whenever men disobey God for the world.  The inspired writer James referred to those who were in love with the world as adulterers and adulteresses.  We read, “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:4).  The same analogy is used by the writers of the Old Testament.  In the Old Testament, God is pictured as the husband of Israel and Judah (Jeremiah 3:14, 20).  Time and time again in the Old Testament, God referred to Israel and Judah as having committed adultery against Him (Jeremiah 3:1, 8-9).  How many today are living in spiritual adultery?  We must never forget that as Christians, we are married to Christ (Romans 7:4; Ephesians 5:32).

In a world of adultery, we must strive to maintain purity of mind, body, and soul (Matthew 5:8; 1 Timothy 4:12; 5:2; 2 Timothy 2:22; Philippians 4:8; 1 Timothy 1:5; 3:9; 5:22; 2 Peter 3:1).  We must strive to keep ourselves unspotted from this world (James 1:27).  We must make sure that we do not allow this world to lead us to physical, mental, or spiritual adultery.