Q. What does God require in the sixth, seventh, and eighth commandments?
A. Sixth, that we do not hurt, or hate, or be hostile to our neighbor, but be patient and peaceful, pursuing even our enemies with love. Seventh, that we abstain from sexual immorality and live purely and faithfully, whether in marriage or in single life, avoiding all impure actions, looks, words, thought, or desires, and whatever might lead to them. Eight, that we do not take without permission that which belongs to someone else, nor withhold any good from someone we might benefit.
In 1631 a Bible was printed in London which became known as the ‘Wicked Bible’. Why? There was a mistake made by the compositors on the Seventh Commandment, the word “not” in the sentence “Thou shalt not commit adultery” was omitted, thus changing the sentence into “Thou shalt commit adultery”.
While we might chuckle at this ‘omission’, sexual sin is serious (like all sin). How can we fight it in a sex-saturated society? Kevin DeYoung gives twelve passages of Scripture that speak to the issue of fighting lust and the temptation to sexual immorality.
(1) Lamentations 3:25-27 “The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth.”
This verse is for singles (including women). Granted, this passage isn’t talking about waiting for a spouse. It’s about waiting on the Lord. But that’s the point. The Lord is good to those who wait for Him. He knows what you need. The preceding verses tell us, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, says my soul, therefore I will hope in him.” Don’t think, “how can I live without companionship for another year or decade or two decades?” Think about today. The Lord has given you grace for this day, and He will give you grace for the next spouseless day.
(2) Proverbs 5:18-19 “Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love.”
This may seem a strange text for fighting sexual temptation, but married couples need to know they have delight at their lawful disposal. We need to know that sex is good, intimacy is good, bodies together in marriage are good. God thought up sex, and it is a good thing in the covenant context of marriage.
(3) James 1:14-15 “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.”
This passage helps us understand how temptation works and reminds us that feeling tempted is not the same as sinning. Temptation is an enticement or allurement. That’s not sin. When the desire is nurtured, it conceives and gives birth to sin (sin in the flesh or sin in the mind). Sin then grows and matures and leads to death. It is not lust to be attracted to someone or notice he or she is good-looking. It is not lust to have a strong desire for sex. It is not lust to be excited about sex in marriage. It is not lust to experience sexual temptation. It is sin to take another look and mull over the thought for awhile. King David’s example is a warning to all of us.
(4) Romans 14:21 “It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble.”
As Christians, we want to help each other avoid sin, not lead one another into it with flirting, coarse joking, and immodest dress.
(5) Matthew 5:27-30 “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. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.”
Jesus takes sin seriously, and he warns us to do the same. We must be serious about fighting sin in our lives. It may even mean taking radical measures: avoiding movies, getting rid of your Internet connection, not being with your boyfriend/girlfriend outside of a public setting – whatever it takes to battle lust. There are too many whole-bodied people going to hell and not enough spiritual amputees going to heaven.
(6) Galatians 6:7 “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.”
There are often temporal consequences for disobedience. It could be STDs, baggage in marriage, a guilty conscience, distraction at work, a pornography fetish you pass on to your children that effects your family, your marriage, your ministry. There are also eternal consequences if you give yourself over to this sin. “For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life” (Gal. 6:8).
(7) 1 Corinthians 6:15-20 “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”
Paul is using terminology that would have been very familiar to his audience, in a context where more than 40% of the population were slaves, he is reminding those in Corinth (and us by rite of inspiration from the Holy Spirit) that their bodies were bought with a price (not just their souls), and it now belongs to God.
(8) 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
Our secular culture says, “Be who you are.” Self-help says, “You can become a better you.” Moralism says, “Just do the right thing.” The Bible says, “You are a new person by God’s grace, not live in line with who you are in Christ.” That is Gospel motivation for a God-honoring life.
(9) Hebrews 10:24-25 “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
No one fights a war by himself, and no one will get victory over sexual sin on her own. You need to talk to others about your struggles and listen just as well. Be honest. Ask good questions. Don’t just confess and feel better. Repent and change. Don’t just sympathize, admonish. Follow up with your brothers and sisters. Pray and remind each other of the Gospel.
(10) James 4:6 “But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
God always gives more grace. So keep coming to Him with your sin. Approach the throne of grace (Heb. 4:16). Confess like David in Psalm 51 that you have sinned against God. Confess that God is the most offended party as a result of your sin.
(11) Matthew 5:8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
The Scotsman Thomas Chalmers had a famous sermon titled ‘The Expulsive Power of a New Affection.’ A greater love for Christ is the best antidote to giving into temptation. We need to fight the fleeting pleasure of sexual sin with the far greater, more abiding pleasure of knowing Christ and honoring him. Do we believe that God’s steadfast love is better than life (Ps. 63:3)? Is the presence of God more alluring than wickedness (Ps. 84:10)? Do we believe that the greatest reward for purity is the promise of one day seeing God?
(12) Ephesians 1:18-21 “That you may know… the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.”
The great power that created the world, and saved us, and raised Jesus from the dead – that same power is now at work in you. We must believe that God is stronger than sexual temptation, sin, and addiction. If you believe that God brought a dead man back to life, you should believe that you can change. Not overnight, usually, but from one degree of glory to the next (2 Cor. 3:18).