July 17, 2022 . . .“Back to the basics: You shall not commit adultery” Exodus 20:14

July 17, 2022 . . .“Back to the basics: You shall not commit adultery” Exodus 20:14

July 17, 2022

“Back to the basics: You shall not commit adultery”

Exodus 20:14

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus.

Back in July of 1999, twenty-seven-year-old Daniel Dukes went to Orlando, Florida to visit SeaWorld. And while he seemed to be just an ordinary tourist like anyone else, he really wasn’t. You see, at closing time, as all the other guests were leaving the park, he found a place to hide where he stayed until the lights went out.

Then sometime during the night, looking for a good time, he quietly made his way over to the one-and-a-half million gallon water tank where a five-ton killer whale named Tilikum was kept. Then he stripped down to his swimming suit, neatly folded his clothes, hopped over the three-foot fence and jumped in.

No one knows for sure exactly what happened next.

Some experts believe that the whale was, at first, startled by the man’s sudden appearance. Obviously, he wasn’t one of the regular handlers or trainers. So in his fear, Tili dove down deep, then created a vortex that pulled the man under and rendered him helpless.

Others believe that he thought the man was a toy, so he first dragged him around the pool for fun, then held him underwater until he drowned.

Either way, when SeaWorld employees arrived a little after six o’clock the next morning, they were horrified to find a body draped over the whale’s back. Let’s just say that things didn’t end well for poor Daniel Dukes.

So it is with the destructive power of adultery. And that’s why God gave us the sixth commandment.

I’ll read the words of Exodus chapter 20: “And God spoke all these words, saying, ‘I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth…You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain…Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy…Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you. You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery’” (Exodus 20:1-4, 7-8, 12-14).

It’s good that we take time to consider God’s Ten Commandments, for they truly are the foundation of not only our faith, but even our life! In the words of author Michael Milton, “the reason the English-speaking world flourished is because of the Ten Commandments.”

Even more, in 1980, in a case known as Stone v. Graham, our United States Supreme Court said, “It is equally undeniable…that the Ten Commandments have had a significant impact on the development of secular legal codes of the Western World.”

In other words, our legal system is what it is and our nation is what it is because of the Ten Commandments.

And what a blessing they are! Paul wrote to the Romans, “The law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good” (Romans 7:12). John wrote in his first epistle, “Whoever says, ‘I know Him,’ but does not keep His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (I John 2:4). And Jesus said in the book of Matthew: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfill them” (Matthew 5:17).

And it all begins with this: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery” (Exodus 20:2).

While commandments number one, two and three protect our relationship to God, commandment number four protects authority and number five protects life, commandment number six protects the sanctity of marriage.

But in our world today, it’s just not that way. Once upon a time, the raciest show on TV was Charlie’s Angels. But today, it’s anybody’s guess! We’ve become so immune to immorality that nothing even shocks us anymore. We’ve seen it all, heard it all and experienced it all. Some of us lost the ability to blush years ago!

Even worse, as Hollywood glamorizes it and society glorifies it, it’s assumed that anyone can do whatever he wants whenever he wants with whomever he wants. And it’s used to sell anything from phones to stones to colognes. It saturates our movies, our music, our sports and our TV.

Ever heard of a website called Ashley Madison? I hope not! It’s a website, an anonymous social network, (which has grown to become a multi-million dollar company!), where people can go to commit adultery.

They say, “Whatever brings you to Ashley Madison, you can feel safe knowing that you’re not alone. Our members are attached and seeking a connection…They are students, lonely housewives and married men, singles, office workers, tradespeople, entrepreneurs, retirees and everyone in between.” And they say, “Life is short. Have an affair.”

But can you tell me one good thing adultery has ever accomplished, or one home that’s ever been made stronger, or children who are happier?

Which sin has broken more hearts or homes or has left more people disillusioned with marriage? Which sin has divided more couples and families? Which sin has made Christians feel more isolated, detached or withdrawn? Which sin has resulted in more aborted children, single-parent children or enslaved children?

It’s the sin of adultery.

Thirteen years ago, back in July of 2009, in an article entitled, Unfaithfully Yours: Infidelity is Eroding Our Most Sacred Institution, even Time magazine wrote, “There is no other single force causing as much measurable hardship and human misery in this country as the collapse of marriage.”

So why did God give us the sixth commandment? Because if you break marriages, you break families. And if you break families, you break societies. And if you break societies, you break an entire nation.

That’s why God gave us the sixth commandment.

It all began innocently enough. The Bible says in the book of II Samuel, “In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel. And they ravaged the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem” (II Samuel 11:1).

For years now, David had been fighting one battle after another. And now that he was a little older, probably right around fifty, he felt as though he didn’t need to personally lead the army himself. So he sent his number one general, Joab, instead. And he stayed back in his palace in Jerusalem.

And it just so happened that, late one afternoon, as he was walking along the roof of his house, he noticed something, or should I say, someone, he hadn’t really seen before. Not far from his palace, close enough to hear the water pouring and close enough to catch the scent of her perfume, there was a woman bathing. And, as the Bible says, she was very beautiful.

And just as soon as he looked, he was hooked. And that’s when he began to think--”I’m alone. She’s alone. No one will ever know.” He said, “Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” So he sent some of his men on a mission.

It’s funny if you think about it. Never once did David say to himself, “I think I’m going to commit adultery tonight.” In fact, if you were to suggest to him at 2 p.m. that he’d commit adultery at 8 p.m., he’d throw you in jail for slandering his reputation. But sure enough, before the day was over, the deed was done.

And after asking questions he had no business asking and doing what he should never have done, a couple of months later, he got a message in the mail. It was a short message--just two words--that would change his life forever. In the original, it said, “Harah anoki.” In English: “I’m pregnant.”

“That’s impossible!” he thought. “That just can’t be!” Imagine the look on his face when he heard the news.

You know all too well what happened next. First, he lured Uriah home to spend a couple of nights with his wife. But when that didn’t work out quite as well as he had planned, he ordered his soldiers to lead him to the front lines to certain death. And sure enough, once he was dead, David was free to take her as his wife.

Can you guess how many commandments he broke that day? First, he dishonored God--that’s commandments one, two and three. Next, he dishonored her parents--that’s commandment number four. He had Uriah murdered on the battlefield--that’s commandment number five. He committed adultery--that’s commandment number six. He stole another man’s wife--that’s commandment number seven. He told Uriah outright lies--that’s commandment number eight. And he coveted another man’s wife--that’s commandments nine and ten.

In his rush to sin, in his desire to have what he never should have had, David broke every single one! And it all started with a look.

What does all this mean for us? It means that there are some books we should not read and some movies and shows we must not watch. For the young, there are some dates you should not accept and some parties you should not attend.

As one author wrote, “The best defense against adultery is a happy marriage. To those who are married, it’s worth working for and to those who are single, it’s worth waiting for.”

Maybe it was her husband, maybe it was her. It was probably both--that’s usually the case. But somewhere along the line, she met another man who seemed to care, who listened to the things she had to say.

It was all quite innocent. But there was that touch that lingered a little too long and that look that held a promise of something more. And before she knew what happened, she crossed a line, and then another line, till it became a full-blown affair.

At first, she was afraid that everyone would find out, or that God would strike her dead with a bolt of lightning. She promised she would never see that man again. And though she had once been so truthful, now she became an expert at deceiving both her husband and her children, living two different lives in two different worlds.

She had lost count of how many times she’d been with that man, but this time something suddenly happened. The door opened. Apparently men had been standing outside, waiting, watching and listening. And just as soon as they stormed into the room, she screamed and cried and begged for mercy. They wrapped her up in sheets and dragged her away.

“Teacher,” they said. “We caught this woman in the act. She broke the rules. She broke the law. What do You think we should do?”

Anyone could have told you it was a trap. That was perfectly clear. If He showed mercy, they’d get Him for being soft on the law. If He said, “Stone her,” the crowds would never forgive Him.

And as that woman crumpled to the ground, trembling, waiting to die, Jesus did the most amazing thing. He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Then strangely, mysteriously, He stood up and said, “Sure, go ahead. Stone her. Your call. That’s what the law says. Just one thing--let the one who’s without sin go first.”

And there in that circle of cold-hearted, arrogant stone-throwers, first one stone fell, then another, till all fell to the ground. Finally, as each man walked away, all that was left was a pile of stones.

“Where are they?” Jesus said. In other words, “You understand you’re really no different, you and them. You’re a broken sinner and so are they. And you know what? I don’t condemn you either.

“So how would you like to start all over? How would you like to get rid of that old sinful nature that’s been killing you and become something brand new instead?”

Then He said, “Now go and sin no more.”

I don’t know what your story is. I don’t know where you’ve been or what you’ve done. But what Jesus once said to her, He now says to you--”Leave that old self behind. Now go and live.”

There’s one more thing that’s just too important to miss. It’s really one of the oldest stories of all, one you’ve heard countless times before, about a prince who slays the dragon and saves the girl.

If you think about it, it’s more than just a story, for the sinless Son of God, Jesus, left the house of His Father, came down to earth and, on the cross, crushed the head of the dragon-serpent and won for Himself His bride, the Church.

In fact, that’s really what the Bible is all about--kill the dragon and save the girl.

And that’s the challenge and opportunity for every one of us today--kill the dragon, the dragon of doubt, temptation and even adultery, and save the girl--for we are His Bride, redeemed and restored.

We thank You, Father, for the great gifts that only You can give. Bless us, that all we do may be for Your glory, for Jesus’ sake. Amen