verse XXVIII – Go and sin no more.
Two words in Hebrew: לֹא תִנְאָף. Four words in English, “Do not commit adultery.” Again we consider a short verse with enormous meaning, Exodus 20:14. The seventh commandment can be viewed as an extension of the sixth commandment, as to break the seventh commandment is a failure to protect our neighbor from injury. This conclusion is perhaps reached, in part, from the fact that once guilt has been established, the guilty party, or parties, were subject to the same penalty as those guilty of murder: death. Why so severe? The ethical norm of this command is to protect the sanctity of relational intimacy: it is a command to protect marriage, and therefore, society.
From the beginning.
Why is this so important to the Lord? Here, we look to the creation. Marriage is a creation ordinance. When the Lord fashioned human beings in His image, He designed male and female to join together, to be fruitful and multiply.
In Genesis 2:24 we read, “For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife and they shall become one flesh.” Yeshua/Jesus, teaching on of the union of marriage, makes this comment in Matthew 19:6, drawing our attention back to Genesis 2:24, “So that they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, let man not separate.”
Breaking the seventh commandment breaks the covenant between the husband and the wife; thus damaging the foundation of all human relationships: covenant. The Lord God relates to us, as human beings, covenantally; the marriage covenant is meant to mirror the exclusive relationship between God and His people – another dimension of the imaging of man after the covenant Lord.
We find, then, that the breaking of the marriage covenant disrupts not only the relationship between husband and wife, but also between man and God; and undermining of the family erodes the foundation of civilization.
What is the meaning of לֹא תִנְאָף? The parent root of תִנְאָף, is נאף, which within the marriage covenant means to perform voluntary violation of the marriage bed; in a religious covenant it means to apostatize. Proverbs 6:32 says, “He who commits adultery with a woman lacks heart; He who does it destroys his own life.”
There is more to this command than first appears. Rabbi Dr. joseph Hertz digs deep, “This Commandment against infidelity warns husband and wife alike against profaning the sacred Covenant of Marriage. It involves the prohibition of immoral speech, immodest conduct, or association with persons who scoff at the sacredness of purity.” In the Apostolic Scriptures, Yeshua indicates that the seventh commandment is more than just a guard against the physical act of adultery, but it is also to be a guardian of the heart.
Matthew 5:27-28 reads, “You have heard it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone looking at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
The instruction of Messiah addresses commitment, relationship, and how we guard the commandment to “love your neighbor as yourself.” Man is prone to look for loopholes in law, or in ethical and spiritual principle. Adultery is a matter of the heart, the fruit of its condition. One can commit adultery and never touch another human being, while still believing they are faithful. The legalist will naturally look for the borderline, the boundary that they cannot cross – while looking beyond the line itself to what is desired. Scripture, when we look at the entire corpus of the canon, regards sin primarily as a condition, and secondarily as an action. The legalist looks for the best way to gratify their craving, while keeping their apparently spotless record before others intact. This is a self-righteous attitude, missing the condition, focused only on the action.
Again, Yeshua is helping us to see the deeper meaning of guarding our hearts, and keeping us from reaching out and taking what is not ours, potentially destroying the life of someone else. Consider the words of the apostle James in 1:14-16, “But each one is enticed when he is drawn away by his own desires and trapped. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin. And sin, when it has been accomplished, brings forth death. Do not go astray, my beloved brothers.”
The Westminster Shorter Catechism asks, “What is required in the seventh commandment? Answer. The seventh commandment requireth the preservation of our own and our neighbor’s chastity, in heart, speech, and behavior.”
Avoid the appearance.
From this we learn that flirtation should be avoided with those other than your spouse. Flirtation is widely accepted, even within the Body of Messiah, but it’s not kosher. We should also guard our eyes from being drawn into enticement, as Billy Graham once said regarding wanton looks, “Its not the first look, but the second, third and so on.” We must avoid placing ourselves in compromising positions, attempting, as much as possible, to avoid the appearance of impropriety.
I would be remiss to conclude this subject without touching on the subject of forgiveness. As I have presented elsewhere, adultery is not the unpardonable sin, it will be forgiven when confessed. It is a terrible sin with far reaching implications, but it is forgivable sin nonetheless. The forgiven, blood washed adulterer did not sin himself (or herself) out of the kingdom of God. Yet, their actions may have caused issues needing years of healing and repair. Still, as with all sinners receiving the grace and mercy of the Lord, those forgiven the sin of adultery must heed the words of Yeshua, “Go and sin no more” (Jn. 8:11).
Your pardon is assured, you sin is forgiven, whenever or however this sin happened, as Jesus paid it all.
Shalom. Be well.