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“Whom God Has Joined” (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
November 22, 2021 3:00 am

“Whom God Has Joined” (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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November 22, 2021 3:00 am

In a world that seems to care little about purity, what are we to make of the command “You shall not commit adultery”? Learn how to safeguard your marriage, and discover why there’s still hope for the guilty. Hear more on Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.


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Alistair Begg
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There are many reasons why God instituted marriage.

But one of the main reasons was to prioritize the exclusive relationship between a husband and wife. So while our culture seems to tolerate adultery, Scripture clearly forbids it. Today on Truth for Life, Alistair Begg provides practical safeguards to help us keep God's seventh commandment. And he offers a message of hope for those who've broken it. We continue in Exodus chapter 20 verse 14. The sacred union in marriage is not to be intruded upon by anybody.

It is not to be arbitrarily broken by anyone. I don't care what Cosmopolitan says, I don't care about People magazine—trashed a lot of them, I say. Start reading your Bible. If some of you young women read your Bibles as much as you read that hogwash, you'd be a lot more fit for getting married than you are right now. And if some of you men paid attention to the principles of the book of Proverbs, rather than fill in your head with junk, you would be a lot more attractive to some of those young women as they try to make their way through life.

As for God, his way is perfect—perfect. It's not my prerogative to wake up in the morning and decide that I'd like a new suit. And by the way, I'd also like a new love. Because after all, my suit is no longer giving me the feeling that I once had when I put it on.

It was just a light to put it on, it made me feel good. But now I don't feel good, because it's fat where it should be thin, or it's thin where it should be fat, or it's pleated where it should be unpleated, or it's worn where it should be smooth. And I don't feel good about her either, because she's looking kind of worn. She looks a little fat where she should be thin, a little creased where she should be smooth, a little frayed where she wasn't before. Oh, hey, big guy, how do you think she feels about your ugly mess? I just think she just woke up thinking, Hey, I'm lying next to Charles Atlas.

This is unbelievable. We've got a real problem with our distended egos, don't we? So we get in our cars and we plug in our stereos, and we listen to Elton John sing, You, Me, and Everybody Needs a Part-Time Love. So that sounds good.

At least part-time—I mean, we don't need to go full-time—but part-time would be fine. And so the prevalent attitudes towards marriage and towards togetherness are so far removed from what the Bible says, that to read the Bible as we're doing now and to think these issues out as we try to do now is so radical. It's so radical. I am excited about how radical it is, I've got to tell you.

I'm excited about this. I don't think we'll need to do very much as Christians, except live in moral purity before you get married, and live in marital fidelity afterwards. That will be enough to mark us out as some of the weirdest people that ever walk the streets. Look at the scenes in front of us. Look at the young woman as she stands on television, and all of the confusion of her background, and she says, I never intended that I would give my child up for adoption into a homosexual family.

I mean, this thing is so messed up. So what does the Bible say? Well, the Bible says, look what it says.

You shall not commit adultery, beginning of the subject, end of the subject, middle of the subject, the whole subject. You just are not going to do this. Now somebody needs to acknowledge that we don't have the power to fulfill this. We've said that all the way going along, because we look at the Ten Commandments. They're not a ladder up which we climb to heaven. This would be a chronicle of despair. We're already at number seven. We broke every one of them getting here. Every rung of the ladder's bust. Every time we try to go up again, we fall down, we're still on the ground floor.

Probably number six is, oh, down, seven, down. So now this ladder is still… We can't go anywhere with it. Because it's not a ladder up which we climb to heaven, it is a mirror which shows us ourselves. We see ourselves, and what do we see? We see that we are immoral, that we are lawbreakers. Okay, if I cannot get to heaven by keeping the law, then how in the world could I ever get there?

Namely, that one took our pain, took our punishment, took our lawlessness on himself in order that we might be set free. It's the fabulous message to the woman in adultery. Okay, guys, throw the first stone if you're sinless.

Nobody's left. And Jesus says, I'm not gonna throw stones at you either. So here's to you, Mrs. Robinson. Jesus loves you more than you can know.

I just thought of that. My dad said, I don't know what he's writing about, but that's right. And Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate is a sad, sick story, multiplied millions of times to our shame. But the message to the adulterer is that Jesus loves you more than you can know. And the message to me in my immorality is that it will not be as a result of my ability to become moral, to try and prop myself up into heaven, that I will ever make it, but it will come as a result of my having to bow down and recognize that I am a lawbreaker and that I need a Christ who is a Savior. Then the Spirit of God works in our lives to enable us to live in a way that would please him. The Heidelberg catechism, which we quoted before, makes it really clear. What asks the question—question 108 in the Heidelberg Catechism—what does the seventh commandment teach us? Answer, that all unchastity is condemned by God and that we should therefore detest it from the heart. Since both our body and soul are a temple of the Holy Spirit, it is his will that we keep both pure and holy.

Therefore he forbids—listen to this—he forbids all unchaste actions, gestures, words, thoughts, desires, and whatever may excite another person to them. That's what you call categorical. That's what you call comprehensive.

That's what you call instruction without loopholes. My kids say to me, they say, What's the big deal about music, Dad? What's the… Well, who cares about albums? You know, what does it matter?

The music's good. Who cares about the words? I care about the words, because if those words excite you to activity, which contravenes the law of God, they're history.

Why would you fill your mind with that which would turn you away from truth? You see, when we commit adultery, there's a fivefold dimension to it. In the committing of adultery, number one, we sin against God. Number two, we sin against our bodies. Number three, we sin against our partner. Number four, we sin against our spouse. And number five, we sin against our partner's spouse.

In other words, we create a huge chain reaction of tragedy. Now when Jesus addressed this matter with the Pharisees who loved their robes and loved their prayers and loved their externals, he wanted them to understand—and you need to turn to Matthew chapter 5—that although they were technically okay, they were internally really messed up. Matthew chapter 5 and verse 27. You have heard that it was said, Do not commit adultery. But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

Now let me just apply that in one obvious way. You read these Dear Abby columns, and the question keeps coming up, which I hate to even mention from the pulpit, so I will try and be as oblique as I can. But basically, the notion has to do with the place of fantasy within marriage. It is continually addressed in popular psychology and in the framework of popular immorality that actually it's a very helpful thing, and it certainly is a very normal thing, and it's certainly not a harmful thing. So it's helpful rather than harmful, it's normal. Just go ahead and enjoy yourself, okay?

What did Jesus say? I want to tell you that if you look at a woman lustfully, you have already committed adultery with her in your heart. See, voyeurism reduces our spouse to a mechanism for the fulfillment of our lust.

That's what it does. Roger McGough, one of the Liverpool poets in the 1960s, penned a poem called The Act of Love. And the first verse goes like this, The act of love lies somewhere between the belly and the mind, I lost the love some time ago, now I have only the act to grind. High on bedroom darkness we endure the pantomime, Ships that go bang in the night run aground on the sands of time.

And then the morning its cornflakes and goodbye, Another nick on the headboard, another day wondering why, The act of love lies somewhere between the belly and the mind, I lost the love some time ago, now I have only the act to grind. Do you know how many Christian marriages are living like that? Men who have checked out on their wives in every other way except their physical presence.

Folks who are enduring a pantomime as a living single. And they hear a message like this concerning marriage, and inside of them there's such a revulsion to it all, because they do not know marriage as God intended it, they do not know the joy as God planned for it, they don't know what it means, and it cuts like a knife into their heart. This is painful stuff. You see, that's why Jesus was so radical in his statements, he said, listen, it would be better for you if you've got an eye that's causing you to sin to gouge it out and throw it away. Because it would be better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away, it's better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell. In Mark chapter 9 and in verse 45, he says, And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off.

It's better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. What is this? This is ruthless. This is chilling. This is not cozy. This is demanding, it's decisive. This is what the Puritans called the mortification of the flesh.

It's something exceptionally practical, loved ones. It's not a funny feeling in your tummy. It's not a wooziness. It's not something that comes as a result of singing Christian choruses time and time and time again. It's not as a result of repeating things like a kind of mantra.

You can do all of that. You can be full of gifts that can be coming out of your ears, and you can be living in total sin. If I had kids here this morning, I'd have to talk to a group of young people, I'd say, Put your hands out in front of your face. And look at your hands. And answer this question.

You don't have to answer out loud, just answer this question in your heart. Is there anything that I'm doing with my hands in private that if it was flashed up on this screen right now, I'd be so ashamed? How about your feet?

Is there anywhere that your feet are going? How about your eyes? What about the videos? What about the magazines? What about the literature? What about that stuff?

See, this is intensely practical. It's an act of the will. It's not about a feeling that you get in the pit of your stomach. It's about doing things. Because the Bible said this, I must, with the Spirit's help, do that. Take the test. Now, let me conclude by saying three things.

Number one, don't fall into the trap which wooly thinking leads to, which concludes that there is no difference between mental and actual adultery. This I hear all the time. The equation goes like this, Well, I've thought it, so I guess I've done it, so I suppose I should just go ahead and do it.

Okay? Jesus said, You do it here, you've done it. So people say, Well, I thought it, I must have done it, so I guess we just complete the process. That is from the pit.

That is the devilish equation. He wants to drag you down to the very abyss of moral uselessness. There is a substantive difference between thinking about and committing adultery. There is no difference, says Jesus, in terms of the punishment that he will mete out. Therefore, we cannot play fast and loose with things in our minds. However, there is a difference between what I think about and what I actually do.

We don't have time to go through it all, but let me tell you this. Number one, adultery—the act of adultery breaks the marriage covenant, adulterous thoughts do not. Adultery provides ground for divorce, adulterous thoughts do not. Adultery violates and defiles each other's bodies, its mental counterpart does not.

Adultery is the vehicle for sexually transmitted disease, whereas the mind does not transmit sexual disease. Second last thing I'd like to say is this. I want to issue a word of warning to all of us who, in both speaking and hearing this, are tempted to believe that this is an unbelievable message for Mr. So-and-so, who lives down the street, or the guy who just left our church. It goes like this, "'We're just good friends,' said Jack." Who did he say that to? He said it to himself when he was driving in the car. He was driving in the car, and he was thinking about this girl who works with him. Her name is Thelma. And as he drove in the car and he thought about Thelma, he said to himself, "'We're just good friends.' I respect her for her mind.

I like her as a business associate." There's nothing wrong with that. No. But eight months later, Jack and Thelma were waking up together in the morning, and Jack was no longer waking up in the morning with his wife. Why? Because Jack and Thelma were terrible moral reprobates?

No. They were just like you and me. They were sitting in church. Eight months ago, they were in church. Eight months ago, they had nothing in their minds about being involved in cheating on their spouse. Eight months ago, they were listening to messages like this, taking notes and saying, "'Amen,' but something went wrong." Impossible, you say?

It couldn't be. Listen. Be careful. Jack and Thelma thought what happened was simply this, that because they believed they were invincible, because they believed they were above it or beyond it, they didn't put up any hedges around them to protect against the possibility of them falling into sin. It all started innocently enough, but then slowly, imperceptibly, gradually, they began to depend upon one another emotionally. They began to confide in one another with little secrets and private plans and shared ambitions. They began to justify their lunches together and extended lunches together. They exchanged physical touches, which they said were brotherly and sisterly.

They liked each other, they became special to each other, they became enamored with each other, and they gave themselves to one another. To him who thinks he stands, take heed, lest he falls. Have you planted hedges, man, about this? Do you have hedges? Do you still go out for lunches with your secretary?

I think you're nuts. Well, you say, I have to. I get fired. Get fired.

Better to go into heaven fired than going to hell unfired, huh? Oh, she came in, she was upset, I just went around the desk and I gave her a hug. I didn't mean to be hugging her four minutes after I started hugging her.

Well, you can be sure you won't if you don't ever hug her, first of all. Don't linger. Plant hedges. Build walls. Let me give you three walls. I'm just gonna say them, I can't expand them.

Wall number one. Practicing the presence of God. Reminding yourself all the time that Jesus is with you wherever you are. Secondly, memorize the Word of God. Fill your mind with Scripture. Psalm 119 9 and 11. Thirdly, stick with the people of God.

In large groups in worship, in small groups in accountability. Finally, let me give you a word of encouragement. We started with John chapter 8, we're gonna finish with John chapter 8. And some of us are here this morning, and for us this message is so painful. Some of us actually are probably here, and we have decided that our past is actually unforgivable. We believe ourselves to have sinned ourselves outside the love of God. We've broken the seventh commandment so badly, maybe so continually, and we believe that we're done.

Well I want to tell you, Mr. and Mrs. Robinson, that it's not so. If you do truly and earnestly repent of your sins, if you do truly and earnestly cast yourself upon God's mercy and upon his grace, you may be forgiven, you may be pardoned, you may be cleansed, you may be set free. But hear the word which Jesus spoke to the woman as she went.

What did he say to her? Go and leave your life of sin. Unless you know that you are prepared to walk out of here this morning and never pick up the phone to him or her again, then don't bank for six seconds on the forgiveness of Christ being ministered to you. For our forsaking is the evidence of our being forgiven. This is the word of God.

We all need the help and hope that God provides, not only for our marriages but for every aspect of our lives. You've been listening to Truth for Life with Alistair Begg. Our message today is titled, What God Has Joined Together. God's word is the only truth on which we can build our lives, and that's why we've made it our mission here at Truth for Life to teach the Bible every day on this program. We hope that as you listen, you're gaining a deeper understanding of the Scriptures. The messages in this series on the Ten Commandments are giving us great insight into what it truly means to live life according to God's law, and the instruction is certainly challenging.

But if you join us on a regular basis, you know we don't skip the hard parts. Alistair often reminds us of what the Apostle Paul teaches, that all Scripture is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness. If we aim to be students of God's word, we need to study the whole Bible and to learn from it regularly.

The book we're recommending today will be a great help to you in this regard. It's a brand new devotional by Alistair. The title is, not surprisingly, Truth for Life, 365 Daily Devotions. This is a hardcover book with daily devotions drawn from Scripture. Each daily reading presents a short Bible passage followed by a page of Alistair's commentary, which provides the insights you've come to value from his teaching.

As you look forward to a new year, we hope you'll plan to use the Truth for Life devotional to help you commit to learning from God's word every day. You can request your copy when you donate to Truth for Life today. You'll find the book in the mobile app, or you can donate and request the devotional online at slash donate. And if you'd rather mail your donation along with your request for Alistair's book, Truth for Life, 365 Daily Devotions, you can write to us at Truth for Life. The address is Post Office Box 398000, Cleveland, Ohio.

Our zip code is 44139. You can also pair your new devotional with a brand new ESV Study Bible available from Truth for Life today. ESV is the English Standard Translation. It's this version of the text that Alistair uses to teach from. This Study Bible includes thousands of footnotes, hundreds of maps, illustrations, architectural drawings, all of it provided so you can enhance your understanding of what you're reading.

It comes with a black leather cover that's meant to hold up for a lifetime, and it can be purchased today for just $25, and the shipping is free. If you'd like to view sample pages, visit slash features. And if you already own a Study Bible, let me suggest you take advantage of this low price and purchase the Bible as a gift. Again, you'll find it at slash features, and when you add a donation at checkout, your giving will go to support this daily program and to making quality resources like this available to others at low at-cost prices.

I'm Bob Lapine. Thanks for starting your week with us. Be sure to join us tomorrow as Alistair examines the Eighth Commandment. It's short and to the point, so why do so many of us have such difficulty obeying it? The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life, where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-07-19 16:07:28 / 2023-07-19 16:16:45 / 9

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