And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 16, Number
In this issue:
Adultery was specifically prohibited in the ten commandments (Ex. 20:14). It is a sexual act involving at least one married person and another person of the opposite sex (Lev. 18:20). It is described as a heinous crime (Job. 31:9-11). Under the Law of Moses adulterers and adulteresses were to be put to death (Lev. 20:10). Under the New Testament no such outward, secular punishment is set forth for the sin. Rather, eternal death is threatened to all who unrepentantly commit adultery (1 Cor. 6:9-10; Heb. 13:4). Two verses from Proverbs are appropriate here:
For on account of a harlot a man is brought to a piece of bread; And the adulteress hunteth for the precious life (6:26).
He that committeth adultery with a woman is void of understanding: He doeth it who would destroy his own soul (6:32).
The prophets used the word figuratively to condemn idolatry. In so doing they graphically described what it involves. It takes place between the breasts of a woman and involves her spreading her legs (Hos. 2:2; Ezek. 16:25, NASV; cf. v. 32). The reason adultery was sometimes used figuratively to describe sins of God’s people against Him is that it bespeaks the basest unfaithfulness -- betraying one’s partner in marriage, a relationship ordained of God and intended to be for life (Matt. 19:4-6). Therefore, one can understand our Lord describing Israel of His day as “an evil and adulterous generation” (Matt. 12:39), and why Jeremiah would describe a society of adulterers as “an assembly of treacherous men” (9:2).
The prevalence of such a sin in society can create a less critical “lens” through which it is viewed. Adultery was publicly known and accepted in Jeremiah’s day (even if the word is used figuratively in Jer. 9:2). In such circumstances we cannot be surprised by the presence of other sins among the people – sins like lying (Jer. 9:3,5, cf. 23:14) and deceit (9:5,6). When adultery was tolerated, those trying to maintain an outward semblance of faithfulness (Jer. 7:1-10) had to lie and deceive, whether it be themselves or others who were misled thereby. Another example of this can be seen in the case of David’s sin with Bathsheba. David sought to deceive Uriah the Hittite, as well as the general public, and involved others in his deception (2 Sam. 11:6-13). Adultery can sometimes look different in the eyes of those in its proximity or in some way under its sphere of influence.
Let us now try to make some hopefully beneficial applications of what we have studied up to this point. It is widely known that adultery has been accepted in many churches of Christ in our day. It should come as no surprise that deception is behind this state of affairs. Deceptive defenses of adultery have been advanced by some, such as the guilty party in a divorce may remarry, and that adultery in Matthew 19:9 is a non-sexual act. In spite of these and other false arguments, it remains a fact that one who remarries in defiance of Christ’s marriage law is guilty of adultery – the same base and heinous sin we have studied herein.
It is this writer’s fear that many good brethren have been deceived regarding their stand on adultery. They will deny and even refute such marriages and teaching as described in the paragraph immediately above. They come out in opposition to adultery. However, it has oft happened that such brethren will lend their influence to those who believe and teach the very errors mentioned in the above paragraph. They have stood by while brethren who hold such errors were used in magazines or lectures to which they give their influence or over which they even exercised some control. Others have knowingly or unknowingly stood by while churches of which they were members supported such preachers of error. All the while, those involved in such contradictions will state their opposition to such errors as well as to the marriages to which they lead.
In contrast, no similar problem seems to exist with regard to pornography among most non-institutional churches of Christ. “We” all agree that it is sin (Gal. 5:19,21). All brethren are in agreement when it is refuted and denounced orally or in writing. With these facts before us let me interject that Jesus often used questions to prick His listeners’ consciences (E.g., Matt. 5:13,46,47; 6:25-27,31; 7:3,4,11). In that same spirit we close with some questions. We do this for the benefit of all our readers and for the purity of the Lord’s church. What is the difference between a preacher who would make false arguments from the Bible to defend adulterous marriages and one who would make such false arguments in defense of pornography? Would my stand against the latter error be any different regarding any use of such a preacher than my stand against the former error? Would I publicly decry or warn against another church which decided to use a preacher who defended watching pornography? Would I, in a gospel meeting or in contact with brethren who sought my counsel, warn against using a man who defended pornography while taking a softer view (in any way) of one who defended adulterous marriages? Would I raise my voice against a defender of pornography being used in a paper for which I wrote? Would I protest such a one being used in a lectureship in which I was taking part? Would my continued participation in such cooperative efforts be contingent on the defender of pornography being excluded? Are my convictions and actions in any way different with regards to pornography and adultery? In light of the stated danger that the acceptance of adultery on the part of some can tint the lens through which others view it, is there a danger that my view of adultery has been in any way softened in comparison to my view of pornography? Has my influence contributed to the furtherance of teaching leading to this heinous sin among God’s people? Has my influence helped to embolden those whose erroneous teaching justifies adultery among Christians?
“Let love of the brethren continue” (Heb. 13:1).
-Truth Magazine, Oct0ber 2013, Page 28
Scripture Reading: Hebrews 9:23-28
1. Jesus lived in order to die, Jno.
I. SINS THAT CRUCIFIED OUR LORD. (Barnes’ Bible Charts)
A. The Sin of Ignorance,
Acts 3:17 (1 Cor. 2:7-8). Eph. 4:17-24 (11-16); 5:17; 2 Ti. 2:15
Gospel Persuasion, Prejudice and Pride (Acts 17)
Scripture Reading: Acts 17:10-13
1. How we receive the apostles is
how we receive Christ, Jno. 13:20; Gal. 4:13-14.
I. RESISTANCE IN THESSALONICA: JESUS IS THE CHRIST, Acts 17:1-9. (Jewish Prejudice)
A. Reasoned from Scriptures, Acts
17:1-3; Lk. 24:44-46; Jesus, Rom. 1:3-4.
II. READINESS OF MIND IN BEREA: SEARCHED THE SCRIPTURES, 17:10-15. (Fair-minded are persuaded by Scriptures)
A. Fair-mindedness, 17:10-12.
III. RIDICULE IN ATHENS: THE UNKNOWN GOD PROCLAIMED, 17:16-34. (Gentile Pride)
A. Human Wisdom and the Gospel,
(Current events in the light of Scripture)
A Church Shutdown
Joe R. Price
The U.S. government remains shutdown at this writing. Here, as in other churches, brethren and their families are being impacted as they work without pay. Meanwhile, partisanship, intransigence, pettiness, name-calling, political maneuvering and the lack of effective leadership are in abundance in Washington. Principled leadership and statesmanship is seriously absent while people suffer. Yet, how many folks apply this proverb: “By long forbearance a ruler is persuaded, and a gentle tongue breaks a bone” (Prov. 25:15)? These days, just the opposite seems to rule: impatient diatribe that castigates one’s political opponent (as if that will advance a solution for the good of the country!). “Honor the king” still applies even when one does not agree with the civil ruler (1 Pet. 2:17; Rom. 13:1). “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence” (1 Tim. 2:1-2).
Spiritually, churches of Christ “shut down” when neglect, toleration of error and immorality, arrogance, self-righteousness and apathy rear their ugly heads. The churches of Asia are cases in point (Rev. 2:4-5, 14-16, 20-23; 3:1-3, 15-16). A church’s “lampstand” is removed from Christ’s presence when sin reigns within it – fellowship with Christ ends (Rev. 2:5). Such a church may continue to function outwardly, but it is dead inwardly (cf. Sardis, Rev. 3:1). Spiritually speaking, Christ shuts down such a church due to its continued practice of sin and its unwillingness to correct itself through repentance.
A church of Christ “shuts down” when it fails to function under the authority of Christ. The Lord’s pattern for a local church’s organization is mandatory (Acts 14:23; 20:28; 1 Tim. 3:1-13). The work of a local church is revealed in the Scriptures: Evangelism to the lost, edification of the saints and benevolence to needy Christians (1 Ths. 1:9; Phil. 1:5; 4:15-16; 2 Cor. 11:8; Acts 11:22-23; 4:32-35; 11:27-30). The worship of a local church is also directed by the New Testament, and cannot be altered without causing a “church shutdown” (Acts 2:42; 20:7; Eph. 5:19; 1 Cor. 11:17-34).
Souls are lost when this kind of a “church shutdown” happens. Still, there is time to repent if men and women of faith will rise up and break through sinful partisanship to advance the cause of truth with soberness, godliness and righteousness (Rom. 13:11-14; Tit. 2:11-15).
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 10/07/2013
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA