Exodus 20.14



1.   Turn in your Bible to Exodus 20.14.  When you find that verse in your Bible please stand for the reading of Godís Word:  ďThou shalt not commit adultery.Ē

2.   I read from the Keil and Delitzsch commentary:

Adultery, „aśn;, which is used in Leviticus 20:10 of both man and woman, signifies (as distinguished from hn;z; to commit fornication) the sexual intercourse of a husband with the wife of another, or of a wife with the husband of another.  This prohibition is not only directed against any assault upon the husbandís dearest possession, for the tenth commandment guards against that, but upholds the sacredness of marriage as the divine appointment for the propagation and multiplication of the human race; and although addressed primarily to the man, like all the commandments that were given to the whole nation, applies quite as much to the woman as to the man, just as we find in Leviticus 20:10 that adultery was to be punished with death in the case of both the man and the woman.[1] 

3.   The old Baptist scholar, John Gill, has this to say about the 7th command:

Ver. 14. Thou shall not commit adultery,] Which, strictly speaking, is only that sin which is committed with another manís wife, as Jarchi observes; but Aben Ezra thinks the word here used signifies the same as another more commonly used for whoredom and fornication; and no doubt but fornication is here included, which, though it was not reckoned a crime among some Heathens, is within the reach of this law, and forbidden by it, it being an impure action, and against a manís body, as the apostle says, (1 Corinthians 6:18) as well as sins of a more enormous kind, as unnatural lusts and copulations, such as incest, sodomy, bestiality, etc.  And even all unchaste thoughts, desires, and affections, obscene words, and impure motions and gestures of the body, and whatever is in itself unclean or tends to uncleanness; as it also requires that we should, as much as in us lies, do all we can to preserve our chastity, and the chastity of others, pure and inviolate, (see Matthew 5:28), this is the seventh commandment.[2] 

4.   As you may have noticed, both Keil and Delitzsch and John Gill have woven into their comments about this 7th command explanations and applications somewhat beyond the simple prohibition against adultery that comprises the command.  And this is understandable, since this command forms the basis of Godís revealed will for things pertaining to marital faithfulness and sexual misconduct.

5.   So that you might see the implications and ramifications of this 7th command, I propose a three part treatment of the subject of fidelity and faithfulness to your husband or wife in marriage. 


1B.    Godís original plan for mankind is found in Genesis 2.18.  Please turn there and read along with me:  ďAnd the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.Ē

2B.    Notice that God did not make a group of women for the man, a herd of brood mares, but a single woman.  Notice that God did not make another man for the man, as in Adam and Steve instead of Adam and Eve, but a single woman.  Finally, notice that God did not make boys or beasts for the man, but a single woman.

3B.    This is because Godís plan for a man is a single woman.  Not a single woman as opposed to a married woman, you understand, but one woman as opposed to any other possibilities.  That is Godís will for today.  That has always been Godís will for a man.

4B.    But Adam sinned.  The human race was plunged into the dark abyss of wickedness and depravity and everything was ruined.  And by everything, I mean everything.  Sin completely overturned Godís plan for the race that He had created, the race that concluded a series of creative acts that He described as ďvery good.Ē

5B.    A portion of Godís plan for mankind is found in Genesis 2.24.  Please look to that verse:  ďTherefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.Ē  But instead of ďcleaving,Ē which refers to the idea of close physical proximity (husband and wife facing each other as no two others face each other), and enlarges to the idea of loyalty and affection,[3] we now oftentimes have fussing and contention and rebellion and friction.

6B.    And early on we see a gross perversion of Godís original plan for mankind, when a man named Lamech took for himself two wives, Genesis 4.19:  ďAnd Lamech took unto him two wives.Ē  But that was only the beginning of the record of that manís wicked excesses.  And so mankind continued to slide into the cesspool of sin. 


1B.    This is our text for today.  And in it we see God explicitly stating His desire that husbands not go beyond their own wives to seek fulfillment in marriage or outside of marriage.  And this command states a prohibition that anyone who has read the book of Genesis, and who has examined the lives of the patriarchs, can easily understand.

2B.    Abraham sired his first son by a woman he was not married to, and it caused him no end of trouble.  And the consequences are felt in the Arab-Israeli conflict down to this very day. 

3B.    Abrahamís grandson, Jacob, not learning much of a lesson from Abraham, married and sired children by two women, sisters, and sired a bunch more children by his wiveís handmaidens.  And this was one reason he summed up his life with the following words:  ďfew and evil have the days of the years of my life been.Ē[4]  Four women under the same roof, with two of them his wives, who are sisters?  Every manís dream, the unconverted would say.  Jacobís nightmare, a Bible believer would point out.

4B.    And then there was Jacobís firstborn son, Reuben, and his fourth son, Judah.  Jacobís two wives were Leah and her sister, Rachel.  Reuben was Leahís firstborn son.[5]  But Reuben committed sin with Rachelís handmaid, Bilhah.[6] And what did Judah do?  He sired a child by his dead sonís widow, a woman named Tamar, who was posing at the time as a prostitute.[7]

5B.    Then there was Jacobís daughter, Dinah, who left her fatherís house to take up with a man she was not married to, and her brothers slaughtered an entire city for revenge and took her back home.[8]

6B.    So, it is easy to see from the lives of the Jewish patriarchs that sexual misconduct not only ruins individuals, it wrecks families and creates social disruption on a major scale.  What tragedy and heartache they and their children suffered because of their unrestrained sexual misconduct.

7B.    So, when God brought the children of Israel out of Egyptian bondage in the Exodus He set them on a course that would drastically alter their attitude and behavior in this regard, and would forever separate the people of God from the Heathen nations.

8B.    Not only would Godís people worship the one true and living God, but they would also relate to each other in dramatically different ways than the heathen.  And none so different than the way God required husbands and wives to behave toward each other.  He had created one woman for the first man, and thatís the pattern He wanted for the entire human race.  But mankind abandoned Godís pattern.

9B.    The road back to Godís original plan for marriage would be a slow one, taking centuries.  Though a man was forbidden by Godís written Law to commit adultery, which is to have sex with anyone you are not married to, some men took more than one wife.  The prophet Samuelís father, for example, was married to his mother Hannah and also to another woman.[9]

10B.  And how are we to understand Godís dealings with king David?  Severely rebuked and punished by God for his adultery with Bathsheba, he was married to multiple wives and had concubines without being severely rebuked by God.[10]  Solomon had many more women than his father, David.  How do such things happen?

11B.  We are to understand Godís dealings in this way:  Godís revelation of His will was unfolded gradually over the centuries.  Sure, spiritual and insightful men knew what Godís ideal was.  But God was also retrieving His people from idolatry and accomplishing a number of other things with them while extricating them the sexual promiscuity that characterized the surrounding heathen nations, and returning them to the one man and one woman ideal that we see in Genesis 2. 


1B.    The Lord Jesus Christ explained in undeniable terms the demands of God for His people

1C.   Matthew 5.27-28:

27    Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:

28    But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. 

2C.   Not only did the Lord Jesus Christ show in other passages that the right to remarry after a divorce is limited to those divorces resulting from adultery, but we see in these two verses that adultery is shown to be something more than what a person physically does.  Adultery is something that can take place in the heart.

3C.   So, you are guilty of the sin of adultery if you are married and have sex with someone who you are not married to.  But you are also guilty of adultery if you look upon someone with lust.  Do that and you commit adultery in your heart.

4C.   ďBut that means everyone is guilty, pastor.Ē  I think youíre getting the picture now.  Yes, I am quite sure you are beginning to understand.  It is almost a sure thing that unless you are a little child you are already guilty of the sin of adultery, because you have looked upon someone with lust.

5C.   Where does this tendency to so quickly commit such sin come from?  In Matthew 15.19 the Savior showed us the source of adulteries.  Please turn there and read with me:  ďFor out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.Ē  Itís your wicked heart.

6C.   And notice that fornications is mentioned, as well.  Adultery is when a married person commits sexual sin with someone he or she is not married to.  Fornication is when an unmarried person commits sexual sin with anyone.  And any sexual activity by an unmarried person is sinful.

7C.   ďYou mean thereís something wrong with sex?Ē  No.  Thereís nothing wrong with sex . . . in marriage.  But any and all sex outside the bounds of marriage is wicked, sinful and filthy, and Jesus says ďDonít do it.Ē

2B.    Add to that what the apostle Paul was inspired to write, and we begin to see how wicked your sinful heart truly is.

1C.   First Corinthians 6.9-10:

9     Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,

10    Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 

Sexual sins are sins very characteristic of those who are not converted. 

2C.   Galatians 5.19-21:

19    Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,

20    Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,

21    Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. 

Again, sexual sins are included in the catalog of sins characteristic of those who are not Christians.  If you are an adulterer or a fornicator you are almost certainly bounded for Hell.

3C.   So, itís pretty clear that Godís Word has fully revealed, in explicit detail, His demands with regard to sexual behavior.  And itís also clear that the completed revelation of Godís Word is in full accord with Godís original purpose for one man and one woman in marriage. 


1.   About ten years ago the governor from Arkansas was running for the office of president of the United States.  At some kind of town hall meeting a young person asked candidate Clinton what kind of underwear he wore.  He said, ďI wear boxer shorts.Ē

2.   I think itís pretty clear to the American public, if not the world, that the reason President Clinton wears boxer shorts is to keep his feet warm.

3.   Many people laugh at that comment, but the great tragedy in our country is that there are people who think a man can act like President Clinton behaves and still expect folks to think him a Christian. 

4.   And itís a testimony to the fact that we are living in the great apostasy that so many who claim to be Christians do think a person can live like that and reasonably claim to be a Christian.

5.   And they will justify their claim by saying, ďBut David committed adultery and he was a Christian.Ē  Yes, and David also had multiple wives and at least ten concubines.  Will you allow a man to do that and claim to be a Christian?

6.   I didnít think so.  Such folks show by such comments their extreme bias in favor of licentiousness, their ignorance of Godís dealings with His people over the centuries, and their ignorance that God has gradually unfolded His will in different areas of life.

7.   What God was mercifully willing to tolerate when only a small portion of His Word had been revealed He is no longer willing to put up with these days.  We now have no excuse for not knowing what God wants and who He wants it from. 

8.   As Paul told the Athenians, in Acts 17.30-31, ďAnd the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.Ē

9.   What does this mean?  This means that a new day has dawned.  From His creatures He now demands sexual purity; fidelity in marriage, and complete abstinence outside of marriage.  And it is clear that those who do not comply with Godís demands are clearly shown to be unconverted.  As well, He demands that men turn to this risen Savior Who will someday judge this world and be saved.

10. Those who object and claim to already be converted while being adulterers or fornicators, and those who are apologists for those who do such things, are simply antinomians.  They turn the grace of our God into lasciviousness, Jude 4. 

11. What they donít seem to realize is that Godís people are neither adulterers nor fornicators.  Perhaps some of Godís people used to commit such sins as those, First Corinthians 6.11, ďAnd such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.Ē

12. ďBut what can a person do about this command that prohibits adultery, if you violation the prohibition whenever you have lustful thoughts?  Doesnít this mean that virtually everyone is guilty?Ē  Yes.  Virtually everyone is guilty.  Thatís why everyone needs Jesus Christ and the forgiveness of sins that comes when He is your Savior.

[1]C.F. Keil & F. Delitzsch, COMMENTARY ON THE OLD TESTAMENT, (Rio, WI: Ages Software, Inc., 2000)

[2]John Gill, The John Gill Library, (Paris, AK: The Baptist Standard Bearer, Inc., 2000)

[3]Francis Brown, S. R. Driver & Charles A. Briggs, The New Brown-Driver-Briggs-Gesenius Hebrew And English Lexicon, (Peabody, MA: 1979), page 179.

[4]Genesis 47.9

[5]Genesis 29.32

[6]Genesis 29.29; 35.22

[7]Genesis 38.11-30

[8]Genesis 34

[9]First Samuel 1.2

[10]Second Samuel 15.16

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