Soli Deo Gloria: For the Glory of God Alone
Posted: Thursday, October 11, 2012 6:00 pm
Matters of the heart
By JOHN K. JONES
Our look at the Heidelberg Catechism continues with the 41st Lord’s Day, Questions 108 and 109. This Lord’s Day discusses the Seventh Commandment: “You shall not commit adultery.” Question 108 asks: What does the Seventh Commandment teach us? Answer: That God condemns all unchastity ( Lev. 18:30; Eph. 5:3-5), and that therefore we should thoroughly detest it (Jude 22-23) and live decent and chaste lives (1 Cor. 7:1-9; 1 Thess. 4:3-8; Heb. 13:4), within or outside of the holy state of marriage.
Question 109 continues: Does God, in this commandment, forbid only such scandalous sins as adultery? Answer: We are temples of the Holy Spirit, body and soul, and God wants both to be kept clean and holy. That is why God forbids all unchaste actions, looks, talk, thoughts, or desires (Matt. 5:27-29; 1 Cor. 6:18-20; Eph. 5:3-4), and whatever may incite someone to them (1 Cor. 15:33; Eph. 5:18).
The Seventh Commandment is arguably the most ridiculed of the Commandments in our culture. As Kevin DeYoung describes it in his book The Good News We Almost Forgot, “Adultery is a joke; homosexuality is a right; sex before marriage is the norm; no-fault divorce and remarriage is assumed ... Sex has always been a leading vote getter in the most popular sin contest, but never before in this country has so much sexual deviance been made to look so normal and God’s standards made to look so obscene.”
Statistics abound, but one of the most reliable is from the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago. In a 1992 survey, they asked 3,432 U. S. adults, “Have you ever had sex with someone other than your husband or wife while you were married?” One in four of married men and one in six of married women answered “yes.” With this statistic in mind, it should be no surprise that somewhere between 45 percent and 53 percent of all marriages in the U.S. end in divorce. We do not live “decent and chaste lives, within or outside of the holy state of marriage.”
According to a study reported by Jason Byasse in First Things, pornography and sex-related web sites make up 60 percent of daily web traffic. Of internet users in the U. S., 40 percent visit porn sites at least once per month. This percentage increases to 70 percent among eighteen to 34-year-old men. Lust, or out-of-control sexual desire, is rampant. We do not guard our minds, and some of us callously use the sexual desire of others to exploit money from them. We would do well to heed the catechism’s warning: “God forbids all unchaste actions, looks, talk, thoughts or desires, and whatever may incite someone to them.”
In our culture, few people avoid the reach of sexual sin in one of its forms, but the catechism holds out hope. Remember the three major sections of the Heidelberg Catechism: Guilt, Grace and Gratitude. We recognize our guilt before a Holy God; we experience God’s grace when God gives us a new heart; and we live lives filled with gratitude for what God has done for us in Christ.
Remember that the entire discussion of the Ten Commandments falls in the section on gratitude. We obey the Seventh Commandment, as all the others, because of what Christ has done for us in living a perfect life and dying for the sins of His people. It is not a grudging obedience motivated by a stale sense of duty; it is a joyful obedience motivated by gratitude and love.
Do not forget the central message of the section on grace: God gives us new hearts so we respond in repentance and faith. Our new hearts help us to agree to stop sinning, and our new hearts lead us to trust that Christ has earned us forgiveness. These new hearts long to follow God’s commands. They are made new by the same power that raised Jesus from the grave. That same power transforms us, not all at once, by any means, but over time. We become the kind of people who do the right thing for the right reasons. We love because He first loved us, and our love for Him makes us new.
Our look at unchastity should end with the words of the prophet Jeremiah: “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23, ESV). Read that in context to get the full weight of the passage. There is mercy and power to change for all of those who ask God for forgiveness and resolve to do better.
Editor’s note: John K. Jones, a sinner saved by grace, is the Chairman of Deacons at Grace Presbyterian Church in Troy where he attends with his wife and child.