Qs 70–72

Q70: Which is the seventh commandment?
A: The seventh commandment is, Thou shalt not commit adultery.

Q71: What is required in the seventh commandment?
A: The seventh commandment requireth the preservation of our own (1 Thess. 4:4) and our neighbor’s chastity (Eph. 5:11-12), in heart (2 Tim. 2:22), speech (Col. 4:6), and behaviour (1 Pet. 3:2).

Q72: What is forbidden in the seventh commandment?
A: The seventh commandment forbiddeth all unchaste thoughts (Matt. 5:28), words (Eph. 5:4), and actions (Eph. 5:3).


I. General comments

The scope of this commandment is the preservation of our own and our neighbor’s chastity and purity.

A. Negative precept: forbids all manner of uncleanness and whatever may lead thereto.

B. Positive aspect: preservation of our own and others’ chastity and purity, by all means possible.

1. Sex. Prior to the Reformation sex was generally regarded as a necessary evil. By the time of Martin Luther the church had prohibited sex 183 days a year. Sex is a gift from God, part of the goodness of His creation (Gen. 1:28; Prov. 5:15-19), but is perverted when taken outside of God’s marriage-boundary.

a. Spirit-inspired love ballad (Song 1:2, 4, 15-16; 4:10-11; 5:2-5).

II. Required in this commandment is the preservation of our own and others’ chastity in heart, speech, and behavior.

A. Our own chastity: heart, speech, and behavior.

1. Heart: keep minds pure (Col. 3:5; Thess. 4:5).

a. We are to “gird up” our minds (1 Pet. 1:13), not “conforming” (Gk., suschematizo [v. 14]) ourselves to former lusts.

b. We are not to be “conformed,” but are to undergo a deep inner change (“transformed,” Gk., metamorphousthe), by the qualitative “renewing” (Gk., anakaino [ana, “again”; kainos, “qualitatively new”; contrasted from neos, “temporally new”]) of the mind.

2. Speech: should be beneficial (Prov. 10:21; Col. 4:6).

3. Behavior: abstain from gross acts (1 Pet. 2:11-12; 3:2; Tit. 2:11-14).

a. Preserve chastity by guarding eyes (Job 31:1), ears (Prov. 7:21-22); mind (See Appendix F: III, A); being disciplined (Lk. 21:34; 1 Cor. 9:27); keeping good company (Prov. 5:8-9); staying busy (2 Sam. 11:1-2); shunning all occasions/resisting all temptations (Gen. 39:8-12; Rom. 13:14; Ja. 4:6-8).

B. Others’ chastity, as much as is possible.

1. Do nothing to ensnare others (Prov. 28:10; Matt. 18:6-7).

a. Husbands and wives must fulfill conjugal duties (1 Cor. 7:3, 5).

2. Set good examples (Phil. 3:17; 1 Thess. 1:6-7); counsel and encourage (5:14).

III. Forbidden in this commandment are all unchaste thoughts, words, and actions

“Not only is the external act forbidden, but also every kind of cause, motive, and means” (Martin Luther). The marital union exemplifies the relationship between God and His people (cf. Eph. 5:31-32); when the latter were unfaithful they were guilty of spiritual adultery (Jer. 3:1-10; 5:7-11; Hos. 2).

A. Thoughts: all unclean imaginations and purposes (Matt. 5:27-28; cf. 15:19).

1. To lust is to look at a woman and imagine the sexual possibilities. This sin is compounded when it leads to self-gratification, which is an act of self-worship.

B. Words: filthy communications/obscene language (Eph. 4:29; Col. 3:8).

C. Actions, all unnatural: homosexuality (Lev. 18:23; Rom. 1:24-27); bestiality (Lev. 18:22); degrees of affinity/consanguinity (Lev. 18:6; Mk. 6:18; 1 Cor. 5:1).

1. Adultery is the greatest sexual sin because it breaks the marriage covenant, which is a promise before God; hence the severity for breaking it (Lev. 20:10; cf. Heb. 13:4)

a. Marriage is only to be “in the Lord” (1 Cor. 7:39; cf. 2 Cor. 6:14).

(1). Divorce: only allowed for adultery (Matt. 19:8-9); abandonment (1 Cor. 7:10-12).

(a). If married before a Christian, then must stay with unmarried spouse unless deserted (1 Cor. 7:12-13).

b. Some have gift of celibacy (Matt. 19:12).

2. Fornication (Col. 3:5-6); rape (Deut. 22:25); secret uncleanness (Eph. 5:12), whether waking or sleeping, in so far as one occasions it by corrupt thinking.

3. “Wanton” looks and immodest gestures (Isa. 3:16; 2 Pet. 2:14).

a. All occasions and incentives to lust are forbidden: immodest dress (Prov. 7:10); bad company (Prov. 5:8); idleness (Ezek. 16:49); intemperance (Prov. 23:30-33).

IV. Application

A. Use, of knowledge

1. This sin can be a punishment for other sins (cf. Rom. 1:20-21, 4, 26, 28; Prov. 22:14), which is against Jesus (1 Cor. 6:13, 15-17) and the Spirit (1 Cor. 6:18-20). It disgracefully ruins the soul (Prov. 6:25-26, 32-33), and incurs God’s wrath (1 Cor. 6:9; Heb. 13:4).

B. Use, of testing.

1. David exposed himself to temptation, as he should not have “remained in Jerusalem” (2 Sam. 11:1); he failed to guard the eye-gate (v. 2), and instead of fleeing temptation (Gen. 39:12; Prov. 5:8; 2 Tim. 2:22), toyed with the possibilities (2 Sam. 11:2-3) and slept with Bathsheba (v. 4). By the time he was finished he was guilty of adultery, lying, stealing, and murder. David repented (Ps. 51) and God had mercy upon him (2 Sam. 12:13b), but there were consequences (v. 14): family torn apart by rape, incest, fratricide, kingdom divided, beloved son rebelled and even fornicated with David’s wives on the palace roof.

2. Let those who stand take heed lest they fall (1 Cor. 10:12), and labor to keep a sense of dread of uncleanness.

C. Use, of exhortation: sinners and saints.

1. Sinners. Let the terrors of Scripture’s condemnation for breaking this commandment (e.g., 1 Cor. 6:9; Ga. 5:19, 21; Heb. 13:4; Rev. 21:8) drive you to Christ, and give yourself to Him body and soul.

2. Saints. Watch over your heart and senses and make a covenant with your eyes. Study mortification (Rom. 8:13 [See Appendix G]), keeping distance from all sources of temptation, while praying fervently and importunately for deliverance from this foul sin. God is merciful, but Christ also warns: “Go and sin no more.”