First Presbyterian Church of Blackwood
21 E. Church Street
Blackwood, NJ 08012
Sermon Notes (Sunday ~ November 6, 2022)
Rev. Dr. Mouris A. Yousef, Pastor
“A Call to Faithfulness!”
Exodus 20:14; James 4:4-6
We are almost two-thirds though our Fall Sermon series, a series that I titled, “The Ten Commandments for Today!” This is a series that calls us to examine our hearts, search our lives, and reflect on our discipleship and spirituality.
As I pointed out a few weeks ago, the Ten Commandments are Godly rules given for our good and freedom. The Ten Commandments are big, bold, bright signs guiding us away from the regions of darkness and death, and toward the upland plains of light and life in Christ.
The problem is, in our sin, we hate being told what to do. We think we know better. We look at things and stuff that cannot make our lives better, and we think, “That would make my life great.” This is true of us both individually and collectively. Even more tragic, you would think that we learn from our past mistakes, but the truth is, we keep stepping on the same landmines over and over and over again. Every generation tends to think, “The people before us were primitive. They were not very smart. We’re smarter now.” Which proves we’re not any smarter. Well, look at the misery, brokenness, and the moral bankruptcy of our world to see how smart we’ve become.
So, if we truly look at the Ten Commandments with some openness, we will find out that God, by His grace, wants to help us to live and enjoy life to the brim and at the same time, bring glory and honor to His name. This morning, we get to reflect on the Seventh Commandment, “You shall not commit adultery.” Two observations as we reflect on the Seventh Commandment this Communion Sunday:
First: Faithfulness Matters
The first thing the Seventh Command underscores is faithfulness matters. Family is at the heart of the Seventh Commandment. In addressing family and the institution of marriage in this command, the Lord highlights the importance of a healthy relationship between a man and a woman for the stability of any society and civilization past, present, and future.
The Seventh Commandment calls us to a life of faithfulness in a culture that keeps attacking and undermining the institution of marriage, its definition, importance, and implications. Our present culture is a mess. One reason married people take vows is that temptations to unfaithfulness do come our way. In marriage, a man and a woman make their vows before God the whole world to remain faithful to each other, stay true to each other as long as both shall live.
But do we stay true to our vows? Outwardly, maybe — even hopefully. But if outward behavior alone is the only way to examine our faithfulness, then we might pat ourselves on the back. That’s why Jesus once more deepens and intensifies the meaning of commitment and faithfulness as He says in Matthew 5:28, “You’ve heard it was said, you shall not commit adultery, but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Who of us has stayed true at that deeper level? You shall not commit adultery. Faithfulness matters.
Second: Let’s Beware of the Spiritual Affair of the Heart
The reading from James chapter 4 warns us against spiritual adultery, against the spiritual affair of the heart. James 4:4 states, “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God?” We don’t often think of our unfaithfulness to God as “adultery” per se. But let’s call things as God calls them.
James is picking up here a familiar theme from the Old Testament, that God is the husband and His people are His wife. They are in a covenant relationship. For example, Isaiah 54:5 states, “For your husband is your Maker, whose name is the Lord of hosts.” There are many passages in the Old Testament where God accuses Israel of spiritual adultery because of their unfaithfulness to His covenant love (see Isa. 1:21; 50:1; 57:3; Jer. 3:1-20; 13:27; Ezek. 16:35-39; 23:1-49).
Perhaps the most moving text of all is when God commanded the prophet Hosea to marry the prostitute Gomer (Hosea 1-3). After bearing him children, she was unfaithful to him again. In spite of her adultery, Hosea continued to support her, to love and to pursue her. He remained faithful to his covenant. Eventually, Gomer ended up on the slave market, totally degraded. God commanded Hosea to go and buy back his errant wife out of slavery and restore her as his wife! What a picture of God’s love for His wayward people!
The New Testament picks up the theme of God as our husband when Paul says that the marriage relationship is an earthly picture of Christ and the church (2 Cor. 11:2; Eph. 5:22-33; Rev. 19, 21). Christ is our bridegroom, and we are His bride. This means that when we turn away from Christ and embrace the world, we are sinning against His great love that bought us out of the slave market of sin.
Friends, the Seventh Commandment is a call to a life of faithfulness to both our spouse and also our God. The truth of the matter is that we all stumble in many ways. It’s also true that God demands absolute fidelity which sometimes seems impossible. That’s why James says in James 4:6 that God gives us greater grace than we need. When we stumble, God’s grace meets us right there. But we have to understand that God does not give grace to the proud, self-reliant, or self-righteous person. He opposes the proud. Rather, God gives grace to the humble, who admit that they are empty and ask God to fill them. As Psalm 107:9 puts it, “For he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.” So if you have drifted from God into any form of spiritual adultery, may we never forget James’ words, “He gives a greater grace.” It is grace greater than all of our sins and trials. That grace draws us to the Lord Jesus Himself as our all in all. In the Name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen!
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