Matthew R. Perry

Posts Tagged ‘adultery’

Why God Gave Us Marriage, Part III: A Portrait of Christ and His Church

In Church Life, Culture, Family on July 3, 2008 at 1:03 pm

In Ephes. 5:31-32, the Apostle Paul

“’Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.”

We must realize that marriage gives us a portrait of Christ and his bride, the Church. Paul calls it a “mystery,” but not the type that you try to keep a secret for as long as you can, but one that you reveal at just the right time.

Again, you see why God takes this seriously. So what do we see as far as this portrait that a marriage should look like? Well, as we go through these, I pray you will not only reflect on your own personal marriage, but also look to Christ who is the perfect Husband to his bride and rejoice and praise Him for who He is and all He has accomplished.

Going back to Ephesians 5:23, we see that Christ is the head of the church. He is the spiritual authority of his people and we as his bride submit to him. He is perfectly capable of leading his church. As Christ is the head of his house, so Christ must be the head of our house — with each member submitting to him in all things.

Next, Christ loves the church (Ephesians 5:25). This really caught me. Sometimes, the church does not seem all that lovable. All too often, we find ourselves very sporadic in our devotion to God, in our attendance, in actively engaging in our times of worship, or rarely spending time with him. But for whatever reason that I will never fully understand, he loves us. Not only does he love us but He gave himself for us. This was not just a feeling of love, but a sacrificial love that put self aside for his beloved. This is a connection we see all through Scripture: Christ loves, Christ gives (see John 3:16 among others).

Christ also nurtures the church.
Verse 26 says that he wishes to sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the Word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor without sport or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.” Christ takes it upon himself to love his bride whom he purchased with his own blood. Verse 29 talks of how he “nourishes and cherishes” the church.

Christ leads, loves, sacrifices, and nurtures his church. In return, the church submits to this— willingly! Dear Christian, does this describe your marriage? Does it describe mine? Do we realize that our marriages, good or bad, are a portrait of Christ and his church? May God continue to open this truth up in our hearts so that our marriages would line up with His will, not with the shifting sands of the culture.

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Why Does God Care About Marriage, Part I: He Gave It From the Beginning

In Church Life, Culture, Sermons on July 1, 2008 at 5:00 am

This coming Friday, July 4th, represents the 232nd anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. We live in a country founded on the notion of what Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence, that our Creator endowed us with the inalienable rights of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” What is not well known is that this can only work if people were disciplined with a significant moral code. As a result in our day, people are looking to whatever, saying they have the liberty to pursue whatever lifestyle makes them happy.

Of late, that “pursuit of happiness” has been to try and redefine the definition of marriage. In essence, they say that marriage is just a social construct that society has enforced on people for generations. David Graham Cooper, a British physician, believed in the 1960s that we should just do away with the family because it was how British and western culture spread their empire. In the 70s, Kate Millet believed the family must go due to how it enslaved women. In the 90s, homosexual activists seek to redefine marriage because the “traditional” view is too narrow.

Look with me at Matthew 19:3-4

And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female?

The Pharisees were trying to test Jesus’ knowledge of the Bible — for the Bible does address this issue. So Jesus puts this line of argument right back on them: “Have you not read …?” You see, the Scriptures show that God had marriage in mind “from the beginning.” This echoes Genesis 1:1, doesn’t it? God had this in mind even before the world began and would serve as a core fabric in our society. Marriage is not a social construct, it is a spiritual contract exclusively between “male and female.” So when you hear about people who are trying to redefine marriage, I want to tell you that this institution is not theirs to redefine. It’s God’s.

Also notice this. One of the arguments from homosexual activists is that Jesus never addresses homosexuality. He is silent on the matter, they say. What they look for is Jesus to come out and say, “Children, homosexuality is a sin.” Yet, in this passage he does address it: he “made them male and female.” He’s talking about marriage, then addresses that marriage is made of male and female. Do we really need to say anything more? Jesus said plenty.

But on a more basic level, does this not truly open our eyes to the seriousness of marriage? It is the first institution that God created. It should not be entered into lightly (and given the nature of the vows expressed at weddings, it is understood that this is a solemn union), but it should never be exited lightly as well. But given how so many in our culture have experienced this devastating trend of leaving. Many enter into it lightly, and leave lightly as well. May we see the seriousness with which Jesus approaches marriage in his ordained way.

Why Does God Care About Marriage? (Introduction)

In Church Life, Culture, Family, Homosexuality, Sermons on June 30, 2008 at 7:39 am

(This sermon was preached on Sunday, June 29, 2008, at the Boone’s Creek Baptist Church, Lexington, KY.)

This morning, we find ourselves dealing with a very difficult topic. Right up front, I want to tell you this: I have committed to what’s called expository preaching. What that means is, a commitment to preaching through particular books or portions of the Bible as they are arranged by the Holy Spirit. Why do I do this? For one, I want to follow Paul’s dual commands to “preach the Word” and to preach the whole counsel of God. As a result of this, I will guard against the tendency of my own flesh to skip over passages that may been seen as overly controversial. This has happened a number of times, and God has always blessed and honored our times together because we have preached and received his Word, no matter how difficult.

This morning, as God’s providence would demand, we will be talking about “Why Does God Care About Marriage?” So if you would, turn with me to Matthew 5:31-32:

“It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery. And whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery (Matthew 5:31-32, ESV).

Jesus here deals with this area with a great deal of seriousness. And by and large, the church of Jesus Christ has dealt with this seriously as well. But there are ways to deal with something seriously. How so?

In this area, our breed of churches tends to deal with the doctrine of marriage and divorce seriously. We hold the authority of God’s Word seriously and with great gravity. But for all too many, they would say they love God but the love of neighbor is decidedly missing. As a result, someone who holds to God’s commands seriously metes out judgment on those who do not. There is a risk of coming at this with such moral superiority in this area that no one looks deeper.

There’s another way to look at it seriously. You can look at this in a way that balances the clear commands of Christ with loving and showing compassion on those who are victims of divorce. We must not only take God’s Word with determined seriousness, but also take those whom he created seriously. Paul’s exhortation to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15) cannot be ignored or dismissed.

Some of you sitting in this place have gone through the horrors and the pain of divorce. On the pain scale, divorce actually is more painful than any other event or experience — even more so that the death of a loved one. Some of you may have initiated the divorce because of marital unfaithfulness or even abuse on the part of your spouse. Our hearts break for you, for there is nothing worse than losing the trust of one you love. Some of you may have initiated this because you felt you didn’t love your spouse anymore. My prayer is that you will see that love is not relegated to a feeling but to a commitment, a steadfast love in much the same way that Christ steadfastly loves his church. Some of you here may be the victim of a divorce — you tried and tried and did everything you could, but they refused to. Our hearts go out to you and we pray you will come to Christ for healing and cling to him as your all in all, as one who will never leave you nor forsake you.

The point of this sermon is not, “Four Ways to Have a Happy Marriage,” but is this: how can Christ be Lord of my life even when all around me may try to take control of my heart and mind? And given this, why does God care about our marriages? What are they about? Are they just civil contracts dictated by the state, or is there a connection with the soul as well?

(Tomorrow: God Gave Marriage From the Beginning)

The Five F’s of Fighting Lust

In Culture, Sermons on June 29, 2008 at 3:42 pm
In Matthew 5:29-30, Jesus says:

If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.

Jesus here looks at two members of the body: the eye and the hand. We have seen this admonition from Jesus in other passages (Mark 9:42-50, for instance), but in the context of this understanding, Jesus gives us an understanding of the gravity of lust. The eye is what looks and lusts! What about the hand. D.A. Carson notes that “the hand is chosen, probably because adultery, even mental adultery, is a kind of theft.”[1]

Some, who love the church and the Scriptures, have taken these commands very literally — and even more so! But does this take care of the issue? If my right eye is removed, could not my left eye compensate? I believe we see that the issue is to deal with this issue seriously and drastically.

How are we to do this? Below will contain Five F’s for Fighting Lust. Much of this will come from the book of Proverbs. Proverbs is written from the wisdom God gave to a father in order to pass along to his young son.

Fear: Yes, that’s right: fear. Earlier, we read from Proverbs that the “fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Part of that fear of the Lord is a fear of anything that may entice us away from his paths. Men, women should scare you to death. If you are single, you must see the power of the temptation to drift away from sexual purity. So take care and listen to Proverbs 5:1-6:

“My son, be attentive to my wisdom;

incline your ear to my

understanding,

that you may keep discretion,

and your lips may guard

knowledge.

For the lips of a forbidden woman

drip honey,

and her speech is smoother than oil,

but in the end she is bitter as

wormwood,

sharp as a two-edged sword.

Her feet go down to death;

her steps follow the path to Sheol;

she does not ponder the path of life;

her ways wander, and she does not

know it.

I’ve seen too many think they can handle it. I’ve seen too many who honestly believe they can put themselves in compromising situations because they have a cavalier attitude. Some, especially teens, embrace this because it makes them feel more like an adult. But anything that we covet that lies outside the Gospel will always destroy.

Flee. Proverbs 5:7-8 says, “And now, O sons, listen to me, and do not depart from the words of my mouth. Keep your way far from her, and do not go near the door of her house.” He says, “Stay away from those who would tempt you to indulge in sin.” Don’t even go near her. Run! He told young pastor Timothy to “flee youthful passions.” He told the Corinthian church to “flee from sexual immorality” (1 Corinthians 6:18). See why Joseph fled from Potiphar’s wife after her daily advances. In Genesis 39:8-9 we read:

But he refused and said to his master’s wife, “Behold, because of me my master has no concern about anything in the house, and he has put everything that he has in my charge. He is not greater in this house than I am, nor has he kept back anything from me except yourself, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?”

Oh that David had learned that lesson with Bathsheba. Instead of running and fleeing in being busy for the Kingdom of God, he stayed behind. More on this later.

Fight. James 4:7 says, “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” We forget that the Christian life is warfare. Paul tells Timothy repeatedly that as a steward of the gospel he must “wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.”

How do we fight? Well, we fight the fight of faith which we will see in a moment. But I recommend that we fight with joy. Being joyful and content with what God has graciously given to us will sustain us. Proverbs 5:15-20 says this:

[15] Drink water from your own cistern,

flowing water from your own well.

[16] Should your springs be scattered

abroad,

streams of water in the streets?

[17] Let them be for yourself alone,

and not for strangers with you.

[18] Let your fountain be blessed,

and rejoice in the wife of your

youth,

[19] a lovely deer, a graceful doe.

Let her breasts fill you at all times

with delight;

be intoxicated always in her love. [20] Why should you be intoxicated, my

son, with a forbidden woman

and embrace the bosom of an adulteress?

Figure. In other words, count the cost. If Satan is tempting you with indulging in the sexual realm in thought or in action, count the cost. Lig Duncan, a pastor in Mississippi, told of a pastor friend who had been counseling this woman after her divorce. He began to help her through, even helping take care of things the husband used to such as finances and other issues. As a result, he found himself developing significant affection for her. He called Lig in a panic saying, “What am I going to do? I’m falling in love with this woman, but I love my wife and family, too!” Duncan counseled him, saying, “First, stop counseling her. But if that’s not enough, make a list of what you will gain by having her and leaving your family, and what you will gain by having your family and leaving her.” By doing this and developing good accountability, he began to see that God’s way was the right way! P.G. Mathew puts it more starkly: “The solution is to think! If you are a Christian, God has changed you and your very imagination, and now you are able to think differently.”[2]

But figure in what Jesus says, “For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.” Yes, that’s right — if this begins to control you and takes over, you’re going to hell. You may say, “Bro. Matt, wait a minute! Don’t you believe in eternal security, once saved, always saved?” I do, with all my heart. Christ’s death on the cross was sufficient, and his resurrection sealed it. And as a result, my heart was changed toward him! But if I am constantly pursuing things he has explicitly forbidden and have no twinge of guilt or no desire of repentance, then what am I saying about the reality of the change wrought in me by him? Yes, this is a serious notion.

Fall. Remember James 4 from before, well let me finish that thought. James 4:7-8 says, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” Even the passage in 2 Timothy 2:22, “So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” I mentioned earlier that we were to flee from the adulteress and the object of our lust.

But what are we to run to? Christ! Run to his work! Run to his will! Run to his Word for strength. Fall before him in prayer. Dress in a way that will not cause others to stumble with lust and adultery of the heart. Find others to help you stay accountable.

One time, I read of a man who was a missionary who kept struggling with his thoughts concerning someone to whom he was ministering. Satan would continually tempt him with impure and unholy thoughts about her. What helped him maintain was to continue to pray for his and her holiness. As long as that stayed in the forefront, he found that a great cure for lust.

If you are struggling in this area, know there is forgiveness and restoration.

One day that a woman had just come from a friend’s house where one of the children, a little boy, had been cutting something with a knife, and it had slipped upward and put out his eye, and his mother was afraid of his losing the other. Of course, after that this woman was careful that our little boy, two years old, shouldn’t get the scissors, or anything by which he could harm himself. But prohibit a child from having any particular thing, and he’s sure to have it; so one day our little fellow got hold of the scissors. His sister seeing what he had, and knowing the law, tried to take the scissors from him, but the more she tried the more he clung to them. All at once she remembered that he liked oranges, and that there was one in the next room. Away she went and back she came: “Willie, would you like an orange?”

The scissors were dropped, and he clutched the orange. God sometimes takes away the scissors, but He gives us an orange. Get both your feet into the narrow way; it leads to life and joy; its ways are ways of pleasantness, and all its paths are peace. It is the way of victory, of peace; no gloom there; all light.


[1]D.A Carson, The Sermon on the Mount (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1978), 44.

[2]P.G. Mathew, Christ Cures Lust.

A Biblical Look at Lust, Part II: The Deadliness of All Sexual Immorality

In Culture, Sermons on June 26, 2008 at 2:31 pm

Look again at verses 27-28.

“You have heard that 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” (Matthew 5:27-28).

The imagination is powerful. Think of all the things we imagine: new jobs, more money, more influence, better friends, better weather. When we begin to imagine better relationships, especially when it deals with the areas of love and marriage, then our issues begin. You see, our minds are a theatre with the pictures fed by the eye. The sinful heart takes that picture and drives that sin in deep in the heart. And it sullies how we look at those made in God’s image. Prior to the Flood, Genesis 6:5 gives the indictment: “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”

Whereas last week we looked at the sixth commandment (“You shall not murder”) and saw how Jesus corrected the Pharisees’ interpretation, this week we look at how Jesus sheds light on God’s view of the seventh commandment (“You shall not commit adultery”). Psalm 119:96 says, “I have seen a limit to all perfection, but your commandment is exceedingly broad.” The Pharisees were caught interpreting the commandment too narrowly. In this case, they only looked at the particular act — and even then in some cases it was permitted (such as when you “lie with a slave or a Gentile”). Only lying with an Israelite’s wife was not permitted. They interpreted it far too narrowly.

Jesus here though shows how “exceedingly broad” the commandment is. “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). Whereas Jesus affirms that the particular act is sinful, so is what Ligon Duncan calls “eye adultery” — and he is merely quoting the Apostle Peter: 2 Peter 2:14: “They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children!”

Men and women need to recognize some things. From songs, to movies, to bookstores, to the Internet, sex has been reduced to something simply for fleshly gratification. Of late, I cannot listen to songs dealing with this area. Men singing songs that objectify women — they are called awful names, described in awful ways, and are simply seen as conquests.

But if you see the videos, you see that women dress in styles that invite this. And since that’s the style in Hollywood and coming out of Madison Avenue, young women (even teenagers) are highly susceptible to wearing clothing that is skin-tight, plunging necklies, exposed midrifts, low wastelines, and high hemlines. Teens are especially susceptible to this, given how their quest toward adulthood leaves them 15 wanting to dress like 25.

This is exactly why Paul tells young men to remain “self controlled” (Titus 2:6). This is exactly why Paul in 1 Tim. 2:9-10 Paul exhorts Timothy “that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.” This applies to both genders, but if we more time worrying about our fashions over our faith, it will show. We find ourselves not only taking umbrage with the seventh commandment, but we do so by violating the tenth commandment, “Do not covet.”

Why is this a gospel issue? Because if we believe in the sovereignty of God and believe that he has given to us what he has, then we find ourselves not coveting but being content.

Be Careful, Little Eyes, What You See: A Biblical Look at Lust (Part I)

In Culture, Sermons on June 22, 2008 at 10:34 pm

(This sermon was preached on Sunday, June 22, 2008 at Boone’s Creek Baptist Church, Lexington, KY. You may listen to this sermon via mp3.)

I remember hearing and singing a short little chorus when I was little that was very simple:

O be careful, little eyes, what you see,
O be careful little eyes what you see,
For the Father up above is looking down in love,
O be careful little eyes what you see.

The song continued by going through other parts of the body to prove a point: we need to be careful what we are watching because God is watching. But does that make a difference with many. So many in our culture take little thought in what they put before their eyes, especially when it comes to the sexual realm. We see that the pornography business is a $10 billion per year business. We see that even in the magazine stands at the grocery that the women who don the front of the majority of the magazines are wearing skimpier and skimpier clothing.

The understanding in advertizing that “sex sells” has never been more apparent than in 2008. This is a growing problem, especially among Christians who grew up in churches that were afraid to even talk about it, much less teach how to navigate through the hormones that pop and crack during adolescence. Television shows and movies simply look at this like those in Roman times did — that this area is simply a bodily function like eating or drinking. And I’ll say this: our teens and young adults will learn this from somewhere.

On Sunday evenings, we are going through Jerry Bridges’ book Respectable Sins. This book addresses issues dealing with sins that Christians tolerate as part of our culture. More and more, I am seeing that this very issue Jesus addresses is tolerated — and it was tolerated even in his day with a “you-can-look-but-can’t-touch” type of attitude.. Look with me at Matthew 5:27-32

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ [28] But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. [29] If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. [30] And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.

[31] “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ [32] But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery. And whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

There is a misunderstanding that this is not simply a biological function, but deals with the emotions and even the soul! According to Jesus, you cannot separate the act or the thought from the issues of the soul. They are all tied together.

This Sunday, I will address Matthew 5:27-30, then next Sunday I will speak on why does God care about marriage.

(Tomorrow: Part II: Sexual Immorality in Any Form is Deadly)