The Seventh Commandment

In my continuing series of messages on the Ten Commandments, this message attempts to introduce the weighty subject of the Seventh Commandment.  Perhaps there is no other law of God as flagrantly defied and openly mocked as this.  But God’s word is insistent, that “no whoremonger or unclean person hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.”  This message, then, attempts to define the parameters of the commandment, and to show that we must recognize it prohibits all sexual lust and activity outside marriage.  I also attempt to show that the bedrock principle undergirding the commandment is the sanctity of God’s institution of marriage, so that this sermon serves as a prelude to the following messages upon the important subject of marriage.


But it is not the creation only, but we ourselves, the believers in Christ, whose mark and distinction is that we possess the firstfruits of the Spirit, who are also groaning.  Sin and pain and persecution and conflict make the Christian long for that day when he obtains the fullness of his inheritance.


He certainly rejoices even now in what he possesses, albeit more so at some times than at others.  Every believer knows something of the joy of the Lord as he meditates upon Christ and His salvation, the redemption we enjoy through His blood, and the blessings of free pardon and justification through Him.  We possess a measure of joy simply in the contemplation of those things.  Yet, meditation and imagination are no substitute for the real thing, and it is for that we groan, especially during seasons of fierce tribulation and spiritual upheaval.  It is during these times particularly that our heavenly inheritance seems the most desirable.  Sometimes it may be simply a selfish desire to be rid of earthly troubles, yet at other times it is a genuine spiritual desire to exchange the sufferings and spiritual turmoil of this life for the glory that is to be revealed in us.  Therefore, even as the creation itself is groaning and travailing in pain, and stretching forth its neck to behold the day when the glorification of the sons of God is revealed, so we ourselves likewise groan for that day, as we wait for the redemption of the body.  It is not to a millennial glory, it is not to an earthly triumph, but to the resurrection and glorification of the bodies that the apostles points us.

But the 21st verse blessedly informs us that a day of deliverance is coming, not for the believers in Christ only, but also for the very creation.  It shall be renewed, rebuilt as it were, restored to the original glory it had when God created it very good; or perhaps even established as something better.  The bondage of corruption under which the creation labors shall be ended, when the full glory of the sons of God appears at the final resurrection and judgment.  The heavens and earth shall be purged with fire, and a new heaven and new earth installed, in which the will of God will be done perfectly.  The only sin that remains will be shut up forever in the lake of fire, where it can never break forth again to persecute the children of God and introduce misery into the creation.


Little wonder, then, that the creature, which presently is groaning and travailing under the heavy burden of sin, pain, and death, cranes its neck if it may but catch a glimpse of that glorious day when the full liberty and blessedness of the children of God is revealed, as they are raised up out of their tombs and given their glorified bodies!


Why does the creation yearn so eagerly for that event of unspeakable glory and grandeur?  Because it has been made subject to vanity unwillingly, but by the decree of God, Who, it seems to me, caused the curse of sin to extend not to Adam and his posterity only, but to the very creation over which he had been made lord.  All the violence, upheavals, disasters, and catastrophes that we witness in the universe around us, are a result of sin having entered the world.  Earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes, tornados, disasters of every type and degree, would never have occurred had creation remained in the pristine condition in which God created it.


Although I do not know that it can be proven conclusively, I am very much inclined to think that the whole nature of the world would be entirely different from what we witness.  Since death only entered the picture because of sin, I do not believe that animals would prey upon one another, and men upon animals, for their daily food.  All around us, the world is groaning, as the earth heaves and groans and cracks, as lava spews forth to devour forests and towns, as lightning breaks trees and kindles fires, as hurricanes flood vast areas, as tornados leave incalculable damage and destruction in their wakes.  Yea, the very heavens above us often bring misery and destruction, as asteroids, solar flares, and such like events, often do great damage just to the earth upon which we live, to say nothing of other places in the vast reaches of space.  Sometimes it seems as if the creation is tearing itself apart.  Little wonder that Paul says the creature itself has been made subject to vanity, that is, to the vanity of sin, and that he can go on to say that it groans and travails in pain.  The language is highly figurative and picturesque, but it paints an accurate picture of what is occurring all around us in this world and universe of chaos, violence, destruction, misery, and death.

That glory which is to be revealed is the theme of the next several verses.  Paul speaks of “the earnest expectation of the creature” which “waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.”


The language here is unique, and a little difficult, but the most common interpretation seems to be the best.  The “creature” here is the creation itself, described picturesquely as a living entity, which is earnestly desiring a glorious future event.  That event Paul describes as “the manifestation of the sons of God.”  I do not think that this can point to anything except the final resurrection, in which the dead in Christ shall rise first, and an imperishable glory shall be theirs (see verse 23).  It is then that they will inherit all things with Christ, and be revealed as joint-heirs with the only begotten Son of God.  So marvelously glorious will this event be, that the creation itself will rejoice when the bondage of sin is broken, and the true state and final condition of the sons of God is manifested for all to behold.


Love and Hatred-Life or Death

This final message on the Sixth Commandment was an application of the practical teaching of that crucial law of God.  The commandment not to kill not only forbids actual murder, but every evil attitude which would tend toward the dehumanization or murder of our fellow men.  This same principle of honoring life and eschewing all evil attitudes is to be at work among Christ’s people in His church.  John warns us that the world hates us because we are of God, unlike Cain, who, though a professed worshiper of God, murdered Abel because his own works were wicked, and his brother’s righteous.  Our attitude toward God, the people of God, and righteousness, shows our true spiritual state.  More importantly, if we hate the brethren of the Lord, we show that, no matter what we may profess, we are murderers, and the truth of God does not abide in us.

Paul makes this very point in the next verse by a very simple but profound piece of reasoning.  This is what we might call in modern terms a “cost-benefit analysis.”  There can be no question that the Christian life, as described by Jesus and His apostles, involves suffering; sometimes very intense and excruciating suffering, of both physical and spiritual kinds.  At the very least, it demands the suffering of internal warfare with sin and the temptations and assaults of the Devil.  Even for the least tried believer, life in the narrow way is no bed of roses.


Of course, this then begs the question, Is it all worth it?  If life might be lived at a much easier rate, with far less suffering, far less reproach, far less persecution, then why not go in that direction?  Why suffer the reproach of Christ when it is so much easier to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season?  That is the kind of question which have caused many to turn back when persecution or affliction arise because of the word.  But turning back is unthinkable for Paul, and I think it is equally unthinkable for any true believer; he had rather lose anything and everything than lose his interest in Christ.

Paul knew by experience what it was to suffer for Christ’s sake, and yet he had not a single complaint about all the scars in his body or persecutions he constantly endured.  Yes, he suffered greatly; but it was as nothing compared to that for which he looked.  The sufferings of the present time are but as a drop in the bucket as compared with the glory that is to be revealed in the children of God.  We may indeed suffer greatly during our brief pilgrimage in this life; but when the full glory of what God has prepared for us is revealed, all that suffering will not only seem to be worth it, it will appear to have been as nothing, even inconsequential.  Better a century in a dungeon, and then the glory to be revealed, than a lifetime of pleasure and ease, and eternity in the lake of fire!  Just as a man will make sacrifices of present pleasure in order to save up for a long-term benefit down the road, so the Christian sacrifices personal comfort and pleasure in this life, so that he may obtain the salvation that is in Jesus Christ with eternal glory.