Shelby G. Floyd
In the Old Testament we read about one of the greatest men who ever lived, and that was Job. Job was a very good man. He served God with all of his heart. And yet God tested him. And while he was in the midst of his suffering and trial he had to defend his integrity before his friends. In his defense Job said in reply to Bildad the Shuhite, “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustily at a girl” (Job 31:1). That’s what we are going to talk about today. If you haven’t made a covenant with your eyes you need to do so like Job. Job said, “I made a covenant with my eyes.” A covenant is an agreement and when you make an agreement you should live up to it and keep it.
Sexual immorality was a big problem in ancient times and is even a bigger problem today, especially in America. Sexual immorality causes great pain both to the perpetrators and to the innocent people who are not involved. There are perhaps three or four reasons why a person might want to go out and commit sexual immorality. One could just be their ego. Some people are like that. Another reason might be that person’s inner need for sharing and affection, even though it is unlawful. And a third reason might be just because they have the raw lust of the flesh. Sexual immorality is so common in our society today that we excuse it and we accept it. And it is all because man tends to glorify the body and to belittle the spirit that is within that body.
THE PROPER USE OF OUR EYES
When we come to God’s word we find that the Scriptures emphasize the proper use of our eyes concerning morality.
First, let us look at Proverbs where Solomon said, “Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you. Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm. Do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil” (Proverbs 4:25-27). He said we should keep our gaze directly before us. We are to let our eyes look straight ahead. What that means is for our eyes to look straight ahead at what is right. Don’t be looking off to the left or to the right at things that are not good for you. That seems to be the idea there in Proverbs chapter 4.
Secondly, we look at Proverbs 17 and verse 24. Solomon says, “A discerning man keeps wisdom in view, but a fool’s eyes wander to the ends of the earth.” The individual who is always out philandering around because their eyes are always wondering around in new territory instead of doing exactly what Solomon said we should do. And while I am here in Proverbs, I have two passages for you to read at home because they are rather long passages. They are Proverbs chapters 5 and 6. Read these chapters at home and read them to your sons and daughters. In these chapters Solomon was instructing his son who would be coming after him and giving him some sound advice from a father. Solomon had firsthand knowledge with all of those wives and concubines!
2 Peter 2:14
In the third-place, let us look at 2 Peter 2: 14, “With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning; they seduce the unstable; they are experts in greed-an accursed brood!” That is strong language is it not? He is talking about people whose eyes are always full of adultery, seeing who they can seduce and commit that sin against themselves, God and against other people.
THREE REASONS GOD GAVE LAWS ABOUT SEXUAL IMMORALITY
There are perhaps three reasons why God gave laws against sexual immorality. If it had been good for us God would not have given laws against it. It is obviously not in man’s best interest here and the hereafter to be out committing sexual immorality, for God gave laws for man to obey and to live within those boundaries.
To Protect the Family
In the first place God gave laws because he wants to protect the family. The family is the basic unit of society, the church and the nation. And he wants to protect that family and today we know that the family is under attack like never before. Satan has always attacked the family and he is still at his ancient work. So God wants us to show respect and to protect the family by giving us his laws concerning sexual immorality.
To Go To Heaven
Secondly, God gave us his laws because he wants us to go to heaven and he does not want us to go and perish in the fires of hell. Hell is a place of eternal torment according to my Bible. And sometimes people are tormented here on this earth and can hardly endure it. But can you imagine what it’s going to be like to endure eternal torment?
To Protect Our Bodies
In the third-place, God gave laws concerning sexual immorality because he wants to protect men and women from sinning against their bodies. Yes, we can sin against our body as well as against our eternal spirit. Let us look at the first letter to the Corinthians. Here Paul warned a church that had allowed the immorality of ancient Corinth to come into the church. Usually the church reflects what’s going on out in society around it. And we see it at the church in Corinth. He writes to the members of the church, who had been baptized into Christ,
“Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body” (1 Corinthians 6:18-20).
So the idea there is that one ought to run away from sexual immorality as fast as you can. Don’t sin against your body. Honor your body by living in a way that God has instructed for you to live. Those who go out and commit sexual immorality and join themselves with prostitutes, harlots and loose type of people, are playing with fire. They will become one with those people. But we are to be one with our mates and with the Lord. So those are just a few of the reasons why people go out and commit sexual immorality and why the Lord has laws against such.
A few years ago there was an excellent article in The Indianapolis Star on emotional adultery. It was written by Peter Jensen and entitled, “Emotional Infidelity is a Threat to Any Marriage.” He quotes M. Gary Neuman who published a book called Emotional Infidelity.
Peter Jenson asks, “Are you a woman who shares secrets with a male friend? Are you a man who reviews his weekend plans with a female co-worker? Do you go out for lunch with a colleague of the opposite sex?” “If you are married and the answer is yes,” then Neuman has a word for you — “unfaithful.”
You might say is that unfaithful? Well it could be unfaithful emotionally. And he goes on to quote Neuman, “We can’t fool ourselves into believing that we can have intimate relationships at work and still have a great relationship at home. My message is if you want to infuse passion and have a buddy for the rest of your life you must keep that emotional content in your marriage.”
Jensen writes, “Sexual infidelity is hardly an uncommon phenomenon in America. A 1998 survey by the University of Chicago says about 25% of married men and 17% of married women in this country admitted to having been unfaithful.”
Jensen also quotes Shirley Glass a longtime researcher into marital infidelity: “A friendship must have three traits in order to be infidelity: emotional intimacy greater than that within the marriage, sexual tension and secrecy.” “Friendship becomes a problem when it becomes a replacement for a marriage or takes place outside a marriage.”
Gary Neuman also gave this warning, “If you put the majority of your emotions in the hands of someone other than your spouse you are still shortchanging your spouse.” Newman sees opportunities for inappropriate behavior behind every lunch, every trip after work with someone and every business trip. Glass says that if you say or do things which you would not want your spouse to see or hear, you need to take a few steps back and think about it.
So here are Peter Jensen’s tips for avoiding emotional adultery which leads to the actual infidelity.
• Keep all business in the office.
• Avoid meetings with the opposite sex outside of the workplace.
• Find polite ways of ending personal conversation.
• Don’t share your personal feelings.
• Take particular care not to have regular conversations about your life outside of work.
• Meet in groups.
• Be unflinchingly honest with yourself.
• Avoid kisses and hugs with members of the opposite sex.
• Show your commitment to your spouse daily.
These are all some very good tips for us to think about.
FOUR STAGES OF ADULTRY
And now I want to talk to you about the fact that there are different stages of adultery, or sexual immorality. Let us just notice a few ways how this might play out in real life.
First, there is what I would call eye adultery. Eye adultery is when you have your eyes on somebody other than your spouse. Eye adultery can be explained as the deliberate look, to search for a person to lust after and to entice that person to commit the unlawful act. That is the way it works when it comes to eye adultery. Remember what Job said, “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustily at a girl” (Job 31:1).
Secondly, there is what we might call heart adultery. This is the kind of adultery that goes beyond your eyes and begins to affect your emotional nature. This is what we call emotional or heart adultery. Heart or emotional adultery is the desire and lust with passion in the heart to commit the unlawful act when the opportunity presents itself.
And in the third place there is actual adultery. There are many people today who are always out tomcatting around. We hear of this kind of adultery all the time. It is actual adultery when two people get together and break God’s laws concerning the sexual relationship—the actual act of sexual intercourse with someone other than one’s spouse or with someone outside of lawful marriage. Actual adultery is also committed when there are sexual unions involving people who are in unlawful divorce and remarriage relationships. And if you are taking notes you can look up Matthew 5:32; 19: 9-11; Mark 10: 11-12; and Luke 16:18. We know there are people living in unlawful marriage relationships and this can involve adultery and immorality as well as in other cases.
And then finally, there would be what we would call spiritual adultery. We are not talking about this kind of adultery today. It will be sufficient to say that spiritual adultery is when we are married to the Lord—we are the bride and he is the Bridegroom and we become unfaithful in serving him. James wrote about spiritual unfaithfulness toward God and the Bridegroom Jesus Christ: “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God” (James 4:4)? The Bible has a lot to say about spiritual adultery and that will be a topic for another day.
JESUS TEACHES ON EYE AND HEART ADULTERY
Now let us think about the fact that Jesus Christ and the inspired apostles taught that when we get involved in the beginning stage of eye adultery that is when we need to take drastic action. Deal with the problem at the beginning and do not wait until you are so involved that it is next to impossible to extricate yourself from the situation that is wrong. Start where it begins and Jesus like Job of old said it starts with our eyes. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus had something to say about the proper use of our eyes:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.”
Jesus taught, “You have heard that it was said, do not commit adultery.” Well that statement is found in the giving of the law in Exodus 20: 14, 17: “You shall not commit adultery,” and “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.” They had heard that teaching from the beginning of the law given by Moses. Next Jesus gave his commentary on the teaching of the law concerning adultery. Jesus is giving his advice in addition to what the Law of Moses had said on this subject. “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:27). So there is eye adultery and heart adultery by looking on a woman with the intent to commit the actual adultery.
MAJOR SURGERY NEEDED
Next, Jesus and the apostles taught that if this is the case with us we need to do major surgery—we need to take drastic action. In the Sermon on the Mount context Jesus said, “If you’re right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell” (Matthew 5:28). Jesus was not teaching that one should literally gouge out his eye and throw it away. This is a figure of speech that exaggerates in order to make the point. It is called hyperbole—an exaggeration to make the point stand out in the mind of the hearer. The idea is if one is committing eye adultery and heart adultery then one must cut off the occasion that is bringing that about. The idea is cut off whatever is causing you to disobey God and do the wrong thing. Don’t wait until you commit actual immorality. But rather go to the source of your problem and deal with that first. Start there and take care of the matter and you will be all right. And that is the best advice that we can give each other in the church concerning whatever we might be doing wrong. Just analyze the problem and find out how it all got started and then go there and deal with it.
So our lesson from the statement of Job is to make an agreement or covenant with your eyes, to keep your eyes focused on the right thing, and to be faithful to your spouse and resolve to live to serve the Lord Jesus Christ to the very best of your ability. If you are not a Christian, repent of your sin, confess your faith in Christ, and be immersed in water for the forgiveness of sin (Acts 2:36-38). For the erring Christian, if it is public sin make your confession and forgiveness just as public as your sin. When you make a mistake, if it is private confess it to God and ask for his forgiveness through the precious blood of Jesus. If anyone is subject to the invitation of our Lord Jesus Christ, we exhort you to respond to heavens plea to flee to Christ. Will you not come today?*
Copyright © 2005, 2011, 2015 Shelby G. Floyd, All Rights Reserved
*This sermon was delivered by Shelby G. Floyd Sunday March 6, 2005, and Sunday December 6, 2015, at the Heartland Church of Christ, 1693 West Main Street, Greenwood, Indiana.