Posts Tagged ‘Adultery’

WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

© by Ross Cochrane

Chapter 33

“I still think that a king should lead his men into battle!” Absalom had insisted. David’s other sons had been discreetly silent on this point but it was obvious that they were in agreement.

Weakly David had tried to defend his position,

“Joab is my most trusted general. He is certainly able to lead my men to victory.” He walked out of the room annoyed, yet the truth of Absalom’s words persisted.

The Lord had given David rest from his enemies for a while, until he had decided to show some sympathy to Hanun the Ammonite at the death of his father. That kindness had been abused and now he was at war again. The major part of the war had been won but the Ammonite capital itself was still resisting.

David had built a comfortable palace for his family, and he was discouraged at the prospect of yet another battle. Was it this that made him stay at home? He wasn’t sure. Perhaps he could fast and pray? In any event it was Joab who went to battle for him while he remained in Jerusalem. He wanted to be alone, and have opportunity to think through the issues of his kingdom. He had also hoped that his sons would agree with his decision, but this wasn’t to be. Absalom had criticised him for staying at home. He had snapped back at Absalom for his insolence and left the room even more depressed.

With the stress of all, he had to bear David wasn’t feeling well of late. He would get away from matters of war and judgmental counsellors. It was late afternoon when he rested on his bed. He was alone and the weight of his kingdom in war was heavy on his mind, despite Absalom’s inference that he was not leading his men as he should.

When the sun’s heat had gone, he walked around on the roof of the palace that he had built for his family, to catch the cool evening breezes. From this vantage point he saw a woman bathing. She was a very beautiful woman. The law required that after menstruation a woman wait 7 days and then bath ceremonially as a sign of her being clean once again. She was bathing, as the law required. The inner law of discretion, however, would have prevented her from being in a place so easily observed by the king.

Bathsheba knew that David was still at home. She had seen him walk on the roof of the palace on a number of occasions and knowing that her husband and all the men were at war, she decided to risk the attention of the king as she bathed in the cool evening breezes on the roof of her house. Her grandfather, Ahithophel was away for a few days attending to some matters of intelligence concerning the war and she was alone.

If she had examined her motives, Bathsheba would have found that she desired David much more than she wanted to believe. She was a beautiful and desirable woman and had often dreamed of what it would have been like to marry a king, especially a handsome king like David, but destiny had not permitted her dream to be a reality. The closest she had come was to live beside the palace, married to a man chosen by the family.

She would bathe where she liked and dream of what could have been, and if she attracted David’s attention from the palace roof, so be it. She longed for an opportunity to get closer to this man she had come to love as her king. This night, she succeeded in getting too much of David’s attention. David lusted for another man’s wife.

On that same night Absalom was brooding in his room and lusted for another man’s kingdom. The war that raged in his heart was not dissimilar to the battle that waged within David. His war was also against his God. He warred in his spirit with his desire to rule a kingdom which was never intended to be his. He warred against the feelings he had against his father for being God’s anointed. He warred with his legalistic attitudes that left him embittered rather than discerning when he encountered injustice.

At this moment, king David, known for his discernment, was exercising none of it. Home when he should have been at war, he was susceptible to temptation. He would make inquiries about this woman, to see if she was single. He discovered that she was the wife of Uriah, the Hittite. That’s when his enquiries should have stopped. But of course, Uriah was away at war and her company seemed to be irresistible.

Two wars continued to rage that day. For David it would have been preferable for him to have been at war with the Ammonites than to be at war with his own spirit, and ultimately with God.

David forged ahead with his intentions to sleep with this woman, despite the fact that she was married. He sent messengers to get her. She came willingly to her king and into a situation that led her to his bed.

Bathsheba ceremonially purified herself of her uncleanness afterwards and returned home.  If charges were laid, the law demanded stoning those who were unfaithful, but the law only highlighted David’s lack of defence, and he would try desperately to cover the stain of his sin. David did not return to his kingly office that night purified, ceremonially or otherwise and concealment and excuses would continue to dog his waking steps. Confession and repentance became faded shadows in the dimly lit corridors of his soul.

A month or so had passed, but the evidence of David and Bathsheba’s lust was still present in a tiny life which had come into being that night. Bathsheba, in distress, told David that she was pregnant.

Matthew 14:1-12 – BRAVEHEART VS THE MAFIA

Braveheart vs the Mafia

He is drawn to the MAN IN THE DUNGEON. Beliefs are tested in the dark dungeon experiences of my life where everything is ripped away to expose who I really am. A dungeon is that place where everything is pointless without the purposes of God. Yet when all I have to offer to God is a dungeon it becomes a place of His presence, a throneroom, a place where His authority and intentions overrule my circumstances. A place of FREEDOM.

 The Godfather is dead. “Herod the king”, psychopathic mass murderer who killed the baby boys of Bethlehem in a last ditch attempt to destroy Jesus is now gone (Matthew 2:13-18). Long live the Dons. Long live “HEROD THE TETRARCH” who has survived to rule a quarter of his fathers kingdom. His tetrarchy extends from the Sea of Galilee to the northern part of the Dead Sea. Ambitious and just as deadly as his father, HEROD ANTIPAS has now been ruling about thirty-two years. In the luxury and excess of his kingdom he is imprisoned by a dungeon of his own making, far more oppressive than John’s. What a mess.

Meet his comare (mistress). Granddaughter of the late great “Herod the King”, HERODIAS is niece to both her husband PHILIP, and her lover. Herod and Herodias? Days of our lives! She seeks to justify her relationship with Herod but the man in the dungeon DENOUNCES it saying that it is against God’s law (Leviticus 18:16, 20:21). He is anything but politically correct and his influence is far-reaching with the people. He lives out Ephesians 5:11 (NLT) which says “Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, EXPOSE them, even in the presence of a Godfather figure like King Herod. He may be in a dungeon but the dungeon is not in him. He declares that sin separates me from God, that genuine repentance is needed and that I need to come under the authority of Jesus whose way he is preparing.

With a heart as black as a dungeon wall, Herodias tries to rid herself of the irritation, but what mother would involve her own daughter in such a quest? What kind of trauma will result from such a gruesome plan?

Herod doesn’t hold back when it comes to his birthday party or in celebrating the anniversary of his accession as king. He holds a magnificent banquet. Good food, questionable entertainment. He lives a life of debauchery.

Salome dances seductively before Herod. She is the daughter of Herodias and Herod is not so much seduced by her dance as he is obligated to her mother to give her whatever she desires. He makes a foolish oath to grant her any wish, up to half his kingdom, but her heart too is imprisoned, and she too is drawn with malicious intent to the man in the dungeon. Salome consults with her mother.

Herod is deeply grieved by her request but doesn’t want to lose face. So, with only a moments hesitation, he grants her desires and orders John the Baptist to be BEHEADED. This is quite a table that has been set. Adultery, incest, debauchery, seduction, murder and the macabre all sit together at the kings table as John’s head is brought in on a platter.

Why did John have to die? The key to understanding this is found in Acts 20:24 (NLT) – “But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.”

Courage. Humility. Faithfulness. Selflessness. Reformer. Servant and Ambassador for Christ. Martyr. Who says it’s easy being a follower of Christ? Would I be willing to stand boldly with the message of repentance and faith in Christ that God has give to me in the face of death? In the words of BRAVEHEART “You have come to fight as free men. And free men you are! What will you do without freedom? Will you fight? …Fight and you may die. Run and you will live at least awhile. And dying in your bed many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that for one chance, just one chance, to come back here as young men and tell our enemies that they may take our lives but they will never take our freedom!”

Galatians 5:1 (NIV) puts it this way – “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

Philippians 1:20-21 (NLT) could well be used as John’s vision and his epitaph – “For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honour to Christ, whether I live or die. For to me, TO LIVE IS TO LIVE FOR CHRIST AND TO DIE IS GAIN.” 

Pastor Ross

Matthew 5 – Part 16 – GOD WANTS US TO BE HAPPY, SO WHY DON’T WE GET DIVORCED?

Years ago, Julie and I began to have difficulty in our marriage. I was spending all my time pastoring a small Church and our relationship was being neglected. It suffered to the point where I needed to take time out of ministry and we needed to do some repair work. That was a major decision and we know what it’s like to go through the difficult process, the road less travelled, of restoring that which has been lost, and for me, of learning what it means to be a better husband. It’s horrible at first, but when we made that choice, at the end of the day we are still married and I have an even better relationship with Julie than I had before. God is so good!

I am always disturbed when Christians take the dreadful step of divorce. If Christians can’t make their marriages work, who can? My heart breaks for them because they have usually left it too late before they come for counselling. Christians like to hide the fact that their marriages aren’t working, especially at Church. By the time they do come, they simply want to justify their decision. They tell me things like “God would not want me to live the rest of my life with someone I don’t love, would He?” or “God wouldn’t want me to be so unhappy?” I tell them as best I can that there is more to a marriage than an emotion of self centred well-being, but that doesn’t always go down that well!

Now I know it’s not simply a matter of, as one person put it, “being married but not engaged”. That’s worse still! But when a couple divorces, it is heartbreaking to see the aftermath of hurt and devastation which touches the lives of their children for years to come, and the legal and emotional battles that are fought to break that covenant. By the time you are divorced, you have had to violate a number of very binding promises you have made before God and eachother. That alone has devastating and lasting consequences for us emotionally, socially and spiritually – in every way. It is no wonder that God says “For I hate divorce!” says the Lord, … “To divorce your wife is to overwhelm her with cruelty,…so guard your heart; do not be unfaithful to your wife.” (Malachi 2:16 (NLT))

In Matthew 5, Jesus is teaching His disciples some leadership principles on the mountain, preparing them for ministry and all of a sudden He comes up with radical new ways of interpreting the topic of DIVORCE. It is so radical that even many Christians today ignore it! Jesus makes the outrageous claim that “a man who divorces his wife, unless she has been unfaithful, causes her to commit adultery. And anyone who marries a divorced woman also commits adultery.” (Matthew 5:32).

Are we to take Him literally? YES!!!

Now notice that Jesus has just finished speaking about ADULTERY and now he speaks about DIVORCE. The two things are so often related. He says Adultery is more than the actual sexual act. He is more concerned about the thought life that gives rise to Adultery and says that lust is already an act of adultery. Then He speaks about the real meaning of divorce.

The horrible thing about adultery is that it breaks the connection between husband and wife. The covenant relationship along with faithfulness, hopes for the future, love for eachother, and trust are all broken. If you are Christians, then the physical, emotional, AND SPIRITUAL connections are broken (Matthew 19:5-6).

So what do we get from all this? First of all God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16) Divorce is permitted when Adultery has taken place, but the reason it is permitted is for the protection of the innocent party due to the sin of the other party. Sin always gets in the way of enjoying what God wants for us. Divorce is only permitted because of sin and is not a part of God’s original plan for our marriages.

Jesus said in Matthew 19:8, “Moses permitted divorce only as a concession to your hard hearts, but it was not what God had originally intended”

Unless there is unfaithfulness in the marriage, as a Christian, God expects that you will have the same attitude toward divorce as He does, and you will see it as a violation of His expressed purpose for your marriage.

Divorce in the case of adultery means that the innocent party no longer has to remain trapped in a hopeless and intolerable situation. Remarriage is permitted for the innocent person, and I use the term “innocent” as referring to the one who has not committed adultery. Jesus may permit divorce in these limited circumstances but never commands divorce. God shows clearly in Hosea 1-3 that a wife who has committed adultery can be forgiven and restored. I presume this applies to a husband as well.

Where a divorce is not because of adultery or because an unbeliever initiates the divorce, the Bible says there can be, and we are to seek, reconciliation, or else remain unmarried. 1 Corinthians 7:10-11 says, “A wife must not leave her husband. But if she does leave him, let her remain single or else be reconciled to him. And the husband must not leave his wife.” When you get a divorce where no adultery took place, then in God’s eyes you are still married. Marrying someone else means that you place yourself in a position of committing adultery, because God doesn’t recognise the validity of the divorce unless adultery took place. That’s how specific the Bible is about marriage and divorce.

Now, let’s get rid of the legal side and speak about hope for marriages.

When someone receives Christ as their Lord and Saviour, it means you begin a new life. According to John 3 you are born again and in 2 Corinthians 5:17, a genuine Christian has become a “new creature”. It means that it is not only possible but necessary to live out what God has revealed about marriage and divorce from the point of his or her relationship with Christ. Marriage, after all is a beautiful picture of the relationship of Christ and His Church.

 “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”

Someone said “This does not mean that Christ immediately erases painful memories, bad habits or the underlying causes for past marital problems, but that He begins a process of transformation through the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. A sign of becoming a Christian will be a willingness to obey what Christ has revealed about marriage and divorce through the Word of God.”

What am I saying in all this?

Seek to honour Christ in your life and in all your relationships and mostly in your marriage. I read somewhere that we need to be careful what you let into our senses–what we see, what we hear, and where we go. Whatever we allow in our minds is going to have a great impact on us. Pray for purity. Avoid potentially tempting situations, like travelling alone, or going to places alone where you will be vulnerable. Stay accountable to your spouse and build your marriage.

God bless you Church as you treasure the marriages you have and as you take the road less travelled to find the answers you need to have a great marriage.

Pastor Ross

Too often when Julie and I watch a movie, I am forced to turn it off or over because of the coarse nature of the movie, particularly relating to the sex scenes. It is taken for granted that sex is a necessary part of most movies. I disagree! I don’t need to watch simulated sex between two people in my living room! I notice that although I make an active choice to turn the channel over or turn the movie off, that there is something inside me that would like to entertain watching a little bit longer. I know it would be wrong, but the desire is there. Jesus is not afraid to confront the big issues of men’s lives, like sex and our thought lives. He verbalizes what we know to be true…

“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 lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Matthew 5:27-28 (NASB))

I notice when Jesus confronts me, He goes for the heart. He addresses the core issues that I face in my thought life.

All around me I see that adultery causes such devastation and hurt in a marriage, and so often leads to the end of a marriage, and as a Christian man I agree that I don’t want to be involved in adultery, yet I am amazed at what I am capable of tolerating in my life unless I actively choose to deal with it. I need to be vigilant in this important area.

Jesus tells His disciples at the outset of ministry that purity is essential. He uses language that is forceful and exaggerated to get his point across to a group of fishermen who may well have been used to coarse jokes and lack of boundaries concerning women. He says in Matthew 5:29-30 (NASB) “If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.

OK, so how gross is this picture? Sure, He’s not being literal but don’t water this down! This is important! Decide ahead of time not to feed lust! Jesus is saying that what we focus on determines our actions. Jokes, movies, and magazines can give our senses permission to feed lust.

Jesus is using what we call graphic hyperbole (obvious and intentional exaggeration) to get His point across. Obviously, Jesus is not advocating self mutilation to deal with lust. That would not actually solve the problem of a man’s thoughts anyway. So what is He saying to me and you? He is saying “Deal with the cause! Focus your attention on other things that don’t feed lust. Take whatever action is necessary so that you don’t stumble in this area. Don’t indulge sinful patterns of thinking. Such thinking inevitably chooses inappropriate behaviour which can lead to the devastating consequences of adultery.

So does this mean if I think of a woman in the wrong way, then I’ll go to hell? Jesus is associating such behaviour and thinking as sin and all sin is deserving of hell and continuing to feed lust is behaviour that belongs to someone who does not have a personal relationship with Christ in the first place.

Jesus isn’t saying sex is sinful or wrong. The Bible speaks about marriage from the beginning and encourages Adam and Eve to “be fruitful and multiply” so God invites them to have sex. How do I commit adultery? I mean I know how, but what I’m getting at is that our definition is too restricted. According to Jesus it happens as I look at a woman with lust in my heart, not just the act having sex with someone elses wife. Sex outside marriage is obviously wrong and lustful thoughts, according to Jesus, are already tainted by the sin of adultery!

James 1:14-15 (NASB) says “… each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.”  

So how do I win the battle over lust? I do whatever is necessary! It might mean staying away from certain places, or certain people. It might mean refusing certain social functions where I know the conversations will be suggestive. It might mean excusing myself and showing others by example that I don’t approve of suggestive jokes and conversations that lead to lust.

It will be determined by what I focus on. Philippians 4:8 (NASB) says, “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”  

2 Cor. 10:5 says “we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,”

Jesus says what the heart focuses on determines how I will live.

1 Thessalonians 4:3-6 (NASB) makes God’s perspective crystal clear.

“For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honour, not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God; and that no man transgress and defraud his brother in the matter because the Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you.”  

One final thing – I need to admit to God what happens in my heart when I go wrong, and repent when I find myself drawn into the area of lust.

God bless you Church as you put Galatians 5:16 (NIV) into practise and as you “… live by the Spirit, … you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.”