As far as marriage is concerned, there is no evidence that the rank-and-file Hebrews had any difficulty understanding what God meant when He included adultery as one of the prohibited activities when He gave Moses the Ten Commandments.
“You shall not commit adultery (Exodus 20:14 NASB).”
Nevertheless, it may have raised a few eyebrows some 1300 years later when Jesus taught that one could commit adultery without there even being any physical contact or verbal communication between the individuals involved.
“But I say that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart (Matthew 5:28 NASB).”
As Psalms 23:7 teaches, whatever thoughts we entertain in our hearts reveals the true person that we are.
There is perhaps no greater feeling of personal disappointment or betrayal than to learn that one’s marital partner has been become unfaithful.
But in this article, we are going to examine another form of adultery that is spoken of in Scripture.
In this type of adultery God is the one that is personally offended, and it is born again believers who are the adulterers/adulteresses.
“You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility towards God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God (James 4: 4 NASB).”
One becomes a James 4:4 friend of the world when he/she chooses to think, to act, or to otherwise engage in activity that is contrary to what God desires. In doing so, the wandering disciple engages in “one night stands” or in “ongoing affairs” with the people or the things promoted by devil’s world. These “one night stands” and “ongoing affairs amount to spiritual adultery in one’s personal relationship with the Lord.
The phrase, “one night stands” in the realm of spiritual adultery refers to sin that we commit from time to time that we tend to think little of, but never the less are expressions of our unfaithfulness in our relationship with the Lord.
How so? Jesus taught that if we love him then we will obey him (John 14:15).
According to James 2: 10, there is no such thing as a “little” sin. Some sins may seem relatively minor to us, but our argument fades when one considers it took the Work of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross to atone for it.
The first thing that many who are caught being involved in a one night stand scenario in the marital realm will do is to say to the one he/she offended was that it didn’t mean anything to them, and/or that they never wanted to hurt anyone.
Born again believers will often rationalize their spiritual unfaithfulness to God, using the same line of thought.
The phrase “ongoing affair” in the realm of spiritual adultery refers to sin that takes place over a period of time and/or has become a lifestyle. The common rationale or self justification for such “affairs” is an unfulfilled “need” that one believes he/she has.
His or her perceived need may be for him/her to retaliate for a wrong or an injustice that he or she has suffered. It may be his/her perceived need to fulfill a desire in response to a weakness in his or her (Matt. 7: 24-27) soul structure.
A weakness in one’s soul structure is an area of thinking or behavior that is the result of ignorance (not knowing) or rejection of what the Word of God has to say.
God (Phil 4:19) has promised to supply all that we need, but not all that we want.
If the perceived need would cause us to think or to do anything that runs contrary to Word of God requires, then the “need” is not a part of the plan of God and He is not obligated to fulfill it.
Such desires can come from our own, self-centered, sin nature, or from a person or thing that promote what the devil's world has to offer (1John 2: 15, 16).
“Do not love the world not the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh (sin nature) and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life (look what I have) is not from the Father, but it from the world (1John 2: 15, 16 NASB italics mine).”
Revelation 2:4 speaks of born again believers abandoning their first love for God. They do so when they put self, other people, or things, ahead of the God or the things of God. Such abandonment is an act of spiritual adultery.
Whatever/whoever occupies one’s mind the most throughout the course of any given day is the one to whom or what one has made his top priority.
Focusing on God and/or the things of God for an hour once a week hardly makes God or the things of God one’s top priority.
Do the math! There are 168 hours in every week. 1 out of 168 is less that 1%! That leaves more than 99% of one’s post salvation spiritual life still to be addressed for which we are going to be called upon to give an account (2Cor. 5: 10). Discipleship is a 24/7 lifestyle.
Religion can be the source of adulterous activity. To this extent, when asked if one is a “religious” person, the appropriate response for an advancing disciple will be to say, “I certainly hope not.”
Such a response may open a door of opportunity for the advancing disciple to explain the difference between Christian religion (that is the product of Man) and Christianity that has come from God.
Christian religion is all that so-called Christians do (or refrain from doing) in order to make and/or to keep them right with God.
Christianity is all about placing one’s full trust and confidence in what God has done (John 3: 16/John 19: 30), God is doing (John 15: 5), and what God is going to do for the people of faith.
Here in the Church Age, the people of faith are those who have been born again (John 3: 5, 7).
Scripture speaks of adulterated gospel messages WITHIN the Christian Community at large.
These adulterated gospel messages have been around since the very beginning of the church age. Paul refers to the promotion of same as being the work of demons (Galatians 3:1/1 Timothy 4: 1).
An adulterated gospel message is one that takes the focus of attention away from exclusive faith in the Person and/or in the atoning Work of the Lord Jesus Christ, and promotes other means for one to either obtain, finish the work, or to retain salvation. These adulterated gospel messages are the roots from which false doctrines and the religious traditions of men (Mark 7: 7) grow.
Embracing such alternative and/ or additional means to obtain or to retain salvation is it an act of spiritual adultery. By our actions, we are saying that faith in the Person and in the Work of the Lord Jesus Christ is not enough.
Spiritual adultery is in view whenever a person, place, or thing is given the place or priority that belongs to God alone in the life of a born-again believer.
Romans 3: 23 reminds us that Fallen Man has never ALWAYS loved the Lord with ALL of his heart, with ALL of his soul, with his entire mind (Matt. 22: 37).
We will not all get involved in marital adultery, but we all have our "one night stands” and “ongoing affairs” in the realm of spiritual adultery.
We have (or will) all placed ourselves, our interests, other people, and/or other things in the place that is reserved for God and the things of God.
This doesn’t mean that advancing disciples are not to engage in secular activities or that advancing disciples are not to experience any of the wholesome things that the human environment here in Earth has to offer.
In fact, it is in the very midst of these activities that we are to be Christ’s ambassadors (2Cor. 5: 20). An ambassador is one who officially represents and speaks for another kingdom while posted in a foreign land. To be faithful, an ambassador must learn what the policies are of the Kingdom that he/she represents.
Every born again believer has been “commissioned” (Matt. 28: 19, 20) to represent and speak for the Kingdom of God while posted here in the devil’s world (Luke 4: 6).
No advancing disciple should need to be told what is right and what is wrong. We may not (yet) have the precise theological term on hand, but we all know when we are involved in doing something that is essentially wrong. When we choose to do what we know in our hearts of hearts that is essentially wrong, we are being unfaithful to God. Unfaithfulness to God in any form amounts to spiritual adultery.
Fortunately enough for us, God remains faithful to us even when we are unfaithful to him (2Tim. 2: 13). But if we are to hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant… (Matt. 25: 23 KJV),” we had better get our act (post salvation spiritual life) together.
Jesus summed up the Commandments pertaining to faithfulness on the human side of the relationship when was asked by a lawyer (Matt. 22: 35 NASB) what the great commandment was.
“And He said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind (Matt. 22: 37).”
There are different types and definitions for love, but there is one way that love can be measured. True love is measured by the degree in which one is willing to make self sacrifice in order to favor the object of one’s love.
Jesus taught that the one loves Him would be the one that keeps His Commandments (John 14: 15).
On the Divine side of the relationship we have the assurance that even when we are unfaithful to God, He remains faithful to us (2Tim. 2: 13).
“If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself (2Tim. 2: 13 NASB).”
Some have a hard time with this verse, in light of the preceding verse (2Tim. 2: 12) that teaches us that if we deny Him He will deny us. The denial being spoken of in vs. 12 refers to one of the privileges that Church Age disciples will have when it comes to reigning with Him in the millennial kingdom (Rev. 20: 6). The denial being spoken of in verse 13 (that cannot take place) refers to salvation.
All Church Age, born again believers have eternal life and will be present with the Lord (2Cor. 5: 8/1Thess 4: 17), but not all born again believers will receive the rewards and privileges associated with discipleship (1Cor. 3: 15).
To take away one’s salvation would be to deny the atoning work that took place on the cross.
God not only desires for us to be with Him in Heaven, He desires for us to be in fellowship (2Cor. 13: 14) with Him while we are here on Earth.
But since He cannot even look (with approval) upon sin (Habakkuk 1: 13), He is “… faithful and righteous to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1John. 1: 9).”
Without ongoing forgiveness no relationship can endure. Post salvation forgiveness is NOT for purpose of restoring salvation. It is for the purpose of restoring fellowship (2Cor. 13: 14) with God so that one can move forward in the post salvation spiritual life.
When our adulterous desires for other things, be it ourselves, other people, or other things (Luke 14:26) exceed our desire for God and/or the things of God, we have crossed the line and have entered into the realm of spiritual adultery.
If what we desire is contrary to what God requires or prohibits, it is a matter of disobedience. Disobedience is always an expression of faithfulness towards God.
When the desired things would otherwise be legitimate, spiritual adultery can enter the picture if we prioritize such things above God and/or the things of God. In doing so, the born again believer has abandoned his/her first love (Rev. 2: 4) and have roused the divine jealousy of God (Isa. 42: 8).
Marital adultery can place one is the “dog house.” When involved in spiritual adultery, we are out of fellowship with God.
The length of time that these periods out of fellowship with God last is a choice that we make. These periods of time spend out of fellowship with God can be as brief as the time it takes to confess (1John 1: 9) the sin. On the other hand, if a known sin is never confessed, the time out of fellowship can last for as long as the rest of one’s post salvation spiritual life here on
Unlike the confessionals that the traditions of men have established, there are no clergy or third parties in the confessional that God created. The confessional that God created is open 24/7.
There are no other means other than confession (to God) through which a born again believer can re-establish fellowship with God. The unfulfilled need to make peace with God is a clear sign that there is a need for such a confession to take place.
There is something seriously wrong in the post salvation spiritual life of a born again believer that chooses his/her spiritually adulterous situation over a desire to be in fellowship with God. We can have either one, but not both. The one that believes he/she can has been deceived.
One can live in the seasonal pleasure and relative comfort that ignorance, denial, or rejection can offer (for a season), but an advancing disciple will not experience the peace that comes along with being in fellowship with God.
Confessing (1John 1: 9), but then not forsaking (John 8: 11) the same sin from that point forward will result in one spending much of his post salvation spiritual life going around and around in a revolving door, going in and out of fellowship with God, but never moving forward.
If one is not moving forward, he is sliding backwards like a car stuck in the mud. The more attempts to address known sin by unproductive measures, the faster we may spin our wheels, but to no avail.
We have all been, are now, or will (in the future) be guilty of spiritual adultery as a result of what we think, do, or fail to do. We all commit acts of adulterous acts of disobedience. It matters not which one (James 2: 10), as they all place us in the same stinking, sinking boat.
We all get our priorities out of order from time to time; abandoning what should be our first love (Rev. 2:4).
There is a silver lining around this ominous cloud.
In His grace He remains faithful to us when we are unfaithful to him (2Tim. 2: 13). He has provided us with the means (1John 1:9/John 8: 11) to address our spiritual infidelity, and the opportunity to then move forward in our relationship with Him.