Although part of a series, this article is a Complete study on its own. (Part 2 of 18 in series)
***All [bracketed] words in Scripture quotes are mine.***
"He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly before your God?" (Micah 6:8)
"I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh...
...For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be of led the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such things there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another." (Galatians 5:16-26)
Welcome to back to our series on defeating our human nature.
Part one of this series went into some detail defining human nature, explaining why we carry it in our flesh. We explained that man inherited sin, that we were born with it in our bodies, specifically in our blood. Nothing has removed that ailment of sin that condemns us to hell, but one act of love has made it possible to declare it forgiven. That act of love is the finished work of Jesus Christ. Now any believing sinner can call on Jesus so that He will be Savior to every person that trusts Him and follows Him.
We spoke also of how the sin nature causes us to want to sin from time to time and the only way to fight that is to surrender our will to God the Holy Spirit. That surrender must be done continually, because at any moment we may rationalize taking back control from Him and tasting of the pleasure of sin for a season. This pull to sin in the flesh of the believing Christian is strong and we cannot overcome it on our own. We must constantly be on the watch, monitoring our own behavior, our own thoughts, our own motives. When we place our feet in the footprints of Jesus and follow Him moment-by-moment we will be able to say no to our flesh and sin. When we coast along on auto-pilot or drift in the thoughts of our mind, we will fall prey to temptation and to our own lust.
The passage of Scripture above speaks of the works of the flesh. A work of the flesh is our lust given leeway to build a structure (or Scripturally speaking- a "stronghold") of sin for us in which to dwell so that the lust in us can be fulfilled constantly. Let's consider an example from childhood with which we are all familiar that resembles a work of the flesh in adults. When we were young, we played a game called "Candy Land." It is a harmless game in which we visit a world where everything is made of candy and sweets and treats forbidden in the real world of a balanced diet. We indulged our imaginations and played in a place where we could drink fountains of chocolate and eat the houses, trees, and everything in sight because all was feeding the dream of eating as much dessert as we wanted. As parents, we played with our children and we chuckled inside at the notion we could live in such a place. The resemblance to a work of the flesh is this: to continue letting ourselves imagine a dream world of gluttony and hedonism becomes a fantasy that fulfills our lust. Our lust wants everything without restriction. It doesn't care that to eat only sugar will eventually kill you. It knows only that eating in this way feels good and satisfies the urges of the body. It doesn't care which urges are necessary and which urges are sin. It changes what may be a good and proper thing (eating dessert with a meal) into a sin that in the Biblical sense needs to be confessed and forsaken. In a very real way, playing Candy Land could teach a child to abandon reason in the area of eating. It could encourage them to seek to fill a lust to the full. I don't think playing Candy Land is wrong or dangerous, but it should give parents a pause, and maybe they can use the game as a good object lesson, a teachable moment for their children.
Works of the flesh are insidious and are fully known to the person committing the sin. The insidiousness is in the danger and reckless nature of the sin that is slowly stealing life from the one working it. Works of the flesh are clung to and babied like each was an organ or a limb, something absolutely necessary to live. Though it may feel as if the lust is a necessary and even a living part of them, it is are not. Lusts are added to God-given desires by sin and will eventually lead to death.
"Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted, 'I am tempted by God,' for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death." (James 1:12-15)
The first work of the flesh we will consider is the first in the list given by Paul in Galatians 5 - The Fleshly Work Of Adultery.
To understand adultery one must have a basic concept of marriage and its importance, else the heinousness of the act will be lost to a war of semantics and postulations. To begin with, marriage is not a contract between two people who decide to live together and call that arrangement a "marriage relationship." This notion started in the sixties with the "free love" movement and in academia where "science" declared man to be part of the animal kingdom. Animals do not marry. Why? The supposed scientific experts postulate- because animals lack the social complexity of man. The sociologists maintain that marriage was devised for legal reasons and personal reasons of commitment. They say at some point ancient man decided for sake of children, family, and community, there had to be put in place an institution whereby males would not allow themselves to be driven by basic instinct and have many sexual partners. This served to build confidence into the family unit and to keep the gene pool from being overtaxed. It does sound smart, doesn't it? But the fact is, that this is nowhere near the truth. Yet generation after generation is told this and other "fluff" facts to minimize marriage and what God intended it to be.
This concept of marriage being a contract was purposely designed to weaken and ultimately destroy marriage and the Bible's definition of family. They reason, if marriage is a contract then contracts can be broken because it's just a matter of finding the loophole in the law for the law to be circumvented, amended, or even abolished. Marriage is not a contract. It is a covenant whose origin is God, and before whom it stands as binding on the partners for life.
In the garden of Eden God placed man and woman, and though there were no vows resembling our ceremonies of today, God had instituted a binding covenant between them forever. A covenant is a promise with the severest of consequences if broken. A covenant was made so as to lend gravity and accountability to those between whom it was made. But more than that, a covenant binds the two participants into a relationship. In the case of marriage, the relationship is the symbolic joining of two physical bodies in a spiritual sense, so that the two people are considered by God as "one flesh," only one physical entity. There is no other covenant like this, whereby the two participants are divinely joined, considered "one" for life.
"And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man, He made into a woman and He brought her to the man. And Adam said, 'This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman because she was taken out of man.' Therefore, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh." (Genesis 2:21-24)
This account is probably not new to you. But, have you ever considered why God did that? Why did He remove a piece of Adam's body to form the woman? A clue as to why, is in Adam's reaction to seeing this creature, so unlike any of the rest of the animals that Adam had seen and named. He declared, "she shall be called woman." I have covered this tidbit in another article on marriage and I include it here because it is the reaction and reasoning that God wanted from him. Apparently, there is no word in English for the Hebrew word that is translated to mean woman. That word is ishshah (ish-shaw') and means "I exist." Why did Adam call his mate, his wife, "I exist?" It was because this creature was literally a part of his body. He was to care for her as he would his own body. He was to nourish her and love her and treat her as he would his own body. And indeed, God saw her as part of his body. She, on the other hand, realized that the body that God fashioned was around a piece of this man that stood in front of her. She saw him and knew they were quite literally made for each other and from each other. They were given to each other by the Master Craftsman to be together, to fit together, to fulfill each other, in body and mind. As they loved each other and loved God, they would be viewed as one flesh indivisible.
Now perhaps you've never before heard marriage referred to in these terms, and these concepts are powerful, but there is an even deeper and more significant meaning contained within the bonds of holy matrimony.
God is the creator of all and understands us more than we could ever understand ourselves. He knows the depth of our evil and of our sin. This knowledge was present in Him even before He created man. God knew that man would fall. He knew that the resulting sin nature would cause a division between His greatest creation and His own holiness. Therefore when man was created, a plan was already in place to retrieve him from the pit of destruction. Revelation 13:8 calls Jesus the "Lamb slain from the foundation of the earth."
God wanted to have a relationship with man but sin would get in the way, so that God's holiness could not come close to the evil present in man. God solved this problem by coming to earth in human flesh, born of a virgin so as to not have the blood disease that was passed on from Adam. Science has long known that the DNA for blood comes from the father of the baby not the mother. There was no male contributor in the case of Christ's conception. The Man Jesus had God's DNA and not that of a human father. His blood was pure and free of sin. Being born with no sin nature, He would die as a blood sacrifice to pay for humanity's sin. "Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission [of sin]." (Hebrews 9:22)
God clothed Himself with human flesh and became human. He was in man. But God wanted more. He wanted Man in Him. Each was to become a part of each other. God's Spirit would indwell the repentant sinner and that person's human spirit would be inserted into the "body of Christ." This concept was present at the very beginning of creation and was exemplified in the very first marriage. Eve was given a piece of Adam's body, literally placed inside of her. The saved Christian has the Holy Spirit literally living inside of him. Adam had a piece taken from him, God gives His Spirit to indwell us and our human spirit has been immersed into the body of Christ- One in body, one in Spirit.
Thus marriage is a living picture of Jesus Christ and His relationship with "[His] bride," the church. Now you understand the holiness of marriage. It is not just an agreement to have a roommate with benefits. It is a covenant before God that each will remain wholly devoted to one another and that each individual realizes that they are a part of each other, as God is always a part of us. It is a beautiful picture to behold.
"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He [Christ] might sanctify [set her apart from all others] and cleanse her [wash the sin from each sinner] with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church not having a spot or wrinkle or any blemish [she is declared righteous, worthy of heaven]. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself [because they are part of each other, one flesh]. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes it and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, and of His flesh and of His bones. 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.' This is a great mystery, but I speak of Christ and the church. Nevertheless, let each of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see she respects her own husband [as her own self]." (Ephesians 5:25-33)
What Happens To The Holy Symbolism When Adultery Occurs?
Because people go into marriage thinking that there is a backdoor from which to escape, they jump into a situation that soon seems too constrictive, too binding. "Oh no, I'm married now. I'm not free anymore." Then panic sets in and they dream of a situation where the marriage did not exist. They feel that if they were single they could be free to do whatever they wished to do, after all, they would be free. This is all an illusion. Sexual freedom, as far as God is concerned, does not exist. No one has the freedom to join their bodies to just anyone, despite popular notion and customs that say otherwise. The only freedom for the sexual aspect of our lives is in the healthy loving sexual lives we share with our spouse, anything else is sin. You think that is too restrictive? Consider Jesus' words:
"You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not commit adultery.' But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart." (Matthew 5:27-28)
Jesus is LORD God Creator. He created sex to be not just a physical drive, not just a desire, a pursuit or just a physical release. It is an extension of us that bridges distance between us and makes us one. God also knows that sexuality begins in the mind. Adultery begins with selfishness and greed combining with lust and wanton imagery. The thoughts are allowed to venture to places we would be shamed to allow people to see. Wanting that which is not yours to have, and taking it with your mind (after which the body often follows) is adultery.
We all have such dark places in our minds because we are sinners. We live with the fact that we are all sexual creatures. We all have a God-given sex drive that was designed to enrich the lives of those joined into one flesh. In marriage, we are supposed to enjoy each other's body. We are supposed to dream of our spouse when we are apart from one another. He is to long for her, she to long for him. Adultery is the wrenching away from proper sexual thought and acts which belong to your wife or husband and giving it to another mentally, physically, or both.
"Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice with the wife of your youth. As a loving deer and a graceful doe let her breasts satisfy you at all times. And always be enraptured by her love. For why should you, my son, be enraptured by an immoral woman, and be embraced in the arms of a seductress? For the ways of man are before the eyes of the LORD, and He ponders all his paths. His own iniquities entrap the wicked man and he is caught in the cords of his sin." (Proverbs 5:18-22)
"Yet you say, 'For what reason?' Because the LORD has been witness between you and the wife of your youth, with whom you have dealt treacherously; yet she is your companion and your wife by covenant. But did He not make them one, having a remnant of His Spirit? And why one? Therefore take heed to your spirit and let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth." (Malachi 2:14-15)
We need to go one layer deeper into the parallel between marriage and our relationship with God. The very definition of adultery contains this Jesus/Church connection. The word for adultery in both Hebrew and Greek means "to apostasize, to bring about a state of apostasy." Apostasy is when something other than God's word is listened to, or anytime someone other than God is given devotion or worshipped. Remember, we (the church) are symbolically married to Jesus, and in a very literal way we each are individually one with Him. When one devises a religion that deviates away from God, it causes others to follow suit. That is apostasy. When we put other gods before Him, it is apostasy. When we commit apostasy, it hurts God in His heart. He died for us, gave Himself for us. He loves us and we are one with Him. Consider an example of this kind of spiritual adultery. When Israel was led out of Egypt and Moses delayed his coming down from the mount with the Law, the children of Israel made themselves a golden calf and said the calf was the god "that brought [them] out of the land of Egypt." (Exodus 32:4) What a betrayal! God had brought them through the Red Sea and all of Pharaoh's army lie dead. They had been fed by food that fell from heaven. They had been given water out of a "rock that followed them" in the desert. And after all this they turned to a calf, made by hands, and declared it to be their god. Adultery! Betrayal! Apostasy!
Similarly, when we think on and (mentally or physically) join ourselves to anyone other than our spouse it is a betrayal. Adultery is, in a very literal sense, a betrayal against God as well as each other, an apostasy. As we minimize and disgrace our marriage vows, we also minimize and disgrace what those vows stand for, and that is reflected in the very definition of the word adultery. When we cheat on our husband with our mind or body or both; when we cheat on our wife with mind or body or both, we are also saying that what our marriage stands for also means nothing in our sight.
"For they shall eat and not have enough. They shall commit harlotry but not increase because they have ceased obeying the LORD. Harlotry, wine, and new wine enslave the heart. My people ask counsel from their wooden idols and their staff informs them. For the spirit of harlotry has caused them to stray, and they have played the harlot against their God. They offer sacrifices on the mountaintops and burn insense on the hills, under oaks, poplars, and elms, because their shade is good. Therefore your daughters commit harlotry and your brides commit adultery." (Hosea 4:10-14)
People are very good at rationalization. The sinning mind works like that. We become expert at relabeling. Evil is put in a good light so that something rotten may seem good for you, even desirable. Marriage partners become "domestic unions." Lascivious thinking becomes "a fantasy life." Mental fornication becomes "a healthy sex drive with a normal masturbation cycle." Adultery is termed "sneaking out," "playing around," "going on the down low." This is all a decorative front for the sins of lust, fornication, adultery, betrayal, apostasy. No matter how much an individual clings to their sin, and may weep at the thought of giving it up, nothing can change the truth of its being evil and that it will eventually cause death in the end, the Bible says so.
Beware, for these things knock at the door of each of our lives. Some of us have yet to remove them, though God has said for them to do so. In those lives, they exist as strongholds. Others of us are tempted and give in from time to time, battling constantly with their own flesh and desire. Beware, for those "that think they stand" will be apt to fall. "Watch and pray" for Satan walks about "like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour." Images of slinky women's bodies, men with washboard abs, and the idea that sexual "freedom" is yours for the taking is entering in at our eye-gate constantly. We cannot change the fact that we are sinners with lusts nor can we change that we live in a world that wants you to be just like them. The only thing we can do is run to our strong tower, the Lord God. Cling to Him. Keep your mind on Him and He will sustain you. If you are single and are being told you cannot exist without sexual release, that is a lie. God can replace urgent sexual needs with a joy unspeakable and full of glory. God can remove the desperate longings for quick temporary sin that seems for the moment to be the only answer. He knows your need, for He gave it to you. It is your lust that tortures you. He will remove that if you let Him, then when the time is right, He will fill your sexual need with a marriage partner that you will thank Him for every day for the rest of your life. Seeking the temporary "fix" may cause pregnancy, disease, and even death, not to mention, the disgrace and the guilt that spills over onto the people closest to you. Move through life day to day and lean on God. He is there for you.
The next work of the flesh in this series will be: Fornication. Come and learn with us, to prepare yourself and protect yourself from harm. Bob Smith.
Now, I would like to speak to any who know that they have never come to God and admitted the need for a Savior. Some keep busy and do not give much thought to God until something happens that is beyond their control. God is knocking on your door. There will be occasions when God knocks again as He has in the past. He wants to give you life instead of the future you will have without Him.
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." (John 3:16-18)
You see that we are all sinners destined for hell. That is why Jesus died, so that ultimate destiny does not have to happen to you, if you call on Him.
"For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved." (Romans 10:13)
What are you saying when you call on Him? You are telling him that you are smart enough to know that sin dwells in your body and that you need a Savior to save you from it. You are telling Him that you believe in the gospel: the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. You are telling Him that you are tired of living as you live now but are ready to follow Him and will trust Him to lead your life from now on.
Are you ready? Pray this:
Dear Lord Jesus, I feel the sin in my body. I feel the pull to do evil within me and I know that I need a Savior. Please, Jesus, forgive me of my sin and save me. I believe that You were God in human flesh come to die for me. I believe You were buried and rose from the dead. I am tired of living a life of frustration and falling to my own passions and desires all the time. I am ready to follow You and trust You with my life. Jesus, take my life and change it. Give me joy instead of desperate need that drives me. Give me a life that will be good for the people I love and not hurt them. I thank You Lord, for hearing me and saving me. For I pray this in Jesus' holy name, Amen.
Others in this series of independent articles:
Robert E Smith (author) from Rochester, New York on August 11, 2014:
This subject has always made my gratefulness about my wife, our marriage, and my salvation grow. To think that Jesus thinks of my relationship with Him like I see my relationship with my precious wife, just blows my mind. It really makes no logical sense but I guess love never does make logical sense. Thank you for stopping by Share the word. Bob.
Benjamin Maxwell from Kingdom of God on August 09, 2014:
I appreciate the depth of your spiritual insight on the intimacy of the sexual union. I have always taught that a sexual union was an actual spiritual bonding or joining of two souls, but I had never related it to or likened it to the intimate union with Christ and us (the body or church). Thank you for sharing and enlightening my understanding on this issue.
Robert E Smith (author) from Rochester, New York on August 09, 2012:
I am so happy that this article passes the DeBbie test. I consider you an expert of sorts in this area. Each one of these articles is a challenge and I always learn so much in writing. Glad you stopped by sister. Thank you and much Christian love. Bob.
DeBorrah K Ogans on August 09, 2012:
Nobody, Your presentation on adultery is thorough and informative This series continues to be interesting. It is important to discuss adultery because many do not really understand the serious consequences of this offense. Marriage is honorable in the sight of God. It is the only relationship where the LORD sanctions a physical sexual relationship between a man and a woman. Marriage is a Covenant relationship between a man and a woman and GOD! It is designed by the Lord as a lasting pledged agreement to honor the marital vows we have made to the Lord! This is why it is called “Holy Matrimony!”
As you so wonderfully stated: “Thus marriage is a living picture of Jesus Christ and His relationship with "His bride," the church. Now you understand the holiness of marriage. It is not just an agreement to have a roommate with benefits. It is a covenant before God that each will remain wholly devoted to one another and that each individual realizes that they are a part of each other, as God is always a part of us. It is a beautiful picture to behold” AMEN!
Adultery revokes that commitment and nullifies the promised pledge to honor GOD! Adultery is selfish and a dishonorable act in the eyes of God! Many wonderful points have been addressed here! I will continue on in this series… Peace & Blessings! God Bless You!
Robert E Smith (author) from Rochester, New York on June 28, 2012:
Hi Tam, how are you? I'm so glad that the article blessed you. This has been quite a series. I have learned a lot. Marriage is so special because God allows us to think about it in these terms. To be married to the Lord of the universe and for Him to think of us in such terms literally blows my mind. Love you sister Tam. bob.
Tamarajo on June 28, 2012:
Great job explaining the marital relationship as a reflection of our relationship with Him and why it is so damaging to the image of God's love to transgress that relationship.
I enjoyed your word studies and taking us back to the original picture of the very first man and woman and the intentions of that covenant relationship.
Robert E Smith (author) from Rochester, New York on June 21, 2012:
Thanks Mum (with 5) I am working on part 4 of this series now. I have to put a link on each so that people can check out other articles in the series. If the blessing was because you have endured adultery, I am so very sorry. I too have endured that betrayal. It hurt with a pain I never knew existed. It made me feel undone, dirty and used. I felt the rip in my soul would never heal. I found myself forgiving at least twice, but after a while the Lord gave me peace about moving on. I appreciate you letting me know this blessed you. I will pray for you Mum and for you 5 as well. God bless. Bob.
Mum of 5kids on June 21, 2012:
I just want to Thank you for posting this. It spoke songs to my heart. I thank God for giving you the insight to write this, because it has helped me and I know it will help others. Amen.
Robert E Smith (author) from Rochester, New York on June 06, 2012:
Lottie, you know how I feel about you. You are my sister and that brother of mine you are married to better treat you good or I'll have a word with em! hahaha. Marriage ain't no joke. God must really love us to equate marriage and His relationship to us in this way. My wife and I are together for as long as God allows us life. I appreciate you reading and I will be visiting your next article as well. Love you, Bob.
Pastor Dr Carlotta Boles from BREAKOUT MINISTRIES, INC. KC on June 06, 2012:
Greta writing as always. Some people thinks it's greener on the other side. I say you live by the sword, you die by the sword! lol, lol, Me and my husband is TO DEATH DO US PART! Love you my bother. Voted-UP!
Robert E Smith (author) from Rochester, New York on May 26, 2012:
I was "worried." You know how many people love that game and to use it like this is tantamount to saying their childhood was full of sin. And then the number that play it with their kids... Whew! But seriously, so many people are concerned with what they desire at the moment and are willing to do anything to fill that desire immediately without counting the cost. So many do not care about the cost, if they are aroused they will do anything, any crime, any act. Love you brother, Bob.
William Kovacic from Pleasant Gap, PA on May 26, 2012:
Oh, if people would only realize the harm they cause. No one walks away from adultery unscathed. Thanks for putting this all down for us, NB. Oh, and I liked your
candy Land analogy!