Friday, June 17, 2022

2022.06.17 Hopewell @Home ▫ Exodus 20:14

Read Exodus 20:14

Question from the Scripture text: What does this verse prohibit?

What is the proper relationship of God’s provisions to the pleasures of those provisions?  Exodus 20:14 looks forward to the evening sermon on the coming Lord’s Day. In this verse of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that God has made marriage, and other things, pleasurable in order that we might enjoy His goodness in what He has designed, and therefore forbids seeking the pleasure apart from or in contradiction to God’s design. 

The sixth commandment, prohibiting murder, rested upon the fact that man is created in the image of God. The seventh commandment, prohibiting adultery, also takes us back to the creation. For, God made them from the beginning “male and female” so that the two could become one flesh in the God-joined covenant of marriage (cf. Matthew 19:4–6, Proverbs 2:16–17). 

Marriage is a glorious arrangement that not only supplied the man and the woman with an honorable and blessed estate (cf. Hebrews 13:4) but was the means by which they would be fruitful and multiply. So greatly is it to be honored that the connection with father and mother which is so strongly upheld by the fifth commandment must become a lower class connection by comparison to marriage (cf. Genesis 2:24a), so that spouse always takes precedent over parent (cf. Psalm 45:10c). Furthermore, marriage itself serves as a picture of Christ and His church, and marriage done well communicates many good things by analogy to the Lord Jesus and His Bride (cf. Ephesians 5:22–33).

What a glorious thing is marriage! Therefore, we praise the wisdom of God that has so blessed that special marital knowing of a man and his wife: the mutual and exclusive commitment, the treasuring of one not just like oneself but as being one with one’s own self, the intertwining of heart and life, and even the privilege and pleasure of the marriage bed.

But just as murder disregards God in man, so also adultery disregards God in marriage. In fact, it seeks to have the pleasures of marriage apart from marriage itself: feastings of the eyes or attractings of others’ eyes, intertwining of the heart, the special knowing of another and various pleasures that come with it. Whether it’s immodest dress, the wandering eye, indulging thoughts of romance or lust, or even worse the involving of others in actions that stir up these sins of the heart—all of them seek pleasures that belong to marriage without the marriage to which they belong. 

When we go after these with our heart, we show that we do not care for God’s institution, for God’s covenant, for the multiplication of God’s image through it, or the display of God’s redemption in it. It is bad enough that adultery, fornication, pornography, etc. communicate that we do not need our spouse to have the pleasures that belong properly to marriage. Even worse, it communicates that our pleasure is chief and that other things are a means to the end of our pleasure, putting ourselves and our pleasure in the place that rightfully belongs to God. 

Chastity is much more than refraining from sexual sin. It is a commitment to enjoying only those pleasures which come in the way that God has designed and commanded them, because He Himself is our chief joy. Indeed, once a man and woman are married, chastity actually demands their romantic enjoyment of one another, of their conjoined life, of the marriage bed (cf. 1 Corinthians 7:3–5). For it is the Lord Who has given these as part of the goodness of marriage, which He has designed for so many good purposes.

Why is marriage good? What purposes does it have? Whose marriages’ health ought you to be guarding and promoting? How do you do that for yourself? How do you do that for others? 

Sample prayer:  Lord, we bless Your Name for the good gift of marriage. Preserve each of us for our spouse alone, and give us pleasure in the exclusive fellowship and fecund fruitfulness of marriage. Make us to be zealous for faithfulness in others’ marriages as well. Give us modesty of dress and behavior and a chastity that delights in You and Your good design. Forgive us and help us by the life and power of Christ, in Whose Name we ask it, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP45B “Daughter, Incline Your Ear” or TPH174 “The Ten Commandments”

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