KEEPING INTIMACY IN MARRIAGE – 4 by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson
Today we are in part 4 of our miniseries KEEPING INTIMACY IN MARRIAGE.
Matthew 5 27 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.
Overall Background: So far we laid out the foundations of marriage. Now we are ready to look at adultery. By the way, the word adultery does not come from the English word “adult.” It actually comes from the Latin word “adulterare,” which means to alter or corrupt. It is a combination of “ad” (towards) and “alter” (other). Adultery means going towards the other person. Sometimes “adulterare” also means “to pollute.” Hence, adultery is the pollution or corruption of marriage. With that in mind, listen to verse 27 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ As you know, this is the 7th of the 10 Commandments that God gave to his people. It comes right after murder and right before stealing. God took the sin of adultery very seriously. How seriously? Listen to Deuteronomy 22:22 “If a man is found lying with a woman married to a husband, then both of them shall die—the man that lay with the woman, and the woman; so you shall put away the evil from Israel.” God considered adultery such an evil that it had to be destroyed in order to protect His people.
Now someone may say – “That’s just the Old Testament, the law. The New Testament is all grace under Jesus.” What did Jesus say? Listen to verse 28 “But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Meaning: In God’s sight, it’s not just the act but even the thought of adultery is just as bad. As I said before, let me say it again – Trusting Jesus as your Savior does not absolve, exempt, or release you from obeying God’s commandments. In fact, Jesus makes it even harder.
Question: What do you think about the sin of adultery? Is it a big deal to you? Keep in mind – we’re not just talking about the act but also the thought of adultery. By Jesus’s standards, are you innocent or are you guilty of this sin? Without the grace of God and the help of the Holy Spirit none of us can stand before God’s standards. You cannot have the Holy Spirit unless you are saved. Are you saved?
This morning we’re going to look at the account of Potiphar’s wife and Joseph and try to understand how adultery is subtle and how you can take steps to safeguard your marriage. Married or single, this message is important for all of us.
I. THE SUBTLETY OF ADULTERY
Genesis 39:1 Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. And Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him down there.
Background: You know the account of Joseph’s life. His brothers were jealous of him and instead of killing him, they sold him to the Midianites/Ishmaelites who brought him to the slave market in Egypt, where an officer of Pharaoh, an Egyptian named Potiphar, bought him. The Bible doesn’t tell us why Potiphar bought him. Unlike his brothers who worked in the field, he was probably just a frail lad. Maybe, Potiphar saw his tear stained face. Maybe, he saw his innocence and his helplessness. Maybe even Potiphar’s wife was with him and she saw the far off look in his eyes and she felt sorry for this poor Semitic boy and wanted to help him. What’s next? 3 And his master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD made all he did to prosper in his hand. 4 So Joseph found favor in his sight, and served him. Then he made him overseer of his house, and all that he had he put under his authority. Joseph was a hard-working, honest young man, who had God’s hand on him. Maybe that’s why Potiphar moved him into his house. How much did he trust him? Listen to verse 6 “…he did not know what he had except for the bread which he ate. Joseph was successful but success always comes with a cost. Any time you begin to rise in influence, power, and blessing, watch out. As long as you were on the ground, you were not a target. Now that you are standing up, you’ve become a target.
What happens next? 6 “…Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance. 7 And it came to pass after these things that his master’s wife cast longing eyes on Joseph…” Typically, Potiphar’s wife is portrayed as a loose, immoral, and manipulative woman. In my opinion, I don’t think it began that way. That phrase – “And it came to pass after these things” – means that it was not immediately that she went after him but over time something developed. Initially, she probably felt sorry for him – poor kid trying to make a living, far away from home, has nobody. She saw watched how hard he worked and how honest he was and her heart went out to him. Maybe, she must have talked to him about his life back home. Maybe, she must have talked to him about her life and marriage. Day in and day out, she was alone with him and one day “she said, ‘Lie with me.’”
Peter Rutter in his book “Sex in the Forbidden Zone” notes that when two people work together in a setting where there is trust and understanding, they begin to develop a sense of closeness, comfort, and even completeness in each other’s presence. Sex is the ultimate form of intimacy. That’s why in time this growth in intimacy can actually lead to sexual desire. In other words, when you work in a close setting with someone, in time it can lead to something more.
Illustration: Unfortunately, I heard about adultery at a very early age. It was in the late 70s when the hippie movement was going on. Some young people got saved and we’re going from place to place preaching the gospel. When they came to our city, we set them up in a big guesthouse and the families in the church took turns providing lunch and dinner for them. It was awesome. One day I had to take some food to the guesthouse and as I was walking by one of the rooms, something caught my eye that did not look normal even at the age of 6-7. There were several guys in that room but I noticed that one of the ladies from the church was in the room, sitting on the lap of one of those young men. I knew who she was. She was one of my friend’s moms, an active family in the church. Later on it all came out and it was bad. It hurt the family, the church family, the young men, and even the testimony of the church before the community.
Adultery is subtle. There are predators and serial cheaters out there but many times that is not the case. Adultery is the result of working in close context over an extended period of time with someone other than your spouse. As a married person, no one should occupy the place of closeness that belongs to your spouse. As a single person, beware if anyone married is putting you in a place that should be occupied only by his/her spouse. That’s why a married man can never be best friends with a single woman and a married woman cannot be best friends with a single guy.
Application: Who are you close to who is not your spouse? Has the Holy Spirit brought someone to your mind? Are you talking to this person about things that you should only be talking to your spouse about? Are you the target? Are you the tool of the enemy?
II. THE CONVICTION AGAINST ADULTERY
Gen. 39:8 But he refused and said to his master’s wife,
Background: Joseph did not have to fumble and stammer about why he could not indulge in adultery. He had already worked out his reasons. Meaning: He knew this day was coming and he was prepared. Listen to the 3 reasons that he gave:
- It is breaking my master’s trust.
“Look, my master does not know what is with me in the house, and he has committed all that he has to my hand. 9 There is no one greater in this house than I, nor has he kept back anything from me but you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness,
Joseph knew that Potiphar had been good to him and he could not do this to him. We’re living in an age when people do not have a sense of honor and loyalty. They don’t stop to consider what their momentary decision would do to their family.
Illustration: One afternoon there was a knock on our door. It was one of the ladies from the church. She was crying. I’ll never forget the look of emotional pain and betrayal in her eyes. I called my mom and dad and they sat and talked with her. Again, later on it came out that she had caught her husband cheating on her. It was very sad. Again, it affected that family, the church, and the testimony before the world. I’ll never forget the look of pain and shock and betrayal in our eyes.
- It is a sin.
“…How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin…”
Joseph did not call it an affair or a mistake or a one-night stand. He called it sin. We’re living in an age when people call sin by every other name but what it is.
- It is against God.
“…How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?”
Joseph was more concerned about the law of God than the law of the land. He knew that one day he would have to stand before the “judge of all the earth.” Listen to Hebrews 13:4 Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.
Question: What convictions do you have in your life? Do you have to wait to decide where you stand on a temptation? Have you set up some safeguard in your marriage? “I’ve never cheated on my wife/husband” Have you thought about it in your mind? Job said in Job 31:1 “I have made a covenant with my eyes; Why then should I look upon a young woman?” What covenant have you made with your eyes?
III. THE ESCAPE FROM ADULTERY
Genesis 39 10 So it was, as she spoke to Joseph day by day, that he did not heed her, to lie with her or to be with her. 11 But it happened about this time, when Joseph went into the house to do his work, and none of the men of the house was inside, 12 that she caught him by his garment, saying, “Lie with me.” But he left his garment in her hand, and fled and ran outside.
Joseph did not stop to pray and discuss and reason. He ran. There is a time to talk and then there is a time to run. For a Christian it is time to run from sin and to the Holy Spirit.
Does that mean that everything works out perfectly? Probably not. Joseph had to go to prison. But listen to verse 21 But the LORD was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and He gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison.
Application: What do you believe about adultery? Do you have biblical convictions? Do you have the Holy Spirit? Do you know Christ as your Savior