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Fidelity and Single-Mindedness
08/14/2005
Scripture: Exodus 20:14
Track 7 of 10 in the Ten Commandments series
Running time: 41 minutes, 48 seconds.


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Chuck Sackett Speaker: Chuck Sackett
Dr. G. Charles Sackett is minister of Madison Park Christian Church.

View all sermons by this speaker.


Sermon for Sunday, August 14, 2005
7th sermon in a 10-part series.
"Fidelity and Single-Mindedness"
"Ten Words to Guide our Lives"
(Exodus 20:14)
Copyright 2005 G. Charles Sackett


Dear Abby, "My name is "Johnny." I'm eighteen and currently incarcerated. I was locked up last March and won't be out for another five months. I'm facing a terrible problem when I get out and I need your help."

"I have a girlfriend, "Brianna," who I love with all my heart and will do anything for. We have been together since I was 14. She has been with me through everything. She's pregnant with my baby. Her cousin and her best friend are also pregnant. They all know each other is pregnant, but the cousin and friend haven't told Brianna that I'm the father. She has been asking questions, but they tell her they're "not sure". They insist it's my place to tell her."

"My mother secretly pays for each of the doctor visits and everything they need, but she says she can't keep sneaking around doing this."

"It's killing me knowing I'll have to hurt my girlfriend. I don't want her to leave me because I love her, and she has both of my cars, my motorcycle and the house I bought."

"I'm afraid she will destroy them when she finds out. I'm so worried I can't sleep. Please tell me what to do."


Dear Johnny: "As I see it, you have three choices: ask to join a witness protection program, beg for an extended sentence, or start acting like a man and take responsibility for your actions."

"Count on your girlfriend being upset when you tell her. That's a normal reaction to finding out the person she loved and trusted cheated on her with two other women, her best friend and her cousin."

"While you're talking, suggest that she do nothing rash, because you may have to sell the cars, the motorcycle and the house to live up to your financial obligations to all three of your children."


I suspect that there's a reason why this commandment follows the previous one. You remember the order they come in, right? Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not commit adultery.

There's a fascinating website. I can't establish whether it still exists or not. But at least a couple of years ago, you could go to www.Alibi.com and they would create for you any alibi you might happen to need.

It's a British based company and as they say, "Our aim is total peace of mind for you and your family." So, if you need tickets to a theater for you and your girlfriend or boyfriend, they'll provide that. If you need an invitation from some company to come attend a conference somewhere that you won't actually really attend, and receipts to prove that you were really there when you weren't, they will provide that.

On the other hand you could go to www.liebusters.com and you can get all kinds of interesting equipment. Things to tape record your telephone calls secretly. Ways to trace back the keystrokes on a keyboard of a computer, surveillance equipment to find out whether or not your spouse really is being faithful to their vows.

Might I remind you the context we're in. There are Ten Commandments. Commandment #1 is I'm God! Please, do not think that I will tolerate any kind of competition. Commandment #2 - Make sure you don't try to pull Me down to something that you can control. Don't try to create Me in an image. Commandment #3 - Take Me seriously. Don't take My Name in vain. Commandment #4 - Trust Me. Commandment #5 - Respect and honor your parents. Commandment #6 - Treat life as if it has value.

Exodus 20:14 You shall not commit adultery is Commandment #7 Be faithful!

You know it's interesting that in the book of Exodus you get this very clear cut statement; Do not commit adultery. It was not new. Every major culture in which Israel existed was a culture that condemned infidelity. It was true in Egypt, Mesopotamia. It was true among the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Assyrians. It was a part of the Hammurabi code that fidelity to your mate was an absolute law. Do not commit adultery.

Now understandably, in Old Testament Scripture, this had a very narrow meaning initially. When this word was used in the 20th Chapter of Exodus it specifically meant that married people should not be having sexual relations outside of the marriage covenant. Some have tried to take that and say that it doesn't apply to single people. That kind of narrow interpretation did not last long even in Israel, much less than later. In fact, it grew to include all kinds of sexual misconduct.

In fact, if you went back to your Old Testament, you would not find the word adultery used often, but you would find it used often enough that you would understand very quickly that it was the favorite term that God used, (that's probably not a good word, favorite) but it was His term of choice to describe Israel's infidelity to Him. He called them an adulterous people. He called them prostitutes in polite language. The Old King James called them whores. It has an awful sound doesn't it? Because it's an awful thing. This command is so contrary to where we are culturally. It's the insanity, quite frankly, of the American attitude toward life.

Haven't seen it. Have no intention of seeing it but I've seen the previews for the movie, Wedding Crashers. It's about one thing. Having sex with somebody besides the person you're married to. And that dominates, not just a movie, but virtually every movie and most television programming.

I have more stuff to try to wade through this morning than I'm going to even begin to get through because this is such a dominant topic in our culture. We are so sex saturated, it's hard to be able to get an end to the list of things that are out there to deal with.

Here's a sample of what you might run into. This is www.sexuality.org. Megan Scott writes: "Just when I start feeling good about the world I uncover a subversive plot to corrupt American youth." She's talking about the program that was initiated a few years ago called True Love Waits, an abstinence program. She calls teaching teenagers to be abstinent until marriage a subversive plot to destroy American youth. And she goes on. I won't begin to read you the four pages here that came off of her website. She says, "My highschool debate instincts cause me to be precise when I state my opinion. I do not believe there is anything fundamentally wrong with physically and emotionally mature teenagers having informed consensual, protected sex."

My gut response as a debate partner is, "and who makes you the authority?" I don't know if you're asking that question. That's the first question I want to ask.

She goes on to say, "Teenagers have always had sex and to those who slip on the rose colored glasses to reminisce about the chased, I say, wake up!" She's thinking 1890's, 1930's, 40's, 50's. Some of you weren't back all that way, but, she's right. Nobody's debating whether or not teenagers have been involved in sexual activity. She says, "Teenagers had sex before marriage in the Victorian era. In the halcyon days in the 50's. They do it now. They will continue to do it."

I feel they should be taught responsibility and sexual ethics, rather than be kept in the dark and told "just don't do it". I'm glad she feels that way.

Here's my question, "Does God?"

"I am so incredible sick of adults trying to scare young people away from being sexually active. Yes, there are realistic and serious consequences to irresponsible sexual activity. But God won't smite you the second you. . . .ah, I won't read how she says it. I was a teenager once and God never saw fit to strike me with lightening or curse me with leprosy as punishment for my carnal explorations."

No, He didn't. He sent His Son instead and He hung Him on a cross.

This is what's out there. It's all over our culture. I take a look at this. I go to www.Amazon.com and I find Judith Brandt. The book is called the Fifty Mile Rule, Your Guide to Infidelity and Extramarital Etiquette. Here's the opening line from Chapter One. "A very wise person once compared cheating on your spouse to cheating on your taxes. Most people do it, but rarely admit it. Those that don't, wish they had the guts to do so; and, everyone cautions their children against it, but fully expects their advice to be ignored."

I'm going to come back to my basic cynical self and say, "Says who?" "Who says all of that?" How many. . . . .I won't ask you but I'm tempted to ask you. How many of you wish you could cheat on your taxes? How many of you wish you could cheat on your spouse? I just don't buy the premise.

The next line is this. "These days marital infidelity is the rule rather than the exception." That's not true! There's not a single study done in America today that establishes that more than 50% of married people are unfaithful to their spouses and yet, that's what she says is true. It's not true! Now is there too much infidelity? Yes! Is it over half? No!

Here's a reader's response to this book. I'm breaking a rule of mine here. Reviewing an article which I've never read. "But as someone who's had an affair and is suffering the consequences of it (depression and anxiety) I just have to disagree with this in principal. Infidelity is not the answer. The person I had an affair with spent months trying to persuade me that it would be okay and there would be no consequences despite my statement that too many people . . . . . . eventually, during a difficult time in my marriage, I gave in, but eventually I was proved to be right. Everyone involved has been hurt so much, particularly myself, and I'm battling depression and anxiety, while trying to hold on to everything that I treasure most, my wife and my family. My advice, if you're tempted to stray, get counseling and if that fails, separate. Infidelity causes too much hurt and pain for everyone involved. Please take my advice and don't do it."

That's kinda what God said. Thou shalt not commit adultery.

Well, let me try to just address three quick questions which I will not be able to address as quickly as I'd like. Why? Why not? And, how do you avoid it?

Why? There is no good answer. Sometimes it's just simply the pressure of the moment. We give in. Sometimes it's rebellion. We're just simply trying to go against everything we've ever been taught. Sometimes it's revenge. We want to hurt the people who have been around us that have hurt us. Sometimes that's our spouse. Sometimes that's our parent. Sometimes that's just a good friend, a boyfriend, a girlfriend.

Why do we get involved in it? Sometimes it's because we're in a crisis situation. Some of its because of our peers pushing us in that direction. Some of it, unfortunately, is the result of the feminine movement which has been a wonderful blessing to women in America when it comes to job opportunities and wages and other kinds of things. But it has been translated into being a libertine. I have to prove that

I'm free, which makes me lascivious and promiscuous, rather than really free when I actually only become somebody's puppet.

Why do they do it? Well, I wish I could give you some kind of an answer that made sense. I don't have any good answers that make sense, because none of them will, in any way, ever justify it.

You might explain it. You just can't justify it under any circumstance.

So I can answer that question pretty quickly. Why do we do it? Because we're human. We're sinfully human.

And Jeremiah had it right from the very beginning. The heart of man is evil, above all.

So, why not? Because God says, "NOT" that's why. That's a pretty simple answer. I hate to be quite so simple about it. God said, "Don't have relationships with somebody other than your spouse." Ever! Under any circumstance, of any kind. Don't do it. He created us and He understands how we function best. He knows what's good for us. Why not? Because of the cost.

The picture you are about to see is Lakita Garth. She was the Miss Black California's second runner up in Miss Black America. She made a comment on her website here the other day that just was really fascinating. Here is the statement. She's talking about Kobe Bryant - She says, "I hope the sex was worth it." You may not follow sports. Kobe Bryant is a Los Angeles Laker who has admittedly had an affair on his wife (although he was accused of it being rape). He's gotten off from that particular charge but it has cost him a $6 million endorsement contract, the respect of his spouse and his teammates and who knows what else.

But some people view that not as an expense, not as a cost. They view it more in the terms of, well, he got away with it.

I've mentioned to you my friend Larry. I'm confident that none of you know him. Larry is a husband with a wife and four daughters. He's dying of AIDS. His wife is dying of AIDS. He has AIDS because he was practicing a bisexual lifestyle. She has AIDS because he was practicing a bisexual lifestyle. Two of his children were conceived after he was HIV positive. By God's grace, those children are not infected. If Larry were here today, he would gladly tell you "God knows best".

There are consequences to our infidelities. It's not just, however, disease. It's not even just the divorce. It's not even just that you will be unhappy. It's not even that you will be dissatisfied from that point on. But, that is true. Every statistic indicates that those that have relationships prior to marriage or outside of their marriage will never be fully happy in any relationship for the rest of their life.

Eighty (80) percent of those who break a marriage in order to hopefully marry the person that they're having the affair with end up unhappy, by their own admission. Only 10% of those who divorce a mate only to marry a lover ever actually marry that lover, and of those 10% who actually do marry the person that they're having the affair with, 70% of those end up in divorce; and, of the 30% of the 10% who actually marry the person they think they are in love with because they're having an affair with them; half of that 30% say they're unhappy and wish they had never gotten involved. Forty-one (41)percent of people who are active outside of their marriage, sexually, report that they are sexually satisfied whereas people in monogamous relationships who are having sexual relations with only their spouse, 72% of those are, in fact, sexually happy.

There is nothing in the consequences of infidelity that make it worthwhile. Why not? Because every time you get involved with somebody other than your spouse, and that includes you single people who are not yet married; every time you get involved with somebody sexually, you leave a part of yourself behind. There is no such thing as inconsequential sexual relations.

Psychologists have told us over and over again that every time we share ourselves with a partner, we leave a part of ourselves with that partner and many, many people spend the rest of their lives trying to pull those pieces back together and that's why they never find a satisfying relationship with anybody.

I had an interesting conversation. It was reminiscent of a previous conversation. The conversation I had was last Thursday. I was talking to Tom Ewald on our campus who teaches psychology and is a professional counselor. I don't remember even how this conversation came up now. I'm trying to remember. . . . .I guess it doesn't matter. His comment was that his children told him that they never fully understood why they were told not to be involved outside of marriage. They knew that they shouldn't be. They just didn't know why they shouldn't be. I would have been shocked at that except that I had that conversation with my daughter, who as a 25 year-old was talking to her father about her life as a child and said, "Ya know, I knew that we weren't supposed to be involved sexually before we were married. I just never knew why." I thought, how could you grow up in my house and not know that. Because I never told them I suppose.

One of the things that we ought to understand is that there is a moral reasoning behind this particular commandment and part of our educating our families and our friends is to help them understand the moral reasons behind this. Not the least of which is, of course, God.

By the way, there are some incredibly positive results to abstinence. When you ask the question, "Why should you not get involved outside of marriage?" There are some really positive consequences. Let me just share this. This came out of a report from Uganda. I don't know if you're aware, but in Uganda the AIDS rate is absolutely decimating the country. They are losing people by the thousands to AIDS. True Love Waits, this abstinence program went to Uganda in the early 1990's. Here's the comment that came out of their report.

True Love Waits message is making a profound impact in Uganda where people like Carolyn Dowdy are saving sex for marriage. The sexual abstinence campaign is receiving credit for a remarkable drop in the AIDS rate in this East African country where the rate of HIV has fallen from 30% of the population in the early 1990's to only 10% today.

There are some positive results. Our teenage pregnancy rates are down tremendously in this culture and in part, it's because of programs like Project Reality and True Love Waits and other abstinence based programs that are being pushed by our churches and by the government, finally. There is a reversal of field in all statistical reports that college students are rebelling against the kind of lascivious behavior that has been typical in most dormitories over the past ten or fifteen years. It is a remarkable reversal that needs to be applauded and appreciated.

Well, how do you avoid it?

I am deeply impressed with this article that came out from Lakita Garth. She credits her family of course for this. She grew up in the projects of San Bernardino, California and yet, she was taught by her parents that there were three things she needed; mastering the art of self-control and self-discipline and the delay of self-gratification. Mastering the art of self-control, self-discipline and delayed self-gratification. Powerful message that we teach to our children about what we might need to be able to teach to our kids. It starts from their earliest years of not being told they can have everything they want the second that they want it. Being taught that some things are worth waiting for. Being taught how to be under control, self-control, self-discipline.

I have a deep appreciation for a friend of mine who used to travel extensively for his company. Showed up in St. Louis on a job, 2,000 miles from home, went to his hotel room in the Holiday Inn on the waterfront in St. Louis and within five minutes of arriving at motel room was called by a prostitute from the lobby. Did he want company? You know, nobody's going to know! So you know what his response was? To call his wife and to talk to her and then to call us and let us know that he was in town, that we could be praying for him. Self-control and self-discipline is what that's called.

Project Reality which is a non-Christian based approach to abstinence makes at least these two or three recommendations. There's a list of ten here. I'll only read these two or three. Tips for parents: Clearly communicate your values and your expectations about sexuality and intimacy. Second suggestion: Make sure your actions match your words and give your children good reasons for the choices that you ask them to make.

Part of it is just simply making decision to be a faithful person. Intentionally deciding you're going to be faithful. That's the power of Project Reality. That's the power of True Love Waits. Yes! There are young people who claim to have made the True Love Waits promise who fail. That's been established by every critic in the country. Yes, it's true! Not 100% of them keep their commitment. But more of them keep it than those who don't because they make an intentional decision to be faithful to their future spouse, as well as, their current spouse if they happen to be married. It's intentionality, it's the decision that you're going to do something to live this thing out.

Let me show you this slippery slope. It was up a second ago and you were distracted by it for a moment. But let me call your attention to it again. Just very quickly.

Up there at the top it says, Readiness. What that means is that there is a point in somebody's life in which you are ready for an affair. It could be a crisis in your life. It could be just dissatisfaction at home. It could be any number of things. There's not a single thing you can do about that except to recognize that you're in that situation.

You know it because of what's going on inside you if you're honest with yourself.

The second thing that happens is you notice the person of the opposite sex. Now I'm human and so are you. Noticing somebody is not (KEEP IT UP THERE - STAY WITH ME NOW). . . .the problem is being alert to it. Can't do anything about that either. Martin Luther says, "You cannot stop a bird from flying over your head. You can stop him from building a nest in your hair." Some of you would have less trouble with that than others.

You need to be alert to the fact that you're alert. Some kind of bell ought to go off that says, "I noticed him or her." Unless you are single, of course, that's a good sign. You want to notice, unless you intend to be single all your life. You need to notice.

Then there's an innocent meeting. It can happen at church. You're walking down the hallway. You step around the corner. You bump into somebody and it's an innocent meeting and you go "Oh! She was nice." Now if you're not careful, what that becomes is a purposeful meeting. I know that she comes out of that grocery store at that hour each Friday. And so, you purposely station yourself to see her or him at that moment.

Again, now if you're single that's a good strategy. If you're married you're already in trouble.

You walk this thing all the way down and all it does is get you more and more involved and it gets harder and harder to stop and if you're sitting there saying, "that will never happen to me." I have a word for you - "Hogwash!"

One of the finest men I know just left the school that I teach at. I have known him for thirty years. I have always believed him to be a man of integrity. A year ago he began having purposeful isolation with a former girlfriend in another state. And the counselor that's been working with him told me Thursday, "he is at this point of rationalization - everything he is doing is just fine." He's leaving his wife. He's leaving our school. He may be leaving his faith, but he's okay in his own mind. Because the ability to be self-deluded is almost beyond measure.

I'm asking you to build a fence. There ought to be a yellow flag that will pop up here somewhere. Does the yellow flag pop up? No - there's no yellow flag. I'm sorry, leave it right there. I want you to put a yellow flag right there between "Alertness" and "Innocent Meeting". When you know. . . . . It's not going to show up so leave it. Technology! Please don't get distracted by it. Any time you notice someone of the opposite sex other than your spouse, you should put a yellow flag up that says, "I noticed that person." That doesn't mean that you've done anything wrong. It just means that you are aware and alert and you need to guard yourself.

The very next one over. . . .Innocent Meeting. . . .between "Innocent Meeting" and "Purposeful Meeting" there needs to. . . . .if you're a Christian and you're a married person, you need a Red flag right there that says, "If I ever intentionally put myself in a position to see someone of the opposite sex other than my spouse, I am in the wrong."

Up there, there should now come, if they'll just follow my instructions, a sign that says, "Do Not Pass Here; Pass here at your own risk."

I'm asking you to put signs up in your life. Put some fences in your life. You do not need to be messing around with people other than your spouse. And if you're a single person, you need to be guarding yourself against the infidelity that occurs with your future mate.

I'm suggesting to you that you right now, you're deciding how you're going to commit yourself to somebody in your future and if you will view that person, whomever it is that God has in mind for you, out there as your spouse, you will be faithful to that spouse starting today.

There is a hundred other things. What do you do when you find yourself in a situation? Here's some advice from Joseph in the Old Testament. Run! That's exactly what he did, didn't he? When Potiphar's wife came along and said, "Would you sleep with me?" And she said it multiple times according to the text. You know what he did. He took off his coat and he ran and just simply left the coat behind. Because he wasn't going to sin against God.

If you think you might have a problem with this give me your name. I'll give you my phone number and you call me. I'll come get you.

You need somebody to blame for leaving or you need a way out, just call, I'll come. Or I'll send somebody. I've done it. And I'll do it again, rather than see your life fall apart.

How do you avoid it? Can I make this as simple as possible? Get to know Jesus. If you are in love with Jesus, you will not be in love with somebody besides your spouse. Because those two things are incompatible. That's why we're pushing the 40 Days of Purpose. Because we believe we can save your marriage by helping you fall in love with Jesus more than you love Him today.

That's why we're asking you to be a part of a Bible study, a small group to read your Bible, to memorize some Scripture, because we believe that the more you know Jesus, the better the chances are that you will live your faith out effectively.

Now, having said all of that. Please, do you remember where the Ten Commandments started?

Exodus 20 The very first thing He said was, "I am the God who brought you out of Egypt." They started with grace. There is a word of hope. Adultery, infidelity, does not have to end everything. Husbands and wives can fix it. They really can. There are lots of resources out there like this. Not just friends, that show you how to put a marriage back together. We believe that here is an opportunity for us as a church to minister to you. It is why of course, we have something called Divorce Care for those of you who have already suffered the consequence, and of course, not every divorce is the result of infidelity. But it's also why we have a counselor on our staff, Evan Horner, is a licensed professional marriage counselor. He's a part of the Smart Marriage website and organization. We are grateful for a church that takes this so seriously that we're in the process of creating plans to give him a more private entrance so that you don't have to come through our office in order to come see him. So that you can have a little more anonymity, if that's what might keep you away. We're grateful for the fact that some of you may have been aware and have been praying for him. He's gone through a cochlear implant and the reports from his audiologist are very, very positive about the fact that this new hearing device is making him even more effective than he has ever been at being able to be a part of that counseling situation.

We want you to have a resource. If he's not the one, then we want to get you to someone. We believe that we ought to have things like this in place as resources. We will make it possible for you to find the grace to move forward.

I have skipped all of what the New Testament says about this. So, if you've got a piece of paper that you can write the texts down, I'll at least give them to you so you can look. This is not all of it; this is just a smattering. 1Thessalonians 4:1-8; 1Corinthians 6:12-20; Hebrews 13:4 and then one that I have to read because we're making that transition to "What would Jesus Do About This" and that is something that we have to understand.

Back in the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5:27-30 "You have heard it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.' But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for your to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.

I think that's hyperbole. I don't think He really wants you to gouge your eye out because you can still see with your imagination. But it does put it in a context of just how seriously Jesus took this command. He understood that it all starts in the heart.

We will come back to that in the last command, so I'm not going to spend a lot of time with it other than to say, "some of you will remember a famous quotation from just a few years ago, "I did not have sex with that woman, Monica Lewinsky." I have a word for that too. "Hogwash!" You can't define that away, not by Jesus standards.

So, here's the question, "How did Jesus handle this?" Besides the obvious. Contrary to things like The Last Temptation of Jesus who tried to make Him out to be a sexual person and having sinned with Mary and others. And The Da Vinci Code which has Him fathering children which He never did. Jesus didn't commit the sin of adultery. It's just that simple. He just didn't get involved with someone other than His spouse. He stayed single all of His life and was sexually pure.

Well, you know it's bigger than that. See, one of the things that Jesus did in this arena that is so adamantly important is the practice of forgiveness. If prostitution is the optimum kind of illustration of infidelity, if adultery is the choice of terms that God uses, it's interesting isn't it in the Book of Hosea that God invites Hosea to take Gomer back after she's had children by other lovers. That's forgiveness. It's God forgiving His people.

So what's probably the most famous parable that Jesus tells? The Parable of the prodigal son. A God who takes back a fallen child.

How does Jesus practice this commandment? He forgives people. That's how He does it. How does Jesus practice this; how does He demonstrate this to us. He is faithful in His relationships. Do you remember after Peter has denied Him three times? What does He do? He goes and He serves him lunch on the beach and invites him back into relationship because that's what He does. He is faithful to His relationships.

How does Jesus practice this? He was faithful to God, constantly faithful to God.

So, what are we going to invite you to? To obey the command. Don't commit adultery. But on the positive side, be faithful. Commit yourself to your spouse (present spouse, future) and ultimately commit yourself to Him because it's the same faithfulness that will keep the two of you together. You and God.

Would you stand so that we can sing together and then we're going to make an actual. . . .are we going to do the statement first, or are we going to sing first? We're going to sing first. We're going to sing.