This is week six of our Terms and Condition series here at Cornerstone and since early October we looked at some of the terms and conditions that show up in the Bible.
And each week we have reviewed our definition of Terms and Conditions, Terms and Conditions are Rules by which one must agree to abide in order to use a service.
And there are all kinds of terms and conditions out there, some very complex, some very simple.
And we have looked at the fact that by clicking “agree” most of us have allowed Facebook and Instagram unlimited use of our photos.
And that when you give Kindle money for a book or iTunes money for music, you don’t actually own the book or the music. And regardless of who it is on the other end of the terms and conditions when you click agree you’re almost always giving up your right to sue.
And this isn’t some fine-print thing, either. It’s very clearly laid out on your agreement page. Usually, it will be something simple, along with the lines of “You agree that, by entering into this Agreement, you and _____ are each waiving the right to a trial by jury or to participate in a class action.”
And sometimes you enter into an implied set of Terms and Conditions whether you sign anything or not, for example, if you are a cat owner you have agreed to, worship it and meet all of its demands.
So, we’ve looked at the original terms and conditions that showed up in the creation story, where the first couple were created with this incredible gift of free will, that is the ability and freedom to make right decisions or wrong decisions. And with that gift came a choice, obey God or disobey God. And they chose to disobey God.
And over the past few weeks, we’ve moved from that and looked at how we need to respond to each other before we can respond to God in worship. We’ve dug deep into the fact that God wants the world to know about his love and forgiveness and the responsibility the church has to tell people about that love and forgiveness. That is called Evangelism.
Then we looked at experiencing the delight of the Lord through honouring and practising a Sabbath rest in our lives.
Last week Pastor Stefan walked us through the terms and conditions for God’s protection and God’s presence.
This week we are going to get a little more personal, with a set of Terms and Conditions that isn’t specifically laid down in the bible but reflects values found throughout the bible.
Most if not all of you would be familiar with these terms and conditions, many of you agreed to them yourselves and if not then you have heard them and watched as people have acknowledged them in their lives.
I’m going to read them for you today in a slightly modified version, I’m sure that you’ll recognize them:
It begins when two people express their intentions for each other with these words: I take you to be my wedded spouse, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part, according to God’s holy law and thereto I pledge you my love.
And that is followed by a series of questions, which both people are expected to answer in the affirmative.
Will you have this person to be your wedded spouse, to live together after God’s ordinance in the holy estate of matrimony? Will you love them, comfort them, honour and keep them, in sickness and in health; and forsaking all others keep yourself only unto them, so long as you both shall live?
The answer of course is: I will, and what you have heard are wedding vows, which are a perfect example of Terms and Conditions.
In this case, they are reciprocal, that is both parties are offering a service and both parties are agreeing to the terms and conditions.
And like all Terms and Conditions, you are responsible for what you agreed to but have very little control over whether or not the other party upholds their end of the agreement.
Probably the most serious breach of the marriage terms is when we violate the portion that we agreed to that says: and forsaking all others keep yourself only unto them, so long as you both shall live? It’s been called having an affair, stepping out, cheating but the bible calls it adultery.
And that scriptures take a very dim view of adultery. In the Old Testament, the punishment that was laid down for adultery was death. Don’t know if it was a deterrent but it certainly cut down on repeat offenders.
In the passage that was read earlier Jesus laid down the terms and conditions of marriage, and part of what he said was “let no one split apart what God has joined together”, but he goes on to say that even that can be severed by the act of adultery, that marital unfaithfulness broke the marriage vows to the point that divorce was acceptable.
And that is because the act of adultery is a betrayal, a physical betrayal, an emotional betrayal and a spiritual betrayal.
And again, the reality is that we have very little control over whether or not our partner remains faithful. And there are those here today who have suffered from that type of betrayal.
And while we have very little control over our partner keeping their marriage vows, every married person here will decide for themselves if they will be faithful in their marriage.
So this morning I’d like to offer several suggestions on how to remain faithful to your spouse.
Some of you are thinking “this doesn’t apply to me”, maybe not, but it applies to someone you know, a child or a friend.
And others are thinking “well preacher, now you’ve gone from preaching to meddling.” That’s part of the job description, to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable.
1) Don’t Start Anything. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? That fact of the matter is that adultery is one of those things that start innocently enough. A mutual attraction to a neighbour, co-worker, or even someone you go to church with. You both understand each other so well. You have so much in common with one another and you enjoy those quiet moments you have together. They seem more eager to listen to you then your spouse does. Soon there are those special little words that are spoken softly between you. The little pats, a gentle squeeze of your arm, a meaningful glance, a lingering gaze, a quick hug, a short embrace, and eventually you have been led down a path you never intended to walk.
Don’t start up the ladder of affection with anyone other than your spouse. Did you hear that? Don’t start up the ladder of affection with anyone other than your spouse. Listen to what Solomon reminded us of three thousand years ago, Proverbs 6:27-29 Can a man scoop a flame into his lap and not have his clothes catch on fire? Can he walk on hot coals and not blister his feet? So it is with the man who sleeps with another man’s wife. He who embraces her will not go unpunished.
Words from a man who knew what he was talking about considering that he was the result of the adulterous affair between his father, King David and Bathsheba. If you are involved at any stage of affectionate expression with anyone other than your mate, then you are playing with fire. Stop. Turn around and turn back. I’m not saying that you can’t be friends with members of the opposite sex, but you know what I’m saying.
Sue Johanson who hosts a show on WTN says: “You can’t say, ‘I didn’t know what would happen.’ That’s a crock. You knew with the sweaty palms and sweaty pits. You knew with the long gazes. You made the decision not to decide and you let it just happen.”
If you are climbing the ladder of affection, then get down, right now, don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are in control. The best time to stop disobedience is today
2) Tell on The Other Person. If someone begins to come on to you, then fink on them. Tell your partner that very day, don’t wait until tomorrow to see if it happens again, tell your spouse before you go to bed. Your spouse is supposed to be the most important person in your life, let them help you deal with the problem. Sometimes it’s an ego problem.
It’s been so long since anyone flirted with you, you had forgotten how good it felt, and besides, it’s not like it’s hurting anyone, and you wouldn’t think of taking it any further. Stop it.
Both of you are in this marriage together and both of you need to learn to protect your relationship with each other and with God. Do it and do it fast. Tell your spouse if you suspect anyone; don’t play his or her game. The quicker you realize that you are in this together trying to protect your marriage the better.
3) Don’t Spend Time Alone with The Opposite Sex. Keith Drury has this to say to Pastors “He who meets another woman alone in private hath no brains!” Don’t place yourself into a situation where there is a temptation or where temptation can be acted on. It’s surprising how many martial indiscretions and outright adultery has sprung out of relationships established on the premise of “giving spiritual help” or “sharing our problems together” Hah!
Do you remember what Jesus taught us to pray in Matthew 6:13 NIV “And lead us not into temptation.”?
Only sometimes we don’t need a whole lot of leading, do we? We can do a pretty good job of finding temptation all by ourselves.
When I talk to teens and young adults about their dating habits, I often warn them to stay out of situations where they are placing themselves into areas of greater temptation. Parking on lonely country roads, being home together when there is no one else around. There are some areas that are danger zones not only for teens but also for adults, and we need to recognize them and stay away from them. “The person who meets with someone of the opposite sex who is not their spouse alone in private, hath no brains.”
4) Drink From Your Own Spring. Proverbs 5:15 Drink water from your own well— share your love only with your wife. It has been said that the best defence is a good offence. Though it’s not a guarantee, “Keeping the fires hot at home,” is a good defence against temptation.
When I was a young adult, I remember Charlene Mackenzie, who was our pastor’s wife, giving a group of us who were soon to be married this advice, “Serve steak at home and your spouse won’t go looking for hamburger somewhere else.” It was a little awkward at the time, but good advice.
That has always been the case check out what Paul wrote almost two thousand years ago, in a letter to the church in Corinth, 1 Corinthians 7:2-5 But because there is so much sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband. The husband should fulfill his wife’s sexual needs, and the wife should fulfill her husband’s needs. The wife gives authority over her body to her husband, and the husband gives authority over his body to his wife. Do not deprive each other of sexual relations, unless you both agree to refrain from sexual intimacy for a limited time so you can give yourselves more completely to prayer. Afterward, you should come together again so that Satan won’t be able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
The NLT and the NIV translate it: don’t deprive each other and the authorized version tells us not to defraud each other. And that’s what happens when you provide a dry or boring spring at home. Hey guys and girls, sex wasn’t the devil’s idea it was God’s and sexual fulfilment in marriage is God’s plan.
But listen up; don’t allow Satan to suggest that any lack of fulfilment in your marriage justifies a little sin to make up for it. It doesn’t, never has, never will.
On the other hand, if’n you’re not providing a spring to be drunk from at home and your spouse goes looking for a drink elsewhere, while they aren’t justified you are not entirely without blame. And the spring isn’t’ just a sexual one, make sure that your spouse wants to spend time with you.
If you are negative and miserable to be around your spouse might very well find someplace else to go. One Colorado psychologist’s summary of more than a decade’s work counselling “The other woman” argues that the common trait that the “other woman” all share is being a good listener.
5) Be Aware of Emotional Adultery This is one of the first steps up the ladder of affection. Beware of getting emotionally attached to someone of the opposite sex who is not your spouse. I know that I’m sounding a bit extreme, but affairs start in mostly innocent situations. Emotional attachments can lead to explosive situations where temptations come crashing in with unexpected force.
Emotional relationships often develop into something more and end up in disaster. And even if they don’t lead to sin, they can hinder your own marriage relationship. If you are getting your emotional needs met somewhere other than home than you are leaving a gap in your relationship with your spouse. And that includes relationships that develop online.
Emotional attachments are explosive, they can cause someone to fall in love with you or they can cause you to fall for someone else “who seems to understand me so well” or they can cause such deep emotional bonding that you find it impossible to walk away. If you are bonding emotionally with someone other than your mate, then walk away from it before it ruins you.
6) Get Control of Your Thought Life. Long before an affair happens physically it happens mentally. Listen to the words of a Minister who ended up with a ruined marriage and a ruined ministry after a one-night stand “adultery isn’t something that happens with the act — it happens months beforehand. It’s an attitude. You disconnect yourself from the person you’ve said you’re spending the rest of your life with.”
Those thoughts may differ whether you’re a man or a woman. With men they are more apt to be sexual fantasies with a woman they are more apt to be romantic fantasies but if they involve someone other than your spouse, they are wrong, wrong, wrong.
It doesn’t matter if you think the other person would be a better lover or a better listener you’ve already begun to betray your partner.
You say, “But they are only thoughts” sure they are, that’s why Conway Twitty wrote in one song, “We’re not exactly strangers you and I, because I’ve already loved you in my mind.” And that is why Jesus told us in Matthew 5:28 But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
And I don’t think it would be unfair to the scriptures to say Matthew 5:28 But I say, anyone who even looks at a man with lust has already committed adultery with him in her heart.
If you are keeping pure actions toward someone and have not uttered even the slightest words of attachment, yet you are guilty of impure thoughts, then you are perching on a precarious cliff which leads nowhere but over the brink into deeper and deeper violations of God’s law.
Who do you think you are? Do you believe that you will be the first to escape God’s law?
Do you think that you can play with fantasy fire without burning your soul? Do you truly believe that you can keep God’s anointing on your life even as you dwell on thoughts of disobedience? I’m not talking about temptation here, you will probably never escape that in this life. I’m talking about wilfully dwelling on impure thoughts, about thinking about them on purpose, playing and replaying them over and over again in your mind like a video. That my friends is sin.
There is incredible power in the mind, a power that can be focused on good or on evil. Bring your thought life into captivity, before it brings you into captivity. Find out what triggers those thoughts and starve the source, it might be certain people, times, memories, places, television shows, movies or websites.
Jesus said in Matthew 5:29 So if your eye—even your good eye—causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. Now we’re not into self-mutilation, but there may be some areas of your life that need to be poked out, for your own protection and the protection of your marriage.
7) Recognize That You Will Get Caught. This is the bottom line people, you will get caught. Are you involved in a suspicious relationship right now? Maybe nobody knows about it. It’s a secret. You may think you are getting away with it. Satan is telling you that you will never get caught. You believe that you are the exception and you are wrong. You will get caught. Satan is a liar, and the word of God is the ultimate truth and it says in the Bible, the word of God in the book of Numbers 32:23. . . and you may be sure that your sin will find you out.
Sinners have always believed that they could get away with sin. From day one they believed that. Adam and Eve believed it and they got caught. Cain thought he got away with murder and he got caught. Rebecca and Jacob thought they had deceived everyone, but they got caught.
Joseph’s brothers thought they had committed the perfect crime, but they got caught. Moses thought he’d buried his sin in the sand, but he got caught.
The Bible is full of people who got caught. Achan got caught, Saul got caught, David got caught, Jonah got caught, Ananias and Sapphira got caught. And still people get caught, Bill Cosby got caught, Jacob Hoggard got caught and so did Bill Clinton, a couple of times.
Well, you know what Billy Sunday said, “Sin can be forgiven, but stupid is forever.” It’s simple, sinners get caught.
Do you really think that you can get away with a little sin? What makes you think that you will do what others haven’t? Do you think you can break God’s universal laws of life and get away with it? Do you think that you will be the first person who gets away with sin? Friend, you will be like every other sinner throughout history, you will get caught.
How? I don’t know, maybe the other person will get a case of the guilts and confess, it’s happened before. Or maybe someone else will tell. You think that nobody knows? When you are sinning Satan tricks you into believing that you are invisible, you’re not. Someone will see you. Or maybe the burden of guilt will get so great that you will confess. You may even get away with it for a while. If you do, then you will get bolder and bolder in your sin, and that in itself will make the sin so obvious that you will eventually cause yourself to get caught.
The devil promises you all the kingdoms of the world if you will simply bow down and worship at his altar of impure desires. But you can’t have it all. God says that your sin will find you out and you will have to pay the price, and God is the truth.
You cannot make your spouse be faithful, but you and only you are responsible for how faithful you are going to be in your marriage.
As serious as physical adultery is, and it is serious, there is a game that is even more dangerous than that. There may not be anyone here today who is cheating on their spouse, but I’m sure there are those here today who are cheating on God. Yep, the bible talks about us being unfaithful to God.
As a matter of fact, there is an entire book of the Bible which compares those who aren’t in step with God to a cheating spouse. Maybe you know that you have wandered away from God, you maybe you’ve never made the commitment in the first place. But there is only one who can make it and only one who can keep it and that is you. God has already made it clear that he is going to be faithful In the book of Hebrews 13:5 it says God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.”
Thanks to Keith Drury www.drurywriting.com for many of the suggestions.