There was a time when the murderer was looked upon as an evil man. Today he is often pitied more than the relatives of the murdered. And he is presented as the victim himself of an uncontrollable evil for which he is not responsible, namely, insanity.
Likewise the young man or young woman who commits the sin forbidden in the seventh commandment, instead of being considered to be a sinner is accused of no more than being guilty of a social indecency or evil and is presented as one who is to be pitied because he became a victim of some “body chemistry.” The spiritual aspect of sins is talked away. That men have sinned against God is an old fashioned approach to modern problems and will bring no solution!
The sin forbidden by God in the seventh commandment is not forbidden today by men, but at best is frowned upon. If you can “get away with it,” you are still a very socially acceptable person. That is, of course, if you can get away with it before men. You never get away with it before God. If you get caught, there is a period of shame before men which you may have to experience. But more and more freedom for these evils is demanded and practiced, without any regard to the fact that God is still in heaven and not dead, as men would like to have Him be. The seventh commandment expresses His unchangeable will as surely as the sixth, which forbids murder. And the penalty for committing the sin forbidden by the seventh commandment is as great and identical to that of the sixth commandment. Sin is sin, and as James writes, whether we break this or that commandment, we break the whole law. It is not possible to love God while breaking the second table of the law any more than it is to do so while breaking the first table of the law.
Let it be stated here first of all that there is a difference between a public sin and making a sin public. The sin against the seventh commandment is usually one that must be confessed publicly before the church, not because it is worse than theft or murder or covetousness, but exactly because it is public and brings shame and reproach to the church of Christ. It becomes public because it bears visible and public fruit. And when it cannot be hid because it manifests itself in the birth of a child, or the coming birth of a child, it is a public sin, though it was committed, as usual, in secret and in darkness as a work of darkness. The church that does not demand public confession or public announcement of such confession invites all manner of increase in this evil not only, but advertises itself as one not concerned with the walk of life of its members and as one little concerned with the law of God, and consequently as one not moved by the love of God expressed in that law. It may look ever so merciful and “Christian” to overlook such sins, but it certainly is not. It shows no mercy to the rest of the congregation, and it is never mercy to encourage the rest of the young people in this sin, because the church council is sympathetic towards those who become victims of “body chemistry” and see little or no sin before God. Neither is it Christian. Christ never did that! He forgave the sin. And we want to say something about that presently. But He did not cover up any sin. Witness His public cleansings of the temple. This was a public sin, and He did not sit down and first write a few personal and private letters to the evil doers to warn them that they must get out! He did not quietly walk up to each one and whisper in his ears the fact that this was His Father’s house and that they must take out their merchandize. He let the public know that the Church may not condone such things! He rebuked sin openly when the sin was openly committed. And even though Peter had run out weeping tears of repentance after his public denial of Christ, Jesus demanded of him a public confession before the Church, in the person of the disciples, at the Sea of Galilee. Peter had to answer three times before those before whom he publicly boasted of loving Him more than these. No, the Christian thing to do is to demand that people walk as Christians; and that means confess publicly sin that has been committed publicly or become publicly known because of the nature of that sin.
However, not every sin against the seventh commandment need be confessed publicly. As we said, there is a difference between public confession of sin and of making a sin public by confession. Lest we are misunderstood let it be stated first that every young man or young woman who commits the sin MUST confess that sin, regardless of whether he “gets caught” or not and regardless of whether the sin will become public or not. Sin must always be confessed. And the Pill does not eliminate the sin, even though it may eliminate the public nature of that sin. But the church is not to make public a sin that is not known. Which also means, of course, that once it has been confessed publicly, or the fact of the confession has been announced publicly, that sin is gone; and it is another sin when the knowledge of that sin of adultery is spread perhaps even years and generations later by a gossipy, backbiting tongue!
As we wrote, there is forgiveness with God, and there ought, therefore, to be forgiveness with men. And forgiveness means receiving as though the sin has never been committed. The blood of Christ is able to make the scarlet white as snow. The cross that could promise a penitent malefactor immediate glory in heaven is able to save the adulterer and adulteress and to make us once again virgin’s for Christ’s sake. The adulterer and adulteress who have confessed their sins are more honorable than the thieves and murderers and liars and revolutionists who do not confess. This has always puzzled us in the church and has never looked to us as in His fear. Other sins have become public, and no confession is required. Why? A church member gets his name in the newspaper for theft, for breaking the fifth commandments in reckless driving or speeding (potential murder), or violating fishing and hunting laws. The world knows of these matters, and so does the church council and the congregation. Very often as far as traffic laws and hunting and fishing restrictions are concerned â”€ which are laws imposed by those to whom GOD gives authority in these spheres â”€ the violations are laughed about and the content of these episodes becomes the occasion for laughter and amusement. But they are not! They too are rebellion against God, Who is pleased to place men over us to rule us in every sphere and department of our life and with all the creatures of this earth. The young man or woman to whom God gives the grace to confess his sin of fornication is more honourable and pleasing in His sight than those who commit these other sins and laugh about them and make no confession private or public of having not walked in love before Him. And one who has fallen and risen in confession is a far stronger Christian than one who has never fallen and dares to boast of being incapable of falling. Peter was not strong in faith when he boasted of never forsaking Christ, even though all the other disciples would. But Peter was strong when he ran out weeping tears of repentance and publicly confessing by these tears his sorrow for his sin.
Confession is a good work, but it is far more pleasing in God’s sight that we so walk that confession is not necessary. “To obey is better than sacrifice; and to hearken than the fat of rams.” To remain a virgin for Christ’s sake is far to be preferred to returning from adultery. Return we must, when we have departed. But it is far better to continue in good than to confess that we departed. A filled tooth is fine and may serve again for a long time. But the decay that demanded that filling was for a time painful and is not something to seek, even though it may be repaired. What a relief for the nearsighted to be able to have corrective lenses; but it is far better to be able to see well without them. God demands that we love Him uninterruptedly and not as a corrective measure. And confession does not pay for sin. It declares with God that it was sin. It honours and glorifies Him, but the better way to honour and glorify Him is not to commit the sin in the first place.
In the day and age in which we live there is so much then that our young people need to avoid so as not to fall into the temptation and to continue as virgins, rather than to fall and confess the evil. That there is this element of “body chemistry” would be foolish to deny that men were not so educated in the day when Moses was given this seventh commandment on Mt. Sinai that they knew anything about “body chemistry” does not take away the fact that it is there, and always was there. In itself this body chemistry is a wonderful function of these earthly tabernacles in which we dwell. And we are not simply referring to this body chemistry that sometimes leads to the sin condemned in the seventh commandment, but the whole amazing process that controls all the systems of the body, the digestive, circulatory, excretory as well as the reproductive systems. As we said, men were not so “educated” in the days of Moses, that is, as far as the workings of the various members and organs in our bodies, but they surely were spiritually educated and knew that God had wrought all this wonder and power in our bodies. Thus the psalmist says in Psalm 139:14, “I will praise Thee; for I am fearly and wonderfully made: marvellous are Thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.”
Body chemistry being what it is, and there being in us as well the lust of the eyes and of the flesh, and therefore the desire to use our flesh for self rather than in His fear, in His service, and as virgins for Christ’s sake, the one matter that above all bears watching by our covenant young people is bodily contact! There is enough for the eye to see in this lewd world to activate this body chemistry, that bodily contact must be watched as never before. The account of Ham’s evil in connection with Noah’s in Genesis 9 ought to be a warning and indicate to us what the sight of a naked body can do to this body chemistry. Adam and Eve also became aware of their nakedness as soon as they had sinned. But Leviticus 18:6-19 is likewise a warning that is necessary not simply because of body chemistry but because of that lust of the flesh and of the eyes. To this may also be added Leviticus 20:17-21. All this falls in the category of that of which we spoke last time and is referred to in the Heidelberg Catechism in its explanation of what is demanded and forbidden in the seventh commandment. The Catechism, you will recall, condemned also that which “entices men thereto.” This usually is what the eye sees and that to which the eye is attracted by the seducer. It can, however, be words and gestures. But the eye plays an important part in any attempt at seduction and temptation. Sad to say this is often that which attracts the covenant young man to an unbelieving young woman. It is not without good reason that God moved Moses to write in Genesis 6:2, “That the sons of God (the covenant young men) saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.” And Delilah, the Philistine harlot, became such an enticement for Samson.
But matters become “worse” with bodily contact, and let us note that “worse” in quotation marks is due to the fact that we are speaking of the sin. This body chemistry through sight or touch is not in itself sinful but part of that fearful and wonderful way in which we were made. It is part of GOD’S marvellous work. But for the unmarried both of these are to be controlled in His fear and, the Lord willing, we want to say something about these matters in the dance, courtship, the teen-age date and the like. For our covenant seed must remain virgins for Christ’s sake. And their bodies must be living sacrifices to God as their reasonable service.