Monday, April 11, 2011

Singing through the Heidelberg Catechism: Lord's Day 41

Lord's Day 41

"The Seventh Commandment"
You shall not commit adultery.

Q & A 108
Q. What is God's will for us
in the seventh commandment?

A. God condemns all unchastity.
We should therefore thoroughly detest it
and, married or single,
live decent and chaste lives.

Q & A 109
Q. Does God, in this commandment,
forbid only such scandalous sins as adultery?

A. We are temples of the Holy Spirit, body and soul,
and God wants both to be kept clean and holy.
That is why he forbids
everything which incites unchastity,
whether it be actions, looks, talk, thoughts, or desires.


The seventh commandment is a difficult commandment for sinners, because it reflects our basic problem with God, which is idolatry. The sexual act, which combines union, communion, and praise, is the physical adumbration of our spiritual worship in Christ. This is why the Anglican prayer book’s wedding service says, “With this ring I thee wed, with my body I thee worship, and with all my worldly goods I thee endow. . . .”

In John chapter two, Jesus performs his first miraculous sign at a wedding, foreshadowing the eschatological marriage of Christ and his church at his return. In John chapter three, Jesus is called the bridegroom. In the Old Testament the Lord was the husband of his people, and Jesus is the Lord incarnate. Then, in John chapter four Jesus comes to a well, which in the Old Testament is the place of betrothal. Isaac, Jacob, and Moses all found their wives at a well. So if we are familiar with the Old Testament, and the preceding background in John 2-3, we expect to meet Christ’s representative bride at this well. Just as Isaac, Jacob, and Moses took wives from a foreign country, so too does Jesus take his representative wife from a foreign people, the Samaritans.

The marital and sexual imagery continues in Jesus’ discussion with the woman at the well. In Proverbs 5, notice the similar water imagery that we find in John 4:

15Drink water from your own cistern,
flowing water from your own well.
16Should your springs be scattered abroad,
streams of water in the streets?
17 Let them be for yourself alone,
and not for strangers with you.
18Let your fountain be blessed,
and rejoice in the wife of your youth . . . .
The living water that Jesus gives is the Holy Spirit, as John 7:37-39 show. But in 1 John 3:9, the apostle John boldly says that believers have “God’s seed” or sperm (the Greek word is sperma) abiding in them to prevent the sin of apostasy. This “seed” or sperm is also a reference to the Holy Spirit. Jesus, of course, is not talking about literal sperm, but uses the living water imagery in John 4 with an understanding of Proverbs 5. John understood this also, as 1 John 3:9 shows. Add to this, the fact that the Samaritan woman is bearing fruit later in John 4 as she brings people to the Savior, and the marital imagery is complete.

All of this points to the truth that worship in union with Jesus Christ is the way to sexual fidelity. The Samaritan woman had six previous husbands, but all of them left her dissatisfied. Jesus is her seventh and perfect husband, and she can rest content in union with him. Her faith union with Jesus brings her, and us, participation in the life, love, and praise of God the Father through the Spirit.

Sexual unfaithfulness is a sign of our spiritual unfaithfulness through idolatry. The only remedy is worship, and worship takes place only through our union with Jesus Christ, which is properly reflected only by the exclusive sexual union of husband and wife. All other sexual unions picture man’s sinful idolatry.


Christ, who Redeemed You with His Blood

To the tune: BISHOP ( Based on the seventh commandment and Lord’s Day 41 of the Heidelberg Catechism (Related Westminster Shorter Catechism Q&A 70-72). Words: William Weber, 2010.

v. 1
Christ did redeem you with His blood,
His costly death has purchased you.
Belonging now to Christ your Lord,
you are His temple chaste and true.

v. 2
God’s will for you is purity,
your body, soul to Him belong.
So you are Christ’s, to Him be true.
He is your love your joy and song.

v. 3
In love the Savior died for us,
our heav’nly husband for His bride.
In love He washed us, water, blood,
sending His Spirit to reside.

v. 4
The ten commands are wise and true,
and number seven’s best for you.
So do not argue ’gainst His will,
cling to your Lord who blesses you.

v. 5
Marriage is good, designed by God,
the union of a man and wife.
A picture of the myst’ry great,
our Savior’s union with His bride.

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