The spiritual adultery that blocks us from God
No one likes to be accused of being an adulterer. Yet God loves us so much that when we are unfaithful and love other things more than Him, He sees us as spiritual adulterers. To understand this, we need to flip sides and view adultery from God’s point of view.
(See Chinese versions: 简体中文 > 精神上的奸淫使我们远离神 | 繁體中文 > 精神上的姦淫使我們遠離神)
James 4:4-5 ESV You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”?
God wants intimate and genuine relationships with us. He certainly didn’t send His only Son to die for us, just for superficial relationships. If we stop to think about some of the ways we behave towards God, however, we will soon realise that it’s unpleasant to be at the receiving end instead.
Using an analogy of a young wife, let’s examine some of our attitudes and behaviour from God’s perspective.
1. Choosing not to confess
Analogy: A young wife pretends there is nothing wrong when there clearly is, and she stubbornly refuses to acknowledge there is a problem in the relationship. We do the same when we neglect to confess and repent of our sins before our Heavenly Father.
Proverbs 28:13 NIV Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.
Analogy: A young wife allows herself to be seduced by other men and goes to bed with them. This is an analogy for following horoscopes, seeking a fortune teller, practising feng shui, carrying good luck charms, doing exercises or chants that are steeped in religious origins etc.
One does not need to engage in full-on idol worship – fascination and curiosity about such practices in themselves are offensive. Turning back to the same analogy, the wife does not have to sleep with other men, just flirting with them is bad enough.
Ezekiel 23:37 ESV For they have committed adultery, and blood is on their hands. With their idols they have committed adultery…
3. Being judgmental
Analogy: A young wife keeps cursing and saying unkind things about the husband’s family and children, without first seeking to understand them or her husband’s thoughts and feelings towards them. When we judge and condemn other people, we do the same to God’s created people.
James 4: 11 NIV Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. 12 There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?
4. Sins against our body
Analogy: A young wife takes an extremely rare one-of-a-kind coat that her husband gives her and starts to stain it. This is an analogy for the ways we abuse our bodies in ways that are not what God intended when He created us, including unnatural sexual acts, lust, self-mutilation, smoking etc.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NIV Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.
5. Following philosophy, superstitions and myths
Analogy: A young wife is seduced by the teachings of “wise men” that actually lead her astray from her husband and a healthy marriage. This is an analogy for the times we go to other sources of wisdom outside God’s Word.
Colossians 2:8 NIV See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.
6. Unhealed wounds
Analogy: A young wife allows the hurts from her past relationships to distort her view of her husband and his intentions. For example, if we have become afraid to be emotionally vulnerable to anyone, we may even have difficulty trusting God.
Hebrews 12:14-15 NIV … Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.
7. Stinginess towards God
Analogy: A young wife won’t transfer a little money from the savings account her husband set up for her, when he asks to use it. This is the same when we hold on to money as if it only belongs to us.
2 Corinthians 9:6-8 NIV Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
8. Allegiances towards people
Analogy: A young wife makes promises to other people, ignoring the promises she made to her husband. This is an analogy about pledging ourselves to people and allowing them to tell us who we should be or do, instead of pledging our identity to God and God only.
Isaiah 45:22-23 NIV … Let all the world look to me for salvation! For I am God; there is no other. I have sworn by my own name; I have spoken the truth, and I will never go back on my word: Every knee will bend to me, and every tongue will confess allegiance to me.”
9. Offensive images and objects
Analogy: A young wife keeps photographs of other men she fancies next to her bed, while sleeping with her husband. We do something similar to God when we keep images, objects or “artworks” that are offensive to Him, including those of mythical creatures, distorted images of God’s creation, charms and amulets.
Deuteronomy 7:25-26 NIV … The images of their gods you are to burn in the fire. Do not covet the silver and gold on them, and do not take it for yourselves, or you will be ensnared by it, for it is detestable to the Lord your God. Do not bring a detestable thing into your house or you, like it, will be set apart for destruction. Regard it as vile and utterly detest it, for it is set apart for destruction.
Analogy: A young wife holds a grudge against the husband’s family and won’t forgive them, even though her husband has freely forgiven all her own wrongdoings.
Matthew 6:15 ESV but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Hebrews 12:15 ESV See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled;
What is our response?
All of us have been just like the “young wife” in these analogies at some point in our lives. When we look at ourselves from God’s point of view, we begin to see how the things we do can really displease Him. Hopefully, we will readily say sorry, repent, and desire to please Him instead.
Praise God that His love for us never fails. God will readily forgive and forget our sins when we confess them and ask for His forgiveness.
Isaiah 43:25 NLT “I–yes, I alone–will blot out your sins for my own sake and will never think of them again.
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