Part Six: The Second Table of the Law, Part 2

You shall not commit adultery—v. 14.

This command is for both men and women, and prohibits sexual intercourse of a married person with the spouse of another. This is meant to protect not only a couple's dearest relationship, but the sacredness of marriage. Adultery in the Old Testament was punishable by death for both offenders (Lev. 20:20).


The act itself is condemned; therefore, there is no legitimacy in the ways we often seek to justify extramarital sex:

  • "My partner doesn't understand me"
  • "We are in love"
  • "God led us to be with each other"
  • or any other excuse
Recently a Christian recording artist lost his recording contract and marriage over adultery with another Christian singer. He says of his adultery and its aftermath: "Maybe God allowed this to happen to make me see I needed some freedom." No way!

The New Testament clearly condemns adultery: "The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity..." (Gal. 5:19). Jesus carefully explained the heart of this commandment. It prohibits looking at a woman to lust for her—committing adultery in the heart or mind, yet not having the boldness or opportunity to do the act. Matt. 5:27—"You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.' 28] But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart." Again, we aren't innocent just because we didn't have the opportunity to sin the way we wanted to!

This commandment certainly prohibited all sexual relationships outside of marriage, and there are many Old and New Testament passages that expand upon this command. Read 1 Thess. 4:3-8 and see God's view of sexuality.

C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity writes

"The monstrosity of sexual intercourse outside marriage is that those who indulge in it are trying to isolate one kind of union (the sexual) from all the other kinds of union which were intended to go along with it and make up the total union. The Christian attitude does not mean there is anything wrong about sexual pleasure, any more than about the pleasure of eating. It means that you must not isolate that pleasure and try to get it by itself, any more than you ought to get the pleasures of taste without swallowing and digesting, by chewing things and spitting them out again."

The positive application of this command is the honoring of the sexual relationship between a husband and a wife. Purity and fidelity in this relationship has the potential of bringing great joy and God's pleasure. Obedience to this command is a gift of love to our marriage partners and to the Lord.


Pastors are constantly asked for help in this area because it has become such an epidemic, not just outside but inside the church. It is obvious that faithfulness in marriage is under great attack today. Jay Allan Petersen in The Myth of Greener Grass (p. 18) writes:

"A call for fidelity is like a solitary voice crying in today's sexual wilderness. What was once labeled adultery and carried a stigma of guilt and embarrassment now is an affair—a nice-sounding, almost inviting word wrapped in mystery, fascination, and excitement. A relationship, not sin...Sexual promiscuity has never been the established custom of any human society...Sex, sex, sex. Our culture is near the point of total saturation. The cesspool is running over."

When we come to the Lord our sins are dealt with, but it takes discipline and prayer to deal with our habits, such as an inappropriate sexual tendency. I want to encourage you to find a couple of passages of Scripture that will not only help you, but others, in dealing with the sexual area of life.

Turn to Ephesians 4:17-19, where we have a description of our former life. Notice the words that describe our former condition/the sinner's condition:

  1. Futility of thinking
  2. Darkened in understanding
  3. Separated from the life of God
  4. Because of ignorance
  5. Due to hardening of hearts
  6. Having lost all sensitivity
  7. Given self to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity
  8. With a continual lust for more.

What would be the opposite of those descriptions? That's what Jesus is calling us to. As Ephesians 4 continues, we see the solution to our dilemma and the way in which this call can be realized. It's a three-step process:


  • Put off—v. 22, i.e., repentance, confession.
  • Change the attitude of our mind—v. 23; we change our attitude about our sexuality, our body, others, the sanctity of marriage, the benefits of purity—1 Cor. 6:12-20
  • Put on—v. 24.

The principle is, we don't say no unless we say a yes. We need a powerful yes if we are going to be able to continue to say no! And we can't say a yes after a no unless we change the attitude of our mind.

Look next at Ephesians 5:3-14. Does this sound like the Lord can put up with sexual sin? Obviously we are to put off these sins. But here we see the solution to sexual purity, and that is thanksgiving—v. 4b. The person who maintains sexual purity before and after marriage must be a very thankful individual. One who is thankful sees life differently, and is not about to endanger that for which he is thankful on a risky, sinful relationship.

I can tell the person who will be able to live a sexually pure life by his/her degree of thanksgiving for life, mate, singleness, the Lord, resources, etc. A person who lives a negative life (i.e., has an unthankful spirit and constantly notices the bad in others, rather than catching them doing something right) is a person who will not only live a miserable life, but at some stage will be vulnerable in the area of sexuality and relationships.The opposite of adultery is a relationship between a single person and his/her God, or between a man and a woman that is radiant with thanksgiving.

  • Have you given this gift of purity and fidelity to the ones you love?
  • Are you practicing an adultery-free life in your actions and thoughts?
  • Would you characterize your life as having a regular mindset/attitude of thanksgiving?

You shall not steal—v. 15.

Here are some stories of less-than-bright thieves—people who definitely need a career change to honest work!

  • The Ann Arbor News crime column reported that a man walked into a Burger King in Ypsilanti, Michigan at 7:50 a.m., flashing a gun and demanding cash. The clerk turned him down because, he said, he couldn’t open the cash register without a food order. When the man ordered onion rings, the clerk said they weren’t available for breakfast. The man, frustrated, walked away.
  • A man walked into a drugstore, pulled a gun, announced a robbery, put a Hefty bag face mask over his head and realized he had forgotten to cut eye holes in the mask.
  • In Virginia, two men in a pickup truck went to a new homesite to steal a refrigerator. Banging up walls and floors, they snatched a refrigerator from one of the houses and loaded it onto the pickup. The truck promptly got stuck in the mud, so these brain surgeons decided the refrigerator was too heavy. Banging up more walls and floors, they put the refrigerator back in the house and returned to the pickup trick only to realize that they had locked their keys in the truck. So they abandoned it.
  • A man entered a 7-11, placed a $20 bill on the counter and asked the clerk for change. When the clerk opened the register the man said, “Give me all the cash from your cash drawer and put it in a paper bag.” The man then fled with the bag of cash, but left his $20 bill on the counter. The amount of cash in the bag was $15.

Theft is raging in our culture. It is in our blood; part of our human condition, our sin nature. The eighth commandment, however, clearly prohibits the secret or open removal of another person's property, services, or resources.

"More specifically, this command prohibits not only robbery, but extortion—the taking of another person's property by force, or threat of force. It also forbids similar crimes such as embezzlement, graft and bribery"—R. Kent Hughes, Ibid, p. 142. It also prohibits injury done to another's property. This commandment spoke to the right to personal property, foundational for a civilized society.

God has clearly entrusted certain possessions to particular individuals, and other people or states are not permitted to take that property without due process of law. Property rights have been attacked in recent years, and someone's interests (or even set of values) can be imposed upon another property owner. It is not uncommon for someone to "look over your fence" and tell you what to do with your property. This is part of the new ethic that says we have the responsibility to see all we own (whatever it is) serves the public good. The problem is, the public good is often tainted by evil or selfish goals.

Built into the rights of ownership, however, is the responsibility to make sure our property does not do harm to others because of our neglect, malice, carelessness, or indifference—Ex. 21:33; 22:13; 23:4-5; Deut. 22:1-4. For example, I think we can go a long way toward using our property as a witness through maintaining it, and through using it to speak of the beauty and order we have in Christ.

Obviously there are many ways this command is broken.

  1. Employee theft is estimated to account for 60% of all inventory loss, or "shrinkage," as it is sometimes called.
    • Work theft—not putting in a good day's work
    • Work phone theft—using the company phone for personal calls
    • Expense account theft—inappropriate charging of expenses to the company
    • Supply pilfering—stealing stamps for personal use, taking envelopes and other company supplies or products

People who take things from the workplace, or from others who have a lot, often try to justify their actions by statements like, "They won't miss it," or "I deserve it because I am not being paid enough."

  1. Tax theft. Omitting "hidden income" and other types of lying on the income tax return is the most common form of stealing in our country. Some say that if everyone would pay the tax they truly owe, the national debt would quickly disappear.
  2. Borrowing theft is practiced by the person who borrows, but never intends to return the egg, the book, the saw, the money.
  3. Grade theft/cheating. Cheating on tests, papers, or by misrepresenting research is stealing. And when a class is graded on a curve, cheating steals a grade from someone else who worked honestly, making the honest student look inferior to the one who cheats.
  4. Computer theft is choosing to load someone else's computer program onto your computer with no intention of ordering or buying an original. Not only is it against the law, it is stealing, and is a direct violation of this eighth commandment.
  5. Management theft occurs when, for instance, the manager pays less-than-adequate wages or benefits for services rendered by employees. R. Kent Hughes says, "Businesses can [also] steal by the deception of consumers, unfair profit taking, marketing inferior products, or building obsolescence into goods,"—p. 146.
  6. Reputation theft. Misusing a person's name, lying, gossiping, or deliberate character assassination robs that person's reputation.

This is very critical for us as Christians. We have a responsibility to show integrity and trustworthiness in the way we handle others' property—both tangible and intangible. It may seem like a small thing to take a stamp from work for our own use, or a tax deduction we can't really justify; to never return something we borrow; to cheat on a test; to download someone else's programs on our computers; to pay someone less than they deserve or charge more than is warranted; or to gossip about another person's life.

But it is a big thing, not only to the person hurt by our stealing, but to us when it begins to take its toll. Over a period of time we will find that small things stolen grow and grow—and sadly, we will be less than the people God intended for us to be. William Hendricks explains in Keeping Your Ethical Edge Sharp:

“What we do in the small issues of life sets the stage for bigger issues. What we do at the copier, on the phone, in front of the mail machine are important and set the stage for how we will respond to greater temptations that will come! It is also true that once we violate our conscience in an area it is easier to do it the next time. Before long, our heart becomes callous”—William Hendricks and Doug Sherman, Colorado Springs, Col., Navpress, 1990, pp. 71-72.

We should be those who can be trusted while others are watching, and when we are by ourselves. "Little" sins can eventually destroy good character, opportunity to influence, and reputation, as well as a heart and conscience that is sensitive to the Lord's direction and conviction.

Here is one more application: We can also steal from God—Mal. 3:8-10.

"'Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me.' But you ask, 'How do we rob you?' 'In tithes and offerings. 9] You are under a curse—the whole nation of you—because you are robbing me. 10] Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,' says the LORD Almighty, 'and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.'"

This command demands that we honor God with our financial resources so that we are innocent of robbing Him. How we use our resources, then, has implications re: this eighth command.

If you have a problem with stealing, I encourage you to take this command seriously, and seek the help of the Lord, trustworthy friends and the Scripture. Ephesians 4:28 gives the solution to stealing, as well as the positive application of this principle.

Questions: How are you and I doing with our stuff and the use of other people's property?


  • Are you showing integrity and respect for the property of others?
  • How are you doing with your property? Are you showing good stewardship with your stuff?
  • How about your work? Are you stealing hours by trickery or laziness? Are you noted as a trustworthy worker, one who even goes beyond what is expected?

I hate to ask this, but

"He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need." This is the same section of Scripture we looked at concerning adultery and sexual sin. To put a powerful "yes" in place of the "no:"

  1. THE NO—Put off stealing. This includes repentance (confession to God) and restitution (paying back with interest what you have stolen if at all possible).

"Stealing was severely penalized in the Old Testament, primarily through stiff restitution. If one stole and disposed of a sheep or an ox, the required restitution was four sheep and five oxen. If the original animal was recovered, the restitution was doubled—Exodus 22:1-4. Fraud required full restitution plus one fifth of the value taken (Numbers 5:7). If one stole another human being, restitution was to be made with the kidnapper's life (Exodus 21:16; Deut. 24:7)"—R. Kent Hughes. p. 142.

Change the attitude of your mind. Change your valuation of things, reminding yourself that everything comes from God and is ultimately His; we are just stewards. Change your attitude about small things, recognizing that both sin and greatness begin with your handling of a few things.
  1. THE YES—Put on. Former thieves, parents, and those who want to manage a great deal of resources for the Lord should pay attention to this step. We are to put on:
    • work and service for others
    • work with our hands
    • work so we can share with those in need


Let me apply this more specifically.

Parents—showing your children how to

  • work
  • pick up after themselves
  • earn spending money
  • give to the church out of their allowance
  • experience the joy of giving to others
  • be faithful in a few things

is some of the best training in life and spiritual things.

(Examples: assemble food baskets, gather bag of coins for hunger project, buy/make gifts for others, work for spending money.)

Today's consumer and materialistic society is toxic to us and our families. Without an obvious counter to it, our lives and our children will be caught up in it! It is never too early to teach a child to serve and to give.

Adults—If you have a consumer spirit, always looking at how to spend or receive from others, you will rob yourself of great joy and spiritual health. We can't watch television or any media without potential enticement to a materialistic way of thinking. We need to serve with great joy, not stealing our gifts for our own accumulation and betterment, but finding ways to invest in God's priorities. Service squelches/dials down the need to receive from others.

Our greatest example of this spirit is in God. Second Corinthians 8:9 explains, "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich."

C. S. Lewis wrote, "God loves us, not because we are lovable, but because He is love; not because He needs to receive, but because He delights to give."

Few of us realize how spiritually healthy it is to serve, give, and look out for those who have little and supply what we can. It is a positive YES that will keep you joyful and like Jesus, as well as give occasion for your works to bring glory to Him.


You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.—v. 16.

Ex. 23:1, 7 speak to this principle as well:

1] "Do not spread false reports. Do not help a wicked man by being a malicious witness...
7] Have nothing to do with a false charge and do not put an innocent or honest person to death, for I will not acquit the guilty."

Strictly speaking, this command prohibits perjury in a judicial trial. With all the talk in our nation and Congress about perjury and presidential testimony, this commandment has become very relevant. This is a very sad time in our nation's history. I don't think rejoicing or revenge are appropriate Christian responses at a time like this; maybe mourning would be the best response!

Sadly, in many people's minds, lying is an acceptable practice if someone is trying to cover up an embarrassing "mistake" (sin). Therefore, the defense for perjury we hear elevates the lie as an acceptable response in certain circumstances, and devalues the truth as the best policy. The discussion in our nation's capital about lying under oath will have a far-reaching and lasting impact on truth-telling in our nation, and I don't think it will be positive.

Is perjury a serious offense in God's eyes? The Ten Commandments prohibit false testimony along with murder, adultery, stealing, etc., so it is reasonable to say that God sees lying in court and before a judge as wrong—as sinful, destructive.

Lest we think that this command is only about our President and the judicial system, it is important to understand that its implication and scope of application is broader than a court setting; it also condemns giving false and unfounded evidence wherever we find ourselves. The very serious sin of perjury can easily be expanded to include the whole spectrum of lying—even all sins of the tongue (Lev. 19:11—"Do not steal. Do not lie. Do not deceive one another.").


According to the research data for The Day America Told the Truth: Americans lie... more than we ever thought possible. Just about everyone lies: 91% lie regularly...there are more serious liars right now (liars who do harm) than at any time in our nation's past. The majority of Americans today (two out of three) believe there is nothing wrong with telling a lie. Only 31 percent of us believe honesty is the best policy"—James Petersen, Peter Kim, p. 155.

Does this study help to explain why we have such a crisis in Washington?

It includes saying anything worthless, or unfounded—Ex. 23:1,7; Col. 3:9—"Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices."Prov. 12:22—"The LORD detests lying lips, but he delights in men who are truthful.")

On a more practical level, we are not to give false evidence of any kind by which another person's life, relationships, reputation, or property might be endangered or hurt—Num. 35:30; Deut. 17:6; 19:15; 22:13). This is a stretch for us, because lying has become a national habit in America.

We can also break the ninth commandment by slander, gossip, creating false impressions, flattery, silence, or questioning the motives behind someone's actions.


  1. " a lie invented and spread with intent to do harm." "Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice—Eph. 4:31.

Slander is probably the worst form of injury a person can do to another. "Compared to one who does this, a gangster is a gentleman, and a murderer is kind, because he ends life in a moment with a stroke and with little pain. But the person guilty of slander ruins a reputation which may never be regained, and causes lifelong suffering" (Redpath).

  1. Gossip is repeating a report about someone without careful investigation.


To state or repeat a story which brings discredit and dishonor to another without making sure of the facts is breaking this commandment. How many people, especially Christians, revel in this and delight in working havoc by telling tales about others. You ought to hear the tragic effects gossip has had on some churches. Gossip is seen almost like a Christian right: telling stories, slandering and undermining a person's reputation by repeating every report without ever knowing for sure if it is true!

I have known many times what it is to suffer with the consequences of this sin. You wouldn't believe all the stuff that was being said or speculated about me 12 years ago during my burnout season. One lady said I was probably being punished because of sin in my life, and that I would, in effect, be crawling around eating grass for a long time like Nebuchadnezzar, unless I repented!


"What a startling revelation it would be if a tape recording could be played of all that every church member has said about his fellow members in one week!" (Redpath) Some will excuse the action by saying they believed the report to be true, and that there was no intention to malign. But that is no justification for gossip, or violating other passages like Matthew 18.

  1. Creating false impressions, by our flattery"You know we never used flattery..."—1Thess. 2:5. Flattery is saying things to a person's face that exaggerate the truth; or saying something you would never say if you didn't want something (e.g., favor, attention, harder work) from them.


  2. Silence, when we should give truthful testimony, breaks this command. "When someone utters a lie about another, and a third person is present who knows that statement to be untrue, but for reasons of fear, or being disliked, remains quiet... This silent third person is as guilty of breaking this law as if he had told a lie." (Redpath) In other words, "It's passive silence... or complicity by passivity." (Hughes)


  3. Chronically inaccurate speech can also break this ninth command. It is sometimes called the lazy lie, not as deliberate as it is careless. It could be not bothering to get the facts right; filling in the blanks with the imagination; or just not taking the time to find the truth.


  4. Insinuation (questioning someone's motives) can be a destructive way to violate the command—Mark 6:3; John 1:46. This happens when an insinuating question becomes a slippery way to slander another. The question, without making an obvious accusation, might lead the hearer to a negative conclusion.


    • "Why would Pastor Bob do that? That doesn't sound like him."
    • "Would Bill qualify for that position if he didn't know the boss?"
    • Mark 6:3—"'Isn't this the carpenter? Isn't this Mary's son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren't his sisters here with us?' And they took offense at him."
    • John 1:46—"'Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?' Nathanael asked. 'Come and see,' said Philip."

If these examples don't make the scope of lying and giving false witness clear, here's an easy way to say it. "Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds"—Colossians 3:9.

"How very strange that we have ever come to think that Christian maturity is shown by the ability to speak our minds, whereas it is really expressed in controlling our tongues." (Redpath)

Beyond our personal responsibility to the truth, we must remember that Satan is always there to encourage a lie. Jesus explained in John 8:44,

"You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies."

Jesus Himself was the victim of false witnesses—Mark 14:57. In fact, from a natural standpoint we might say lying/false testimony was the sin that sent Jesus to the cross.

What happens to us individually and collectively when this command is broken? R. Kent Hughes gives us a number of negative results.


  • Character Destruction
    Violating this command can effectively destroy the character of the one who lies, as well as the one lied against. "Lying can be a basic faultline in the foundation of the soul"—Ibid, p. 162.
  • Relationship Destruction
    Deceit destroys and eats up relationships; it puts a doubt into a formerly trustworthy relationship.
  • Church Destruction
    Deceit will shrink a church's outreach, its ability to move together in unity, its ability to focus on the main thing. False witnesses and liars create distractions, dissipate joy, and destroy ministry opportunities and pastoral leadership.
  • Soul Destruction
    Scripture makes it clear; by our words we will be condemned or acquitted—Matt. 12:36-37. "But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. 37] For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned."Each of us will have to give an account before God, and this ultimate court will judge us by our words—including every careless word!

The Scripture gives the solution to false statements and lies, as well as the positive application of this principle.

Here we return to the same section of Scripture we looked at concerning adultery, sexual sin and stealing. Here is the way to solve this problem, and put a powerfulyes in the place of the no.

Put off lying/falsehood"Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body"—Eph. 4:25. This putting off includes repentance (rejecting falsehood as an acceptable way of life), which includes confession of sin to God and receiving His forgiveness.

Change the attitude of our mind about lying and affirm the constructive value of the positive "put on" that follows in this verse. Eph. 4:25b "...and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body." We should value telling the truth and growing in our understanding of the impact and healing nature of the truth.

Gain a fresh understanding of who we are already connected to in the church; we are members of one body. We shouldn't do harm to our church body by lying to and cheating Christians and our local church. We're then lying to ourselves! In relating to those outside the church, we must upgrade the value we give our neighbor, by being an example of truth wherever we find ourselves.

Put on truthful speech. We not only change our attitude about the truth; now we put it in place of the lie! But this isn't just truth telling. We are called to speak the truth with a particular motivation: love. Ephesians 4:15—"Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. 16] From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work."

This is the powerful yes and the powerful result, if we speak the truth in love. Growth is maximized in this atmosphere. When we speak the truth in love, the Spirit is free to do His work, and the result is wonderful.

If you resolve to obey and tell the truth, be prepared to be spoken evil of. If the person spoken to refuses to acknowledge the truth, the loving truth giver can become a target of attack. No matter the cost, however, the potential positive results should compel us to speak the truth and avoid the lie.


Here are some Scriptures to broaden our discussion and provide grounds for meditation. They speak for themselves and are a powerful incentive to avoid a lie and speak the truth.


Prov. 10:18He who conceals his hatred has lying lips, and whoever spreads slander is a fool.

Prov. 11:9With his mouth the godless destroys his neighbor, but through knowledge the righteous escape.

Prov. 11:13A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret.

Prov. 12:6The words of the wicked lie in wait for blood, but the speech of the upright rescues them.

Prov. 12:22The LORD detests lying lips, but he delights in men who are truthful.

Prov. 17:9He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.

Prov. 18:8The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man's inmost parts.

Prov. 19:1Better a poor man whose walk is blameless than a fool whose lips are perverse.

Prov. 19:5A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who pours out lies will not go free.

Prov. 21:23He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity.

Prov. 26:23Like a coating of glaze over earthenware are fervent lips with an evil heart.

Prov. 26:24A malicious man disguises himself with his lips, but in his heart he harbors deceit.

Prov. 26:25Though his speech is charming, do not believe him, for seven abominations fill his heart.

Prov. 26:26His malice may be concealed by deception, but his wickedness will be exposed in the assembly.


Okay, we're heading into the home stretch. The tenth commandment is up next. Don't stop now!