Where are you on the Adultery Trail?

Tim Chester | October 3rd 2017

In this extract from the newly released 2 Samuel for You, author Tim Chester reflects on how physical adultery springs out of two other, less recognised adulteries.

“Then David sent messengers to get her [Bathsheba]. She came to him, and he slept with her.” (2 Samuel 11:4)

Adultery is ugly. But before David thought about the act of adultery with Bathsheba in this famous story, there were two other kinds of adultery he had already committed.

1. Spiritual Adultery

The Bible talks about our relationship with Christ as a marriage. We’re united to him just as a man and woman are united in marriage. So to replace love for Christ with something or someone else is spiritual adultery. The sign of this is that we disobey Christ. We put something else first because that thing matters more to us than Christ. “At least that’s not as bad literal adultery,” you may say. But actually it’s worse. To betray your spouse is terrible, but to betray God is worse. And spiritual adultery is the root of all other sins. You’re opening a Pandora’s box of sin.

2. Heart Adultery

Heart adultery is one specific form of spiritual adultery. Jesus said: 

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:27-28). 

You can commit adultery without having sex: an indulged infatuation; a fantasy affair; a lustful undressing with the eyes; a porn habit. 

3. Physical Adultery

But perhaps it’s gone beyond heart adultery to physical adultery. The mundane realities of having small children have made your marriage seem dull—certainly when compared with the excitement of an affair. Or perhaps your spouse is not all you hoped they might be and so you’ve looked elsewhere. Perhaps singleness became more than you felt you could endure, especially when you saw friends getting married. So now you’ve persuaded yourself that you have a right to what everyone else has. Or perhaps you have no idea how you ended up where you are, but here you are in adultery.

“I would never do that,” you may be thinking. But please don’t think you’re better than David. Remember, this is God’s anointed king, the man after God’s own heart, the writer of great psalms of faith, the one to whom God spoke directly. He was a better person than you—and he fell, catastrophically. David didn’t think of himself as a potential murderer. He didn’t wake up at the beginning of 2 Samuel 11 with adultery and murder on his mind. It was a thousand miles from his thoughts. And yet by the end of the chapter, he had done both.

Tim Chester's new book 2 Samuel For You is out now

Tim Chester

Tim Chester is a pastor, author and teacher. Tim is a senior faculty member of Crosslands Training and has written and contributed to over 40 books. He has a PhD in theology and was previously Research and Policy Director for Tearfund UK. Tim is a trustee of Keswick Ministries, and lectures and teaches widely on Missiology and Christian spirituality. Tim lives with his wife Helen in rural Derbyshire and loves to walk. He has two adult daughters.

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