Exodus Teaching - 13 - A Neighbor to Respect

Title: Exodus Teaching - 13 - A Neighbor to Respect
Category: Bible Studies
Subject: Exodus Study

Exodus Teaching Series #13

TITLE: A Neighbor to Respect

TEXT: Exodus 20:14-15


I have a confession to make. I have the names of some people in my family tree of whom I have never bragged too much. In fact, I have not boasted of them at all, but still the word got out. I was driving my maternal grandfather through Yellowbusha County in north Mississippi when he looked out at a large forest of pine trees. He told me that he and his brother had once owned 500 acres of virgin pine trees right along there. They owned their own saw mill, and logging trucks. Each had an automobile and each had bought one for his wife, and that was a time when the automobile was still a novelty in the area. Now, that part is all right, but on another trip my grandfather made the statement, “Son, when I was a young man I was much of a man. I could walk up the steepest hills in this country with two hundred pounds of sugar one on my shoulder and one under my arm.” Please don’t ask!

It is enough to know that he was talking about the Prohibition period in America’s history. Famous names today are descended from people who imported illegal alcoholic beverages into America during Prohibition, but no matter who did it, it was a crime and it was a sin. When you expand that to include all they did to protect their operations, you know they paid little attention to the Ten Commandments. Families were broken up, murders were committed by bootleggers against revenue officers, as well as other bootleggers. I can take you to a grave in north Mississippi where a twenty-four years old man was buried during that period. He was a bootlegger who was murdered in cold blood by a former bootlegger who had been rolled over by officials to hunt down whiskey stills and capture those who ran them. This revenue officer stepped out of his car at Steward’s Store and when he saw the young man walking away from the store toward a little scope of woods, he reached back into his car and pulled out a 30/30 Winchester and shot him in the back. Then he announced to witnesses, “That’s 21 of the (expletive deleted).” The era was known for all sorts of sins, as the old television show, “The Untouchables,” revealed in a fictionalized representation of the era.

One would expect to find a lot of sin in a lawless business like that, but I can assure you, we don’t have to go that far to find people who have committed, and do commit those sins all the time. In this Exodus Teaching Series, we have looked at the first four Commandments, which focus our attention on our obligations, and accountability to God. Jesus covered all four of those commandments under the First Great Commandment:

“(34) When the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they came together in the same place. (35) And one of them, an expert in the law, asked a question to test Him: (36) “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” (37) He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. (38) This is the greatest and most important commandment” (Matt. 22:34-38, HCSB).

He then covered the last six commandments, with The Second Great Commandment, which focuses our attention on our obligations to one another: “(39) The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. (40) All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commandments.” (Matt 22:40, HCSB)

In the previous message we looked at the Fifth Commandment, “Honor your father and mother,” and the Sixth Commandment, “Do not murder.” Now I would like to move on to the Seventh Commandment (“Do not commit Adultery”) and the Eighth Commandment (“Do not steal”). From what I heard, and it was guarded in our home, there were some relatives we didn’t mention. One day someone asked me about how I felt about evolution and I remembered something I had heard someone else say (I was better at quoting others than coming us with something original). I told the person who had asked, “If I start climbing my family tree I don’t believe I would find a record of anyone who swung by the tail, but I might fine some who has hung by the neck.” The first commandment we will look at in this message is one that cries out for our attention.


A. At Sinai, God Commanded, “Do not commit Adultery” (Ex. 20:14, HCSB).

1. This commandment was given to a world that glorified immorality. This was a world that often treated woman, and girls, in a manner we don’t even want to think about today. We read about how women, an little girls, are often treated in Muslims countries today and it is hard to conceive of such things. In the ancient world, in many places, people worshiped some pagan god in a fertility cult. They were convinced that sexual activity in the temple of their god would stimulate their god to bless them with an abundant harvest. Amos paints a really disgusting picture of the immorality that was so prevalent in Israel during the Eighth Century B. C.: “A man and his father have sexual relations with the same girl, profaning My holy name. (8) They stretch out beside every altar on garments taken as collateral, and in the house of their God, they drink wine obtained through fines.” (Amos 2:7-8) This kind of behavior would be sickening, depraved, and downright disgusting if only pagans were sinning like this, but the Lord as addressing His Chosen People here.

I must confess that I have always been somewhat uncomfortable when it comes to getting too specific about sexual immorality, especially in addressing a mixed audience or congregation. If one talks too little about sexual sins, he may fail the congregation; if he talks too much he may be accused of having a hang-up on the subject. There is the risk that you will say too much for one family and not enough for another. At the risk of offending some, let me tell you what the Lord condemns through his prophet Amos. By law if anyone who took a poor man’s robe as collateral for a loan - say to buy bread for his family - he must return his robe before night, even if the man was unable to pay off the loan, because the poor man used the robe for a cover for his bed that night. Instead of returning the robe for the night, this man would take the poor man’s robe, and with his son, visit a temple of Baal where he would spread the robe out and both the man and his son would have sex with temple prostitutes on the poor man’s robe in the name of Baal.

2. The natural sexual drive is a gift from the Lord. The sex drive ranks second only to the hunger drive power, or so I have heard. How one deals with, or controls that natural drive will determine whether or not thoughts or acts are sinful. In a meeting of members of an executive board for a well known institution, the question of dancing came up and one woman said, “If a man can’t hold a girl and dance with her without having thoughts there is something wrong with him.” An older minister said, “If he can hold a girl in his arms and dance with her without having thought there is something wrong with him.” Someone asked one of my sons about his friendship with various women with whom he works. He said, “I have professional friends, people with whom I talk at work, but I never see them away from work. Men and women are wired differently.” Both Christian men and women need to understand this. I wonder if part of the problem women have in understand that difference is that their fathers and husbands are reluctant to talk about the temptations with which a father or husband may have to deal. I can understand that, but it is very important for young women them to understand that the way they dress, the way they talk, and the way they touch a man or boy may register one way in her mind, but differently in that man or boy’s mind or heart.

When I was a student at Mississippi College I was pastor of a church for two years. I did a lot of visiting, and we had a number of young people in our church. Some teenaged girls liked to tease me, and I make a point of not appearing very sophisticated. If I joked back the girl might not think anything about it, but after my comment was repeated to her parents they might over react to anything I said. One Sunday morning someone handed me a note from a young lady with some personal problems, primarily health issues. In that note, she wrote that she was sick that day and couldn’t come to church. She would, however, like for me to come to her house that afternoon so she could talk with me. She would be alone. I went to see an older, and very responsible couple in our church and handed the lady the note. She read it, and I asked, “Do you know anything about any health issues she is having?” The lady assured me she was not aware of any particular problem, other than the obvious physical handicap. I said, “I am spending the afternoon with you!” And I did.

There are many issues to consider: boys like girl, girls like boys, and there are mothers who will risk any kind of temptation to see that her daughter is popular. That applies to parties, dances, dates, and entertainment. That principle also applies to dress. I believe it was the late Vance Havener who once said, “The issue used to be the strapless bathing suit, now it is the suitless bathing strap.” A pastor friend told me years ago that when the mini-skirt first became popular a mature pastor in central Mississippi observed his organist as she got up from the organ bench, walked over and sat on the front pew, and began pulling and tugging on the hem of her skit. He observed her behavior for a few minutes before he stopped and said, “Sister, it ain’t gonna be long enough, but it ain’t no shorter than it was when you left home.”

Perhaps you have seen the commercial for some diet formula that will help you loose a lot of weight in a short period of time. Invariably, they show some young woman in one of those suitless bathing straps. In one, the young woman talks for some time before walking toward the camera, wearing her suitless bathing strap, as she says, “Now, I can go swimming with my children without feeling uncomfortable.” I was all but speechless.

B. Joseph Resisted Potiphar’s Wife, Gen. 39.

1. Joseph was prepared to meet temptation.

In the Bible, one of the best examples we have in dealing with temptation in the moral arena is found in the story of Joseph (Genesis 39). Joseph, on whom the glory of God shines as very few people we meet in the Bible, was a man whom the Lord had prepared for a special mission and he refused to let his mission be sidelined by an evil woman who tried to seduce him.

He was the favorite son of a favorite son, the brightest star in the house of Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel. Yahweh had chosen Abraham, blessed him with a son of promise, Isaac, who was then blessed with Jacob, the trickster who had no qualms about deceiving and cheating his brother Esau. The trickster was tricked and deceived by his Uncle Laban in the land of Aram for many years before returning to the Land of Promise, the land promised to Abraham and to his descendants for all time.

Jacob had sons by Leah, by her slave, and by Rachel and her slave, but his favorite son was Joseph, to whom he gave a beautiful robe of many colors, which added more fuel to the fires of hate already generated in the hearts of his brothers by his dreams that promised that they would someday bow before him. On one occasion when Jacob sent Joseph to check on his brothers and the sheep, they saw him coming and some wanted to kill him. Ruben sought to prevent that, but he withdrew from them for a brief time, only to return and discover that his brothers had sold Joseph to a caravan of Midianites who were on their way to Egypt. The brothers reported to Jacob that his son Joseph had been killed by a wild animal.

In Egypt, the Midianites sold Joseph to a prominent citizen named Potiphar. Joseph was seventeen years old at the time, an ideal age for a slave to learn special responsibilities. He was so efficient and industrious that before long Potiphar put him in charge of his house. Joseph was young but wise, inexperienced but mature, a young man of incredible convictions for the time. If there is any person in the Old Testament who manifested the New Testament spirit and values of Jesus more than Joseph I can only think of someone like an Enoch or Elijah. The spirit of the Lord was upon this remarkable young man and for that reason he was prepared to do what was right, regardless of the risks involved in resisting Potiphar’s wife. First, let us look at the account in Genesis 39 and then we will see if we can discover the key elements in his victory over sex, sin, and Satan.

(6) “Now Joseph was well-built and handsome. (7) After some time his master’s wife looked longingly at Joseph and said, “Sleep with me.”
(8) But he refused. “Look,” he said to his master’s wife, “with me ⌊here⌋ my master does not concern himself with anything in his house, and he has put all that he owns under my authority. (9) No one in this house is greater than I am. He has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. So how could I do such a great evil and sin against God?" (10) Although she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her. (11) Now one day he went into the house to do his work, and none of the household servants were there. (12) She grabbed him by his garment and said, “Sleep with me!” But leaving his garment in her hand, he escaped and ran outside. (13) When she saw that he had left his garment with her and had run outside, (14) she called the household servants. “Look,” she said to them, “my husband brought a Hebrew man to make fools of us. He came to me so he could sleep with me, and I screamed as loud as I could. (15) When he heard me screaming for help, he left his garment with me and ran outside.” (Gen 39:6-15, HCSB)

Potiphar was a powerful and wealthy man and we may assume that his wife was young and beautiful, so beautiful in fact that Potiphar must have found it easy to believe his loyal servant would have tried to seduce her, but could not bring himself to believe she had made a play for a slave. When Joseph fled the vile woman then made an effort to cover her sin by showing what she used as proof that Joseph was guilty of attacking her. She lied and then showed the garment as proof of Joseph’s guilt. How many times have sinful people followed her example?

Joseph fled when Potipher’s wife made a play for him. The rejected woman told her husband that Joseph had tried to force himself on her, and he was sent to prison. The Lord, in His own time saw that he was released and given great power in Egypt. Joseph, as much as anyone in the Old Testament, lived as though he had been sitting at the feet of Jesus when He delivered the Sermon on the Mount. His example has been used countless times to try to teach young people to resist temptation. One question comes to mind when I read this story. Can you imagine the first time Potiphar and his wife came face to face with Joseph after Pharaoh had made him the second most powerful person in all Egypt?! I have no way of knowing that happened, but I like to believe it did.

2. Joseph’s next effort was to fight. Even with his training and commitment to the Lord, he had to fight temptation when faced with it. He had to fight temptation. Potiphar’s wife had continued to try to seduce Joseph over a period of time and he continued to resist her temptation. Let’s face it, if he had compromised one time she would have owned him. Of that we can be sure by what she did to condemn him when he refused her. There are times when one must fight temptation and that is what Joseph had been doing. This had obviously been going on for some time, so his game plan was to simply continue to resist the woman. He had never read what Paul would someday write to the church at Corinth:

(12) “Therefore, whoever thinks he stands must be careful not to fall! (13) No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity. God is faithful and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape, so that you are able to bear it.” (1 Cor 10:12-13)

3. Joseph’s last resort was flight. His first defense was to resist with all his might. The second defense was to fight the temptation. When that did not stop Potiphar’s wife there was but one thing left and that was flight. Resist with all your heart, then fight with all your might, and then flee as quickly as possible. Might, fight, and flight. His flight was right before the Lord, but it gave Potiphar’s wife an opportunity to accuse him of being the instigator and the robe was her proof. It would be interesting to know whether or not the other servants were deceived by her evidence, or if they had seen her try to seduce others.

Joseph paid a price for his flight, but he was right. He was right before the Lord and he was right not to compromise his own life. Teachers suspected a young teacher of paying too much attention to a teenaged boy and some were worried about what effect a sinful relationship would have on the boy. Others were aware of the fact that he was a hero to his buddies when he entertained them with the stories of their relationship. Joseph wanted no part of this horrible sin. He didn’t want to commit adultery and he didn’t want to betray his master. He paid a horrible price for an innocent person, but he was right, and he was right with the Lord.

4. The temptation to commit adultery can be very strong. There are temptations to gossip, slander, steal, lie, cheat, or commit some violent attack on another person is common to human beings. There is one temptation, however, in many which fathers check out and leave the guidance to the mother. It is absolutely incredible to see how many fathers see their daughters leave home wearing something that would have embarrass the temple prostitutes of Corinth, and they never say a word. I wonder why some men seem afraid to tell their wife that the way their daughter is dressed is going to draw the wrong kind of attention to her. Is it that he is afraid to let his wife know that, even though he may resist the temptation , immodest dress, he is effected by it. He may know to guard against temptation, but he realizes the temptation is there and he must look away. He still doesn’t want his wife to know he might be tempted, so he pretends his daughter’s immodest dress may not lead some boy into temptation.

I wonder what some mothers and daughters would have thought if they had been there when I walked into my health club in Texas one day and heard a young man I thought I knew, make his contribution to an ungodly conversation: “I have a little girl somewhere!” All I could think of was what that little girl had for a father! My wife walked into her sixth grade classroom one day and saw a small group of girls who were talking excitedly about something. She asked what they were doing and one of the young girls said, “My step mother is getting married and I am helping!” Think about that for a moment! He father and mother had divorced, he got custody, remarried, and then left his daughter with her step mother, who was now getting married. Some children have a lot to put up with, don’t they?

C. We Must Trust the Lord to Deliver Us from Temptation.

1. Prepare for temptation before you encounter it. Jesus, in the Model Prayer, teaches us to pray, “... do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. (Matt 6:13, NKJV) The Bible clearly condemns immorality, and it tells us to avoid temptation when possible. When it is not possible to avoid temptation one must be prepared to resist it in one way or another. When I was a teenager a friend who was about four years older than I told me of a sobering experience he had recently had. Two sisters and a cousin or two were often visited by mutual friends of his. One day one of the girls asked my friend why he didn’t come to see her and when he did not accept her invitation she said, “Some time I may do something and blame you.” He looked her in the eye and said, “I may spend the rest of my life in the penitentiary, but I will not spend the rest of my life with a woman I do not love!” She never bothered him again and was apparently surprised that he held such a strong conviction about such a relationship.

Some model does an ad for a weight loss program, show the before and after picture, and then parade out before the camera in a very skimpy bikini. It would be impossible for her to wear any less and still say she was wearing anything. She announces that since she has lost 28 pounds she can go swimming with her children without feeling uncomfortable! Can you imagine that?! She is not uncomfortable when her young son see men staring at his mother?!

When my sister was a teenager living at home she told me that her friend from school had driven out to visit with her. Our father had come in from the cotton field for lunch, sat down in his favorite chair, picked up the Memphis Commercial Appeal and started reading when he saw some bare legs around the corner of his newspaper. He said, “Girl, you get back in your room and put some clothes on!” He lowered the paper and found himself looking into the face of Linda’s friend, who had driven out for a visit. Our father may have been embarrassed, but to Linda it was hilarious! She would never forget his embarrassment, but she well knew what he expected of her.

When I was still a young pastor a mother told me about one daughter’s involvement in the occult. She was a slave to a witch they called Mammy. She sent another daughter to tell me about all she had seen her older sister do to her life and to her family. The younger sister began talking and I heard things I had heard some young people were doing in California, but surely not in Texas or the mid-south. I heard about drugs, alcohol, sex, lust, deception - what I actually heard was a description of what some were beginning to be described as an orgy.

At some point, there was something in this testimony that concerned me, so I asked, “Are you talking about yourself or your sister?” She said, “Oh, I am talking about myself. My mother doesn’t know about me.” Believe me, I was relieved that my wife was in the kitchen while we were talking in the living room - with the door open, I asked how she got into all of that. She was very candid. She and a high school friend would each ask permission to spend the night with the other. Instead, after school they headed to the apartment of a young couple who supplied drugs and entertained while they took drugs and committed unspeakable acts. It was indeed a drunken orgy. At one point, I asked her, “How can you afford those drugs?” She looked at me like she thought there was a disconnect in my brain and said, “I don’t have to worry about money, I’m a girl!”

This girl kept talking about the young people who were spiritual and those who were not. I asked her how she could tell the difference. She said, “Those who never have their Bible, or never open it if they have it, and those who are passing pictures and notes while you are preaching are not spiritual. Those who sit in a smaller group, follow you in their Bible, and listen to you preach are spiritual. Fifteen or twenty years later, some of this kind of behavior had made its way inland and we were seeing it in north Louisiana and other places.

Those who would honor the Lord must pay attention to what they wear, what they say, where they go, with whom they spend their time, and how they conduct themselves when they are away from home. There is, as you know, a very popular television program today called the Duck Dynasty. I have personally mailed a duck call and two different tee-shirts with pictures on them to a teenaged boy I met when I preached a revival in the church where his grandfather was pastor. His grandfather asked me if I could find him a duck call and send it to him. I did. My wife picked out the shirts. The young man was very appreciative. Members of the Robertson family speak freely about their faith in Jesus Christ. In an interview I saw recently one of the men and his wife talked about the time when he and his family were poor, but didn’t know it. They made a point of adding that he and his wife were both committed to the Lord when they met and that they were pure when they got married. More emphasis should be given to this and less to popularity today.

Every where you look today immorality is more likely to be encouraged than discouraged. Everything from movies to television programs, to beauty pageants are showing young girls how they should dress, how they should look, and how they should talk. Statistics today are disturbing. A century ago, according to one report only two to three percent of white babies were born out of wedlock. According to a Google report, a very large number of babies born to women under 30 are born out of wedlock. Nearly three quarters of black children are born outside marriage compared with half of Latino babies and 29 per cent of whites. There is also an education divide, with 92 per cent of college-educated women married when they give birth compared with 43 per cent of women with a high school diploma or less. One unmarried woman who has had two babies by two men with no marriage said “It’s just a piece of paper.”

2. Jesus had something to say about adultery. “You have heard that it was said, Do not commit adultery. (28) But I tell you, everyone who looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matt 5:27-28) Young men should flee temptation and young women should not be a source of temptation. What does that say about the young women who dress in such a way as to tempt men to lust for an ungodly relationship with them?

Today, men and women are often thrown together at work. Recently, I spent some time talking with a Juvenile Prosecutor for the District Attorney’s office. I need to stress here that I am talking about an experienced juvenile prosecutor, one who has spoken at a governor’s conference on youth issues, done work for the Supreme Court, and for the state legislature in his state. He wrote a speech a district attorney delivered to the National Association of District Attorneys. In other words, he is no novice. What he does do is protect the privacy of individuals with whom he works, which means that he is limited in what he can say. I have suggested that he write a book on some of the issues with he deals on a regular basis. The only way he can do that is to write something fictional based on some real life situations, but our church members need to know what is happening all around them today.

When I mentioned the seventh commandment he stressed the need to inform and enlighten Christians about what is happening around them. There are churches where his very presence would make some members uncomfortable, but I cannot go into that. There was a time when teacher handled most problems in the classroom, and if she could not handle a problem the student was sent to the principal’s office. A number of years ago thing began changing. Schools had to hire a Vice Principle over Discipline, and that person must, on occasion, call the sheriff’s office. Once the sheriff’s office arrests and books a juvenile the Juvenile Prosecutor gets involved. The student is often put in a diversion program, which means the and the prosecutor and the Vice Principal over Discipline in the school spend some time together on the phone or in person.

Some Christian parents might be surprised to learn that their daughters, who attend a Christian school, will use their cell phones to take pictures of their own body parts and send them to other students. Some parents need to know that their son will announce certain interests in the opposite sex to a group of girls. I cannot be more specific, but Yes (!) I am talking about sexually explicit comments.

I was at a soccer game a few years ago and saw a lady who what talking with someone I knew. When that person left the lady turned and followed up with some comments to me. She commented on some young women in some place who will take their eight year old daughter next door or down the street and leave her with some man for a period of time, and then every week she will go by and pick up a little drug money.

3. Let us see what the Bible has to say. There was an old Gospel tract that I used for many years. When I could no longer find it I contacted a friend at LifeWay Christian Resources and was told that it was out of print, but, he added, you can print it and use it. The title was, “What Saith the Scripture?” Well, let’s see what the Scripture says.

From Leviticus we read: “ If a man commits adultery with a married woman—if he commits adultery with his neighbor’s wife—both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death. (Lev 20:10)

From Deuteronomy we read: “ Do not commit adultery.” (Deut 5:18)

From Proverbs: (25) Don’t lust in your heart for her beauty or let her captivate you with her eyelashes. (26) For a prostitute’s fee is only a loaf of bread, but an adulteress goes after a precious life. (27) Can a man embrace fire and his clothes not be burned? (28) Can a man walk on burning coals without scorching his feet? (29) So it is with the one who sleeps with another man’s wife; no one who touches her will go unpunished....(32) The one who commits adultery lacks sense; whoever does so destroys himself.” (Pro. 6:25-32)

4. Now let us turn to the shameful behavior of David and Bathsheba. Sermons and commentaries have dealt with David’s all but unbelievably horrible sin with Bathsheba and the murder of her of her husband, Uriah the Hitite. When confronted with his sin David repented with bitter tears and, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he confessed his sin, transgression, and iniquity (Ps. 51). Following his forgiveness, he penned Psalm 32 in which he praised the Lord for forgiving his sin, transgression, and iniquity. From David’s sin, the confrontation by Nathan, his repentance, and forgiveness we learn the unspeakable evil and godlessness of immorality, but at the same time we learn that the Lord will forgive those who genuinely repent.

When I read what the Lord had to say about King David, and when I see the high esteem in which he has been held through the centuries, I wonder, “Does God not remember his sin with Bathsheba and the murder of Uriah the Hittite?” Of course, I know the answer. No, God does not remember those horrible sins! Oh, He remembers them historically and factually, but He does not remember his sins judicially. David will never have to pay for those sins in eternity, even though he paid a high price during his lifetime. Here is what the Lord had to say about His servant: “ For David did what was right in the Lord’s eyes, and he did not turn aside from anything He had commanded him all the days of his life, except in the matter of Uriah the Hittite” (1 Kings 15:5).

I used to visit with a friend at my health club from time to time and one day, as I walked into the large room with all the weights and various machines I saw my friend and walked over to speak to him. Immediately, he pointed to a young man and said, “You see that boy right there? He has AIDS.” Before I could think of anything to say, my friend said, “I know. I called him over and asked him. I said, ‘Son, do you have AIDS? Now, don’t get upset. My son died with AIDS and I know the symptoms. I had to take care of him when he was dying.” The young man admitted that he had AIDS, and I never saw him at the health club again. Some time later, after my friend learned that his wife had cancer and that it was terminal, he said to me, “I laid in bed last night and counted thirty nine women I have had affairs with.” That news boggled my mind. I assumed the guilt was compounded by the realization that his wife was dying and he had betrayed her over and over. I also wondered if his sins had an influence on the lifestyle of his son and daughter, both of whom were homosexuals.

Books have been written on this subject. Counselors spend years trying to equipt themselves to counsel with those whose lives have been destroyed, or at the least, made miserable because of immorality. Rather than continuing to give illustrations, biblical or otherwise, I will share two more verses. The first applied to Israel she was a theocracy: “If a man commits adultery with a married woman—if he commits adultery with his neighbor’s wife—both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death.” (Lev 20:10) That give a clear picture of God’s opinion of adultery.

The second verse is Rev. 21:8: “But the cowards, unbelievers, vile, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars—their share will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” (Rev 21:8)


“Do not steal.” (Ex.20:15)

A. Theft in Any Form Is Condemned.

Perhaps you heard about the teenager man who was caught in a lie. His father told him to look up a verse in the Bible and read it to him. He found it and read, “A lie is an abomination to the Lord.” His father asked him what he had to say about that and the boy squirmed around and as he moved his Bible fell open. He glanced down and read, “But a very present help in time of trouble.” He sounds a little like the man who was “honest up to a point.” There are people who will look you in the eye and tell you the truth, as long as it doesn’t cost them anything, but when they file an insurance report or file their income tax return they may have a sudden lapse of memory. The eight commandment is as clear as it is simple: “Do not steal.”

1. The Second Great Commandment Covers Stealing. In fact, it covers stealing in all it’s forms. It is not the only sin that violates the Second Great Commandment, but it ranks near the top. I am aware of the fact that it ranks number eight among the Ten Commandments, and that the first four are covered in the First Great Commandment handed down by Jesus. The Second Great Commandment covers the last six of the Ten Commandments. The point I am making is that while gossip, slander, jealousy, envy, and covetousness violate this Great Commandment from Jesus, stealing is active and direct whereas certain other sins may be somewhat more passive, and the guilty person may not fully appreciate the damage it does. Stealing another person’s possessions directly effects that person as well as those who are dependant upon him.

God does not want one person He loves to steal from another person He loves. This command covers a multitude of actions in which one person takes advantage of another, whether it involves a penny or a million dollars. When we find a sin listed in the Ten Commandments we can be sure that it is a sin that offends the holiness of God, and a sin that hurts people God created, people He loves. At the same time, it is a sin that accommodates and feeds the fallen nature of man. When lost people steal they honor Satan and defy God. When a Christian steals from another person, he violates and offends the nature and character of the God he professes to know, love, and serve.

2. The thief may work out any number of ways to steal from others. All you have to do is listen to the warnings about the many ways people are stealing from others these days. Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity advertise companies that will protect everything from your e-mail account to your checking account to your credit card or debit card transactions. We are warned against giving anyone you social security number, bank number, or even your e-mail address or telephone number, unless you know the one to whom you are providing the information. I would like to share just a few examples, some of which involved electronic theft or attempted theft.

(1) I read about a man who broke into an automobile and found a cell phone. He turned it on and found the lady’s husband’s number and sent a text in which he asked for their pin number for their bank account. The husband, thinking it was his wife, provided the information. The thief, using the GPS, found their home and, using the garage opener, opened the garage, parked the car and closed the door. He had access to the house and stole what valuables he could carry before returning the car to it’s original parking place. When the man and his wife got home that afternoon they found that their house had been burglarized. The called the police, but when the wife checked her cell phone she discovered the text requesting their pin number and the response from her husband. They rushed to the bank but found that their money was gone.

(2) I received an e-mail message that stated it was from Dr. Jimmy Brossett. Jimmy had worked for the Missions Department of the Louisiana Baptist Convention for many years before his retirement. I checked the message and it stated that he was somewhere in Europe and someone had stolen his money. He needed help to pay his hotel bill so he could fly home. Others also received that message and before too long Jimmy sent a message that he had a new e-mail address.

(3) Charlie and his son were at a little league game at a Catholic school baseball field. They left a little early and as they arrived at their car two 13-14 year old black boys came up and asked something about the scoreboard on the field. Charlie looked at the scoreboard and didn’t see a problem, but when he looked back around one of the boys stuck the business end of a revolver against his face, right under his right eye. He demanded his money, wanted his billfold, and cell phone. Charlie had gone to the game with nothing but his billfold and it had only his driver’s license in it. He was afraid the boys were going to shoot him and his son, so he tried to remain calm and answer their questions. Finally, they left. A few nights later Charlie was standing, watching a game when he looked up and looked one of the young robbers in the eye. The young boy slipped away into the crowd. Police had told him they lived in apartment near the school and there is no way they could find them unless he identified them.

(4) I worked for the ASCS (USDA) several summers while in college and seminary. I had grown up on a farm in Tunica County, Mississippi but worked for the Agricultural, Stabilization, and Conservation Service (ASCS) in Quitman County. We were trained and then supervisors ran “spot checks” on us from time to time. I did not know it but a young man from my highschool who “pulled the chain” for a teacher and coach at his high school who worked as a part time supervisor during the summer told me recently that when the coach wanted to take off a little early and go fishing he would say, “Let’s check Johnny. You can check him from the highway.” He meant that he could look at the “map” (ariel photograph) and see whether or not it was right. I was very careful, but I had an advantage over some of the young men from one of the towns who knew a lot less about farming than I. When I drove by farms I make a mental note as to changes farmers had made in fields. I usually measured about ten times as many acres as some of the town boys. When we finished measuring (plotting fields on an ariel photograph for the ladies in the office to measure with a planimeter) most were through for the year. A few of us then measured plow-ups. Farmers wanted to plant all the land they were allowed in their allotment. Some of the big farmers would plant as many as 20 acres too much so they could pick the weak spots to plow up. They often plowed up the end of rows all the way across a field, ane they usually had low places that drowned out if they had heavy rains.

One day one of the supervisors made the comment that a certain farmer at Darling has been seen hauling cotton stalks. I could tell by the way he said it and by the way another responded that the man was trying to cheat on his plow-up. Apparently, this man had been using the trick and getting away with it for some time. He would have his hands cut down stalks across one field, haul them to another field, spread them out beyond the cotton rows and then disk it for a part of his plow-up. Actually, he spread the cotton stalks over a turn row or even on land that was in a Conservation Reserve program, for which he received a check. Actually, the cotton rows ended at this long, winding turn row with Conservation Reserve land on the other side. There was nothing definite to measure from for a long distance and that was across that big field that was grown up in weeds and bushes. Others simply took the farmer’s word for the plow-up, especially since the farmer could point to parts of cotton stalks they had plowed under.

I knew we had come to that field when the farmer who had been very quiet up until that time began talking: “You see that stalk over there? There is another one right there.” He continued to talk and point out stalks or parts of stalks. “See that stalk over there? You can see them all along here.” I said, “Yes, Sir. I see the stalks, but I don’t see any roots.” We stopped and I got the chain man the farmers always had to provide and we walked across that big field with all the weeds, grass and bushes. Because of an error made when the field was plotted on he map I was able to give him allow him a little credit for that plow up, but not what he was expecting. Still, he seemed to settle with the idea that he had still cheated the government out of a little - enough so that all the extra work was not wasted. I was remembering that this man’s brother had once yelled out that I was “the hardest man he had ever worked with!” That was also a plow-up situation.

I once met a denominational worker in another state and when he told me his name I asked where he was from originally. When he told me I remembered when I measured his father’s plow-up and he asked me if I would let him plow up two rows of cotton and two rows of soybeans and call it four rows of cotton. I never told his son about that!

One farmer I will never forget was the young man who had plowed up all he needed to plow up except about a half an acre. When I finished with all he showed me I told him how much he lacked and he pointed to a small field right by the highway. Back then it was state highway number 3, but today is the Charlie Pride Highway, in honor of the great country music singer from my hometown of Sledge Mississippi. The man assured me he would go get a tractor and plow it up right then, or if I would trust him he would plow it up after I left. Since it was past the time I normally knocked off for the day I told him I would trust him to plow it up. I wrote it up and the had to look at that one little field he rest of the summer. He had lied to me, but worse, I should have known better. I had turned it in as destroyed when it was not.

(5) When I was in the fifth grade we did not have a cafeteria at our school, so we could take our lunch to school, or take money for lunch and walk to town and buy lunch at a local café. One day, my friend “Jick” Sanders (whose real name was, and is Ken Parks) and I walked about a quarter of a mile to his uncle’s café to buy lunch. You could get two hamburgers and a coke for twenty-five cents, which wasn’t bad at all. And the hamburgers were great, too!

Jick dropped a dime and it rolled right between my feet. He was looking all around for it and for some reason I decided to have some fun with him, so I stepped on the dime and then proceeded to help him look for the dime. It started out as a practical joke, but after some time I was too embarrassed to tell him what had happened. I found an opportunity and picked up the dime and put it in my pocket. I never told him. For over half a century, I never told him. Then one night he and his wife drove from Memphis to Oxford, Mississippi to hear me preach in revival services. After greeting each other I said, “I owe you a dime! I stole a dime from you!”

B. Moses Addressed the Issue in the Wilderness.

“You are not to cheat one another, but fear your God, for I am the Lord your God.” (Lev 25:17)

If you fear God you should make a commitment to obey His commands and if we fear the Lord we will make a point of respecting the rights, property, name, and well being of others. At the heart and center of this command is the nature and character of God our Creator, our Redeemer, and our Judge. If we love the Lord with all out heart, soul, mind, and strength we will respect our neighbor in all things. We will respect his name, his reputation, his character, his property, his job, his family, and all that he possesses. Have you always done that? I didn’t think so, but you will see that I am not sitting in judgment on you.

I am sure you have heard someone express the opinion that a thief will steal, just as a liar will lie. Those who sound off on stealing and lying may add that a liar will steal and a thief will lie. No one wants to give either a thief or a liar much room to operate. I don’t know how many times I have heard someone say, “I hate a thief,” or, “I can’t stand a thief.” I wonder how many of those who say something like that steal, or have stolen from others.

I have made a commitment to be honest with my sons, and to let them see that I am honest with others. I do not remember ever telling either of my sons a lie, not have I ever stolen from either one of them. That should not be surprising to any other pastor, but the simple fact is, only God is perfect and no matter how much I have committed myself to honesty, I am not perfect, which means that I am not perfectly honest. I had driven my family to north west Mississippi to visit my parents and we were eating dinner with them when My grandmother came in with a piece of pie which she had carried from her house beside my parents’ home, just for me. She handed it to me and stood there smiling while I tasted it. Her expression left no doubt - she anticipated a positive comment about her pie. It must have been a new recipe’, but the taste was strange. I looked her in the face and tried to think of something to say. Finally, I heard myself saying, “That’s really, uh, DIFFERENT! Should I have told my grandmother her pie was horrible? Really, it wasn’t quite horrible, but I couldn’t think of anything that seemed appropriate.” It would have helped if my younger brother and sister had not laughed.

When I was growing up there were a few times when I gave my father some money and asked him to pick up something for me. When he returned he would give me whatever I asked him to get for me and then he would hand me the change. There were times when he would count out the change, right down to the penny. In fact, there were times when the change might have been only a few cents. In a case like that I would say, “That’s all right, just keep it.” He would hand me the three cents and say, “No, it is yours.” I learned a lot about the ethics and principles of honest from my pastor, Sunday School teacher, and my mother. I learned the practical application of it from my father. I have tried to be just as honest with my sons.

When we try to answer the question about our personal honest, how do we do on our expenses when we file our income taxes? I keep everything and take it to our CPA, and if there is a question he will answer it for me. Now, let me ask another question. A local television station announces that some insurance company will pay residents who report any loss from a hurricane. They tell you to send in certain information and all residents will receive a check for a certain amount. I live in the extreme north end of Louisiana and even after Katrina hit the Gulf Coast we didn’t get one drop of rain. After the BP oil spill, there was a settlement and state residents were told to contact someone about a check, whether or not a loss can be documented (as I recall). No, I didn’t send anything to BP. At the same time, I know I am not perfectly honest and I must confess that on a regular basis - if there is ever a doubt, 1 John 1:9 tells me that if I confess my sins, God is faithful and just for forgive my sins and to cleanse me from all unrighteousness.

C. Let Us Consider Some Practical Examples.

(1) My wife came into the den one night recently and told me she had just heard the news report that a West Carroll Parish man had been electrocuted? “Do you know how it happened?”, I asked, and she said, “he was pulling down some wire to get the copper and he was electrocuted.” The report was that he was killed trying to steal a very limited amount of copper wire, the price of which is minimal at this time. What a legacy to leave for one’s family! I was reminded of the men who were stealing the wire off welding machines and generators used for irrigation when I was pastor in that area.

(2) Randy (not his real name), according to what his family told me, would leave Louisiana to drive to West Virginia, and we would go by some place in Tennessee where he would steal enough electrical wire to pay for his trip after stripping the copper from the wire. A family member told me this. Randy had grown up in coal mine country and worked in the coal mines. He also frequented bars and explained to me that if you are in a bar fight and someone comes at you with a knife you can grab a beer bottle and break one off and used it for a weapon. However, if you grab a coke bottle, you have to break the other end our of it. I have no idea which one he told me you had to break off the top and which one you broke off the bottom. I trust that no one who hears me mention this will ever need that information. I will add that when I witnessed to this man he said, “When I get ready I will come to see you.” A few years later, while we were eating Sunday dinner after our worship service, there was a knock at the kitchen door, and when I opened the door, Randy was standing there. He said, “I told you I would come to you when I was ready. I am ready.” I took him into the dining room, opened my Bible and shared God’s plan of salvation with him. He confessed his sin to the Lord and received Jesus Christ as Savior.

(3) George, from Oklahoma, and a few of his friends found themselves in Jackson, Mississippi when they ran out of money. They broke into a furniture and appliance store, were caught and sentenced to a period of time in the Mississippi Sate Penitentiary at Parchman. When I met him he was a trustee who clerked for Chaplain R. B. Hicks, who had invited me to preach at Parchman every Sunday morning at 8:00 o’clock. I would leave my home around 6:00 every Sunday morning to drive to Parchman to preach before going on to Dockery Baptist Church, between Ruleville and Cleveland, Mississippi where I was pastor the last two years I was at Mississippi College.

For some time, when I arrived early, I would visit with George while waiting for the chaplain. I have never forgotten those visits. George told me that the store they burglarizes belonged to the husband of the WMU president for the Mississippi Baptist Convention, Mrs. Edwina Robinson. After they were arrested, Mr. and Mrs. Robinson began to visit him. They led him to the Lord and after he was sentenced he as taken to the Mississippi State at Parchman they stayed in touch with him. One Sunday morning when I arrived at the chaplain’s office George had an announcement for me: he was being paroled out and he had a job. The Robinsons had not only stayed in touch with George, they had stayed in touch with the right people in the justice system. Even before he was released, George had a job! He went to work with the Robinsons in the store he had robbed! I was happy for George, but I felt a personal loss when I was not able to visit with him every Sunday morning. Another man was assigned to take George’s place, but it was not the same. I really missed my visits with George, but one day the chaplain told me that any time I arrived early I could go to any camp at Parchman and tell them the chaplain sent me to preach. I preached at one camp or another every Sunday before going on to my church.

One day, the chaplain told me he had around forty-five prisoners to baptize and wished I had some old clothes so I could help him. When he found that I was willing he went to his house and found some old clothes and I helped him baptize around 45 prisoners, both black and white. You heard right! I was preaching to blacks, witnessing to blacks, and baptizing black people - in Mississippi - in 1958 and 1959. I helped him again a few months later. Churches in the area had agreed to take any prisoner who had made a profession of faith and been baptized into their church. Guards with a 30/30 Rifle did not bother me, but those women trustees who were stiff-arming a thirty-eight S & W did make me feel a little strange!

I preached to something like 140 prisoners every Sunday morning at the Mississippi State Penitentiary, and either preached to a group or talked with individuals at the Hinds County Jail in Jackson, Mississippi every Thursday afternoon. I led the mission trip from the BSU at Mississippi College to the County Jail for two or three years. I spent a lot of my time talking with men in the maximum security section, where I had the great privilege of leading two murderers to ask the Lord to forgive them and save them. I had an opportunity to preach to both of those men several months later at Parchman. I peached to murderers, witnessed to a man who had kidnaped the daughter of a mayor of a city, and a man who had murdered his mother-in-law. There is no telling how many of the men I met there were serving time because they had stolen something from someone else.

(4) Robbery is an especially traumatic crime. In fact, it is one of the most horrible experiences a victim can face, with the exception of murder or attempted murder. One lady I have known for twenty years was robbed at gun point where she worked as a very young lady. The experience was traumatic and she relived it over and over for many years. The man who robbed her came up for parole and she met with the board and told them what a traumatic experience it was to have been robbed at gun point. This is a mature lady, the vice-principal of a large school, a member of a large family with a lot of support, but the experience has bothered her for years. Finally, the man came up for parole and she met with the board to be sure that they would monitor his movements and that he would not be a threat to her again.

(5) Burglary is a serious crime. It is another way many choose to steal from others. Years ago I saw teenaged boys pushing lawn mowers on sidewalks. Some were simply looking for an opportunity to earn a little money. Others may not have been all that interested in hard work. It was a simple thing to ask anyone who questioned them if they needed someone to mow their lawn. One robbed and murdered a lady whose home he had watched, according to reports. No one wants to have his home violated and no one deserves that. Sadly, so many young people today have not had the benefit of growing up in a home with a father who can or will train them to grow up to be a responsible man. Mothers often have no choice but to rear a son the best they can, but there comes a time when a boy needs a father who understands that his son needs, not a buddy, but a father who will discipline him, train him, and set an example for him.

(6) We are warned today to beware of the latest scam to come to an area. We hear it on the news and police tell the media how to detect the scam. We receive messages on the Internet warning of the latest scam, as well as those who send a virus to attack computers when they cannot benefit in any way from their actions. They can only hurt others.

That which is behind a lot of the stealing going on today is drugs. Marijuana is being shipped into America in large quantities. A juvenile prosecutor made the statement to me a few days ago that marijuana today is where beer was twenty years ago. It is the drug of choice for gangs, for parties, and for small groups. It is also a gateway drug that leads many into and addiction to hard drugs, which motivates them to steal in order to feed their habit. They will steal from a neighbor, a brother or sister, or from parents. All values and commandments are out the window; the only thing that matters is feeding their habit. Those who become addicted to drugs will steal anything from anyone in order to feed their habit.


The Bible commands us not to steal from others. We are ordered not to cheat others, not to steal or damage the property of others. Now, I would like to share two examples of honesty an integrity that should encourage us to make a commitment to that kind of honesty and a determination to resist all temptations to steal anything from another person.

(1) My brother James was distract manager for a nation wide country and they had tried to get him to move to a larger district, but he and his wife Carolyn owned a home and a business in Shreveport, Louisiana and he didn’t want to move. When the company decided to consolidate that office with another and move him, he declined and resigned to concentrate his attention on the restaurant they owned. He was playing a lot of tennis and was having a problem that was diagnosed as coming from a problem in his back that effected his right arm. They scheduled him for surgery, but the surgeon took a look at the scan and told the surgical team that the symptoms didn’t match the surgery they had scheduled, so he ordered a scan that went lower and when the results came back the scan revealed a large tumor that wrapped around his spinal cord and covered the back side of his heart, including arteries.

The surgery removed a lot of the tumor, but after that they used chemotherapy and radiation to help kill the rest. The insurance with his old company was running out in a few months and he could not expect any more coverage. He had some debts, such as many young men in his situation often do. Having followed the Lord since he was around eight years old, and having been reared by the same father who raised me, he knew what to do. He faced the matter of his debts and then sat down and wrote to everyone to whom he owed any amount of money. He explained that if they would given him an opportunity he would pay them every cent he owed them. It was very important to him to pay what he owed every single person. However, if they would not give him an opportunity to pay off his debts his only recourse would be to file bankruptcy. Every single creditor assured him they would give him an opportunity to pay what he owed. He did. His older brother was as proud of him as their father would have been. It was the right thing to do. I am sure it pleased the Lord.

(2) I have mentioned my father. He was so honest it would make you cringe at times. I had driven with my family from Bastrop, Louisiana to Sledge, Mississippi, a little south of Memphis, to visit with my wife’s parents in town and my parents seven miles west of Sledge, about a mile over in Tunica County. Before we left, my daddy asked me if I would ride up to Barney Sigler’s farm headquarters near Crenshaw, Mississippi and drive a tractor back to our place for him. I was happy to do it, even though it was Saturday afternoon and I still had to drive all the way back to Louisiana and be ready for our services Sunday morning.

My father had just bought an additional eighty acres of farm land a few miles from our home and Mr. Sigler had raised the price on him, but then he had thrown in a used tractor on the deal. We drove about twelve miles to the farm headquarters and since it was Saturday afternoon no one was there. I climbed onto the Case tractor and when I hit the starter nothing happened. I tried again and again, nothing happened. I looked over at the tractor shed and saw a number of late model tractors and suggested that we might pull one over and jump it off, or pull it off to start it. My father surprised me when he said we would have to drive home and come back on one of his tractors and pull it off to start it. Then we would drive both tractors 12 miles back home.

I reminded him that Barny Sigler was a friend of his and he wouldn’t mind his using one of his tractors to pull off the Case. Daddy had bought his first farm land from Mr. Sigler. He went to see him when he was a young man and asked him about a forty acre farm he heard was for sale. He explained that he had not money for a down payment, “but if you will give me a chance I will pay for it.” Several time over the years, when Mr. Sigler had land for sale he would send word to my father. Still, my father would not start one of Mr. Sigler’s tractors to use to start the tractor he had thrown in on the land deal. I assured him that I had measured the farm when I worked for the Quitman County ASCS office, which I did for several summers, so I knew Mr. Buck, the farm manager. I knew they would have expected him to do just that. Even though I never mentioned it, I was thinking about the long drive back to Louisiana.

My father said, “Son, those are his tractors and if he was here I would ask him, but he is not here and since it is his tractor he has the right to say who will use his tractor and he has the right to say how it will be used. He is not here to give us permission and I won’t do it.” We drove home and he chose to go back on a 640 Ford tractor. It was a little faster than either John Deere. My father drove the 12 miles at about 10 - 12 miles an hour and I sat on the fender wondering why he didn’t open the throttle all the way. He was in no hurry and I didn’t want him to think I was rushing him. We got the tractor started and I decided to follow him back home instead of running off and leaving him. He was in no hurry and I wouldn’t rush him.

We completed the job and I got my family loaded up and headed back to Louisiana. It was just a little frustrating to be getting off two or three hours later than I had planned, but I have thought about that experience many times. He taught us that a man is as good as his word, and that you do not lie to another person and not only do you not steal from your neighbor, you treat his property with the greatest respect.

Another time, I drove out to the farm and discovered that the county had widened the road - and that they had taken it all off our side of the road. For three quarters of a mile, they had taken in several feet, but they had obviously not taken one foot off the opposite side of the road. I asked my father about that and he said, “Son, the last time the widened the road they got part of Garfield’s yard and if they had taken any more this time they would have taken most of his front yard.” Garfield was our neighbor, and no one ever had a better neighbor. They never would have used the word, and I never heard any man talk about loving another man at that time, but they were really good friends. Garfield was black and while a lot of people at that time were making speeches, my father and Garfield Ellis were friends and neighbors. Years later, Garfield’s son, “Little Garfield” came back home to try to farm his father’s land and my father let him use a big modern John Deere tractor the whole year and never charged him one cent. I can assure you, people like that do not steal from one another. Not only do they not steal from one another, they welcome the opportunity to help each other. I believe Jesus covered their relationship in the Second Great Commandment.