“Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge” (Hebrews 13:4, KJV).
It seems so gloomy to think about a day coming when I will stand before God to be judged. Thoughts like these don’t pass through my mind on a normal day, when I’d rather be planning or reading or talking or dreaming.
Yet the Bible is clear:
“Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:13).
“It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27, KJV).
A theme that continues to come up in my study of faith in the book of Hebrews is that I should be living my life in light of things that haven’t happened, that are in the future, and that I can’t see. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1, KJV).
The book of Revelation tells me what will happen in the future.
“And he that sat upon the throne said… ‘He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death‘” (Revelation 21:5, 7-8).
“Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie” (Revelation 22:14-15).
All throughout the book of Hebrews, the author reminds us that we shouldn’t take our salvation for granted. We who know what God’s Word says should be especially careful to be obedient. Our responsibility is greater. We need to walk by faith, remembering that our actions have consequences.
“We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. For if the message spoken by angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation?” (Hebrews 2:1-3).
“See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first” (Hebrews 3:12-14).
“It still remains that some will enter that rest, and those who formerly had the gospel preached to them did not go in, because of their disobedience” (Hebrews 4:6).
“It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace” (Hebrews 6:4-6).
“If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ and again, ‘The Lord will judge his people.’ It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:26-31).
“So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For in just a very little while, ‘He who is coming will come and will not delay. But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him.‘ But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved” (Hebrews 10:35-39).
Why does the author of Hebrews bring up the topic of judgment in the context of marriage? Because it has always been Satan’s scheme to split up husbands and wives. Marriage is a picture of God’s great love for us, yet Satan’s plot to get Adam and Eve to sin involved getting Eve to act in independence of her husband. Even to this day, Satan is working to destroy your marriage. He does this by encouraging sexual immorality.
“Now for the matters you wrote about: It is good for a man not to marry. But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband. The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control” (1 Corinthians 7:1-5).
God has promised to judge “whoremongers” and “adulterers” (Hebrews 13:4). A whoremonger is someone who sells himself, coming from the same Greek word from which we get “pornography.” An adulterer is someone who looks for love outside of the covenant of marriage. God repeatedly states that the punishment for these sins is death.
You see, if Satan can entice you to sin, then he knows God will have to keep His word and judge you, just as he himself will be judged (John 16:11). Yet instead of reacting with a holy fear of God, we believers often think that God’s commands don’t apply to us.
Myth #1: Only the God of the Old Testament was vengeful and wrathful. The God of the New Testament is merciful and loving. He would never judge me.
Is this true? The author of Hebrews is careful to state, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (13:8). Romans 6:23 says that “the wages of sin is death.” Let’s look at some of God’s promises to judge sexual sin:
“If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife—with the wife of his neighbor—both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death” (Leviticus 20:10).
“But to the wicked, God says:
‘What right have you to recite my laws
or take my covenant on your lips
You hate my instruction
and cast my words behind you.
When you see a thief, you join with him;
you throw in your lot with adulterers.
You use your mouth for evil
and harness your tongue to deceit.
You speak continually against your brother
and slander your own mother’s son.
These things you have done and I kept silent;
you thought I was altogether like you.
But I will rebuke you
and accuse you to your face'” (Psalm 50:16-21).
“But a man who commits adultery lacks judgment;
whoever does so destroys himself” (Proverbs 6:32).
“There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day” (John 12:48).
“All will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness” (2 Thessalonians 2:12).
“Since you call on a Father who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear” (1 Peter 1:17).
“And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done” (Revelation 20:12-13).
The Bible seems dreadfully clear that God’s character and intention haven’t changed. He still judges sin, and the judgment for sin remains death.
Myth #2: If I prayed to accept Jesus as my savior, God will not judge me.
Yes, John 3 is very clear that “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:17). The word “condemn” in this passage could also be translated “judge.” Yet we need to keep reading the verses that follow:
“Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God” (John 3:18-21).
Salvation isn’t the end of the story. Yes, God loves us and saves us, but why? Because God’s one and only Son Jesus was judged in our place. The death penalty for sin was still carried out. God was just gracious enough to place all punishment on His undeserving Son, rather than on us.
How can we show such blatant disrespect by continuing to walk in sin? Have we really “accepted Jesus as our savior” if we refuse to give up our evil deeds?
Myth #3: Sexual sin really isn’t that big of a deal. Marriage is nice, but living with someone, divorce, remarriage, etc. can also work fine in our society.
Whoa, hold on! This is the original lie from Satan again: “Did God really say?” (see Genesis 3:1). Our society doesn’t value marriage, but our Creator’s viewpoint is different.
“[Jesus said,] ‘But at the beginning of creation God “made them male and female. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.'” (Mark 10:6-9).
“The LORD is acting as the witness between you and the wife of your youth, because you have broken faith with her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant. Has not the LORD made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth. ‘I hate divorce,’ says the LORD God of Israel, ‘and I hate a man’s covering himself with violence as well as with his garment,’ says the LORD Almighty. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith” (Malachi 2:14-16).
God’s very reputation is on the line. Repeatedly God calls us to be holy (set-apart, peculiar) people, different from the world. George Mueller once wrote, “I delight in speaking well of His Name,” and that should be our hearts’ prayer as well. As we live holy lives, honorable fulfilling our marital duties with joy and love, God’s name will be lifted up for all to see and praise.
Pastor Coty Pinckney writes,
“Jesus blows apart [the Pharisees’] conception of morality in the Sermon on the Mount… God set up the law so that His chosen people might display His character, so that His people might become like Him — thus Jesus fulfills the law by redirecting us toward becoming like Him. In this way, Jesus’ followers, who are becoming like Him, can have a righteousness that exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees… Our goal, then, is to be transformed into the likeness of Jesus.”
How can we keep from letting Satan’s lies about marriage sneak into our homes?
1. God says He will judge “whoremongers.” A whoremonger is someone who “scatters her favors” around without discretion, selling herself for the momentary fame and thrill that she receives. It is wanting to be worshiped.
Only acknowledge your guilt—
you have rebelled against the LORD your God,
you have scattered your favors to foreign gods
under every spreading tree,
and have not obeyed me,’ ”
declares the LORD (Jeremiah 3:13).
Married women still desire to be beautiful and admired. God asks us, rather, to develop an inner beauty.
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised (Proverbs 31:30).
2. God says He will judge “adulterers.” Rather than always thinking the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, we need to develop a single focus, a single heart, of love and contentment in our own marriages.
“To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife… Nevertheless, each one should retain the place in life that the Lord assigned to him and to which God has called him” (1 Corinthians 7:10-11, 17).
“Drink water from your own cistern,
running water from your own well.
Should your springs overflow in the streets,
your streams of water in the public squares?
Let them be yours alone,
never to be shared with strangers.
May your fountain be blessed,
and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.
A loving doe, a graceful deer—
may her breasts satisfy you always,
may you ever be captivated by her love.
Why be captivated, my son, by an adulteress?
Why embrace the bosom of another man’s wife?
For a man’s ways are in full view of the LORD,
and he examines all his paths.
The evil deeds of a wicked man ensnare him;
the cords of his sin hold him fast.
He will die for lack of discipline,
led astray by his own great folly” (Proverbs 5:15-23).
To avoid adultery, be careful to guard your heart and home. Don’t “fellowship” with darkness, even on your TV or in your reading materials. Cultivate submission, respect, and joy in your relationship with your husband.
“It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that does not occur even among pagans: A man has his father’s wife. And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have been filled with grief and have put out of your fellowship the man who did this? …But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat” (1 Corinthians 5:1-2, 11).
God says that marriage is honorable. Are we careful to view the world the same way God does, calling good, good and evil, evil? This is the heart of having a biblical worldview; this is the essence of walking by faith.
“He who finds a wife finds what is good
and receives favor from the LORD” (Proverbs 18:22).
The wages of sin is still death. The reward for obedience is still life. What choice will you make in your marriage?
P.S. Need advice on strengthening your marriage? I answer some common marriage questions here.