Is there any such thing in the Bible as an “adultery test”? And, if so, what would an Old Testament law about jealousy and possible adultery have to do with us? Read more about the adultery test in today’s reading.
Numbers 5 & 6
The Adultery Test & the Sovereignty of God
The Adultery or Jealousy Test
Numbers 5 contains a passage that is difficult to understand and, at first glance, seems highly slanted against women, but it’s important to study it in light of God’s sovereignty and in light of other Scripture.
Verses 11-31 describe a ceremony to be performed when a man suspected, but couldn’t prove, his wife had committed adultery. The husband was to bring his wife before the priest along with an offering. The priest would have her stand before the Lord, a important point in all of this. He would ask her under oath whether or not she had been with another man. She was to drink “bitter water” to which had been added dust from the floor of the tabernacle and scrapings from the oath to which she had sworn.
If she was guilty the water would make her extremely sick, but if not, it would have no effect. She would be declared clean, set free, and able to bear children.
Remember the Sovereignty of God
First, we must remember the purpose of these laws was to maintain purity in the camp. God had determined to dwell with the Israelites and He could not dwell with hidden sin.
Remember, also, that the Sovereign God of the universe oversaw the outcome. He was in control and He knew the guilt or innocence. The same law that condemned a guilty woman also vindicated an innocent one so she didn’t have to live under suspicion.
Matthew Henry in his commentary on the Bible said that even under the law, the husband had to have some cause for his jealousy, probably witnesses to the fact that the wife had been alone with another man, even though there was no proof they had sexual relations. So this was not a willy-nilly kind of a thing.
Adultery is a sin which by its very nature is secretive, and yet, even when not revealed extremely damaging to the one-flesh relationship. But it’s first and foremost a sin against a holy God!
And while it’s true that God doesn’t choose to reveal this sin in the same way today, He does still reveal sin. I always encourage anyone, man or woman, who suspects their spouse of unfaithfulness to pray and ask God to show them anything they need to know. He is just as able to reveal it today as He was under the law.
A Slippery Slope
The Bible has a great deal to say about adultery and other forms of sexual immorality. We’re told to not even have an appearance of evil (Eph. 5.3) and Proverbs 31.11 says to us wives, “The heart of her husband safely trusts her …”
While we have freedom in Christ, married men and women have no business having close friendships with people of the opposite sex. Too often people confide in co-workers, go out to lunch alone, or spend time “just talking.” As a counselor, much of the adultery I deal with, especially among Christians, starts with friendship—not with overt sexual advances.
It usually goes something like this. A woman is having trouble in her marriage and begins talking to a male friend. It may seem innocent enough at first with things like, “I just don’t understand my husband. You’re a man. Help me understand.”
Or it may be the other way around. He may say something similar to her about his wife. Pretty soon they’re spending more time talking, and then having lunch—”just to help make their marriages better.”
They’ll get defensive if confronted and, often, refuse to give up the friendship even when asked to by their spouse. Often it seems loyalty to the friend and defending their right to spend time together is greater than their loyalty to their spouse. Usually because there is already an emotional attachment that can easily lead to physical adultery.
Incidentally, I believe the same holds true for friending people on FaceBook and other social media. If you’re married and unless you have a joint account with your spouse, avoid friending people of the opposite sex.
All passwords for phones, computers and accounts should be shared with your spouse. A one flesh relationship is more than just physical. It’s a shared bond that includes accountability and trust, as well.
Boundaries that Protect Your Marriage
We need to treasure our spouses, our marriages, and our families, to say nothing of our testimonies, enough to put up fences in our lives and iron bars on the windows of our hearts. Too often we value “our freedom” or “our rights” more than those things which are most important to God. While there is great “freedom in Christ” and there is not a specific verse which says, “Thou shalt not have a friend of the opposite sex,” Paul said, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable” (1 Cor. 6.12).
We need to be willing to set boundaries to protect our marriages and the time to set them is well in advance of any problems. If you’re married, why not sit down with your spouse and decide together to make that commitment before God?
TODAY’S OTHER READINGS:
Despair, Discouragement & Depression
David and the other psalmists were so real. They poured out their hearts so we can see their very human emotions. This Psalm lets us see David’s progression from despair, discouragement and depression to trust in God. The Psalms are a great place to go when we’re struggling with our own emotions.
The Danger of Pride
Verse 2, “When pride comes, then comes shame; but with the humble is wisdom.”
Pride causes us to see ourselves as right even when we’re not and keeps us from being teachable.
Take Up Your Electric Chair
This is a great passage about what it means to be a true disciple of Christ. Jesus uses the phrase “take up your cross.” Today the cross is a religious symbol or, sadly, a fashion statement for ungodly people, but at the time this was written it was a symbol of a horrible death. It would be like saying today, “take up your electric chair …”
But He was not just referring to physical death. We should not only be willing to die physically for the cause of Christ, but to die to our own selfish wants and desires. Luke, in his parallel passage, adds the word “daily.”
It’s a daily battle to lay down what we want in favor of what is pleasing to God by loving others as we love ourselves (Matt. 22.37-4), “preferring others as more important than ourselves,” (Phil. 2.3-4); being kind, compassionate and forgiving instead of angry and bitter (Eph. 4.31-32); and by submitting to one another as unto the Lord (Eph. 5.21-33).
May God bless you as you seek to apply His Word to your heart and life,
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