The Root Of Adultery

by | Apr 12, 2021 | Adultery, Sermon On The Mount, The Law | 16 comments

If you are a Christian who has committed adultery, or are thinking about it, or know someone currently practicing it, please read this blog.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus began preaching on the topic of adultery by quoting the religious leaders of his time:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’’ (Matthew 5:27, Exodus 20:14). This was the sixth of the ten commandments. Adultery is having sex outside of the marital union. One not only hurts the person he is having the affair with, but he is breaking the marriage covenant; a sin that God will judge (Hebrews 13:4).

The penalty for adultery was divorce (Matthew 19:9) or possibly death (Leviticus 20:10, John 8:1-11) The religious leaders of Jesus’s day judged through this limited lens of “right or wrong” or “black and white.” They taught the letter of the law – the truth. But they had no spiritual wisdom to help the people understand the root of this sin – the condition of the heart and thereby avoid it.

Jesus brought clarity to the law concerning adultery, exposed its root cause, and gave life applications. Notice the progression from letter of the law to condition of the heart.

Root Cause of Adultery

“But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28).

Although Jesus focused on men, women are guilty of this sin also, especially in this 21st century of liberalism, permissiveness, and equality. Even in Jesus’s day there was a woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11).

Jesus taught that lust is the root of adultery. Sexual lust is defined as “intense or unrestrained sexual craving… Lust has as its focus pleasing oneself, and it often leads to unwholesome actions to fulfill one’s desires with no regard to the consequences. Lust is about possession and greed” (

A lust-filled heart is selfish and doesn’t care who is hurt as long as it gets temporary satisfaction. The adulterer has stopped being led by the Spirit of God and is lead by his flesh (Galatians 5:19).

Adultery Preventions and Applications

Jesus preached two basic preventions for the sin of adultery. They may seem extreme to you, but God hates sin. These preventions can be implemented in various ways. I will list a few life applications, but only you know what will prevent you from committing adultery.

Jesus’s Adultery Preventions

Jesus preached, “If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. “And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell” (” (Matthew 5:29).

Jesus said that adultery begins with the lust of the eyes, which is the sinful desire to possess someone who has visual appeal. He is not saying to actually remove your physical eye because blind men can lust and covet what they do not have.

Adultery progresses from looking to physically touching (could include smelling, tasting, listening).  Jesus is not saying to actually cut off your hands, nose, ears, or tongue. Jesus is saying that adultery is so serious that it must be dealt with drastically, quickly, decisively, and radically because unaddressed lust is never satisfied and always craves more.

Adultery Prevention Life Applications

Note: To keep this blog within an acceptable length, I give you chapter and verse to some scriptural references instead of writing them out. They are for validity of accuracy and additional study of the following suggested life applications. Please read them in totality.

Whether you are currently practicing adultery or are thinking about it, following are thirteen biblical life applications that might help you become an overcomer.

  1. Begin with this hard truth. Admit that you alone are responsible for your actions. Nobody can entice you to commit adultery if the thought was not already in your heart. (Mark 7:20-23).
  2. Stop the affair immediately. “No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God” (1 John 1:9).
  3. Confess to God and ask for forgiveness – “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
  4. Confess to your spouse – “He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy” (Prov. 28:13). I suggest counseling with your pastor who can give Godly guidance before you confess to your spouse. Then ask your spouse to go to marriage counseling with you.
  5. Practice the Billy Graham Rule – It is well known that VP Mike Pence practices the Billy Graham Rule – a practice among some male evangelical Protestant leaders, in which they avoid spending time alone with women to whom they are not married. It is adopted as a display of integrity, a means of avoiding sexual temptation, to avoid any appearance of doing something considered morally objectionable, and to avoid being accused of sexual harassment or assault. (
  6. Avoid Pornography – watching pornography can decrease satisfaction, obstructs emotional intimacy, creates unrealistic expectations, decrease self-esteem and self-worth of marriage partner. Talk about it with your partner and find a marriage counselor you both feel comfortable with.
  7. Stop Lustful Looking – lustful looking is gazing at someone and imagining illicit sexual acts. Recommit your heart to your spouse (Ephesians 5:25-33), recommit your body to God (1 Corinthians 6:19-20), and recommit your mind to Godly things (Phil. 4:8).
  8. Do Not Practice Emotional Adultery – never share dreams, fears, or marital dissatisfactions with anyone other than your spouse.
  9. Avoid Places of Temptation – Don’t frequent places that promote adultery: strip clubs, swap parties, swinger bars. Don’t go anywhere or do anything (slow dancing) that encourages you to touch or be touched in a suggestive, arousing way by someone other than your spouse.
  10. Stop Comparisons – Do not compare your spouse to other men or women. If you have a problem with them share it, discuss it, solve it.
  11. Stop Keeping Secrets – More than almost any other kind of sin, sexual immorality thrives on secrecy. But as soon as the secret is out, sexual sin starts to loosen its hold on both the body and the soul. “He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy” (Prov. 28:13).
  12. Control Yourself – “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God;” (1 Thess. 4:3-5).
  13. Be content with your spouse. Consider the wisdom and warning of Proverbs 5:15-19, amplified Bible:

Drink water from your own cistern [of a pure marriage relationship]
And fresh running water from your own well.
Should your springs (children) be dispersed,
As streams of water in the streets?
[Confine yourself to your own wife.] Let your children be yours alone,
And not the children of strangers with you.
Let your fountain (wife) be blessed [with the rewards of fidelity],
And rejoice in the wife of your youth.
Let her be as a loving hind and graceful doe,
Let her breasts refresh and satisfy you at all times;
Always be exhilarated and delight in her love.

Because of lack of space, I have not exhausted the possible present day life applications to Jesus’s preventive measures to avoid adultery. I did not address the harm to the spouse or the partner in adultery. What are your thoughts? Join the conversation.

Dr. Dorothy J. Haire

Dr. Dorothy J. Haire

Author & Blogger

Both church planter and pastor of Bread of Life Christian Church for the last 18 years, Dr. Haire is a beloved mother and successful author. Empowered to deliver the word of God to His people, Dr. Haire uses her digital platform to educate and develop Christian communities that are rooted in the word of Christ.