Monday, November 11, 2013

Thomas Vincent: Ten Ways to Keep the Seventh Commandment

Note:  In my series through Spurgeon’s Baptist Catechism, I have been making heavy use of the Puritan Thomas Vincent’s exposition of the Shorter Catechism.  Here is an excerpt from my part 2 sermon on the Seventh Commandment in which I made use of this adaptation from Vincent:

Thomas Vincent on 10 ways to preserve one’s chastity and thus keep the seventh commandment:

1.  By watchfulness:

a.  Over our hearts and spirits, to oppose uncleanness in the first desires of it and inclinations of the heart to it, and risings of it in the thoughts.  Proverbs 4:23:  “Keep thy heart with all diligence.”

b.  Over our senses; our eyes, to turn them away from such objects as may provoke lust.  Job said he made a covenant with his eyes not to look lustfully upon a maiden (Job 31:1).  Our ears, to shut them against lascivious discourse; we must watch also against such touches and wanton dalliances as may be an incentive to unchaste desires, and take heed of all light and lewd company, and watch to avoid all occasions, and resist temptations to uncleanness.  When Joseph was approached by Potiphar’s wife he refused, saying, “How can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” (Gen 39:9).

2.  By diligence in our callings:

His point is that temptation to unchastity often arises out of idleness.  Thus, he urges that our bodies and minds be busily employed so that we might be preserved from unclean practices and desires which idle persons are prone unto.  Proverbs 31 describes the virtuous woman as one who does not eat “the bread of idleness.”

3.  By temperance in eating and drinking:

Vincent argues that excess in either tends to pamper the body and so excite lust.  In Jeremiah 5:8, the prophet describes his own generation as overfed horses who “neighed after” their neighbor’s wife.  The Proverbs wisely warns against drunkenness which leads men to “behold strange women” and to utter “perverse things” (Proverbs 23:33).

4.  By abstinence, and keeping under the body, when there is need, with frequent fastings.

5.  By the fear of God, and awful apprehension of his presence and all seeing-eye. 

All sin, in fact, we might say is an act of practical atheism.  Consider:

Proverbs 5:20 And why wilt thou, my son, be ravished with a strange woman, and embrace the bosom of a stranger? 21 For the ways of man are before the eyes of the LORD, and he pondereth all his goings.

We cannot justify unchastity as a “victimless sin” if done among consenting adults or if done in the privacy of one’s inner thought life.  All is seen by God.  And all sin, public or private, in an affront to a holy God.

6.  By faith in Jesus Christ, and thereby drawing virtue from him for the purifying of the heart and the crucifying of the fleshly lusts.

In Galatians 5:24 Paul writes that those who belong to Christ “have crucified the flesh, with the affections and lusts.”

7.  By the applications of the promises of cleansing the heart, and subduing iniquity.

Micah 7:19 promises:  “He will subdue our iniquities.”  And Paul urges:

2 Corinthians 7:1 Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

8.  By the help of the Spirit:

Vincent cites Paul:

Romans 8:13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.

John Owen had a famous exposition of this verse called The Mortification of Sin in which he warned that we will either kill sin or sin will kill us.

9.  By frequent and fervent prayer:

Think of David’s prayer to God in Psalm 51 in which he pleads for God to create a clean heart within him.

Jesus himself taught us to pray:  “And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil” (Matt 6:13).

10.  When no other means will avail to quench burning desires, marriage is to be made use of; and that must be in the Lord.

Paul said it is better to marry than to burn (1 Cor 7:9).  His point is that God has given a lawful arena for the expression of sexual desire and it is within marriage.

1 comment:

Mad Jack said...

You did an outstanding job with this, Pastor Jeff. I wish I'd sat in your congregation that day.