|Sermons on the Heidelberg
By Rev. G. Van
Psalter No. 93 1,2,3,4.
Read I Cor. 7.
Psalter No.64 st. 1,2,3.
Psalter No.143 st. 3,4.
Psalter No.170 st. 1,2.
XLI. LORD'S DAY.
"Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of
publicans and sinners, thus, my dear hearers, the chief
priests and scribes spoke of our holy Lord Jesus. But it was
vile slander, adder's poison, to say that He, the Holy of
holies, Who knew nor committed sin was a friend of people
who cheat others, who indulge in all manner of iniquity, who
drink too much wine, who were harlots and who associated
with harlots. No, a thousand times no! Our holy Jesus is an
enemy of all sin and of all those depraved creatures who
commit such abominations.
Yet the Lord Jesus truly is a
friend of harlots and publicans, but of such who by the
grace of God turn away from their sins to God and learn to
implore Him for the forgiveness of their sin and peace for
their soul. Yea, for such the scoffing words of the
Pharisees and scribes are words full of blessed comfort,
especially when in their own heart they may experience the
truth of those words.
What a comfort it was to
Rahab, who even today is still known by the epithet that
reminds us of her former life of sin, but is now an honorary
title for her!
Jesus, a friend of harlots and
publicans, is a comfort to the weeping Mary Magdalenes, who
shed hot tears at Jesus feet for their sin.
In their blindness and enmity
the self-righteous Pharisees and scribes also spoke comfort
to the woman taken in adultery. "Hath no man condemned thee?
Neither do I condemn thee," spoke the Lord after the
accusers had left one by one, being accused by their own
That Jesus is a friend of
sinners, of harlots and of publicans is also a comfort for
us, for you and for me. Or do you not know yourself as such
We must now deal with the
seventh commandment. May the Lord use this sermon as a light
to uncover us. May it be a rod to drive us to Christ.
Then this sermon would also be
a signpost to salvation.
Our text you will find in
Exodus 20:14 Thou shalt not commit adultery.
Upon these words our
catechetical instruction is based as you will find recorded
in the Heidelberg Catechism:
Q. 108. What doth the
seventh commandment teach us?
A. That all uncleanness is
accursed of God: and that therefore we must with all our
hearts detest the same, and live chastely and temperately,
whether in holy wedlock, or in single life.
Q.109. Doth God forbid in this
commandment, only adultery, and such like gross
A. Since both our body and
soul are temples of the Holy Ghost, he commands us to
preserve them pure and holy: therefore he forbids all
unchaste actions, gestures, words, thoughts, desires and
whatever can entice men thereto.
The preceding Lord's Day we
considered the sixth commandment, in which the Lord showed
His loving care for our life, our most precious
We heard that it is the Lord
Who gave us that life; that it is He Who joined our soul and
body, and that therefore it is also He Who, at His appointed
time, as a result of sin, can and may separate soul and
We showed you the lawful and
the unlawful murder: the lawful murder which is committed at
God's command, in a lawful war, in defense of one's life or
committed accidentally; the unlawful murder which is
committed inwardly by evil thoughts, and outwardly by angry
words, by an angry look, by dishonoring, insulting, or
wounding someone, by bringing one into danger, by unjust
condemnation, by taking a life, either doing it or having it
done, and by bringing one's self into danger, or taking
one's own life.
Therefore we also showed you
how God punishes the transgress ion of the sixth
commandment: internally in the conscience and externally by
delivering the wilful murderer to the law, with the command
to do unto him as he has done, and finally by delivering him
eternally to the tormenters, in hell, unless he comes to
conversion and seeks and finds forgiveness in the blood of
Him Who because of the merits of His atonement can say also
to murderers, "This day shalt thou be with me in
After we have thus shown you
the horror of murder in all its wickedness, we showed you
the neighborly love which God commands, and which must be
found in us and must be practiced by us, shall it be well
with us for eternity. Without neighborly love we are still
dead in sins and trespasses and strangers to that life of
God which the Lord gives to His people in the
We heard how pleasant it is to
experience neighborly love shown to us by others but we have
also said how difficult it is to practice it ourselves and
show it to others.
Finally we spoke of the only
One who had and practiced neighborly love to perfection as
He gave His life and blood for slayers and murderers, and
thus is and opened a fountain of comfort to those who have
learned to know themselves and accuse themselves as
murderers before God, and seek and find grace in and through
Him Who is the end of the law, also of the sixth
And now we must consider the
seventh commandment, in accordance with Questions 108, and
Praying to the Lord, and with
the help of the Holy Spirit we wish to speak about:
1. the blessing of
2. the corruption of man
3. the beneficial purpose of
the seventh commandment.
Dear hearers, it is with
much constraint that we prepare ourselves to handle such a
delicate subject, for our heart is so very corrupt. It is
like a powder magazine, only one spark is needed to set on
fire the course of nature.
And yet the Instructor could
not omit the discussion of the seventh commandment. And in
our explanation we must use caution and discretion every
moment, but we must also mention the sins and warn ourselves
and you against them
The Lord wills that His
covenant people shall be pure and holy in all their walk and
conversation, and that like God, Who is a pure and holy
Being. He calls to them, "Be ye holy, for I the Lord am
holy." That is evident from the divine laws in which the
Lord prescribed that all who were unclean had to be
separated from the fellowship of His people, and in which He
strictly forbids His people to eat anything that is unclean,
and to have communion with anything unclean.
And because lasciviousness is
a sworn enemy of purity of life, in the seventh commandment
God commands that we keep a pure soul in a pure body and
shun all that which conflicts with it.
Thou shalt not commit
adultery. These words once heard from Mt. Sinai which
Jehovah himself engraved in stone, bring to our memory a
sweet story, it is the story recorded in Gen. 2.
In Genesis 2 we read of the
first marriage, the marriage of our first parents, hence of
that marriage of which we all are the fruit. Dear hearers,
how thankful we should be that the Lord by His servant
Moses, has recorded this marriage! Others may believe and
say that we are descendants of apes. We know that we have
descended from a pure and holy marriage, the only marriage
performed immediately by God Himself.
In Genesis 2, Moses narrates
the occasion for that marriage. When the Lord God had formed
every beast of the field and every fowl of the air, He
brought them all to Adam to see what he would call them: and
whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the
name thereof. When Adam had showed his great innate
knowledge by giving them names in accordance with their
nature, a sad lack was revealed: all the animals were
paired, but he, our father stood alone: there was not found
a helpmeet for him.
Certainly it was not God's
intention to leave man alone. For was it not God's plan to
make of one blood all nations of men? And behold Adam
standing there, see his form, and hear his speech. Could it
be God's plan to leave him without a partner for life? Why
then did He give his speech? No, the Lord wanted to make a
helpmeet for him. And Moses also records how the Lord did
it. In Gen. 2:21 and 22 we read of the creation of the
The Lord caused a deep sleep
to fall upon Adam. And while He slept, God took out one of
his ribs and closed up the flesh instead thereof. And the
Lord God made the rib which He had taken from Adam into a
woman. Wonderworking God! While we sleep, God often prepares
for us the greatest blessing.
But all was not yet done. The
woman was there, but what must still follow is the marriage
As the father who gives his
daughter to the bridegroom, so God brings the woman to Adam.
What a sweet awakening that must have been, what a blessed
surprise: his God is bringing him a sweet partner for
Notice again Adam's great
wisdom (verse 23) a. in his explanation. He fathoms the
origin of that woman: "This is now bone of my bones, and
flesh of my flesh."
b. in the name he gave her:
"She shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of
c. in declaring the obligation
which flows from the divine alliance. (verse 24) :
"Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and
shall cleave unto his wife, and they shall be one
And now also note the divine
qualifying for marital life. The Lord gave to the man and to
the woman the desire, the delight and the ability to bring
forth children in union and communion with each other, to
love, care for, raise and protect them, all this with the
blessing and the help of their God.
And the Lord still does so.
Read what the form for the confirmation of marriage before
the church says that when God confirmed the marriage of our
first parents, He witnesses "that He doth yet as with His
hand bring unto every man his wife."
And what a blessing it is when
it pleases the Lord to give to the man a good wife, as He
did to Adam. Solomon says, and he could know it, that a
prudent wife is from the Lord. He says (Prov. 18:22) "Whoso
findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favor of
the Lord. "Yea, he says (Prov. 5), "Rejoice with the wife of
thy youth. Let her be as the loving kind and pleasant roe;
let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou
ravished always with her love." And truly, who is able to
receive all the blessing and to describe all the enjoyment
of the marriage state.
How very sad that sin has
entered that state. For has not sin also corrupted married
life? Through sin man's helpmeet is often a stumbling block
and the silken cord, soft as velvet, which binds husband and
wife together is for many an iron chain which they would
like to break and cast off.
Through sin the lust and
desire for union of the man with the woman has become
unbridled, the marriage bed is often defiled, and the lusts
extend to various abominable objects.
This induces us to speak in
the second place about the corruption of man.
After those two happy people
in Paradise had broken the covenant with their God, after
they had fallen away from God and from each other, God still
did not want to abolish marriage. Rather He would hedge it
about to keep it undefiled. Therefore He spoke, "Thou shalt
not commit adultery."
If we listen to what our
Instructor says in his answer to Question 108, we hear that
adultery is committed when two people who are married to
others associate with each other. It may be that both are
married, as with David and Bathsheba, which is called double
adultery; or a married person with an unmarried person, as
with Abraham and Hagar, which is called single adultery. It
is also done by those who are engaged, as we read in Hosea
4:13, "Your brides (Am. Rev.) commit adultery."
Adultery is also committed by
having more than one wife at a time. This was first
undertaken by the wicked Lamech. Alas his example was soon
followed by the patriarchs and the kings of Israel, under
the tolerance of the Lord. However, polygamy conflicts
against the first institution of marriage. There were but
two who became one flesh. The Lord punishes polygamy as a
grievous sin. See Mal. 2:13-15. There the Lord says that He
does not regard the offering any more, nor receives it with
good will from His people. And why not? Because they had
forsaken the wife of their covenant and had taken more
wives, where as the Lord had made but one, although He had
the residue of the spirit.
Adultery is also committed by
unlawful divorce. For every minor matter, for every small
difference, the one leaves the other and seeks divorce. But
what God hath joined together, man may not put asunder,
except in the one case the Lord Jesus mentions in Matth.
5.32, namely, fornication.
The Lord also forbids marriage
within one's family. Leviticus 18 defines the relationship
within which marriage is not permissible.
If this closed the register of
sins, many unmarried people would be blameless. But now the
Catechism speaks not only of unchastity in holy wedlock, but
also of unchastity in single life, whoredom, which is
committed, when unmarried persons, outside of legal marriage
mingle with each other, either by having or being concubine,
or by filthy prostitution of harlots who offer themselves to
any one for money, for food, or for clothing. By such
abominations the land is defiled. (Lev. 19 :27) Such shall
not be saved. (1 Cor. 6:9).
God's Word also speaks of sins
committed against marriage, as when men commit lewdness with
men, and women with women, or even with animals. How deeply
man has fallen, that God had to write in His law a
commandment as given in Lev. 18:23 "Neither shalt thou lie
with any beast to defile thyself therewith: neither shall
any woman stand before a beast to lie down thereto: it is
confusion." How corrupt man created after God's image has
become, so that God must give such a commandment, and even a
threat of punishment with it Ex. 22:19: "Whoso ever lieth
with a beast shall surely be put to death."
And our instructor goes even farther when in Question and
Answer 109 he shows that God forbids not only the outward
sins of adultery and similar crimes, but also all that which
"can entice men thereto." And then he mentions:
(1) all unchaste actions,
those are the unfruitful works of darkness, against which
the Apostle warns us in Eph. 5:11.
(2) unchaste gestures, such as
winking with the eyes, dancing with the feet, and indecent
use of the hands. God's Word speaks of eyes full of
adultery. (2 Peter 2:14). The Lord says of the daughters of
Zion that they are haughty and walk with stretched forth
necks and wanton eyes, walking mincing as they go, and
making a tinkling with their feet."
(3) unchaste words. "Let no
corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth," says Paul
(Eph. 4:29.) And what wicked proposals, plans, expressions,
offerings and agreements come over our lips. The Apostle
admonishes, "But fornication, and all uncleanness or
covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as
becometh saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking,
nor jesting, which are not convenient." (Eph. 5:3, 4).
(4) Unchaste thoughts.
Thoughts are not free. Oh, I know that God's most sanctified
people are tormented by unclean thoughts and by the filthy
lusts of the flesh. But when we wilfully awaken and feed
those thoughts and desires and incite them into action when
the opportunity is there, then the Lord Jesus says, "But I
say unto you, that whosoever looketh on a woman to lust
after her hath committed adultery with her already in his
heart." (Matth. 5:28).
(5) whatever can entice men
thereto. There are things that especially entice fallen man
to the lust of the flesh. And with those things the world is
filled as perhaps never before, so that I sometimes look
down in pity upon the children. Oh, sometimes I say in my
heart, poor children, how will you come through a world so
full of temptation. Oh, then it is no wonder to me that so
many drown before they have seen water. One needs not be a
prophet in order to see that we have entered the "hour of
temptation" of which we read in Rev. 3:10.
Which are "the things that
See the unbecoming dress of
mothers and their daughters. Is it a wonder that the
children have no respect for a mother who dares to appear in
their midst in improper apparel, and who sets her children
an example in shamelessness?
And then see the shameless
conduct of boys and girls, yea, of children, having barely
or not yet left the schools. And if they dare to show
themselves thus and dare to conduct themselves thus in the
open, what then happens under the cover of darkness and in
And then see the piles of
corrupt books and pictures.
So also the movies and
theaters, the joy riding and speeding, those drinking
My hearers, I do not wish to
go into more details. Paul once said, "It is a shame even to
speak of those things which are done of them in secret, "but
now it is also a shame to speak of those things which are
done of them in public. And now we are still living in a
land in which the government still seeks to control sin. But
when we hear and read what happens in other countries with
the approval of the laws, it is most terrible. Consider
Russia. And it shall also be thus in this country when
irreligion shall attain the mastery over religion.
And now I must also speak of
the virtues commanded. As with all God's commandments, the
commanded virtues are the opposite of the forbidden vices.
The Instructor also mentions this. He speaks of living
"chastely and temperately, whether in holy wedlock or in
A chaste and modest temperate
life is called a pure and clean life in Scripture. It is
that fruit of the Spirit by which the child of God seeks to
keep his soul and body clean and unspotted from all carnal
lusts. Thus there is a chastity of the soul which shuns
rash, vain, and unchaste thoughts. Chastity of the soul
abhors the lust of concupiscence (Thess 4:5). There is
likewise a chastity of the body, consisting in possessing
one's vessel in sanctification and honor.
Certainly, the body must be
kept pure, for not only the soul, but also the body is
God's. Therefore we must yield our members as instruments of
righteousness unto God. Then we pray, "Turn Thou mine eyes
from beholding vanity." Then we close our ears to unclean
words, and no corrupt communication proceeds out of our
mouth; then we shall be chaste in all our walk and
conversation, in all our motions and actions, and we shun
all that in any way could entice to unchastity.
To induce us to live thus
temperately and chastely the Instructor adds a strong,
persuasive reason, adapted from 1 Cor. 6:18, 19. "Flee
fornication. Know ye not that your body is the temple of the
Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God."
If, then, we are with body and
soul the temple of the Holy Ghost, the Lawgiver demands that
we keep it chaste and holy in the married state or in single
Now I must still speak of the
results of this sin. The Lord calls to us: "Thou shalt not
commit adultery." He forbids us to live in that sin of
unchastity. If we do so nevertheless, the punishment is
severe and sure.
Take, for example, the results
of the sin of polygamy among the patriarchs. What discord
there was in their families, and what jealousies there were
among the four wives of Jacob and their children. And how
can it be otherwise?
Consider also the results of
David's sin with the wife of Uriah. After he had committed
that sin David was not the same as before. God did remain
true to His covenant, and He did reassure David of the
forgiveness of his sin, but the sword would not depart from
his house, and did not depart from his house.
My hearers, God punishes the sin against the seventh
commandment terribly. Loss of honor, loss of health, loss of
peace, loss of life and loss of salvation are the results of
the sin of fornication, of adultery, of an unchaste and
Psalter No.143 st. 3 and
And new we admit that it is no
elevating, but rather a humbling thought that none of us are
blameless in this matter. We all are unchaste persons,
adulterers, fornicators, etc. Although perhaps people do not
know it of us, God, Whose eyes see also what happens in the
darkness and in hidden corners, knows what we thought, what
we desired and what we did. Thus He knows many to be harlots
and adulterers, though they appear to be most innocent. And
although God's restraining grace withheld you from the act,
God knows the thoughts of your heart are impure. For if the
great apostle Paul, who was advanced so far in
sanctification, who was full of the Holy Spirit, who had
received the gift of continence from God: if he must
testify, "I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth
no good thing," if from the pen of such a man flows the
complaint of Romans 7: "O wretched man that I am," then let
us, poor sinners, not do as Adam did, cover our
transgressions, by hiding our iniquity in our bosom. May we
do as the man after God's own heart did. Let us put on the
garment of penitence and go to Him Who is so plenteous in
mercy and sing beseechingly and prayerfully.
Let us finally consider the
beneficial purpose of this commandment. That beneficial
purpose will be evident as we consider the blessing that
lies in a pure and chaste life. The godly poet says, "And in
the keeping of His word there is a great reward." Thus it is
also with the keeping of the seventh commandment.
"Gracious Lord, my heart
It leaves a blessing upon our
personal life. If either in the married or in the single
state we lead a pure and chaste life, how much misery and
trouble we are spared. One rash moment can cause years of
sorrow. On the other hand, the Lord rewards purity of life
with a calm and undisturbed conscience and with an open door
to the throne of grace, with peace in our heart and home and
between God and our soul.
Purity of life also leaves a
blessing for the whole church of God. Where purity of life
is practiced in the fear of the Lord, all things are done in
order in God's house and we are spared the judgments which
the Lord brought upon the church of Corinth because of the
sin of adultery. Thereby we are also spared from causing
God's Name to be blasphemed, God's people to be despised and
taunted, the doctrine of free grace to be disdained, and the
Word of God is not hindered, but by the godly conversation
of the church others also may be gained to Christ.
Purity of life also leaves a
blessing for the entire community. Oh, it is so true that
righteousness exalteth a nation, but also that sin is a
reproach to any people. For what is the cancer that is
gnawing on our civil life? Is it not the sin of adultery and
unchastity? But wherever also in civil life God's laws are
honored and obeyed, there God commands His blessing and
removes His judgments. We see that in the history of Israel
and also of our country.
Therefore we would cry out
with the prophet of old, 0, earth, earth, earth, hear the
word of the Lord and be instructed, lest the Lord come and
set thee as Sodom and Gomorrah because of thine
But we must always remember
that every national conversion must begin in our own heart
and life. A government can make sin punishable and reward
and encourage virtue. But the purity of heart and life
cannot be commanded, it originates in regeneration. Thus
David also understood it, and therefore he prayed:
Make my spirit right and true."
then, you still lack this blessing, let it be your constant
prayer that God by His Spirit might renew your heart. For,
remember, even if you can say as did the rich young man,
"All these things have I kept from my youth up," it would
not avail you for eternity. Heaven remains closed for the
unregenerate; he can neither see nor enter the kingdom of
Oh, it is a very comforting
truth that the Lord is a friend of harlots and publicans,
who by the grace of God come to Him repenting of their sins.
If there is among us a sinner who is guilty of
transgressing, perhaps in a special manner, the seventh
commandment, then we in Christ's stead, may call to you,
"The blood of Jesus Christ, the Son of God cleanses from all
sins, hence also the sins of adultery, fornication and all
But then we must also strive
for a chaste and pure life that is pleasing to God and
For that purpose it would be
beneficial, with the blessing of God, to have lively
impressions of God's omniscience and omnipresence. God hears
all we say. He sees all we do. He is always with us. In Him
we live and move and have our being.
Beware of the first beginnings
of this evil, although it seems ever so innocent. Dinah, the
daughter of Jacob, went to see the daughters of the land at
Shechem. Surely, we would say, there was no harm in that? My
hearers, that was the first step on an evil way, for how did
she return? What a bloody massacre was the result? See Gen.
34. And David walked in idleness on the roof of his house.
And he experienced that idleness is the parent of vice. See
2 Sam. 11.
Shun evil companions. If you
choose a friend, let it be a godfearing one. Beware of false
shame. Dare to say "no" to a flatterer or "tempter." Shake
him off as if he were an adder. Think of Joseph. He left his
garment in her hand and fled from Potiphar's wife with the
words, "How can I do this great wickedness and sin against
But never trust your own
powers. Distrusting our own powers is learned in the school
of Jesus, often by very painful lessons.
And be ever watchful. I have
heard that the temple watchmen wore a white garment. When
the controller found one sleeping, he would give him a rap
— on that white garment — with the torch he was
carrying! Such a spot could never be removed. Therefore,
"watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the
spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is
Remember the word of the
Apostle, "It is better to marry than to burn." And think not
that the unmarried state is holier than the married state.
Marriage is honorable. No, it is not a sacrament as Rome
teaches, but still marriage pleases the Lord and the Lord
Jesus honored it with His presence and miracles.
Be careful in choosing a mate.
Let there be no great difference in age, state or position
between yourself and him or her to whom you give your hand
and heart. Usually such marriages do not turn out well.
Dear hearers, let Jesus be the
Bridegroom of your soul. Give Him the first place in your
heart and home and life. If Jesus is your Bridegroom then
His Father is your Father and His house your house. But
beware then, that you commit no spiritual adultery, nor
People of God, the Lord grant
us grace to walk in sanctification and fear, and one day the
redeemed shall sit at the marriage feast of the Lamb, and be
as the angels.
The very God of peace
sanctify you wholly, and I pray God your whole spirit and
soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our
Lord Jesus Christ.
ministers have written sermons on the fifty-two Lord's Days
as we find them in our Heidelberg Catechism. One of these
ministers and servants of the Most High, is the late Rev. G.
Van Reenen, of the Netherlands. Wen he was not able to
preach any more because of a throat ailment, God inclined
his heart to write sermons, and work while it was day. This
work he continued until the day of his death in the year
Rev. Van Reenen has written
these sermons for the common people. In all these sermons he
breathes the spirit of humility and self-denial. Throughout
all these sermons he indicates the necessity of knowing by
experience these three important parts, misery, redemption,
and gratitude, as he himself was not a stranger
Van Reenen does not know that his Catechism sermons and
others have been translated into the English language. He
confessed in his life not to be worthy of any honor or
praise; that we may then by grace give all honor and praise
to Israel's God and King, saying with the Psalmist, "Not
unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto Thy name give glory,
for Thy mercy and for Thy truth's sake." Psalm
115:1. (Pastor J. Van Zweden)
Reprinted and Translated from the
Holland by the Netherlands Reformed congregations in America
(1955). This series on the Ten Commandments was taken from
the W. B. Eerdmans' December, 1979 edition of the book,
The Heidelberg Catechism, by Rev. G. Van
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