If a man be found lying with a woman married to an husband, then they shall both of them die, both the man that lay with the woman…
Purity in domestic life is at the root of national prosperity.
I. THE NEGLECT OF VIRTUE'S SAFEGUARDS IS GUILT. (Ver. 24.) If a sentinel recklessly leave open a portal in the beleaguered city, it is treason; it is as if he had betrayed his king. To see a house on flame, and to give no warning, is to become accountable for the destruction of a city. To neglect the physician's counsel in time of disease is to be guilty of death. So to make no resistance to the tempter is to court his approach. To go to the battle without sword, or spear, or shield is to invite defeat. Idle women may be said to tempt the devil.
II. NEGLECT OF DUE PRECAUTIONS OFTEN LEADS TO A TERRIBLE SURPRISE. Oftentimes we underrate what strength the tempter has until we are in his clutches. So long as we knew temptation only by hearsay, we imagined it easy to escape or to overcome; but when brought suddenly under its subtle, wily influence, we are surprised how easily we are overcome.
III. THE CONSENT OF THE WILL IS NEEDED TO CONSTITUTE A SIN. Whatever we are compelled to do by an external power, and against all the opposing force of our own will, this is not sin. Injury and loss may follow, but unless the will consents there is no moral culpability. The essence of sin lies in the inclination. A man may violate all the precepts of the Decalogue by a glance of his eye - ay, by a volition of his will. Whether the overt act follow or not may depend on favorable or unfavorable outward circumstance. The same mischievous effects will not follow, but the sin is there. Therefore, "Keep thy heart with all diligence."
IV. GENEROUS MINDS WILL PUT THE BEST POSSIBLE CONSTRUCTION ON HUMAN CONDUCT. (Ver. 27.) How generously minded a man may be, he is bound to be true. He cannot dissemble facts. He is under obligation to condemn the slightest sin. With the evil thing there must be no connivance. But if it be possible, with due regard to virtue, to give two interpretations on a deed, fairness to the doer requires that we give the interpretation the most favorable and generous. To a prisoner at the bar, the judge gives the full benefit of any doubt; and equal justice should be dealt to men in all our judgments upon them. If there be bright spots in their character and deeds, let us fasten our eyes upon these. It will do us good. To search out the diseased parts of humanity, and to find secret pleasure in contemplating these moral sores, - this will do us harm. As we measure our sentiments and judgments out to men, they will measure to us again. We may be blind to our own blemishes - we usually are; but others will readily find them out; and if we are harsh and ungenerous in our estimate of men, they will return the treatment, perhaps with compound interest. It is wise, every day, to foster in our breast the charity "that believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things." - D.
Parallel VersesKJV: If a man be found lying with a woman married to an husband, then they shall both of them die, both the man that lay with the woman, and the woman: so shalt thou put away evil from Israel.