by Ken Gardner

"Thou art but a dead man," God told Abimelech, king of Gerar (Genesis 20:3). What had the king done that deserved such harsh condemnation? The Bible says he "took" Sarah, who was Abraham's wife. Abraham had acted shamefully, and in his own interest, with little or no regard for the well-being of his wife. He lied to Abimelech: "She is my sister," he had told the king. Even though Abimelech had not "come near" Sarah, even though he had been lied to, and even though he had acted in the "integrity of his heart and innocency of his hands," he still was as good as dead and had placed not only himself but also his family and country in grave danger. When he realized that Abraham had misled him, he quickly rectified the situation and God's impending punishment was averted.

Obviously, God does not toy with the sin of adultery. Job calls adultery a "heinous crime" (Job 31:11). Adulterers can look forward to a woeful end. The Bible makes it clear that there will be no adulterers in heaven. The writer of Hebrews tells us that "whoremongers and adulterers God will judge" (13:4). Such people are "without," according to Revelation 22:15, that is, outside "the holy city, new Jerusalem," where is the tree of life and the throne of God and of the Lamb (Rev. 21:2; 22:1,2,14). In other words, they are outside of heaven. The "unrighteous," including fornicators, adulterers, and homosexuals, "shall not inherit the kingdom of God" (I Corinthians 6:9; cf. Galatians 5:19-21). According to Ephesians 5:5 "no whoremonger . . . hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God." The "wrath of God" is coming on the "children of disobedience," those who have not "mortified . . . fornication" (Colossians 3:5-6).

Furthermore, have you ever noticed how often the scriptures associate adultery with death? When the Israelites committed fornication, 23,000 died in a single day. When David committed adultery his child died. According to the book of Proverbs, when a man commits adultery with a married woman, he's playing a deadly game. The house of the unfaithful wife "inclines unto death, and her paths unto the dead" (2:18). "None that go unto her return again, neither take they hold of the paths of life" (2:19). "Her end is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword" (5:4). "Her feet go down to death; her steps take hold on hell" (5:5). "Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death" (7:27).

In short, adultery is deadly, and adulterers are "as good as dead." No wonder Paul tells us to "flee fornication" (I Corinthians 6:18).