Friday Sermon | Jesus Defines Marriage by Dr. James White

AOMValentine’s Day approaches. Today’s “Friday Sermon” comes from Dr. James White. Dr. James White is the director of Alpha and Omega Ministries, a Christian apologetics organization based in Phoenix, Arizona. He is the author of more than twenty books, a professor, an accomplished debater, and an elder of the Phoenix Reformed Baptist Church.

However, today’s sermon isn’t from Alpha & Omega Ministry; rather, it comes from the sermon he preached at Phoenix Reformed Baptist Church on Sunday, February 1, 2015. I’m no fan of Valentine’s Day, for the world has had its say on how the Church defines love and romance. However, there is a right way to preach what the Word of God has to say on the topic of Marriage and how God intended male and female to be united in marriage. God created Marriage. He decides how it works and how it doesn’t. Jesus died for our sins and was raised on the 3rd day and has been given the Name above All Names. He defines Marriage. No one else has that right. No one.

Morning Sermon Audio

Jesus Defines Marriage by Dr. James White

Morning Sermon Text

Matthew 19:3-9 (ESV)

And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said,‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh.What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”

Evening Sermon (Bonus)

Sex and the Law of God sermon text is Leviticus 18:1-22 (ESV).

Have a Wonderful Weekend

I pray each of you attends church this week that faithfully preaches the Word of God, both Law and Gospel. Pray for your elders.  Pray for our leaders. Pray for repentance and forgiveness daily.

Jude 1:24-25 (ESV)  24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

What the Bible says about Sex

marriageThere is a lot going on in the news these days regarding sexual immorality. The LGBTQ agenda has made huge strides against the Church in America. Sadly, there is a great falling away from Sound Doctrine in many so-called evangelical churches and denominations caving in to the world’s pressure to redefine sex, sexuality, identity and sin. I had planned a different topic for this week’s Bible Study, but I think we will spend our time looking at what the Bible has to say about sex. Many anti-christians start by attacking the Mosaic laws first, but I’d like to begin with something Jesus said as recorded in Matthew 19.

Matthew 19:1-9 (ESV) 1 Now when Jesus had finished these sayings, he went away from Galilee and entered the region of Judea beyond the Jordan. 2 And large crowds followed him, and he healed them there.
3 And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” 4 He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” 7 They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” 8 He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. 9 And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”

The heading in my Bible for this passage is “Teaching About Divorce”. Why did I choose to start here? Because I first wanted to point out that sex and marriage are linked and instituted by God when He created Adam and Eve.

Genesis 2:20-25 (ESV) 20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said,

“This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”

24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

The union of man and woman is part of the design, part of our creation. God didn’t form men and women separately and then allow them to unite their flesh; He created them with this purpose in mind. Eve was formed out of Adam, and since then all men and women have been formed from the joining of one man and one woman. Sin has since perverted that, and we’ll get to that in a bit, but for now, know that in dealing with a legal matter, a test or question regarding the Law of Moses… Jesus went all the way back to creation and defined clearly the purpose of His creation. Remember our introduction to the book of John.

John 1:1-5;14 (ESV) 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it…. 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Okay, so Jesus is the final authority on the purpose of Creation. He is the Word of God. But we also have the written Word of God as inspired by God the Holy Spirit; therefore, every word in the Bible is authoritative. My goal here is to point you to the words Jesus spoke while He walked the Earth for those who place undue emphasis on the “red letters” (all of the letters should be red). Getting back to the passage in Matthew 19, look at what happens next as Jesus speaks with his disciples:

Matthew 19:10-12 (ESV) 10 The disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” 11 But he said to them, “Not everyone can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given. 12 For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let the one who is able to receive this receive it.”

The disciples got the message loudly and clearly. You see, even in Jerusalem at the time of Jesus, divorce had become an acceptable course of action. There was much more ritual involved then that what we have now, but the end result remains unchanged, it is sin. The breaking of God’s design. The disciples were correct in their assertion that since divorce was not a part of God’s design for man and woman, that if anyone might be considering the possibility of relying on divorce down the road, that it would be better for that man NOT to marry at all. However, Jesus makes it clear that not everyone can take that road. Why is that? Because the sin of divorce is not the only sin. Sexual immorality is a powerful sin that works evil within our flesh, and in-fact is part of our flesh from our birth as a result of the original sin. When Jesus mentions that some are “eunuchs from birth”, he is referring to those whose struggle is not of a sexual nature. I’m sure you’ve met people who just don’t seem to have that “sexual drive” that you have… and at times you’ve envied them or maybe thought ill of them. That is not to say they are “immune” to sexual sin, but that the drive isn’t there. In today’s sexualized culture, these folks are most often labeled “weird” or maliciously labeled queer/questioning, or now the world has developed a new attack called “gender confusion”. Regardless, my point being here that Jesus made it very clear that some are called and equipped to NOT marry. The Church has done a very poor job on teaching this truth from God’s word, for too long we’ve focused on Marriage and procreation as a Holy Sacrament. While it is the ONLY allowable context for sex, marriage in and of itself is not a prerequisite for serving God. We’ll explore this truth more. The next option (Jesus truly did cover all of the bases), is that some men are made eunuchs by the hands of men, and finally some choose to make themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Some do so by choice. They choose, not necessarily to castrate themselves physically, but to forgo marriage (and sex) for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.

Remember, however, that the very context of this conversation is under “teaching about divorce”. Once you’ve married, you are joined with your spouse in the flesh until death. So, Jesus is clearly saying if God has given you the gift and calling to go your entire life single without falling into sexual sin so that you can devote yourself fully to the kingdom of heaven, do it. Otherwise, understand that in choosing to marry, that decision is to be made permanent in keeping with God’s design for marriage… one man with one woman. Paul also teaches on the call to ministry and being a eunuch for the sake of the kingdom.

1 Corinthians 7:1-9 (ESV)  7 Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” 2 But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. 3 The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 5 Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

6 Now as a concession, not a command, I say this. 7 I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another.

8 To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am. 9 But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

Here, the issue of marriage is presented as both a binding covenant, and a remedy for sexual temptation. That’s right, in the same light that Jesus taught His disciples, Paul is exhorting the believers who are single, if you lack self-control, better to be married (so that sexual intimacy can be enjoyed in its proper context without sin) than to fall into sexual immorality. Notice also that marriage is not an automatic remedy for sexual temptation. Paul first exhorts married believers not to deprive one another of intimacy so that Satan cannot take advantage of a lack of self-control. For if burning with passion as a single person weren’t bad enough, allowing sexual immorality to take place within the context of marriage burns up both spouses, for neither of them owns their flesh, but the 2 are made one flesh in marriage.

Paul is not anti-marriage. He is instructing the church, a persecuted church, on how to fulfill the great commission (Matt 28:16-20). I don’t understand why it is that we preach the Great Commission in our churches when the topic of “how to live a Godly life” is concerned, but regarding sex and marriage we reach back to Genesis 1:28 (ESV), “And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth”? The earth is filled with sinners, slaves to darkness, and a world that hates God. The Great Commission is our commission, our duty, not just “the pastor’s”. Paul is simply being practical in his encouragement and instruction for believers. He explains himself perfectly in the following passage:

1 Corinthians 7:32-35 (ESV) 32 I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. 33 But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, 34 and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. 35 I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.

So we’ve established the connection between sex and marriage as being integral in the very design of mankind at Creation. I also hope to have reduced the “necessity” of sex and procreation in light of the Great Commission and working for the kingdom of heaven. Sex is still a gift for those of us who lack self-control, but that gift is very specific and has very specific boundaries. There is only ONE context for sex that is acceptable in God’s sight and that is within marriage. The institution of marriage was set at creation, when God made them male and female.

So what about the notion of homosexual marriage? Unbiblical. God’s design for marriage, from the beginning and throughout scripture is for a man and a woman to become one flesh. The world does what it does, and it will be judged (again and finally). There is no room for the church to accept homosexual marriage. The world will sometimes try to make it about “love” rather than the sex. Irrelevant for 2 reasons. The first, as we’ve established, sex and marriage are inseparable. The second, because God is love. He defines love. Therefore, anything God declares to be sin cannot be called love, for God is also Holy and Just. I mentioned earlier that the LGBTQ lobby has developed this new concept of “gender identity”. It is merely an extension of the claim “God made me gay”. This new approach is to circumvent what the Bible says about homosexuality by making about “identity”. The logic follows that a person might have been born in the wrong body (God’s fault) therefore their sexual orientation shouldn’t be labeled based on their biology but how they self-identify. Clearly this tactic isn’t embraced by the LGB folks, but the QT folks are growing in number. These are all lies of the enemy.

Romans 1:16-32 (ESV) 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

Yes, there are laws in the Mosaic covenant that we are no longer bound to for Jesus Christ fulfilled those laws on our behalf. The laws regarding sexual immorality remain, for they are nature’s laws, and God created them. The definition of sin has not changed. What was sin is still sin… in fact, under the new covenant, we now know just how inescapable our sin nature truly is, and just how much we need a Savior to atone for our sins that we might be made right with God.

Mark 7:20-23 (ESV) 20 And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. 21 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.

Matthew 5:27-30 (ESV) 27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.

Pornography & Sexual Fantasy = Adultery=Sin. There is simply no room for any church or any person to redefine sexual immorality. We dare not call evil, good. The Law remains to convict us of our sin, so that we might remain in the Grace of God, Jesus Christ. Let me be clear, unrepentant homosexuality is no more acceptable within the church than murder, incest, adultery, polygamy, or idolatry.  There is forgiveness at the foot of the Cross for all who repent. If we preach Gospel without the Law, we minimize the Gospel. We must preach both Law and Gospel so that the Holy Spirit can perform His sanctifying work on the Body of Christ by the seed of God’s Word being planted in our hearts.

1 Timothy 1:8-17 (ESV) 8 Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, 9 understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, 10 the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, 11 in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.

12 I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, 13 though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, 14 and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. 16 But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. 17 To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

May the Lord Bless you and keep you,
In Him,
Jorge

Biblical Encouragement and Guidance for the Unwed Christian

dringValentine’s Day is a seriously rough holiday for the unwed Christian. Even for those who reject the holiday openly. But being a single Christian in a world that is completely wrapped up in defining ourselves by sexuality, being Christian while being single gets a lot of mixed messaging throughout the year, not just on February 14th. It was not all that long ago (still less than 10 years) when I counted myself among you. But I failed in more ways that I care to mention, so for this post, it isn’t my authority we will be leaning on. As with all of the Bible Study posts here at Faithful Stewardship, we will be turning to God’s Word. I do want to encourage you in this… having placed my faith fully on the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I now live and walk by the Grace of God the Father, and have been made whole, and continue being perfected (exhortation, admonition, repentance, and forgiveness) by His Word and His Holy Spirit. No matter where you are in life, or in your Christian walk, there is always Hope, and He is at the Right Hand of the Father interceding on our behalf. So in Christ, we are made righteous and free to love the Lord Our God with all of our heart, with all of our soul, and all of our mind. With that encouragement as our focus, let us turn to the Word of God. But first, let’s address some woeful misconceptions about the single life.
Continue reading

Biblical Submission | The Marriage Relationship

marriageIn an effort to counter the commercialism and false-teaching of Valentine’s day, let’s look to the Scriptures to find what God has to say about relationships. Now that we have established the baseline for Biblical relationship, let us look at Marriage Relationships. We will be looking at passages in the Bible that lay out, in no uncertain terms, what the roles of wives and husbands are within the Marriage Relationship. To keep this post from becoming too long, I would ask that if you haven’t looked at the foundation for the delegation of Authority to Adam please take a few minutes to do so. Please note that in that post, we not only establish the chain of command, or line of Authority, we also establish the equality of man and woman. Our previous post ended with a look at Ephesians 5. As a bit of review and introduction, let’s return to Ephesians chapter 5 to begin our discussion in context. If this is you first visit to FaithfulStewardship, please visit our Welcome page for links to this and other Bible study series.

Ephesians 5 (ESV)

Walk in Love

1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. 3 But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. 4 Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. 5 For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not become partners with them; 8 for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,

“Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”

15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Wives and Husbands

22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Wives, submit to your own husbands as to the Lord. Without a doubt, the toughest calling for a Godly woman is to submit to her husband. This is simultaneously a clear description of authority, responsibility, but also of love. Remember, love is the baseline for all relationships of Christians. What makes the Marriage relationship special for men, is the special love, dedication, honor and respect from the one woman, in all of creation, that he asked to marry him.

Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her. Husbands, your love for your wife should serve as a depiction of Christ’s love for the church. You are the example to your children of the love of a Father, and of the love of Jesus Christ who laid down His life for the Church.  This is a tall order, but it is not new to mankind. God gave authority to Adam before He even made Eve. Jesus bore in His flesh, the punishment for all the sin of mankind that entered as a result of the sin of Adam. The Apostle Paul lays this out wonderfully in 1 Cor 15. Now, while the authority was given to Adam, he screwed up. But, by the Grace of God, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, man (by Grace, through Faith) is made righteous in the sight of the Lord and has his example in Jesus Christ. Therefore, let each husband love his wife as Christ loves the Church, and let the wife submit to and respect her husband. Paul felt this was such an important lesson, he also gave it in his letter to the Colossians:

Colossians 3:18-25 (ESV) 18 Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. 20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. 21 Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. 22 Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. 25 For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality.

Colossians 4:1 (ESV) 1 Masters, treat your bondservants justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.

I find this separation in modern translations a bit odd; however, remember that Paul is writing a letter, not chapters and verses. Again, here, we have the entire unit of the family, of the household (which includes bondservants), to the Kingdom of Heaven. The roles of husband and wife remain the same (not just from Eph, but from Genesis), the role of children and of fathers, bondservants, and masters all are maintained in perspective of first our foundational charge to of 1 Cor 13 love for our neighbors, and as a service of our Lord Jesus Christ. To bear this last point to mind, understand that Paul calls himself and Timothy “bondservants of Christ Jesus” in his introduction to the letter to the Philippians. Now, I’ve heard and read commentaries accusing Paul of mixing in cultural norms here. We dare not entertain such notions given the fact that All Scripture is God-Breathed. Thankfully, we have another Apostle who writes on these things, the Apostle Peter.

1 Peter 3:1-7 (ESV) 1 Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, 2 when they see your respectful and pure conduct. 3 Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— 4 but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. 5 For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, 6 as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening. 7 Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.

Wow. Notice here, that Peter takes it another step forward. Remember that Paul setup the family or household relationships as a picture of the Kingdom of Heaven. Here, Peter takes it the next step by suggesting that the Godly submission of a wife to her husband might win the repentance of a husband who is disobeying the Word of God, without speaking a word herself. The next portion is often misconstrued as a prohibition of physical beauty… well that’s just silly, especially given the Psalms, Proverbs, and Song of Solomon (yay, homework reading!). What Peter is doing here is commanding a shift of importance away from the physical, temporal (and even temporary) beauty to that of the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is Precious in God’s sight. Peter also extend the exhortation of husbands (don’t get tangled up in misogyny/feminism and stumble over “weaker vessel”) to live with your wives in honor and understanding so that your prayers may not be hindered. Did you hear that, husbands? Your prayers to God the Father might be hindered by your failures as a husband. Let us be clear, your failures are in your charge, not hers. If she refuses to submit and show you honor, that is not your failure, that is hers. If you don’t love her as Christ loves the Church, honor her, and live with her in an understanding way, that’s your failure, and it may hinder your prayers. While this might be a new concept for you in the context of marriage, it isn’t a completely new concept, because teaching the Lord’s Prayer,  Jesus taught that if we don’t forgive others their sins, we won’t be forgiven ours. He also taught that we are to settle our differences with our brothers before giving our gifts to the Lord. So this shouldn’t be a totally foreign concept for us. Husbands, your failure to love your wife Biblically may hinder your prayers to God the Father. We must get this right, gentlemen. Just as Eve received her own punishment for her sins, God will deal with hold our wives accountable for their actions, we are responsible for our households. So we bear a double-load, one of fulfilling our role, and another as a result of being responsible, and accountable for our household. Where am I getting this? Let’s go back to Paul for just a moment, in his letter to Timothy:

1 Timothy 3:1-13 (ESV) 1 The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. 2 Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, 5 for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7 Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil. 8 Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain. 9 They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. 10 And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless. 11 Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things. 12 Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well. 13 For those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.

We will look at Biblical instruction for how the Church is to be established, later. I do want to say that if you’ve had a divorce in the past that is sin. But just as all other sin, there is forgiveness for sin, by the Grace of God, through Faith, and that not of yourselves it is the Gift of God. Having had sin in your life at one time does not forever prohibit you from being a deacon or Overseer (Elder) in the Church. There is forgiveness at the cross, otherwise none of us would ever be worthy of approaching the Throne of God, much less to be entrusted with the Word of God. We are no longer under the Law, for we are under the Gospel of Grace. There is, however, an element of time involved, and fruit of the spirit must be cultivated and evident in our lives if we are to be set as examples within the Church (verse 10 let them also be tested first….).

Marriage, is serious business. It is only for this life. It does not extend into the Kingdom of Heaven. It is a picture of God’s love for His people, of Christ’s love for His Church, and a blessed path for avoiding sexual immorality.

1 Corinthians 7:1-5 (ESV) 1 Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” 2 But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. 3 The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 5 Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

Husbands, this is not a verse whereby you exact your demands for sex. She has rights to your body as well, and this verse isn’t limited just to sex. While women are just as interested in sex as we are, the avenue or pathway of that desire usually looks vastly different from our own (usually, there are exceptions). Our wives desire relationship, and that requires our presence, attendance, affection, understanding, honor, and love before and after the sex. These are her conjugal rights and your obligation as a husband, too (if you are perplexed… start again at the top of the post, and re-read). Laying down your life for her as Christ laid down His life for the Church is a way of life, one that we can only hope to walk by the Grace of the God. Note, there is no such thing as a “sexual need”. It doesn’t exist. Sexual immorality exists, temptation exists, and I am so grateful that God provided us the gift of the Marriage Covenant. Does marriage take away temptation? No. If you ignore the marriage covenant, you’ve added more problems to your life and brought more people into your immorality than you would have by sinning alone. I mention this for 2 reasons, first there is no Biblical basis for gay marriage and second, there is no “free out” anywhere in the bible for divorce. There is only Law which exposes sin, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ where He paid the price for all unrighteousness, and if we remain in Him we are forgiven. In Proverbs 5 we find a warning against Adultery. 23 verses, the first 14 of which identifying the dangers of the temptation. In verse 15; however, we find hope…

Psalm 5:15-23 (ESV)
15 Drink water from your own cistern, flowing water from your own well.
16 Should your springs be scattered abroad, streams of water in the streets?
17 Let them be for yourself alone, and not for strangers with you.
18 Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth,
19 a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love.
20 Why should you be intoxicated, my son, with a forbidden woman and embrace the bosom of an adulteress?
21 For a man’s ways are before the eyes of the Lord, and he ponders all his paths.
22 The iniquities of the wicked ensnare him, and he is held fast in the cords of his sin.
23 He dies for lack of discipline, and because of his great folly he is led astray.

So you see, Paul isn’t unfounded in his assertion “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman” since if you avoid sex outright, you avoid the snare of sexual immorality. However, He recognizes that not all men and women are capable of living that way, so rather than burn up with passions, he encourages men and women to marry and stick to that covenant in a manner pleasing to God.

Therefore, this Valentine’s Day, and every day from this day forward… Let us love our spouses in accordance with God’s Word. Let us love our neighbors in accordance with God’s Word. And let us place our faith on Jesus Christ… for it is only by the Grace of God that we have any Hope, Faith, and Love. Husbands, love your wives… Wives submit to your husbands… and both of you, do everything in service to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

May the Lord bless and keep you,
In Him,
Jorge

Biblical Submission | Relationships

marriageSo, it’s February, and Valentine’s Day is around the corner.  My wife and I don’t really make much of a big deal of this holiday… it’s more commercial than Biblical; however, given how many online blogs and sermons seem to be taking advantage of the holiday to teach self-help advice on Love and Marriages, I figured I’d weigh in.  I’d like to take a look at what the Bible has to say about the Marriage relationship as well as some things that are not found in the Bible. There are many places where we can start this discussion of Marriage, but I think the best place to begin, is in the baseline for relationships. This will be a 2 part series.

It does us no good to discuss Marriage Relationships without first establishing the baseline for relationships. So, for starters, let’s look at what Jesus had to say about how we are to treat each other. I’d like to begin our reading in Matthew 22. To catch us up a bit on the context here, this is after the Triumphal entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem. We see Jesus cleanse the temple of merchants and money changers, and when the children praise Him as being the son of David, the scribes challenge Jesus for not rebuking the children (because what they were doing was giving Jesus the praise due to the Messiah). They question the authority of Jesus to be speaking in the temple, and He moves on to teaching in parables to very openly declare who He is and of the Kingdom of Heaven. The first parable we find in Matthew 22 actually uses a wedding feast to represent Kingdom of Heaven. I’m starting here because it sets up the later portion we will be examining closely.

Matthew 22 (ESV) 1 And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, 2 “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, 3 and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come. 4 Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.”’ 5 But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, 6 while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them. 7 The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. 8 Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. 9 Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’ 10 And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests. 11 “But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. 12 And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.” 15 Then the Pharisees went and plotted how to entangle him in his words.

So, while the setting of the parable is a wedding feast, this is a picture of the Kingdom of heaven. Those invited who ignored the call represent the Jews in Israel who rejected the Messiah. So then the servants are sent out to the rest who were not originally invited, for the feast was already made ready. This tells of the Gospel going out to the Gentiles. Finally, those who come to the wedding feast, must come dressed for the wedding. Unless they are made righteous by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, they cannot partake in the wedding feast (See Zechariah 3). Now, the next encounter is an absolutely beautiful lesson on submission to the governments of men, and to God regarding paying taxes. Awesome. But let’s move on to the next parable starting in verse 23.

Matthew 22:23-33 (ESV) 23 The same day Sadducees came to him, who say that there is no resurrection, and they asked him a question, 24 saying, “Teacher, Moses said, ‘If a man dies having no children, his brother must marry the widow and raise up offspring for his brother.’ 25 Now there were seven brothers among us. The first married and died, and having no offspring left his wife to his brother. 26 So too the second and third, down to the seventh. 27 After them all, the woman died. 28 In the resurrection, therefore, of the seven, whose wife will she be? For they all had her.” 29 But Jesus answered them, “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God. 30 For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. 31 And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God: 32 ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living.” 33 And when the crowd heard it, they were astonished at his teaching.

I promise, we are starting at the foundation of relationships first, though we are getting hints at some of what the Bible teaches regarding marriage. Notice here, that marriage is clearly something for us while we are on this Earth… not for the Kingdom of Heaven. Moving on…

Matthew 22:34-40 (ESV) 34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.

Okay stop! This is where we want to begin building the foundation for understanding what the Bible teaches about relationships, and upon that foundation we will look further into what the Bible teaches about the Marriage Relationship. Unquestionably, the single, most important relationship setup in the Bible, is that we are to love the Lord Our God with all of our heart, all of our soul, and all of our mind. This is the single greatest commandment, but notice that Jesus was quick to include a second, that we shall love our neighbor as ourselves. Is there a third? No. Jesus stops the list at 2 commandments, and clearly states that upon these 2 commandments rests all the Law and the Prophets. That’s it. Loving our neighbor as ourselves covers every imaginable relationship among mankind… including but not limited to marriage. It has to, because there are no other commandments in the short list, and the first is completely exclusive to God. Okay, but… how do we define who is “my neighbor”? Do we look to the Greek? the Hebrew? the Talmud? Well… let’s first look to how Jesus responded when the same question was asked of Him. Let’s look in Luke 10. Since this is a question asked of Jesus directly, we’ll just jump straight to verse

Luke 10:25-37 (ESV)25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” 27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” 29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”

So then, who is our neighbor? Mankind. The interesting thing about this answer, is that it was phrased in such a way where the Jewish lawyer is being told to emulate a Samaritan to show mercy on his neighbor, and to love similarly. That’s huge. So, that’s how Jesus defined being a neighbor. I want to also take a look at how the Bible defines love, since loving God and our neighbors is the crux of the Law and the Prophets. For this, lets look at what the Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians.

1 Corinthians 13 (ESV) 1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

This passage is almost always read in the context of marriage, at weddings, anniversaries, etc. But that is not the context of this passage, and I think limiting it to such occasions does the hearer an injustice. This is not some high-standard to aim for in our romantic/marriage relationships, this is a standard of living, of loving God and our neighbors as ourselves. This portion comes almost as an aside, or a reality-check, in a discourse on operating in the Gifts of the Spirit. The Church at Corinth had apparently gotten carried away to the point of losing sight of the very purpose of the Holy Spirit and His gifts to the Church. That is how we get to verses 1-3, where Paul is saying that you might be fully operating in tongues, prophetic power, knowledge and faith, and still miss the mark. Remember that Jesus didn’t base the Law and the Prophets on the manifestations of the Holy Spirit, He based them on 2 commandments of love. And that is reaffirmed by Paul in verse 13. This isn’t simply how we are to love our spouse, this is how we are to love.

In closing, we will look at the first part of Ephesians 5 which will bring this post to a close, and pave the way for the next post as move into some of the specific things the Bible has to say about the Marriage Relationship. It  is paramount, that we do not lose sight of the baseline for Christian behavior, and love for our neighbor. Because there is absolutely no room for abuse or mistreatment of any, not even strangers or so-called enemies. Nothing we discuss within the Marriage relationship justifies mistreatment, because mistreatment of our enemies isn’t even permitted.

Ephesians 5:1-21 (ESV) 1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. 3 But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. 4 Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. 5 For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not become partners with them; 8 for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,

“Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”

15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

So then, there we have our foundation for Christian relationships. We are to love our neighbor (friends and foreigners alike) as ourselves at the 1 Cor 13 level. Within the body of Christ, we are to walk in love, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. Baseline approach to relationships. Not just marriage, not even dating or courtship… baseline. And anything short of this is sin.  Thank God for His ever abounding Grace, for without the Gospel of Jesus Christ we are surely dead in our trespasses and sins. Apart from Him, we don’t have a chance at keeping the Law and the Prophets even if they are condensed to 2 commandments!

May the Lord bless and keep you,
In Him,
Jorge