An Illustrative Marriage

October 23, 2013 at 9:41 am | Posted in Biblical Marriage | 2 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Marriage is supposed to illustrate the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

Ephesians 5:31-32

Obviously God made a good choice when he chose to make marriage Gospel-illustrative, because it is a very pliable analogy. In the Bible it is used at least three different ways to illustrate the relationship between Christians and Christ.

First, it illustrates Christ’s relationship with the capital C “Church” – the “universal” church.

And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies.

Hosea 2:19

God – from the time of Abraham – has been calling out a “bride” for His Son. He has been “saving” a bride: making her righteous and cleaning her up so that she will be beautiful for His Son. If we are to illustrate that accurately in our marriages, we need to be holy and different in a world which is devaluing marriage every day.

Second, marriage illustrates Christ and His relationship to local churches.

For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present [you as] a chaste virgin to Christ.

II Corinthians 11:2

As married couples we need to have “Godly” jealousy, which is a desire that your spouse’s affections are set on you in a way they are set on no one else. This is justifiable if you are a trustworthy recipient of those affections. We also need to be involved in ministry in our local church, holding up the Christian ideal of marriage in a church which calls itself Christian. Stand up for the marriages of your fellow church members, and stand up for Jesus when problems arise.

Third, marriage illustrates Christ and His relationship with individual believers.

Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, [even] to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.

Romans 7:4

We are part of a universal body, and we should minister in a local body, but we must nourish and cherish our individual and personal relationships with Christ as well. Spouses “leave” their old lives as sons and daughters and brothers and sisters, to commit to a higher allegiance to each other. So too do Christians leave our old protections, homes, hopes, tasks, and masters, to be joined unto Christ, Who provides better protection, hope, tasks, and is a better Master.

More Strange Weapons: A Bone (Simple, Silly, Serious, and Successful)

July 20, 2011 at 1:00 pm | Posted in II Corinthians, Strange Weapons | 5 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The jawbone of the donkey that Samson used to slay 1000 Philistines was not only a strange weapon – as we saw in the last lesson:

1. It was a singular weapon.
2. It was a surprising weapon.

Now we will see that:

3. It was a simple weapon.

In other words, it was an unsophisticated weapon. I for one am glad that the weapons of our spiritual warfare in New Testament Christianity are not overly complex or difficult to use. In fact, God sometimes blesses the crudest means when there is both faith and zeal in the one who wields the weapon. Samson had many faults and flaws, but he had two big advantages when it came to fighting: faith and zeal. The jawbone that he picked up must have looked pretty weak to the Philistines who were ready to attack him, and to the men of Judah who were standing by watching. But in our moments of simplicity and seeming-weakness God often shows Himself strong.

For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward.

II Corinthians 1:12 (emphasis added)

Samson’s “conversation” on that day was very simple. In fact, he didn’t have to say a word. He let his weapon “speak” for him, and his weapon said, “This is not of the world – this is of God and by His Spirit.”

I find it humorous and fitting that God arranged it so that Samson used the jawbone of an ass. The jawbone is an instrument of speaking, and previously in the Bible (in the case of Balaam), God had spoken through a living donkey. Here, he “speaks” through a dead donkey! God is certainly not limited in His ability to use the simple to confound the wise.

But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.

II Corinthians 11:3 (emphasis added)

There are times in spiritual warfare when the simplest weapon is the best. What could be simpler than a soft word to turn away wrath? What could be simpler than asking a hard-hearted lost person, “What are you going to do about your sin?

In spiritual warfare some of our weapons are strong in the sense that they are built to last. But sometimes God wants us to use a weak weapon because we are more inclined to use it trustfully and obediently. Many of our specific, situational weapons just are what they are. They don’t need to be adorned to be effective. Your physical appearance is a gift from God to be used in spiritual warfare. He designed you to look the way you look partly in order to help you connect with and influence others. Don’t be too quick to change your appearance in order to make yourself more “attractive” according to worldly standards. God has blessed each of us with certain natural talents. Some are better at teaching publicly; some are better at ministering privately. Some have a great memory. Some have the gift of not being easily offended. Natural talents are some of the simplest, and yet most potent, weapons that God has given us.

4. It was both a silly and a serious weapon.

When I say silly, I mean downright absurd when you think about it! Killing 1000 men with a donkey’s jawbone??? Samson must have looked at least a little ridiculous using the mandible of an ass as though it were a sword or a club! He didn’t look silly for long, though – at least not to the Philistines. What seems silly to us was deadly serious to them.

https://i1.wp.com/www.jentronics.com/bible/Plate_096close.jpg

In spiritual warfare our “silliest” weapon may also be our most serious.

For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

I Corinthians 1:18 (emphasis added)

The Gospel message is life and death to those of us who have been regenerated and are willing to wield it for the glory of Christ. But it is foolishness to those who are unregenerate, and who will not receive it – all the way up to the point where they will be slain by their rejection of it. I wonder if our enemy, the devil, can even comprehend how he is defeated over and over again by the simple preaching of the Truth.

But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;

I Corinthians 1:27 (emphasis added)

When the Apostles were thrown into prison for preaching the Gospel, did it seem foolish that they would sing songs of praise in their cells? Do your lost friends think it’s idiotic that memorizing verses from an ancient Book could drive away something as mighty as a massive wave of depression? Don’t be afraid of looking silly for the cause of Christ. Humility itself can be a weapon in spiritual warfare. Humility is revealed in circumstances. An embarrassed person is not necessarily a humble person. We can be in a humbling situation, but still think about ourselves. Humility is not deciding to think too little about yourself in contrast to thinking too much about yourself. True humility is not thinking about yourself at all.

5. It was a successful weapon.

Samson’s victory with the jawbone was not his last exploit, nor his greatest. In fact, he wound up killing more Philistines in his death than he did in his life. When Christians today talk about “flowing in the Spirit” it conjures up images of a sort of effeminate passivity where church people are just “letting go and letting God,” focusing on their personal worship experiences and hoping that the Holy Spirit will supernaturally bless them without any effort of their own. We would do well to take a lesson from Samson. He certainly isn’t the ideal Old Testament saint to emulate when it comes to victorious Christ-like living, but you have to give him one thing: In the days in which he judged Israel, nobody flowed in the Spirit like Samson! Samson’s problem wasn’t the ability to receive God’s Spirit. His problem was that he could not be consistent – he could not get his life organized. He could not get himself organized and he had little interest in getting the people he was supposed to be leading organized. The jawbone that he wielded so effectively was what the British call a “one-off.” It is a picture of the type of unpredictable, unexpected, spur-of-the-moment weapon we encounter in our spiritual warfare all the time. We pick them up, and we throw them away, forgetting that they were successful weapons. If you have been a Christian for several years, take a moment to look back over your life at some of your spiritual victories. Was there some type of strange weapon that worked then which might work again now? Occasional, circumstances-specific weapons may seem strange and impractical, but it is God’s power, not the weapon itself, which makes a weapon successful. One time a great preacher told me that when you talk to children, you should get down on one knee and look them in the eye instead of towering over them: that has turned out to be a great spiritual weapon for me over the years. A note or a greeting card sent to someone who is hurting or discouraged can be a weapon. A bouquet of flowers delivered to a hospital room can be a weapon. One of the deadliest weapons in my wife’s arsenal is her smile. Many a time I have seen her turn a friendly smile and an unexpectedly kind word on the scowlingest, most negative person you would ever want to meet, and just absolutely route whatever demon was making that person so mean! A telephone can be a weapon when it is used to call up someone and invite him to Sunday School, or to tell someone you are praying for her.

After Samson killed all those Philistines he made up a song about piling their bodies in heaps upon heaps. When you get discouraged in spiritual warfare, and you think God is not coming through for you, take heart! Are there not heaps and heaps of slain sins in your past? Are there not heaps and heaps of slain temptations? Heaps and heaps of slain doubts? Heaps and heaps of slain fears? Sure, we’ve lost our share of battles, but the battleground is strewn with our enemies and we’re still standing. If no weapon formed against us can prosper, then it stands to reason that any weapon formed for us – to God’s glory – must prosper against our enemies.

Samson ultimately surrendered to the Philistines, and God made him the victor only in his death. God is not asking us to surrender to our enemies – He’s asking us to surrender to our King and Father. One day Jesus is coming back to vanquish all His enemies once and for all. Have you made sure that you will be on the right side when Jesus starts conquering HIS enemies?

A Fake in the Grass

November 5, 2009 at 11:20 am | Posted in Genesis | 38 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Satan can disguise himself, even as an angel of light (II Corinthians 11:14). A while back there was a trend in pop culture whereby, when a person looked faint and started to keel over, an observer would jokingly say, “Whatever you do, don’t go into the light!” This was making fun of the commonality of so-called “near-death” experiences, where people come back to consciousness saying they saw a bright white light, which they believe represented the “after-life,” and that they felt drawn to it, but decided to “come back” for the sake of their loved ones or whatever. Knowing that Satan can disguise himself as an “angel of light,” maybe the warning not to go into the light is more prescient than most people realize.

In Genesis Chapter 3, Satan chooses to disguise himself as a serpent.

Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:

Genesis 3:1-2

We might wonder whether Eve should have known that serpents can’t talk. Was this her first encounter with a serpent? When my wife makes a bad decision because I’m not with her (which almost never happens), I think about Adam, and say, “If Eve would have stayed close to her husband, he could have told her, ‘That’s not a parrot, let’s get out of here!'”

Seriously though, Satan is a counterfeiter. He has a counterfeit righteousness (Romans 9:30). He has counterfeit ministers (II Corinthians 11:13-16). He has counterfeit believers (II Corinthians 11:26). He has counterfeit churches (Revelation 2:9). He even has counterfeit mysteries (Revelation 2:24).

In Genesis 3:1 he first says, “Hey let’s discuss God’s Words – did He really say that?” He tricked Eve into following his example. Here is what God really said:

And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

Genesis 2:16-17

Here is Eve’s subtle alteration:

And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.

Genesis 3:2-3

She subtracted from God’s Word. She added to God’s Word. Finally, she changed God’s Word. That’s what will happen every time we allow Satan to deceive us into questioning God’s Word.

And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:

Genesis 3:4

Changes to God’s Word invariably become direct contradictions to God’s Word. Satan questioned God’s Word (Genesis 3:1). He denied God’s Word (Genesis 3:4). He made up his own word (Genesis 3:5).

Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

John 8:44

Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

Romans 1:25

Note the singular in Romans 1:25 – this is A lie and it is THE lie: you shall be like God. The “New Age” movement is not really “new.” It started in the Garden of Eden.

So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.

Genesis 3:24

God drove Adam and Eve out of the Garden for their own protection. For them to eat of the Tree of Life after disobediently eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil could have been disastrous.

The categories of sin set forth in I John 2:16 are all present in mankind’s first sin:

And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, [the lust of the flesh] and that it was pleasant to the eyes [the lust of the eyes], and a tree to be desired to make one wise [the pride of life], she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

Genesis 3:6 (Bracketed phrases added.)

And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.

Genesis 3:7

Even their very first attempt at self-righteousness – as useless as it was – was counteracted by the grace of God’s plan going into motion. I heard an illustration once of a tree being stripped of its leaves by two people. God’s original plan for trees did not include stripping the leaves to make clothes. This stripped tree grows into a Cross. The sinners cower in fear, trying to cover themselves.

And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.

Genesis 3:8

The sinners are trying to hide from God, which is useless. Aren’t all attempts at self-righteousness really attempts to hide from God that which cannot be hidden?

Now, picture Christ going up on this leafless tree – meant by men to be a symbol of death. He is crucified upon it. He makes an instrument of torture into a bridge of everlasting salvation, so the frightened ones can come to Him and be forgiven.

Notice that God is the One Who comes looking for Adam and Eve – not the other way around.

And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?

Genesis 3:9

Billy Sunday used to say that sinners can’t find God for the same reason criminals can’t find policemen – they’re not looking for them.

Here we see the first instance of blame-shifting:

And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.

Genesis 3:10-13

There are three questions in Genesis which many of us need to be asking ourselves:

1. Where are you? (Genesis 3:9)
2. Where is your brother? (Genesis 4:9)
3. Where is your wife? (Genesis 18:9)


Entries and comments feeds.