Seven Marriage Resolutions

August 8, 2013 at 10:35 am | Posted in Biblical Marriage, II Corinthians | 3 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

The great “love chapter” of the Bible (I Corinthians 13) is not, strictly speaking, about marriage, but marriage is certainly supposed to be nourished by real love, and real love never stops pursuing.

Behold, the third time I am ready to come to you; and I will not be burdensome to you: for I seek not yours, but you: for the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children.

II Corinthians 12:14

The Apostle Paul gives more evidence of his love for the Corinthian church in II Corinthians when he says he is ready to come see the Corinthian believers for the third time. In marriage we must have a desire to pursue our spouses over and over again. Real love is content with the person, but it can never be content with the depth of the intimacy.

Paul did not want to be burdensome to the church in Corinth, and your pursuit of your spouse should not be burdensome to him or her. This is romance, not stalking. Real love respects boundaries while seeking permission to be let inside the boundaries. Marriage is not about what you can get from your spouse. It is about getting to your spouse.

Well-meaning but misguided parents turn their children into idols, and, if you are not careful, you will do the same to your spouse: depending upon your spouse to meet needs which can only be met by Jesus. As Jonathan Edwards taught, what you idolize, you will eventually demonize when that idol (as it must) lets you down.

And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.

II Corinthians 12:15

Notice that Paul was “very glad” to sacrifice himself, and to allow the church members to sacrifice him. His love for them was not dependent upon their behavior. It was based upon their relationship in Christ, and his relationship to Christ.

Lists of resolutions became somewhat fashionable in evangelical Christianity around the time of the movie Courageous and the literature that supported it, so I don’t want to seem like I’m just jumping on the bandwagon here, but I did write a list of resolutions that I made to my wife pursuant to this lesson. May the Lord help me to keep them.

1. I will love you against all odds and will never stop loving you
2. I will do my best to be a blessing, not a burden, to you.
3. I want you for you – not what you have or what you can do for me.
4. I am willing to give everything I have for you.
5. I will take responsibility for your welfare.
6. I will never be satisfied with the love I have for you – I will always seek to love you more.
7. I will not use you or exploit you or treat you as a thing. I will treat you as God’s daughter.

Influence, Intercession, and Inheritance in Marriage

July 10, 2013 at 10:02 am | Posted in Biblical Marriage, I Peter | 6 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

In the last lesson we looked at two of the duties of Christian spouses:

I. Duty to Inhabit
II. Duty to Investigate

Now we will see the:

III. Duty to Influence

Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands…

I Peter 3:1

“Be in subjection” means to be voluntarily submissive – to recognize and honor the husband’s God-ordained headship, to be a loving follower and supporter.

“Likewise” refers back to the previous chapter:

For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

I Peter 2:25

It would be foolish for sheep to rebel against their shepherd, just as it is foolish when Christians rebel against Christ. The shepherd is responsible for the care and protection of the sheep.

Husbands also have a duty here:

Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel,

I Peter 3:7

A precious vase is not despised for its weakness. Rather, it is treasured and cherished both for its value (wives are practical and important “helpers”) and for its preciousness (your God-chosen wife is a singular rarity). Husbands are supposed to protect their wives, and to realize their worth before God and to themselves. Husbands must also remember that their wives are “vessels:” containers that Jesus purchased with His blood and filled with His Spirit.

IV. Duty to Intercede

Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.

I Peter 3:7 (emphasis added)

There is an obvious duty for husbands to pray for their wives, and for wives to pray for their husbands, but there are at least three possible meanings to that part of the verse. It could be envisioning a scenario where the husband is not fulfilling his duties to inhabit the marriage relationship, or to investigate and influence his wife, so that his own prayers are being hindered. It could also mean that the husband is not honoring his wife and treating her right, and that, therefore, “their” (both of them) prayers for each other and their marriage are hindered. Finally, it might mean that there is bitterness between the spouses because of the husband’s behavior, and therefore it is too uncomfortable for them to pray together. In other words, the prayer time itself is hindered. I think application can be made for all three. The Greek word translated as “hindered” means to cut off or hew down – the way you would hack down a tree that is producing bad fruit and throw it in the burn pile. The word translated “prayers” is pretty generic, but we know that in marriage the husband represents Christ and the wife represents the Church. When Christ prays for the Church He “intercedes.” He goes on our behalf and pleads our cause and presents Himself as not only our Advocate but our Substitute. Therefore, as husbands and wives pray with each other, they should also pray for each other, making intercession before the throne of God as representatives of the relationship which God joined together.

V. Duty to Inherit

Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.

I Peter 3:7 (emphasis added)

God grants a special grace to married people to enjoy life together. It is an “extra inheritance,” and because marriage is a lifelong commitment and union, the grace is for all of life: memories, children, conversations, physical intimacy, shared secrets, trust, appreciation, peace and joy in the household. But we have a duty to accept the inheritance. We must cultivate it, and not waste it in “far countries” like the prodigal son. Spouses are joint heirs – no more “yours, mine, and ours.” In marriage it’s all “ours:” from money to moments to ministry – if you are married these things bring great joy when shared and cause complications when hoarded away from each other.

Inhabiting and Investigating Your Marriage

June 14, 2013 at 12:12 pm | Posted in Biblical Marriage, I Peter | 13 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

In marriage – especially Christian marriage – there are certain duties owed by husbands to wives, and vice versa. Even more so, there are duties owed by both spouses to Christ, Who is supposed to be the Center of our marriages.

I. Duty to Inhabit

Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.

I Peter 3:1-2

Conversation” in the Bible means more than just how you talk. It refers to your daily habits – your “lifestyle.” Wives are supposed to live out their lives before their husbands in such a way that their “ways” can be observed. The Bible does not assume that a typical marriage is one where the husband is right with the Lord. Rather, it seems to envision a typical marriage as one where the wife is walking with Jesus, but the husband needs to be changed. Sadly, this has proven prophetic in our day and age, as many wives, by default, have been the spiritual leaders – or at least the main influencers – in the home. Clearly, I Peter 3:1-2 envisions a scenario where the husband not only is failing to obey the Word, but has not been “won” by the Word. Therefore, the exhortation to wives is to advertise a Godly lifestyle. This would prohibit nagging and the administration of a verbal “beat-down” or a sanctimonious manipulation to try to get the husband to change his ways and start committing to follow the Lord and attend church. The idea is that wives are supposed to be authentic in their expressions of love for Jesus and their husbands, and to depend upon the Holy Spirit to do the convicting and the changing. If you are reading this and you are a wife, does your husband see you praying, reading your Bible, going to church? He might see the results of these disciplines, but he will not see them being acted out unless they are done openly in his presence. And you can’t do those things in front of him if you are not inhabiting the same space as him.

Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them…

I Peter 3:7

Husbands should not live apart from their wives. We must inhabit the same household, and spend much time together.

But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.

Psalm 22:3

God “inhabits” the praises of His people. He “dwells” there – He is in the midst of His people when they praise Him. We need to praise our spouses, and not just around others, but face to face, in the presence of each other on a daily basis. Praise and habitation must go hand in hand if a right spirit is to be present, honoring Christ in our homes.

II. Duty to Investigate

Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.

I Peter 3:1-2 (emphasis added)

The Greek word translated as “behold” in I Peter 3:2 means more than just “to look at” or to “take notice of” which is what “behold” sometimes means. Here it means “to look intently at” or “to observe closely for a long period of time.” It describes the way an “overseer” of a project investigates the progress of the project that his men are working on every day to see how it’s going.

Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.

I Peter 3:7 (emphasis added)

In other words, one of our duties as husbands is to make a study of our wives. You need to know your wife’s likes and dislikes, her pet peeves and the delights of her heart. You need to know what she thinks about different topics and people. You need to try to learn how she’s going to behave in different circumstances. Find out what’s on her mind. Obviously, this involves the dreaded “talks about her feelings” that often get parodied when observers point out the differences in the approach of men (“How can I fix this?”) and women (“I need you to empathize with me and listen to me.”) in how they communicate about problems, conflict, and interests. But the Scriptural exhortation is way more than that. It involves making observations, noting them, remembering them, and even meditating on them. The worldly cliché is that women just can’t be figured out by men, so there’s no point in trying. Thankfully, God has not commanded us men to figure out women in general, but neither has He given us a pass on understanding our wives. This is a serious duty, and not one to be brushed aside with a chuckle and a shrug of the shoulders. Just as an aerospace engineer had better be familiar and extremely conversant with math and physics, so a Christian husband had better be an expert on one woman in this world: his wife.

The duty for wives in this area is likewise crucial: Your duty here is to make sure you are a chaste study subject. Remember the command to wives? “While they behold your chaste conversation…” When the investigation begins, you want your husband to be glad about what he finds, not worried. You want him to be investigating a life of holiness, not a crime scene. Your life should be more like a treasure hunt than an episode of C.S.I. “Coupled with fear.” I know the common sitcom trope about the wife who asks her husband how her dress looks, and then bursts into tears when he says something a little too honest, but in real life wives need to disregard the potential for comedy that comes from acting like you and your spouse are from different planets, so that the husband is left scratching his head like a buffoon. Wives: revere your husbands enough not to be hard to “figure out” on purpose.

impassiblity in marriage

Next time, we will discover the duties to influence and intercede.

A Not-So-Amazing Marriage

May 24, 2013 at 9:51 am | Posted in Biblical Marriage, I Peter | 7 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

An important though often overlooked principle in Christian marriage is the concept of “fear.” It is a concept addressed in I Peter Chapter 3, which also highlights some of the duties of Christian marriage.

Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement. Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.

I Peter 3:1-7 (emphasis added)

Verse 6 seems contradictory at first blush. What does it mean to not be afraid with any amazement? Apparently I am not alone in finding this phrase hard to grasp. I couldn’t find any real consistency among well-known Bible commentators, but the key seems to be in looking at the lives of Sarah and Abraham. The Greek word translated “amazement” has a connotation of birds fluttering away in startled terror, and it is clear from the Genesis account that Sarah was not the type to run away from a scary situation.

In Genesis 18 the Lord and two angels show up at Abraham’s tent unannounced in the hot part of the day.

And Abraham hastened into the tent unto Sarah, and said, Make ready quickly three measures of fine meal, knead it, and make cakes upon the hearth.

Genesis 18:6

Sarah may have been afraid because of Abraham’s frantic instructions, but she was not afraid “with any amazement.”

And Abraham ran unto the herd, and fetcht a calf tender and good, and gave it unto a young man; and he hasted to dress it. And he took butter, and milk, and the calf which he had dressed, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree, and they did eat. And they said unto him, Where is Sarah thy wife? And he said, Behold, in the tent.

Genesis 18:7-9

Notice that Sarah was in a tent, not in a palace, not in a mansion, not even in a house, but obediently, faithfully dwelling with her husband, Abraham, in a tent. Were there times when Sarah was afraid of the tent-and-altar, place-to-place, lifestyle of her husband? Probably so – but “not with any amazement.”

And he said, I will certainly return unto thee according to the time of life; and, lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son. And Sarah heard it in the tent door, which was behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age; and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women.

Genesis 18:10-11

Was she afraid when she heard this startling news? Maybe. Maybe even skeptical. But “not afraid with any amazement.”

Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?

Genesis 18:12

Sarah called her husband her “lord,” an expression of respect and reverence, even though her response indicates that she wondered which was more unlikely: a woman of her age being fertile, or a man of Abraham’s age being able to impregnate her!

And the LORD said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old? Is any thing too hard for the LORD? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son. Then Sarah denied, saying, I laughed not; for she was afraid. And he said, Nay; but thou didst laugh.

Genesis 18:13-15

The Bible specifically tells us she was afraid, although we know from I Peter 3 that it was a fear without “amazement.” She was not punished for her laughter, nor even scolded, because God understands the difference between “fear” and “fear with amazement.” Sarah was courageous and confident in the face of her fear. In fact, fear is the sine qua non of courage. Satan would like us to hear God’s seemingly-incredible promises and respond with a “fright, flight, or fight” response. In other words, he would like us to reject God’s call upon our lives by giving in to terrified paralysis, running away, or obstinate refusal and rebellion. Sarah was shocked, but she stood her ground.

And the men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom: and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way. And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.

Genesis 18:16-19

The Lord said “I know Abraham and I know that his children and his household – including his wife – will keep the way of the Lord.” Sarah was trustworthy, and she was not “amazed into unfaithfulness” by fearful circumstances.

Let us husbands be bold – not fearful – to lead in faith, trusting God’s Word. Wives, do not expect to avoid fearful circumstances, but determine to stand at your husband’s side come what may. It is fearful to trust a man because men are fallen sinners, but you should not be afraid with any amazement to throw yourself on the faithfulness of God.

A Confident Marriage

May 9, 2013 at 5:29 pm | Posted in Biblical Marriage | 2 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Confidence is not arrogance. One of the Bible words for confidence is “boldness.”

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.

Acts 4:13 (emphasis added)

And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word,

Acts 4:29 (emphasis added)

It’s not that the Apostles asked God to make them unafraid. It’s that they asked Him to make them irascible – able to face the fearful situation. What is the sine qua non for courage? It’s fear. God has not given us a “spirit of fear,” but that does not mean that God will keep us out of fearful circumstances. He has given us the ability to be confident in knowing that in Him we can overcome fear.

Are you courageous, constant, and confident enough to minister while being married? To stand at the gate that Satan is battering and to protect your marriage while still showing the love of Christ to a voraciously evil world?

I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid?

Job 31:1

In a world filled with illicit sexual imagery, it doesn’t take courage to look. It takes courage to look away.

Moreover the LORD saith, Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with stretched forth necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go, and making a tinkling with their feet: Therefore the Lord will smite with a scab the crown of the head of the daughters of Zion, and the LORD will discover their secret parts.

Isaiah 3:16-17

The immodesty we see in society is not only Satan’s assault on godliness – it may also be part of God’s judgment for our pride. It takes courage not only to keep from looking, but to keep from imitating.

And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.

Matthew 5:29-30

That is the zenith of irascibility! Jesus is not promoting self-mutilation. He’s teaching about just how dangerous adultery is, for He turns immediately to the topic of marriage and divorce (Matthew 5:31).

Being married – and especially being a married Christian – in 21st Century America requires irascibility in the form of courage, endurance, and confidence in order to combat the pervasiveness of overt sexuality. Earlier I compared this irascibility to a more masculine attitude toward combat, but this “masculinity” is not based on a “tough-guy” caricature of manhood. It comes from a fear of God.

And it came to pass after these things, that his master’s wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me. But he refused, and said unto his master’s wife, Behold, my master wotteth not what is with me in the house, and he hath committed all that he hath to my hand; There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?

Genesis 39:7-9 (emphasis added)

Joseph didn’t want to betray his earthly master, but, more than that, he was downright determined not to sin against his God! Fear and courage are not mutually exclusive. The first must be present for the latter to exist. The fear of the Lord provokes the greatest courage of all. If Satan knocks that wall down, I could lose my wife, my home, my kids, my job, my reputation. That frightens me. But what frightens me more is sinning against the God Who loved me and redeemed me and made me His Own.

A Courageous Marriage

April 12, 2013 at 9:42 am | Posted in Biblical Marriage, John | 6 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Satan would like to accuse and intimidate you into being so scared of “worldly” influences destroying your marriage that you don’t venture out into the arena of the world in order to minister in the love of Christ at all. But God says differently.

I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.

John 17:14-15 (emphasis added)

Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.

John 18:36 (emphasis added)

It’s not that disciples of Jesus don’t fight. It’s that we fight spiritual battles with spiritual weapons, rather than carnal battles with carnal weapons (II Corinthians 10:3-4). When we view our marriages through the Gospel, it is unthinkable that we won’t be proclaiming the Gospel through our marriages in the world. We do this right in the teeth of Satan. Our response to the direct barrage of Satan is an irascible counterattack. Here are two of the irascible appetites which God has given us to combat the accusations and intimidations of Satan as he attacks our marriages:

Courage

Be ye therefore very courageous to keep and to do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, that ye turn not aside therefrom to the right hand or to the left; That ye come not among these nations, these that remain among you; neither make mention of the name of their gods, nor cause to swear by them, neither serve them, nor bow yourselves unto them: But cleave unto the LORD your God, as ye have done unto this day. For the LORD hath driven out from before you great nations and strong: but as for you, no man hath been able to stand before you unto this day. One man of you shall chase a thousand: for the LORD your God, he it is that fighteth for you, as he hath promised you. Take good heed therefore unto yourselves, that ye love the LORD your God. Else if ye do in any wise go back, and cleave unto the remnant of these nations, even these that remain among you, and shall make marriages with them, and go in unto them, and they to you:

Joshua 23:6-12 (emphasis added)

It’s going to take courage to protect our marriages in a society which hates our marriages.

Endurance

So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure:

II Thessalonians 1:4 (emphasis added)

Are you looking for a quick fix? That’s not usually God’s way. God’s way is having courage to face the persecutions and tribulations – and the attacks of Satan – and to endure. Don’t quit. God is preparing a more exceeding and eternal weight of glory for your marriage (II Corinthians 4:17), so that, when it gets hard, that is the time when somebody sees what the Gospel really means to you in your marriage.

An Irascible Marriage

March 25, 2013 at 9:02 am | Posted in Biblical Marriage, I Corinthians | 10 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

In the continuing study of Satan’s attack on marriage, we have imagined our marriages as an enclosed area, surrounded by a perimeter or wall of fortification. We have established that his attack is going to be most concentrated in the area of sexual relations (I Corinthians 7:2-5). Here are the tactics we have identified so far by which he tries to break through our defenses:

1. Spies: Spies try to sneak through the wall by pretending to be our friends. They tell us that, for some reason, the area of sexual temptation is not going to be a problem in your marriage. We deal with these spies by identifying them and executing them with Scriptural ammunition (I Thessalonians 4:3-4).

2. Tunnelers: These are sent by Satan to burrow under the wall by preying on our concupiscible appetites (Colossians 3:5). We combat these by recognizing that our sensual appetites are gifts from God, but were created by Him to be exercised in the freeing confines of marriage only. Thereby, we whack them back down into their holes and pour Scriptural cement into the tunnel to stop them from coming back.

3. Wall-scalers: These assailants try to climb right up and over the wall. They attack our thought life with lies that exalt themselves against the knowledge of God. We combat these assailants by pulling them down – by exposing vain speculations to the Truth of Scripture (II Corinthians 10:4-5).

The fourth area of attack comes in the form or assailants who are not as sneaky, tricky, or subtle as the other three. These are employed by Satan to try to simply batter down the walls. They are the siege engines of spiritual warfare. This is very different from how we normally expect Satan to attack. So far, all of our lessons on protecting your marriage in the area of intimacy have focused on defeating Satan the tempter – Satan the deceiver – for that is his primary tactic. But remember, he is also Satan the intimidator. Satan wants to intimidate you by bombarding you with so many lies that you begin to question God or to doubt His goodness or to be afraid to fight. If you back away from the protective walls of your marriage and hide in the compound, he will batter them down.

However, just like in the area of temptation, God has also equipped us to fight back in the area of intimidation. Satan the tempter tries to prey on our “concupiscible” appetites. Satan the intimidator would like to frighten us into forsaking our “irascible” appetites. (These terms come from my study of Scriptural principles which line up with some of the teachings of Thomas Aquinas.) Sensual appetites are pleasurable. Irascible appetites (or what I might call “reasonable” appetites) direct us toward objective good which we must discern by reason since they are not pleasurable. Satan is battering at the walls. There is a temptation to cower and drop out of the battle. Things like sexual immorality and temptation, as they are depicted and advertised on television, the tabloids, the internet, and other media can be dealt with to some extent by avoidance. But encounters with immodesty, enticement, and emotional predators must be dealt with more directly if, as married Christians, we are still going to participate in hands-on ministry. Married people have a protective wall, but it must not be a stationary wall. If our marriages are forts against sexual infidelity, they must be forts that travel. They must travel to hospitals, to the homes of those with needs, to the mission field, to the marketplace, to the job site, to church. Satan would like to accuse and intimidate you into being so scared of being “worldly” that you don’t venture out into the world at all.

But God says differently. In the next lesson we will take a look at three irascible appetites which God has given us to combat the accusations and intimidations of Satan as he attacks our marriages.

Guarding the Top of the Wall in Marriage

March 8, 2013 at 1:09 pm | Posted in Biblical Marriage, I Corinthians | 5 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

As we seek to guard against the temptation of sexual infidelity, we have imagined our marriages as walled cities under attack by Satan. In the last lesson, I discussed the way he attempts to send “exalted” thoughts and ideas up and over the walls. Remember, these “assailants” are false statements that are esteemed in our culture as being valid. They are statements that boldly exalt themselves against the revealed Word of God.

First assailant: Flirting is not cheating.

Or to put it another way: You can look and not touch (applies more to men, in general). Or to put it yet another way: You can share intimate thoughts and feelings with another person on the internet or the phone and it’s not cheating (applies more to women, in general.)

Lust not after her beauty in thine heart; neither let her take thee with her eyelids.

Proverbs 6:25 (emphasis added)

Notice that the prohibition is not against lusting after this beautiful person in your hands, on your lips, or even in your loins! (Although, those would certainly be prohibited, too.) The prohibition is against lusting in the heart (which includes your thought life). There is nothing wrong with admiring beauty. However, when a married man says, “I can admire a beautiful woman if I want,” the only right response is, “Yes, you can, sir, as long as she’s your wife.” From a man’s perspective, women are beautiful and they are exciting to look at. Young boys need to be told that truth. But as they grow into young men, they also need to be told to get a job, to get a home, to get a car, to get it insured, to first become a man – then, to get a wife and look at her all they want.

Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:

Matthew 5:27

There is an elliptical thought between Matthew 5:27 and 28 that implies – even in the time of Jesus’s earthly life – there were those who believed it was wrong to commit adultery, but not to think about committing adultery.

But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

Matthew 5:28

Why did Jesus equate lusting in the heart with the actual commission of adultery? Certainly the person who looks but doesn’t touch does not break up a family or cause an unwanted pregnancy or crush the feelings of his or her own spouse. Jesus’s point was not that lusting in the heart does as much damage as physically committing adultery. His point was that the God Who made us is so holy that He condemns not only the accomplishment of the sin but anything that tends toward the sin.

Second assailant: Sex is physical and it is not mixed up with spirituality.

Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.

I Corinthians 6:18

The fact that a spouse may commit fornication without having any spiritual “feelings” for the object of his or her lust, thereby making it a “physical sin,” does not excuse the spiritual implications. If you are a Christian, your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Will you pretend that you can defile His temple without bringing disgrace to Him? Lying can cause terrible pain and trouble. Violence can inflict terrible pain. But fornication defiles not only the people affected by it outwardly, but, in a sense, it defiles that which is most closely related to God’s presence. In the Old Testament, the worshiping of Baal in the temple of God was considered one of the most egregious of all offenses against God. How much more the commission of fornication where God’s very Spirit resides in the body of a believer? The consideration of such a sin must be brought captive and cast down.

Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid. What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh.

I Corinthians 6:15-16

Satan would exalt the idea that sexual immorality causes the Holy Spirit to temporarily leave a believer long enough for him or her to fornicate with impunity. That wicked lie must be knocked off the top of the wall of your marriage before it gets over.

Third assailant: A mature Christian does not need safeguards.

Satan whispers: “You can handle it. If you can’t take a little flirting, a little proximity to the opposite sex, you must be some immature, baby Christian.” If not trusting my flesh enough to avoid temptation makes me a baby, then pass me a bottle of milk and change my diaper! The truth is, I don’t need to prove whether I can withstand it or not. The Bible (remember, these are “imaginations” of Satanic influence which must be exposed to Scripture) already tells me the score on what I can and can’t handle.

Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.

I Corinthians 6:18 (emphasis added)

Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

II Timothy 2:22 (emphasis added)

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

James 4:7 (emphasis added)

The devil says, “Look, you’re a Christian. God does not want you to be all angry, like some puritanical prude – what do you mean you won’t even ride in a car with a woman you’re not married to..? You’re a ‘legalist.’ Christianity is about love not anger – chill out. And God hasn’t given you a spirit of fear. He even told you to stand up and fight against me – now you’re going to run away from temptation?” When you find yourself thinking this way, beware. That’s a “high thought” exalting itself against the mind of God as revealed in His Word. It needs to be torn down from the top of the wall around your marriage.

Imagination in Marriage

February 22, 2013 at 10:11 am | Posted in Biblical Marriage, I Corinthians, II Corinthians | 7 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife. Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.

I Corinthians 7:2-5 (emphasis added)

Previously, I have shown that Satan attacks the fortified walls of marriages with craftiness and deceit. We are to be ready for various types of attacks by:

1. Not being ignorant. Satan is going to attack in this area.
2. Facing up to the fact that his attack is going to be a fierce attack.
3. Realizing that this attack could come at unexpected times and from unexpected angles.
4. Preparing to recognize infiltrating spies, in which Satan utilizes worldly lies masquerading as common wisdom.
5. Preparing to recognize attacks in the form of burrowing under the protective wall around your marriage, in which Satan seeks to utilize our God-given sensual appetites to his own nefarious advantage.

Now, we will see that we must also:

6. Prepare to recognize attacks coming over the top of the walls.

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:

II Corinthians 10:3

The Bible does not say that Christians do not wage warfare. Just because our warfare is spiritual and not physical, it does not mean that our warfare is any “less real.”

(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

II Corinthians 10:4-5 (emphasis added)

If I cast something “down,” that implies that, before I get to it, it is something “higher” than me. When I think about my marriage, I need to be careful to identify things that might be sitting in a “high place” in my mind where they should not be. “Imagination,” in the sense we normally use that word, is not a bad thing. In previous lessons I have advocated using our creativity and imaginative thinking in making the romantic aspects of our marriage enjoyable. But “imaginations” as used in these verses are a reference to human speculations that cause us to wonder about or doubt things on our own that might already be resolved, revealed, or even restricted in Scripture. Those “bad,” speculative imaginations can easily include things like sexual thoughts – thoughts that seem to be so sudden and secretive that they come to us unbidden.

And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.

II Corinthians 10:6

Impure thoughts should make us downright angry and vengeful – if our minds are captivated by obedience to Christ. This is the “hard work” of spiritual warfare, and Satan does not believe that you are going to put up a good fight when it comes to how we think about sex in marriage. Therefore, he is very bold. He is trying to send these “exalted thoughts” right up and over your battlements. Next time I will identify three assailants that he will send to try to scale the fortifying walls of your marriage at the area we call “sexual fidelity.”

How Whack-A-Mole Can Help Your Marriage

February 6, 2013 at 11:19 am | Posted in Biblical Marriage, Galatians | 8 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Last time, I discussed Satan’s infiltration strategy as he attacks our marriages. The devil comes up to the wall of your marriage as a tempter at the “sexual relations” section of the wall, but all his spies that tried to sneak through were summarily executed. So now he tries to burrow under – and he messes with your thought life. He borrows a shovel and some trenching tools from the worldly media and popular culture, and (because he doesn’t have the power to “create” new physical sensations the way God does) he appeals to the concupiscible appetite which is already in us. He’s not stupid, either. He knows that our concupiscible appetites, while given to us by God, have also been warped and bent by our sin nature. So he tries to get under the wall by making you think that the appetite itself is the thing to be served (worshiped), instead of the Giver of the appetite. He whispers in your (or your spouse’s) ear, and he says, “This feels good, so it is powerful – and it must be satiated more than your spouse wants to satiate it.” Then he whispers, “There are other ways out there to satiate it… There are things to look at and there are people willing to help…and God knows that you are not stronger than your concupiscible appetites, so God will understand – it’s not a big deal…” And he tempts and tempts and tempts! Remember, Satan is the master liar and tempter. He knows how to make sin sound and look very seductive.

So, will you look the other way when the tempter pops his head up through a hole in the ground on your side of the wall? Or will you remember that “your” side of the wall is really “God’s” side of the wall and that your marriage belongs to Him and not to you? My children used to like to buy those little coin-shaped tokens and play an arcade game called “Whack-A-Mole.”

https://i0.wp.com/timscogitorium.com/tinblog/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/Whac-a-Mole-by-Robert-Dobalina-on-Flickr.jpg

Whenever a plastic mole popped his head out of a hole, they would smash it back down with a big toy mallet, and at the same time another mole would pop right up out of another hole. I’m not trying to be silly because we’re talking about a serious matter, but that is a picture of what we, as Christian spouses, are going to have to do in the area of glorifying God with our concupiscible appetites. We are going to have to watch for the devil to pop his head up in our thought lives, and then beat him back into the ground. The difference is, we have the authority in Christ Jesus to not only resist Satan (James 4:7) and to hammer him back down, but to pour cement in the hole so he can’t keep coming back – at least through that same tunnel.

How are we going to do this? We are going to do it Biblically – with the weapon that God has given us to control the concupiscible appetite. It’s called “temperance.”

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

Galatians 5:22-24 (emphasis added)

Temperance is a Godly virtue, it is a Christian virtue, and it is a Gospel virtue. It is the virtue of controlling, mastering, and channeling the sensual appetites. Can it be done? Yes! By walking in the Spirit; by asking God to help you do it; by surrendering to Christ and accessing His power; by preaching the Gospel to our libidos. Now, those are principles that apply even if you are on your own when it comes to understanding the truth about Christian marriage. You can have victory in Christ even if your spouse is not on your side. I will say, though, that it is much less difficult when your spouse is on the same page. In a case where both spouses have bought into the truth of Christ-centered marriage, the concupiscible appetite is channeled, by and with the help of your loving and submissive spouse, into the God-ordained and Gospel-enabled arena in which it is to be freely satisfied. Because God made it that way, this is where it is to be freely satisfied and where it is best satisfied.

« Previous PageNext Page »


Entries and comments feeds.