Archive for the ‘Touchstone’ Category

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Question: 
I have been dating a wonderful man for two years. We are both very serious and involved with our relationship and have spoken about marriage favorable. However, today’s view of marriage seems to teach that marriage is based on your happiness and can be temporary. I’m worried that I’m not prepared for how God wants me to view marriage. What does the Bible say about marriage? Answer:
Before we dig into several aspects of marriage, it’s important to start with the Biblical definition of marriage. Marriage was instituted by God in the Garden of Eden at the time of man’s creation as a union between man and woman (Genesis 2:18-24). 

Facts the Bible Tells Us about Marriage:

  1. Marriage is an indissoluble relationship except on the highest grounds (Matthew 19:9).
     
  2. Monogamous relationship between husband and wife as stated in the original law (Matthew 19:51 Corinthians 6:16).
     
  3. Husband and wife are equal before God (Ephesians 5:29-311 Peter 3:7).
     
  4. The relationship is to reflect the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27).
     
  5. Husband is the loving head of relationship and wife is subordinate (1 Corinthians 11:8-91 Timothy 2:13Ephesians 5:21-33Colossians 3:191 Peter 3:1-6).
     
  6. The relationship is fruitful (Genesis 1:28a).

In summary, we can see that marriage is an intimate and complementing union between a man and a woman in which the two become one physically, in the whole of life. The purpose of marriage is to reflect the relationship of the Godhead and to serve him. Although the fall has marred the divine purpose and function of marriage, this definition reflects the God-ordained ideal for marriage from the beginning.
To read more on the Biblical definition of marriage, read our comprehensive, in-depth commentary at: BibleStudyTools.com’s dictionary reference for marriage

love bears all things

Biblical Marriage as a Witness and Example

“By this shall all men know that you are my disciples if you have love one for another” (John 13:35). Marriage is a significant institution by which a lost world can see Christianity in action. Marriage is the most intimate of human relationships in which husbands and wives learn to model Christ’s love. Marriage is the 18-year training ground for children so that they can also love “one another.” Marriage provides a unique opportunity to reflect Him as a couple. Marriage provides a platform for accomplishing God’s intentions for mankind.
Read more at: A Biblical Perspective of Marriage

How is the Bible’s view of marriage different than what the world says? 

 

Lie 1:  “If you’re not compatible, you may have married the wrong person.”

God’s truth says that marriage is a covenant relationship. Once you choose to marry, it’s no longer up for debate as to whether your spouse is the “right one.” Marriage makes them the right one, for it’s a commitment before God. It’s never to be based on shifting feelings, but a choice every day to love the spouse you’ve chosen to marry. In a world that often prefers to “trade in for an updated version,” this truth doesn’t make sense. But according to God’s Word it’s very clear.

“Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”(Mark 10:9)

Lie 2:  “If you’re not happy, don’t stay in an unhappy situation. You deserve more.”

For many of us, marriage can tend to bring our selfishness out like nothing else. We want our way. We insist on our rights. We want our spouse to make us happy, and right now! In the midst of demands, we’ll never be free to truly love and serve one another. Our focus will tend to be one-sided – our side – and what we want. Yet God’s goal for marriage was not just to “make us happy.” The truest picture of marriage is that it symbolizes the love of Christ for us.  And His desire for us all is that we be made more into the image of Himself.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-5)

Lie 3: Marriage is a 50/50 relationship.” 

Marriage takes two people, fully committed, choosing every day, to love and cherish. 50/50 will never be enough to see you through the toughest times. It’s only half effort and it seeks to compare what we’re doing with the other, always needing to check to see if they’re keeping up with expectations. This isn’t what God intends. His plan is covenant relationship, centered in Christ, loving through Christ; that is what will carry us through both good times and bad. It will take full effort of 100/100 to have a strong relationship which will thrive over time. 

“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails…” (1 Corinthians 13:7-8)
Read more at: 10 Lies the World Tells You About Marriage

BibleStudyTools.com: This Powerful Video of the Love Chapter Gave Me Chills from biblestudytools on GodTube.



What does the Bible say about sex in marriage?

In this over-sexed and under-loved world, people are looking for the real deal, the secret to lasting love with a vibrant sex life. Because of this pursuit for a purer passion, the most asked question we get when it comes to Red Hot Monogamy is, “What is okay with God?”

First and foremost, sex is for marriage. Ephesians 5:31-32(quoting Genesis) “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 1 Thessalonians 4:3–8 reinforces this with the reminder,“It is God’s will that you keep away from sexual sin as a mark of your devotion to him” (1 Thessalonians 4:3, GW).

For married couples, God gives only a few clear commands on what is and isn’t permissible with the gift of sex he created. Instead of a list of “no-no’s” let’s look at his guidelines in the affirmative:  

You can say YES if you:

Yield to one another. Everything done is agreed upon. The goal in intimacy is unity. In Red Hot Monogamy we look at the 8 areas of intimacy and give tools to build intimacy in each area. Colossians 3:1 encourages: And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. If you love, you will want to talk through and agree on expressions in sexuality.  

Extend it in love. No one should ever feel forced or coerced in sex. The sex acts should reflect love, not demean or inflict pain. Sex is a relationship to be protected not a person to exploit. Hebrews 13:4 reminds: Marriage must be respected by all, and the marriage bed kept undefiled.  

Secure it with privacy. Sex should only be you two alone. Your marriage bed is yours and yours alone (no other partners, no pornography, no mommy porn, no fake imitations of body parts). Why settle for anything fake when you can create the real thing live and in person? When it comes to grey areas, things not specifically forbidden, applying 1 Corinthians 6:12 is a smart choice: 

Everything is permissible (allowable and lawful) for me; but not all things are helpful (good for me to do, expedient and profitable when considered with other things). Everything is lawful for me, but I will not become the slave of anything or be brought under its power. 
Read more: Married Sex – What’s OK with God?  



Does the Bible say there is one specific person for us to marry?

There is nothing in Scripture that suggests there is just one person we’re ‘supposed’ to marry. Proverbs 31 urges young men to be guided by a woman’s faith and character in making their choice–there is no mention of second guessing some divine destiny. In 1 Corinthians 7, the apostle Paul tells women (widows, in particular) to seriously consider singleness, but assures them the choice of whether to get married is up to them, and then specifically says women can marry “whomever they wish” as long as their potential husband is ‘in the Lord.’ (v. 39) If the Bible explicitly says, ‘it’s your call whether or not to get married’ (a sentiment Jesus echoes when he says some “choose” to become eunuchs–celibate–in Matthew 19:12, with emphasis on the word “choose”) and it’s entirely your choice as to who to marry, why should your subjective feelings and reasoning override living by the truth of Scripture?

 

There is, quite frankly, nothing in Scripture that ever tells us it is our sworn duty to marry one particular person. Whether we marry, and who we marry, are spoken of in Scripture as part of God’s “permissive will,” something he allows us to choose.
Read more at: No, God Didn’t Tell You To Marry Your Spouse

love and marriage - better things ahead



Quick Reference Bible Verses About Marriage

1 Corinthians 7:1-40 – The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife….

 

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 – Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 

Ephesians 5:21-23 – Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church– for we are members of his body.“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery–but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. 

Proverbs 18:22 – He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord.

Hebrews 13:4 –  Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. 

Genesis 2:22-24 – Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. 

Proverbs 21:9 – Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife. 

Matthew 19:2-9 – Large crowds followed him, and he healed them there. Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?” “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” “Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?” Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.” 

Proverbs 19:14 – Houses and wealth are inherited from parents, but a prudent wife is from the LORD.

Read More Bible Verses About Marriage at BibleStudyTools.com.


Related Articles about Marriage 

40 Powerful Blessings to Pray over Your Marriage

5 Things a Wife Needs (But Doesn’t Know How to Ask For)
7 of the Greatest Needs of a Husband
20 Scriptures to Strengthen Your Marriage
20 Reasons Marriages Fail (Even Christian Marriages)
God’s Three Purposes for Marriage
12 Questions to Ask Before You Get Married


This article is part of our larger Spiritual Life resource meant to answer your questions about the Bible, God and the Christian faith. Visit our most popular questions on “What does the Bible say about…” questions answered by well known Christians and theologians to find more inspiration. Remember that as you read these articles, the Holy Spirit will give you understanding and discernment to make the right decision for your walk with Jesus Christ! If you know others struggling with these faith questions, please share and help others discover the truth on these controversial topics. 

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Tips to a brighter Relationship
The wise couples (you know the ones that most people say “they were meant to be”) turn into wine and keep on getting better with age. Yet, lots of relationship fade away after the excitement phase is over and separate themselves like oil and water.

If you want your relationship to have the long life it deserves, have a look at our 10 things to do for a brighter relationship.

1. Have a positive attitude towards life

Everyone wants to be around cheerful people that seize the moment and take the best of everything.

A constant attitude of dissatisfaction, complaining and nagging — attracts negative emotions creating a terrible mood, and implicitly creating bad relationships between people.

Having and keeping a positive attitude towards life makes you a more attractive partner while at the same time, makes you a happier person overall.

2. Love yourself

Your partner doesn’t want to be the object of your sacrifices. He wants you to be happy with him just as much as he wants to feel good with you.

You both need to be pleased and fulfilled with your own individualities in order to be able to draw the same emotions in your relationship. And, more importantly, you need to preserve your own personality above and beyond the things you’re doing to please the other person.

3. Pay attention to your partner’s wants and needs

Men and women are different and inherently share different perspectives on relationship and what makes them happy in life. Acting controlling and trying to change your lover around to like the things that you do and undertake the actions and reactions you see as righteous — is an instant major turnoff for your partner and extremely frustrating for you.

4. Show admiration and gratitude

If you are in a relationship with someone — it goes without saying that you appreciate them for a series of qualities, the way they treat you, how they make you feel etc.

The key here is to REMIND your partner CONSTANTLY just how much you admire the things he/she does for you and the way those makes you feel.

5. Be careful with words

“Words cut deeper than swords” is more than just an idiom. It is a universally valid truth.

You cannot take back an offense, an insult, a humiliation, a lie or any verbal abuse. No matter how much you’ll excuse yourself after the storm has passed. It will irreversible linger in the back of your partner’s head and “scar” her/his feelings or opinions about you.

6. Show respect

Any kind of healthy relationship needs to be built on mutual respect.

Respect is multi-leveled and shows that you have common-sense and value the person for what they are and stand for. Therefore, you need to respect them verbally (see item 5), you need to respect their opinions and decision even when you don’t agree with them, you need to respect their friends and family even if sometimes it’s just for the single reason that “they come with the package”.

7. Be empathetic

We all go through stressful periods, have bad days and lazy moments and get affected by various factors which alter our spirits and self-worth. Having someone besides you who accentuates your awful mood rather than ameliorating it — is even worse.

So, try to cheer up your other half when they’re down, accept that your partner might be upset by something that does not impinge on you (and vice-versa) and show them compassion. Bear in mind that once in a while, we all need some time alone.

8. Make memories together

There is nothing that brings you two closer than going through happy, adventurous and also less joyful experiences together. Try to make an effort towards taking some trips, lessons (dance/music), doing whatever you find exciting and fun (scuba-diving, camping, participating in a contest) as long as you do them TOGETHER.

Take a lot of pictures and souvenirs to reinforce your good times and to remember that blissfulness, if and when things become tedious.

9. Fight routine

Sometimes, life just seems too demanding and tiring to find the time, patience and will to fight daily routine. Still, as I said previously, memories are what make your connection deeper and more meaningful. Sitting in front of the TV the whole afternoon and ordering dinner every evening is not too much of an experience.

10. Spice up your love life

Routine is again a turnoff when it comes to your most intimate moments. Once again, being adventurous and open to trying new things can make a huge difference.

You need to constantly find new ways to appeal to your partner’s senses and outreach his or her desires.

Try new positions and / or locations, anticipate the moment (through messages, notes, phone calls) and value foreplay in order to relate at a deeper emotional level. Dare to dive into each other’s fantasies and be that person that he or she never had and never wants to leave.

There’s nothing wildly spectacular about the pieces of advice shared throughout the article yet that’s precisely the reason why they work — always! They fit with any person and any type of personality, it’s what people in successful relationship do, and what keeps them in those relationships.

So, are you ready to brighten your relationship with these 10 easy and natural things?

FORGIVENESS: YET I SULK

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CC: @318_Media


Last year I was hurt by a close friend, and my reaction was to cause hurt in return. Actually, it may have been the other way around. The entire incident was so passive and internal that it’s hard to say how it all started.
Either way, it resulted in sulks, resentment, licking of wounds, and finally, grudging apologies. We’ve been on relationship probation ever since. When we see each other out in public, we smile and try too hard—neither one admitting our resentment. Feeling like I was owed something, I never made an attempt to mend our relationship. Why should I give in first? After all, it would be foolish to make myself vulnerable to that person.
But the last time I checked, Jesus doesn’t bless the ones who hold out the longest for an apology. In my reading of Matthew, I found quite the opposite: He blesses the peacemakers. And in the Sermon on the Mount, He shows us exactly what peacemaking entails:
“If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Matt 5:23–24).
Jesus doesn’t say “go and ask for an apology,” “go and make excuses for your behavior,” or even “go and tell your side of the story.” He says go and be reconciled.
Jesus goes on to explain what a response to being wronged looks like:
“But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you” (Matt 5:38–42).
He uses examples of some very public wrongs—a slap across the cheek and a lawsuit.
It’s often harder to back down if it means losing face. I don’t swallow my pride easily, and I know exactly what I would do if I were literally slapped across the face: I’d turn the other cheek with such an exaggerated, provoking attitude that I would deserve that follow-up slap.
Jesus is describing a much more humble attitude—one that perhaps includes a tacit recognition of the other person’s hurt or anger.
His words within the Lord’s Prayer are a reminder of why we should forgive: “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matt 6:12).
Forgiveness isn’t grudging or passive—it’s actively showing acceptance. And it’s not contingent on whether I feel the other person is deserving of that forgiveness. It’s in response to the unbelievable and undeserved forgiveness that Christ offers me.

Jessi Gering

___________________________________________

Biblical references are taken from the English Standard Version (ESV).

Trusting God can sometimes be a difficult thing to do, because we as humans have been taught that independence is something that we should all aim for and achieve. Therefore learning to be dependant on someone goes against the nature that we have developed. In this post I want to establish two basic principles that will help you to learn how to trust in God, because this is one of the foundations of the Christian faith. If you do not learn how to trust God, then you won’t go very far as a Christian.

1His Word

The bible says that faith comes by hearing and hearing the word of God. This means that the foundation of your faith is God’s word. If you have not heard what God has to say about any situation that you are going through, it will be very hard for you to trust God in the midst of your circumstance because you don’t know what’s on his mind. Find scriptures that deal with where you are in life right now and meditate on them, pray and see what God is saying. This is one solid way to build your faith and learn how to trust God!

2Prayer

Many of us think that it is illegal to be honest with God. Often times this is because when we are honest with people they tend to react in a negative way so we just keep our thoughts and opinions to ourselves. Unfortunately, some people do this with God as well. They think that God will be angry with them if they say “Jesus I’m having trouble trusting you right now” or “God I don’t believe You’ll do this in my life” and that’s really not the case. In the bible a man that needed his child to be healed said to Jesus “Help my unbelief” he wasn’t afraid to admit that he was struggling to believe God.

When next you’re praying, speak to God about your trust issues and be real with him. Ask him to take away any doubts and fears and replace them with faith and peace.

Here’s a scripture I use all the time when I need God to do something in my life and I’m battling with my faith:

Philippians 4:6-7 (AMP) 

[6] “Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God.

[7] And the peace of God [that peace which reassures the heart, that peace] which transcends all understanding, [that peace which] stands guard over your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus [is yours].” 

Almost everyone has had a bad sales experience. You know, where some shady salesperson is trying to get you to buy something you don’t need, like a timeshare, a gym membership, or a car. Behind their smile and smooth talk lies an opportunity to take advantage of you and leave you with a decision you might regret. Promises are often inflated, and the deals are covered in glitter and made to look irresistible.

Our enemy, Satan, uses many of the same tactics (for the record, I’m not saying all salespeople are evil. I used to be one myself) to get you to follow your flesh and leave you with decisions you’ll regret and that will cost you dearly.

Over the past few weeks at The Porch, we’ve been talking about the unseen realm and how it affects us, and some of the steps you can take to combat such a force. Last week we talked about the lies the enemy throws your way, and seven truths that can help you combat them.

The enemy is out there

The first step is always admitting there’s a problem, and the same concept applies to evil: you don’t stand a chance of surviving if you don’t acknowledge that there’s something out there trying to make you stumble.

Let me spell it out for you: Satan is real, and he wants nothing more than to see you wreck your life by following your flesh, not trusting God, and pulling you out of fellowship with Him. If you want to see real-life examples of Satan at work in our world, go to any major news site and spend a few minutes there; you’ll quickly see what I’m talking about.

Just as Satan disguises himself (2 Corinthians 11:14), he also disguises the consequences of following your flesh. A fish doesn’t see the frying pan when it bites the hook, and you’re probably not thinking about the consequences of disobeying God when you’re making the decision to do so. Satan has been around a long time, and he knows what makes humans tick. While he doesn’t know you nearly as intimately as God does (Psalm 139:13-18), he knows what our flesh craves: pride, money, sex, vengeance…you name it.

Satan’s lies and attacks

One of Satan’s biggest lies is to make you think that God is trying to keep you from having fun and that He is trying to keep good things from you. Satan wants you to think that you deserve whatever you feel entitled to, and that life is found in giving your flesh whatever it wants. Feeding these desires, however, always leads to negative consequences. Some of those consequences, for example, are broken families, unintended pregnancies, STDs, emotional baggage, discontentment, addictions, etc.

Satan will attack anyone. His goal is to try and ruin your usefulness for God. He tries to get you to waste gifts God has given you, and to hurt those in your life (John 10:10). It’s so important to surround yourself with other believers who are pursuing Christ alongside you, to help you fight those attacks. God gives us one another to strengthen and sharpen each other (Proverbs 27:17Hebrews 3:13), push us into a deeper relationship with Christ, and get us back on track when we veer off the path.

If you know that the attacks are coming, you can prepare yourself to defend against them.

How is Satan trying to trip you up, right now, and how can you defend yourself against it? This is one of the most important questions you can ask yourself. Answer it well.

– JP

Highlights: 

Jeremiah 4 – 6

God clearly warns Judah of impending destruction unless hearts and minds are cleansed (4:3). The prophet weeps (4:19-22) over visions of coming disaster (4:23-31). One honest man will save the city (5:1); but none is found. Why (5:19-25)? A last warning (6:1-9); Israel’s constant rebellion and rejection brings doom (6:10-30).

They are waxen fat, they shine: yea, they overpass the deeds of the wicked: they judge not the cause, the cause of the fatherless, yet they prosper; and the right of the needy do they not judge (Jer. 5:28).

During the time of his ministry, Jeremiah was surrounded by people who looked fine on the outside, yet on the inside their hearts were on a downhill slide to wickedness. We see this so much in our world today, even in the church.

Outward appearance is highly valued in today’s society. When a stranger comes into our church wearing a three piece suit or an expensive dress, we welcome them with open arms. We will seat them in a place of respect where they will be noticed.

On the other hand, if a person walks in off the streets in shabby clothes they are treated quite differently. What happens if a person of a different race or nationality comes to the church? How many people will move to welcome them or place them in a position of honor?

This is not going to hold true in all places of worship, but we will find this elitist attitude more often than not. This is disturbing, especially since it should never be found in the Lord’s house. Many have turned God’s house into a social club. And He taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves (Mark 11:17).

God gave Jeremiah this message to deliver in order to point out their awful state and to offer them a chance to repent and return to Him. The leaders and priests were proclaiming and preaching lies, and the unfortunate fact was that the people saw nothing wrong with this type of behavior; they actually condoned it. They were giving great support to the ungodly attitudes and practices of these men. This happens often in life when people of like thoughts, either right or wrong, are drawn together.

When this type of prejudicial behavior is exhibited, it is the less fortunate, such as widows and orphans, who live their lives in misery. No one seems to care one way or the other. They are either ignored or else they are exploited in some way to benefit the upper class. The Lord however, commands different actions than these towards the less fortunate in life. Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world (James 1:27).

We would do well to remember that one day God will right all the wrongs in the world. We should never be deceived into thinking He is not aware of all that goes on. Although at times the world may seem as if it is ruled by the devil and by those that are evil, it only looks that way. We as believers need to be advocates of justice. We need to show the world that we know God is the ultimate judge.

Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting (Galatians 6:7-8).

Why Did God Give the Law?

One of my very great desires for our church is that we be a people who understand the law of God and fulfill it in the Spirit of love. The law which God gave to Moses at Mount Sinai a few months after bringing the people out of Egypt has been the victim of some very bad press in the past several hundred years. My guess is that there is a good deal of confusion in our minds when we read on the one hand in Romans 6:14, “You are no longer under law but under grace,” but on the other hand in Romans 3:31, “Do we then overthrow the law by faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.”

The Misunderstanding of the Mosaic Law

Part of our confusion is caused by the simple fact that the word law in the New Testament has at least three different meanings when used in different contexts. It can refer to the whole Old Testament, as in Romans 3:19 (where the preceding quotations come from the psalms and prophets). It can refer to part of the OT, as when Jesus says, “I have not come to abolish the law and the prophets” (Matthew 5:17). Specifically, it can refer to that part of the OT written by Moses, the first five books, called the Torah. For example, Jesus said in Luke 24:44, “These are my words which I spoke to you… that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.” The third meaning of the term law is not a different part of the OT, but the OT understood in a different way. We will see in a few moments how many in Israel twisted the Mosaic law into legalism. That is, they severed it from its foundation of faith, failed to stress dependence on the Spirit, and thus turned the commandments into a job description for how to earn the wages of salvation.

That is legalism. But there is no Greek word for legalism, so when Paul wanted to refer to this distortion of the Mosaic law, he often used the phrase, “works of law” (e.g., Romans 3:20Galatians 2:163:25). But sometimes he simply used the word law, as when he said, “You are not under law but under grace” (Romans 6:14). We will see that this does not mean: you don’t have to keep the law. It means you are not burdened by it as a job description of how to earn the wages of salvation. So whenever you read the word law in the New Testament, ask yourself: is this the OT, or the writings of Moses, or the legalistic distortion of Moses’ teaching? This will keep us from giving such bad press to the Mosaic law when really it is the legalistic distortion of law that should get the bad press.

What I would like to do today is vindicate Moses from the widespread accusation that he taught a different way of salvation and sanctification than the New Testament does, namely, “by grace through faith… not of works lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8, 9). Now I know that hardly anyone says that God saved people differently in the OT than he does today. But many Bible teachers say (or imply) that the law of Moses offers a way of salvation different than the way offered in the gospel. That is, virtually everyone agrees that anybody that was justified in the OT was justified by grace through faith; it was a gift of God. But many will still say that the law did not call men to be justified this way; it called them to earn God’s blessings through works, and in doing this it showed men their total inability and drove them to the Savior.

Or to put it another way, many Bible teachers will argue that the Mosaic covenant (made with Israel at Mount Sinai) is fundamentally different from the covenant with Abraham (made earlier) and the New Covenant (established at Calvary) under which we live. The difference, they say, is this: in the Abrahamic covenant and New Covenant salvation is promised freely to be received by faith apart from works of law. But under the Mosaic covenant salvation (or God’s blessing) is not offered freely to faith, but instead is offered as a reward for the works of the law. Since only perfect works could merit salvation from a perfectly holy God and nobody can achieve that, the law simply makes us aware of our sin and misery and pronounces our condemnation. This is probably the most popular view of the Mosaic law in the church today, and it is wrong. It makes a legalistic Pharisee out of Moses, turns the Torah into the very heresy Paul condemned at Galatia, and (worst of all) it makes God into his own enemy, commanding that people try to merit his blessing (and thus exalt themselves) instead of resting in his all sufficient mercy (and thus exalt him).

I want to try to vindicate Moses from this misunderstanding by giving you a biblical theology of the law in a nutshell. It’s a huge topic, but sometimes if we press things together into a nut-size outline, we can plant it in the corner of our mind until it grows into a big tree of insight. Here’s what I will do: I’ll mention the five points I want to make, then go back and give their biblical basis, and then sum them up again. We will close by singing the beauty of God’s law with Psalm 19.

First, the law is fulfilled when we love our neighbor. Second, love is the out-working of authentic, saving faith. Third, therefore the law did not call for meritorious works, but for the obedience which flows from faith. Fourth, therefore we must obey the OT commandments the same way we obey the NT commandments—not in order to win God’s favor, but because we already depend on his free grace and trust that his commands will lead to full and lasting joy. Fifth, we should delight in God’s law, meditate on it day and night, and sing of its value unto all generations.

Love Fulfills the Law

First of all then, love is a fulfilling of the law. The crucial text here is Romans 13:8–10.

Owe no one anything except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, you shall not kill, you shall not steal, you shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this sentence, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law. (See also Galatians 5:14.)

Paul was not taking a big risk when he boiled the whole law down into one command. He had the authority of Jesus for doing so. Jesus said in Matthew 7:12, “Whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them; for this is the law and the prophets.” James said it a bit differently (2:8), “If you really fulfill the royal law according to scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well.” So we have three testimonies in the New Testament that what God is trying to do through the law is make loving people out of us. Every single commandment, says Romans 13:9, has love as its aim. So the first point in our nutshell theology of the law is that the law is fulfilled in us when we love our neighbor.

Love Is the Fruit of Faith

The second point is this: love is not a work that we do on our own to show ourselves meritorious to God; it is the fruit of faith in the promises of God. To be sure, genuine love will lead to great labor. But it is not synonymous with labor. It is deeper than labor and prior to labor and enables labor. There are many people laboring for God and neighbor who are not doing it out of love. Love is more than religious practices and humanitarian services. That’s why Paul can say in 1 Corinthians 13:3, “If I give away all I have and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.”

Someone may ask, “Well, if you can die for someone and not have love, what in the world is love?” The answer is that love is not in the world. “Love is from God” (1 John 4:7). Where there is no faith uniting the heart to God, there is no true love. Love is the out-working of genuine, saving faith. Here are the key passages: Galatians 5:6, “In Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is of any avail, but faith working through love.” The origin of love is the heart of faith. Further down in Galatians 5:22, love is called the fruit of the Spirit. In other words, it is something we cannot produce without God’s enablement. So how do we become loving people? Galatians 3:5 answers, “The one who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you does so not by works of the law but by the hearing of faith.” The path on which the Spirit comes to us is faith in God’s promises; and when he comes, the fruit he produces is love. Therefore, love is the fruit of the Spirit and the outworking of faith. In 1 Timothy 1:5 Paul puts it like this, “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and sincere faith.” Only genuine faith is going to issue into love….

Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not seek to avoid a brother who differs, it does not wear a scowl, it does not spread rumors or speak evil of a neighbor, it does not close its ears to the evidences. Instead, love rejoices in the truth and is peaceable, gentle, open to reason. Love looks people in the eye and communicates goodwill. Love does not pout, is not self-pitying, does not use ultimatums to get its own way. That’s what love will look like in the next three months. And what a terrific opportunity we have to prove to ourselves and to the world that our peace is not based merely on sameness. It takes no Christian grace whatever to live in peace where everyone thinks and feels the same. And so the time of controversy in which we find ourselves is not bad; it is a good occasion to test whether there is really grace within us or not.

When I list before myself the demand of love, I know what I must do. I must buttress my faith with some promises. Promises like:

I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:18)

I will never leave you nor forsake you. (Hebrews 13:5)

As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and return not thither but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and prosper in the thing for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:10, 11)

When I still my heart with these things and catch a glimpse of God’s bright and sovereign future, then I can love again. I don’t feel threatened anymore. I don’t feel angry or depressed or anxious. I feel like the future is taken care of. And if I am all taken care of, then it feels very natural to want to take care of you, to look you in the eye and smile and want only your good. The point is this: to whatever degree we achieve this divine love for each other, it will be owing to faith in the liberating promises of God.

The Law, in Calling for Love, Calls for Faith

So the first point in our theology of the law was that love fulfills the law. The second point was that love only comes out of faith in God’s promises. The third point, therefore, is that the law did not call for meritorious works, but for the obedience which flows from faith. If love is what the law aimed at, and only faith can love, then the law must teach faith. This is what has been overlooked so often. But it can be shown from Paul’s teaching and from the law itself. The key passage is Romans 9:30–32. Here Paul explains why Israel has not fulfilled the law even though she pursued it for centuries. He says:

What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, the righteousness through faith; but that Israel who pursued the righteousness which is based on law (or: who pursued the law of righteousness) did not succeed in fulfilling that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it (i.e., the law) through faith, but as if it were based on works.

That little phrase “as if” or “as though” is tremendously important. It shows clearly that Paul did not believe that God ever intended the law to be obeyed by “works.” That is, if you try to use the law as a job description of how to earn God’s favor you are doing something that the law itself opposes. The law itself is against “the works of the law.” The law never commanded anyone to try to merit his salvation. The law is based on faith in God’s promises, not on legalistic strivings. The mistake of Israel was not in pursuing the law, but in pursuing it by works instead of by faith. (See Romans 3:31Matthew 23:23.)

Now let’s look at the law itself. The ten commandments are the heart of the Mosaic covenant and are found in Exodus 20. Israel has arrived in the wilderness of Sinai three months after the exodus from Egypt. The agony of slavery and the spectacular deliverance through the Red Sea are vivid in their memories. (Think how vivid the concentration camp would still be three months after the allied liberation!) One of God’s purposes in the exodus was to cause his people to trust him, that he would take care of them and bring them to the promised land. So Exodus 14:31 says, “And Israel saw the great work which the Lord did against the Egyptians, and the people feared the Lord; and they believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses.”

Therefore, when the ten commandments begin, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:2, 3), God meant: “Remember how I demonstrated my love for you and my incomparable power on your behalf! Trust in me now, and look to no other source for help.” The ten commandments are based on a call for faith in the God of the exodus, just like the moral teachings of the NT are based on a call for faith in the Lord of Good Friday and Easter.

The exodus was a sign for Israel, just like the death and resurrection of Jesus are a sign for the church. The meaning of the sign is that God is for you and will work for you and take care of you if you will only trust him. The past event of the exodus is a sign of God’s willingness to help Israel in the future. Therefore, the faith God aims to produce through the exodus is a confidence that God will do for us in the future what he has done in the past. This is made clear in Deuteronomy 1:29–32 where Moses recounts why Israel refused to enter the promised land and was forced to wander 40 years in the desert. Moses had said to them when they first approached the promised land, “Do not be in dread or afraid of them. The Lord your God who goes before you will himself fight for you, just as he did for you in Egypt before your eyes…. Yet in spite of this word you did not believe the Lord your God.” (See also Numbers 14:1120:12Deuteronomy 9:22–24.)

The exodus was a sign that God would take care of Israel in the future. Therefore, the exodus was the foundation of Israel’s faith. And this faith is the basis of the law. The law of Moses simply spells out the way Israelites will live if they genuinely feel their future is secure in God. You don’t steal if your future is secure in God. You can’t abuse others for self-gain by killing or lying or seducing another’s spouse or dishonoring your parents, if you really believe the God of the exodus and the God of Easter is at work to give you the future that is best for you. All these sins come from not believing God. The law is a description of the obedience of faith; it is not a job description for how to earn the wages of God’s blessings.

The Law Is Fulfilled by the Obedience of Faith

So the first point in our theology of the law was that love fulfills the law. The second point was that love is the outworking of faith. And the third point was that, therefore, the law itself does not demand meritorious works, but only the obedience which comes from faith. The fourth point follows naturally, namely: we must therefore obey (or fulfill) the OT commandments the same way we must obey the NT commandments—not to win God’s favor, but because we already depend on his free grace and trust that his commands will lead to full and lasting joy. Of course since Christ has come and fulfilled the sacrificial side of the OT (1 Corinthians 5:7), and has declared all foods clean (Mark 7:19), and has founded a new people of God which is not a national or ethnic group, many of the OT commandments do not apply to us (e.g., dietary laws, laws about sacrifices, laws pertaining to political organizations and national action). But vast portions of the OT describe dimensions of obedience which are true for God’s people in any age.

Romans 8:3, 4 teaches that the law itself is powerless to produce this kind of obedience. The letter kills; it is the Spirit that gives life (2 Corinthians 3:6). Therefore, God sent Christ to atone for sin (Romans 8:3), that he might pour the Holy Spirit into our hearts, “in order that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:4). Thus Paul teaches that we should not leave the law behind, not reject the law for something else, but fulfill the law in the power of the Holy Spirit through faith which works itself out in love.

We Should Delight in God’s Law and Sing of Its Value

In conclusion, then, the points are these: first, the law is fulfilled in us when we love our neighbor as ourselves. Second, love is the outworking of genuine, saving faith. Third, therefore, the law did not teach us to try to produce meritorious works, but only taught us to trust the gracious God of the exodus and to live out the obedience of faith. Fourth, therefore, the Mosaic covenant is not fundamentally different from the Abrahamic and New Covenants, for we should obey the commandments of all three from the very same motive—not to win God’s favor, but because we already depend on his free grace and trust that his commands will lead to full and lasting joy. The final point, then, is that we should delight in God’s law, meditate on it day and night (Psalm 119:97), and sing of his value to all generations (Psalm 19:7–14).

Read Isaiah 1 – 4

Highlights:

God is angry! Why (1:40)? Disobey – invite punishment (1:5); Emphasis that genuine praise goes beyond prayer to serving people (1:17); A vision of future reign, most important place on earth (2:2-3); FACT: God won’t ignore sin, so you better believe judgment’s coming (2:6–3:26)! BUT, God promises glorious restoration (4:2-6).

When the LORD shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning (Isa. 4:4).

Many will look at a verse such as this and only think about the judgment of the Lord. There are so many people who picture God as a hard taskmaster. They see Him as one who rules with an iron hand. He places laws and statutes upon mankind that no human could possibly measure up to or follow.

These individuals will pick and choose select events from the Word of God to justify their theory on God. They may find a time when God destroyed an entire city, or they may point out the droughts, famines and pestilences that were sent upon nations by the Lord. They may bring up the times when the elect or chosen of God went through dire circumstances. They ask, how could anyone look at these actions and believe that God loves His creation?

The answer to that begins right there. We are God’s creation. He created this world from nothing. Before time began, all that existed was the Godhead. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (John 1:1).

God chose to create this world and all the universe. He chose to create man and all the living things man would have dominion over. This is the first revelation of the love of God to mankind. He had a Son, Jesus Christ. God had a perfect, flawless and Holy Son. In His Son, all power laid. All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made (John 1:3). Even with Jesus, God still chose to create all of humanity.

Now with that established, we can ask ourselves, would God have made His creation just to fall? The obvious answer is no. Every hard thing that comes upon mankind is done to draw us closer to God. From the time Adam sinned, we have been wayward children. A disobedient child is punished to show them they have gone the wrong way. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not (Heb. 12:7)?

God uses the spirit of judgment and the spirit of burning as means of chastening. These both give reference to the workings of the Holy Spirit. With judgment, the Holy Spirit punishes as a means to correct the one who has strayed from God. With burning, He purges out the unclean and impure things which led the individual to stray in the first place.

God tries to direct us away from doing wrong; however, He also provides forgiveness to us when we do. The perfect Son of God suffered punishment in place of all the imperfect created children of God. What better way could God have shown His love toward His creation? He gave His best for us.

In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him (I John 4:9).

“Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters — one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” (Matthew 17:4-7)

 

Peter’s offer to build shelters in Matthew 17 might seem strange to you, but he was inspired and didn’t want the moment to end. It was a life-altering moment. Jesus had just revealed His divine nature in the most spectacular way.

 

Peter was ready to camp out and make it permanent.

 

But Jesus’ next move was to instruct Peter and the disciples to get up and follow Him down the mountain where He continued doing ministry by healing a young boy. It had been a powerful moment, but Jesus knew there was more work to be done.

 

While there’s nothing wrong with wanting to pause during a powerful moment of God’s presence, you can’t stay there. While here on earth, our responsibilities will always be awaiting us outside our prayer closets, church services, and quiet times. We will always have more work to do and more people to reach. In fact, we are commanded to go and make disciples.

 

I want to encourage you today with this fact: When you leave mountaintop moments in God’s presence, His presence doesn’t leave you. In fact, if you’re willing, the very same Spirit will work through you.

 

It’s great to be inspired, but to make an impact, action is required.