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The Law of Christ March 16, 2012

Posted by Henry in Matters of the Faith.
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4 comments

One of the things I have come to realise when engaging with other Christians is that they sometimes do not know with absolute certainty whether we are to follow or observe everything that the Bible teaches or not. If you are unsure about this matter then chances are you are also unsure about the Gospel.

All scriptures are profitable for doctrine and for reproof but likewise all scriptures should be read and taken in context. The truth is that one can take the very words of the Bible and deceive you with it and this is because not everything in it is required of the Christian to observe. For example, under the Mosaic Law an eye for an eye was endorsed. Should we as Christians today practice recompensing evil for evil? Absolutely not! But we look instead at what Christ says – He says for example, “love your enemies”; “do good to them that hate you”; bless them that persecute you and despitefully use you”; and so forth. So it is clear that we are not required to follow all that the Bible teaches otherwise we would be in confusion. Some teachers however, when they are teaching on a particular subject, like to place their words under the banner of, “The Bible Teaches” to give weight to their claims. As a result they are able to weave together teachings from both the Old and New Testaments (Covenants) under the same heading but this can result in deception if one is not careful. So then if we are not required to follow everything the Bible taught does this mean that God has changed, though scripture declares He changes not? No, but rather God purposed to change the law which He first instituted in Israel (Jer 31:31-33, Heb 8:8-11). The law was merely a shadow of what God had before ordained even from the beginning of time.

Today, and since the days of the early church, God’s law is no longer written upon tablets of stones but rather it is now written upon a believer’s heart. We must understand the point that the previous covenant was made with Israel alone and therefore those who were outside of the commonwealth of Israel could not benefit from it. God changed the law however so that we who were outside, cut off without a hope, can now be engrafted with Israel to inherit salvation (Rom 11:17). This is the reason why the law has changed and the Levitical priesthood made defunct. Christ’s priesthood now replaces the old priesthood and consequently the change in the priesthood necessitated a change in the law (Heb 7:12). So what is this new law in Christ? Here it is in black and white:

A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. (Joh 13:34) KJV

Can it really be that simple? If you are still not convinced have a look at the following verses:

The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself. (Gal 5:14, also Matt 7:12) NIV

Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. (Rom 13:10, also Jam 2:8) NIV

By the grace of God we have been set free through faith in Christ Jesus (Rom 3:20-24). We do not need to attempt to observe a single work of the law – not tithing, not first fruit giving, no sacrifices, offerings, circumcision, feast days, holy days – none of them. To attempt to do so is to fall from grace (Gal 5:4). Friends, know the truth and the truth shall set you free (Joh 8:32).

Problems in your marriage? February 2, 2010

Posted by Henry in Relationships.
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25 comments

There are many Christians today who are experiencing problems of one sort or another in their marriages. Some go down the route of divorce citing “irreconcilable differences”, and this can be witnessed even amongst pastors, whilst there are others who suffer in silence hoping that things will improve one day. Still there are others who live like “cats and dogs” in their homes and are constantly at each others throats. Couples who are experiencing such problems will often look at their neighbours or other couples in the church and wish that their marriage was like theirs. In an attempt to resolve their problems some may go to marriage counsellors; some speak to their pastors and other church elders; others sow a seed believing God for a miracle; whilst others even pray and fast. But no matter what method or formula they try they experience little or no improvement and they begin to doubt God or they blame the devil for attacking their marriage.

Now I do not want it to appear as if I am trivialising anyone’s experiences and whilst I am no expert on marriage I am fully aware of the fact that no individual is perfect and it can be challenging for two imperfect individuals to live together as man and wife. But one of the things I want to focus on is that whilst many people are looking this way and that for solutions to their marital problems, often they fail to look in the very place where the answers lie and that is in the scriptures. It was God who ordained marriage from the beginning of creation and He has already established in His word how married couples should live. But what is often the case is that Christians want the “perfect” marriage but are not prepared to observe the teachings of scriptures on the matter.

The first thing we learn from scripture is that woman was given to man (Adam) by God as a “help meet” or helper (Gen 2:18). Secondly we learn that “woman” was so-called because she came out of man (Gen 2:23). Thirdly we learn that because it isn’t good for man to be alone and that he needed a helper, God ordained that the man should leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife and the twain shall be one flesh (Gen 2:24). This is the basis of marriage as God ordained it. Jesus, in Matt 19:6, went further to say that ‘what God has joined together let no man put asunder.’ Since it is God who ordained marriage therefore God should be at the head of every marriage, especially the Christian marriage. The scriptural basis for this can be found in 1 Cor 11:3:

3 But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.

Since Christ is the head of man, the Christian man needs to submit himself to Christ’s leadership in his marriage. And since God ordained man to be the head of woman, the woman should submit herself to her husband because this is divinely ordained. In looking back at Gen 2:18 as aforementioned, we note that woman was made out of man to be a helper to him. A helper therefore is someone who assists the leader but not lead themselves. But too often we have some women who seek to usurp the man’s authority in the home (or even in church) and this can be one source of the marital problems. Some women can be naturally bossy especially if they have management responsibilities at work and in the board room and they can become haughty or prideful towards their husbands as a result. However, they need to learn how to conduct themselves towards their husbands when they get home. It should only be one person wearing the trousers in the home and that is the man. The scripture, Eph 5:22-24, commands a woman to be submissive to her own husband:

22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. 24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.

 

For a wife to be submissive however the husband needs to take responsibility and lead. Often times a woman can lose respect for her husband if he appears weak and unassertive. Some men however can take assertiveness too far thinking that they have the right to shout at their wives, beat on them or make unreasonable demands. This is clearly wrong in sight of scriptures. One of the first responsibilities that a man has towards his wife is to LOVE her, as scripture commands:

25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; (Eph 5:25)

This scripture is not to be taken lightly as it implies huge responsibilities. Imagine that Christ gave himself for the church by dying on the cross for it? This is the type of love that a husband need to have for his wife. Too often though during courting a man may say to his fiancée that, “I love you to death” but in reality he doesn’t really mean it. If this were true why it is that such a man would want to leave his wife as soon as problems arise in their subsequent marriage? Yet a man is required by God to love his wife even to the point that he should be ready to give his life in order to save hers. To extend the point further, scripture also commands in Eph 5:28-29 that a man should love his wife even as his own body:

28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. 29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church

 

We have already seen in Gen 2:24 that when a man and a woman are joined together in marriage they become one flesh. This is the reason therefore that a man should treat his wife as part of his own body as he has the responsibility of nourishing and cherishing her. Again this is one area of neglect on the part of some husbands which causes problems in Christian marriages. Too often a man expects a woman to take care of his kids, prepare dinner and look after the home but neglects his wife’s needs. His excuse might be that he works too hard and he is too tired but a man should make time for his wife. Although nourishing and cherishing may include providing shelter and food it encapsulates a lot of things including romance and meeting a wife’s emotional needs. If priority isn’t given to these areas, undoubtedly this may cause resentment on the wife’s part and cause her to be less submissive and trigger off a breakdown in the marriage. What is often the case is that one problem leads to another because when the woman gets resentful and do not want to be “affectionate” towards her husband then the man also get resentful and bitter. Scripture however commands the man to love and not to be bitter against his wife:

Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them” (Col 3:19)

In the context of marriage however, how does one define love? To answer this we need to look at 1 Cor 13 (using the NIV version):

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It is not rude, 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. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  8 Love never fails.

If there is love in a marriage why is there envying and strife? Why, does a husband or a wife keep record of wrongs which they use against each other in future squabbles? Why is the husband or the wife so easily angered instead of being quick to forgive? Why is it that the husband or the wife finds it so hard to say I am sorry when they have wronged each other? Too often when married couples have their differences they go off to bed, even to separate beds, without seeking to resolve those differences. Yet the scriptures say:

In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,” (Eph 4:26)

Talking about sleeping in separate beds, one of the areas that also often cause problems in a marriage is SEX. I know it is taboo and we don’t talk about such things but it is an area of marital life that is of vital importance and needs to be talked about. Often times when there are certain problems in a marriage sex is used as a weapon to spite the man (or the women in some cases). But what do the scriptures say regarding sex? Paul had this to say regarding sex in marriage in 1 Cor 7:

3 Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. 4 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. 5 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. 6 But I speak this by permission, and not of commandment.

Although Paul does not speak by commandment here he knows only too well the problems that can arise if married couples neglect their conjugal responsibilities to each other. Paul points out that such neglect can lead to Satan tempting either or both partners to sin against the marriage, especially in the form of fornication. It goes without saying therefore that men, in particular, need sex but often times because most women do not have a high libido they “hold out” on their husbands. This can lead to feelings of rejection and sexual repression in men. It is important therefore for wives to be more accommodating towards their husbands in this area as Paul encourages. Sex is not everything but it is vitally important in a marriage because it is through the act of sex that the two become one flesh. Of course if there are physical problems that affect married couples coming together then they should seek medical assistance or advice without neglecting to pray also.

It is also important in a marriage to have communication at every stage. Couples need to talk to each other and express their feelings and desires. Marriage to a large extent is about compromise and for this to be effective there must be communication. Bickering and shouting at each other or giving each other the cold shoulder or playing the blame game does not facilitate communication. Communication should therefore occur in a calm and safe environment where both parties may have their voices heard. If there is love as defined by 1 Cor 13 (above) then this will facilitate good communication. If these biblical principles are adhered to I believe that all marital problems can be resolved to achieve a fruitful and lasting marriage.

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