Is 1 Peter 1:16 Instructive or Informative? “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”


I have been thinking about sanctification as of late and its implications in regards to assurance and security.  This verse came to  mind and I wanted to see if it was an instruction to strive for personal holiness or if it was informing us that we are holy in Christ.  I always thought it was the first, because of many years in the Nazarene denomination.  It turns out the answer is, “Yes.”

(NASB) 1 Peter 1:1,2 1  Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,
To those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen 2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.

Let’s examine verse 2 a bit more closely.  (NASB) 2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.

What is according to the foreknowledge of God the Father?  God’s election of the saved people living scattered among the cities listed in verse 1.  What work are we doing to be sanctified according to verse 2?  I’ll wait here while you look…  Back?  It was a trick question.  We aren’t doing the work.  The Holy Spirit sanctifies us.  The Greek word is, “ἁγιασμός”  (hagiasmos) g0038; from 37; properly, purification, i.e. (the state) purity; concretely (by Hebraism) a purifier: — holiness, sanctification.

To what end are we elected by the Father, and sanctified by the Holy Spirit according to this verse?  “…to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood…”  Spending most of my life in the Nazarene Church, I understood that sanctification was something I did.  I might be wrong here.  This might not be their official doctrine.  I’m just saying that this is what I thought.  The emphasis on the monergistic origination of sanctification never came across.  Still to this day, people insist that sanctification is synergistic.  I would only agree with that in a broad practical sense, because at the end of the day God isn’t sanctifying a dog or a cat.  He is sanctifying us, and part of that is our condition during the process.  So we are involved in sanctification, because it is happening to us.  We are actively participating in it, but it is not from us.  We were incapable of sanctification let alone desiring it, before the work of the Holy Spirit.

I know many of you are out there right now screaming, “What about all the verses that instruct you to behave!?!”  Well of course we should do what God wills, and refrain from what He has forbid.  That is a no brainer.  I am not saying we shouldn’t, but the fact that someone wants to and has the ability to, is proof that sanctification is supernaturally originated by God and not from within us.

So you’ve been regenerated by the Holy Spirit, in accord with the Father’s sovereign will in election, granted saving faith and repentance from God, and you have repented of your sins, and placed that faith in the atoning work of Christ on the cross, so that your sins were expiated, and His righteousness was imputed to you.  Now we would say that you have been saved, or justified.

Follow along here on the ordo salutis (order of salvation)  train. (concise version)  🙂  election, regeneration, justification, sanctification, glorification.  So as you can see all of those things find their origination in God and they are worked on/in us by Him.  If we think we are responsible for any of them, we are robbing God of His glory, being self-righteous, legalistic, and relying on our works in our man centered thinking.

This can lead to serious doubt.  It can wreck our assurance and cause us to question our security, because when we sin, we ask, “Why do I keep doing this?  Am I really saved?  If I’m saved how can I fall to this sin over and over? I must be a false convert.  I must be fooling myself.  I’ve taken the 2 Cor 13:5 test and failed!”  “…(NASB) 5  Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you  fail the test?..”  Notice that last part, “Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you  fail the test?”  Have you noticed that Jesus Christ is in you!? It is as if Paul is yelling, “Come on people! Don’t you see what has been done to you, for you, and for the glory of God?  Can’t you see the difference?  unless you truly can’t.”  When a Christian is doubting, and takes a look at his condition, it will be obvious that God has been at work renovating the sin wrecked ramshackle of a mess that they were.  Unless of course you can’t see His work anywhere in your life.

So we can rest in secure in the knowledge that if God has saved us, we are secure in Him.  When we fall because of our lack of strength, He keeps us with His infinite strength.  What He has done to us, nobody and nothing, can undo.

Romans 8:26-39 (NASB) 26 In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; 27 and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; 30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.
31  What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? 33 Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; 34 who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was  raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. 35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 Just as it is written,
“For Your sake we are being put to death all day long;
WE were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Now that we understand what God has done to us in election, regeneration, and justification, we can see that He will sanctify us as well.  Philippians 1:6 (NASB) “6 For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”  Think about a newborn baby in a crib, looking up at his parents.  He doesn’t have to focus his attention on growing.  He doesn’t have to even try to grow.  Sure he grows, and is involved in the process, but his growth doesn’t come from him.  It is God’s plan, and design, that the child grows according to.  Imagine that baby saying to himself, “I need more milk to make me big and strong.  Grow legs! Grow grow grow!!!”  It is ridiculous, but that is the way many of us are as Christians.

We are focused too much on our own efforts and failures.  When we do see growth we might even attribute it to our efforts.  This robs God of His glory, and God will not be robbed.  So in our self-righteousness, we sin against God and don’t even realize it.  Then when we fail, we punish ourselves, as if that whipping we gave to ourselves could add to the perfect, gory, violent, painful, terrifying, work of our wonderful Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ…  …  Think about that.  Let it soak in…  How dare we?  How dare we!  You should be crying right now.  I know it makes me want to cry, to think of how I would defile the work of Jesus with my self-righteousness.

Just like that baby, we will grow according to God’s plan, in His time, exactly by the trials He has for us, and in precisely the areas He has determined.  Rest assured, if you are saved, you will be sanctified, because God wills it, and what He wills, He accomplishes, unless of course you think you can stop him…

1 Peter 1:12-21 (NASB) 12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things into which angels long to look.
13 Therefore,  prepare your minds for action,  keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As  obedient children, do not  be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, 15 but  like the Holy One who called you,  be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; 16 because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
17 If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth; 18 knowing that you were not  redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, 19 but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. 20 For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you 21 who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.

1 Thessalonians 4:3-8 (NASB) 3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each of you know how to possess his own  vessel in sanctification and honor, 5 not in  lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God; 6 and that no man transgress and defraud his brother in the matter because the Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you. 7 For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification. 8 So, he who rejects this is not rejecting man but the God who gives His Holy Spirit to you.

So we will be holy, because God is holy.  He is actively sanctifying us and we are living out that sanctifying work, in Christ, by the power of the Spirit, in the will of the Father.  The answer to the question, “Is 1 Peter 1:16 Instructive or Informative?” is, yes.  Go with God and peace be with you.

 

Are Your Feelings Determining How You View God, Or Is God Determining How You Feel?


Are Your Feelings Determining How You View God, Or Is God Determining How You Feel?Are you acting like a child?  Are you following people who act like unreasoning beasts, and encourage others to do the same?  A child allows his emotions to rule him.  He is without discipline and only knows want.  A false teacher promotes what is against God.  He acts like an unreasoning beast, “But these, like unreasoning animals, born as creatures of instinct to be captured and killed, reviling where they have no knowledge, will in the destruction of those creatures also be destroyed,” (2 Peter 2:12 NASB)

Do you let your feelings determine how you view God, and treat others?  Love is a big deal.  People go on and on about feeling like they are in love, wanting to feel love.  People also feel other emotions like, hate, impatience, greed, jealousy, envy, apathy, and pride.  People desperately want others to validate their feelings, by agreeing with them.  When we allow feelings to determine how we treat others, and how we view God, we are behaving like children.  All they know is what they want.  Their wants are not informed by anything else, just their will alone.  As they get older, hopefully their parents discipline them, and train them.  If you are an adult, and your feelings rule you, then spiritually speaking, you are a sinful little child.  If you believe all of the self-help gurus out there, teaching you how to get in touch with your feelings, and how to be happy.  God tells us how we should feel about others, about situations, and He also tells us how we should feel about Him.  When we obey our feelings that are against what God commands in His word we are definitely in sin.  

Viewing God through any other lense than His word is creating an idol in your mind.  When you just go by your fallen, sinful, emotions, to build a picture of God, it will most certainly be a false god, not the one true God of the Bible.  If you find yourself disagreeing with long-held orthodox doctrines, in favor of your own personal interpretation, chances are you are worshipping a god of your own making.  Repent, and worship the God of the Bible.  Let your mind be informed by the word of God, so that the God you worship is the true one.

As Christians, we are not to behave, think, or feel like the world.  We are to obey God in all things.  So when God tells us to love our enemies, that is what we must do.  Love needs to be thought of as an action as well as a feeling.  All of the emotions must be thought of as actions as well as a feelings, because they move us to action.  Unless God changes your heart and mind, in regeneration by the power of the Holy Spirit, you will not be able to think or feel rightly.  When you are truly born again, and you resist feeling the way your know you should or you indulge a feeling you know you shouldn’t, you are sinning.  Sinning this way is accepted by the world and encouraged.  We are not to be like the world.  

There are benefits to obeying God.  Yes, God gave us emotions, but they are under the effect of sin.  They are affected by the fall.  Knowing this, hopefully you can see how they need to be conformed to God’s will as expressed in His word?  Don’t reject the will of God, for your own childish feelings.  Bring your feelings into obedience to God.  You can do it with His help.  It will be a blessing to you and to all of the people you come in contact with.  God’s will is always better.  So next time you are feeling your way through life ask yourself if those feelings are sinful or are they in obedience to God?

I Really Wanted to Like This Movie, but… A Review of “Risen.”

Let me just start by saying that I won’t post any spoilers.  If you want to know specifics you can message me.  That being said, I truly wanted to like this movie.  I especially wanted to like it when I heard what the premise was, and also saw that Joseph Fiennes was in it.  He did such a wonderful job as Martin Luther.  He, and a couple other actors outclassed the actors that played the Apostles, and it felt like hippies from the (I removed a word here.  See the comments below to read why.)  movement wrote the lines for the Apostles.  This movie had so many opportunities to do it right, but it never coalesced.  We never heard why Jesus had to die, we never heard that He was truly God, we never heard any confession of sin on anyone’s part.  All we did hear were incoherent ramblings about love unrelated or linked to the gospel.  I was so disappointed with this film.  I was hoping for a “Jesus of Nazareth” or a Charleton Heston in “The Ten Commandments” level production.  This was devoid of any useful theological information, or gospel proclamation.  I was also let down by the incongruous use of artistic license.  Sometimes it was seamless, and others it was glaringly awkward.

It wasn’t all bad.  It far exceeded the recent tripe that has come out of Hollyweird.  With the bad taste left in our mouths from “Noah” and “Exodus gods and Kings” with batman as Moses, I found their effort with “Risen” to be a bit refreshing.  The acting of the main characters was top notch, the supporting cast… meh.  There was no profanity, or romantic scenes.  There was however, graphic violence.  If you want to have Christian themed entertainment that never gets around to being truly helpful and wastes your time, then go see, “Risen.”  Otherwise, stay home and do a Bible study.  You’ll get much more out of that.  Then, go out and evangelize the lost.  They need it and this movie isn’t going to get it done.

Dr. R. Albert Mohler’s new book, “We Cannot Be Silent.” is a must read for Christians trying to make sense of all the gender chaos going on around us.

cannotbesilent
If you have been a regular listener of, “The Briefing” you’ll find Dr. Mohler’s newest book to be quite familiar, as he has addressed much of the subject matter on his program.  The book offers a fuller fleshing out of the history, and circumstances, that have lead to our current state, as well as a Christian analysis of it.

The chapter titles in the table of contents paint the picture of what you’ll read in the book;

1 In the Wake of a Revolution

2 It Didn’t Start with Same-Sex Marriage

3 From Vice to Virtue: How Did the Homosexual Movement Happen?

4 The Impossible, Possibility of Same-Sex Marriage

5 The Transgender Revolution

6 The End of Marriage

7 What Does the Bible Really Have to Say About Sex?

8 Religious Liberty and the Right to Be Christian

9 The Compassion of Truth: The Church and the Challenge of the Sexual Revolution

10 The Hard Questions

 

Dr. Mohler takes you step by step, setting the scene with historical information, about how the foundation for this revolution was put in place, so that in the right environment of postmodernism it could explode.  follow along step by step, to see how the plan of the enemy has been unfolding for decades.  Dr. Mohler cites the work of opponents, and proponents to Christian values effectively, and fairly in this book.  He uses their own words in thorough quotations from their published works.  You can trace a line from no-fault divorce, birth control, abortion, and now all of the gender issues.  As we deal with the consequences of these doctrines of death culture, Dr. Mohler educate and offers a Biblical analysis. He explains what these changes in our culture will mean for us as a nation, and for Christians.  

Dr. Mohler also explains what the Church’s response should be in light of our past failures to inform culture.  Bad theology, watered down truths, attractional models, moralism, and pragmatism have all gotten us where we are at today.  Real love, tells the truth.  We have to proclaim the truths of the Bible to the lost.  The things that seem difficult are often what are necessary.  The gospel is the only hope for the people of this nation.  Chapter 10 offers valuable Biblical responses to questions that are already being asked.  If you haven’t given these issues much thought and would like to, or if you are a bit confused and don’t know how we got to where we are today, I would recommend reading this book and referring back to it from time to time.

Is there a heart so broken, soul so wounded, two hearts in a marriage so hurt, or scars so thick that God, the Creator of all things, cannot heal them?

Yesterday I posted a piece about toxic relationships being a new age cop out.  It came to my attention that perhaps I didn’t stress the power of God enough.  People can feel extremely hurt and justified in maintaining their anger and resentment.  They can harden their hearts and sear their conscience, so that they no longer feel conviction when the Holy Spirit brings to mind all of their complicity.  We know from God’s word that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  We also know that none are righteous.  

For the person who is deeply hurt, this information doesn’t seem to help them, but it is the only information that will help them.  They have to see their own sin and see how much in need they are of God’s grace, mercy, and love.  When they can see their need, and it moves them to repent and believe in the work of Christ, then they can see the other person, and how weak and needy they are.  When you can look at someone who has wronged you, hurt you, scarred you, and then see how you have done the same thing to Christ, and yet know that He has forgiven you, given you grace, mercy, and love, in light of what you know you justly deserve, you can then love the other person in like fashion.

God, who created everything, things known and unknown by us, the seed from which a redwood grows, the highest majestic mountains, to the lowest, deep cut valleys, to the blue sky where winged birds fly, and beyond to the vast reaches of space where we lose ourselves in contemplation of our smallness, this very God who knows everything about us, He is all powerful, and to think that He cannot change your heart?  What hope is there if a sinner’s heart cannot be changed?  Therefore, there is no wound so great that the saving balm of the gospel cannot use it for the glory of God.

A Review of the ESV Verse-by-Verse Reference Bible, in Black Top Grain Leather.

DSCN5229

Crossway sent me this beautiful Bible for review.  It is a wonderful value.  You get so many great features with this Bible.  It is also a good multipurpose Bible.  Initially I thought the font might be too small for Pastors to use it from the pulpit, but I was wrong.  The verse format layout, terrific paper, and crisp clean print, make it well suited to serve as a preaching Bible.  It is a reference Bible, so it also lends itself to study.  The references and notes are out of the way at the bottom, so it also works good for reading.  If you are in the market for a new Bible to fill a few roles, keep reading.  I think you’ll be as impressed with this edition as I am.

The ESV Verse-by-Verse Reference Bible was packaged in a small white cardboard box.  

DSCN5222

The Bible itself was inside the retail clamshell box.  Keep the box for storage.  This is not a Bible to be stood up on edge like a hardback book.  The Bible arrived undamaged from Crossway.  Inside the packaging the Bible was wrapped in clear plastic.

DSCN5228

Once removed, I was able to begin assessing the top grain leather.  It had a very supple feel to it.  It was nice and soft. There is also a perimeter groove on the cover.

DSCN5232

2016-02-11_07-44-22

2016-02-11_07-46-11

The inside liner seemed to be a bit different than the outside cover.  I e-mailed Crossway and asked them about it.  They informed me that it is Cromwell® bonded leather.  For those of you who are balking at that, keep in mind that Cromwell® bonded leather is not the same as the low grade bonded leather you are used to seeing in the past.  It is a far superior product and should last as long as the top grain leather cover, if not longer.  One of the bonuses of using this material as a liner is that it can be had in thin sheets.  This makes it possible for the bindery to get the cover mated to the liner with more precision and less bulges on the corners.

DSCN5237

This, being an edge-lined Bible, it is important to not use a heavier material that would reduce the supple feel of the cover.

DSCN5239

In my opinion, it was implemented quite well.  For the price, I would definitely recommend purchasing this edition over the ones with genuine leather or synthetic covers if you can afford the extra money.

DSCN5289

In the front you’ll find a Presentation Page, Publisher’s Page, Table of Contents, Books of the Bible in Alphabetical Order, Preface, and an Explanation of Features.  

DSCN5250

DSCN5255

DSCN5253

DSCN5257

DSCN5258

The spine is ornamented with four spine hubs, and gold lettering.

DSCN5230

The page edges are gold gilt and the corners are rounded.  There are also decorative gold and black, head and tail bands.There are two black ribbons that are decent quality.

DSCN5270

DSCN5242

DSCN5243

They are thicker than some less expensive ribbons.  For me two ribbons or more is a must.  Three ribbons is perfect in my opinion.  You get one for the Old Testament reading, one for devotional reading of Proverbs, and one for the New Testament.  Of course, two will suffice, and is certainly better than only one.  Four just seems supernumerary to me.

Of course where this Bible shines is the paper and print.  Crossway has done a good job utilizing superior paper compared to their competitors.  Rarely do you find Bibles in this niche with paper of the same weight and opacity.  Crossway is employing a 36 g.s.m. Apple Thin Opaque paper.  Keep in mind that many of their competitors call 28 g.s.m. paper top notch.  The print in this black letter edition is sharp and uniform throughout.  I haven’t run into any areas where the print fades or is smudged.  The font is 9 pt. in size and is Lexicon face.  At first glance it seems larger than it is, in my opinion.  I think that is due to the opaque paper, print, and line spacing, making it very legible.  It is easy on the eyes.  

DSCN5268

DSCN5260

Preaching from the pulpit and looking down at a 9 pt. font in another Bible with lesser paper and more ghosting would be a bad idea, but with this Bible you could easily do it.  There is also a generous outside margin for some limited note taking.

DSCN5265

The drawback of course is that some of the type gets lost in the gutter.

DSCN5245

In some regards, like the paper and print,  I would rate this Bible up there with the premium ones.  Due to the lack of some of the more ornate features, like art gilt page edges, better ribbons, gilt perimeter lines, and better leather for the inside liner I can’t call it a premium Bible.  Of course the price on this edition more than makes up for what little quibbles I might have.  I’ve paid over $200 for an Allan.  This Bible can be had for a bit over $80.  That makes it an outstanding value.  The suggested retail is  $149.99.  Some publishers list a suggested retail that I would never pay.  This Bible is worth the suggested retail.  On some retail sites it can be found for as little as $84.99.  Other than the gutter complaint, the layout is great.  You get a double column, verse format, with approximately 80,000 cross references located at the bottom of the pages.  You also get a 76 page 3 column concordance, and 8 color maps in the back.

DSCN5262

At the start of each book is a brief introduction.  I personally love well written book introductions.

DSCN5261

You also get a smyth-sewn spine with this edge-lined Bible adding to the durability and flexibility.

IMG_20160211_193641

You would be hard pressed to find a Bible with all of these features even in a higher price range.  In my opinion, Crossway has hit the ball out of the park with this edition and set the standard for their competitors in the $80 to $150 range.

Make sure to check out all of the pictures I took of this Bible on my Flickr page.

ISBN-13: 9781433545689

Toxic People, Toxic Relationships, a New Age Cop out.

toxic relationship
How many times have you heard from one of your married friends who is being left by their spouse, “We were just toxic together.”  Probably as many times as you’ve heard, “He/She was just toxic for me.”  People complain, “I’m just not happy.  I deserve to be happy.”  So many of my friends, as of late, have had these things said to them, usually followed by, “I don’t love you anymore.”  For good measure they might even throw in a, “You are controlling and abusive, I never loved you.”  These are some of the most selfish, and injurious accusations I’ve heard in a long time.  These are also very sinful and rebellious.  They are definitely not Christian sentiments.  I believe they are selfish and used as a cop out.  It is the lie they tell themselves, and others to not put in the hard, sanctifying and gospel exemplifying work that is needed for a life-long covenant between them and God.  

I’d expect to hear this vitriol coming from the lost, but we often hear it coming from professing Christians.  I’ve even seen several articles on supposedly Christian websites that advocate divorcing a toxic person.  Have they forgotten that everyone is a, “toxic person?”  Have they forgotten the power of the gospel?  Have they forgotten that God hates divorce?  If they are saved, and acting/feeling like this then, they are in rebellion, and will be disciplined by God.  If they are false converts, they will receive their just punishment in Hell, where God will be just and right to pour out His wrath on them for all eternity.   

Of course you are in a toxic relationship.  You are a toxic sinner.  Of course your spouse is toxic.  They are a sinner.  When you put two sinners together in a room they are going to sin.  They are going to be selfish, prideful, arrogant, idolatrous, and petty.  Of course you aren’t happy.  You are expecting another person to make you happy.  Guess what…  a sinful person will always let you down.  You will never be fulfilled by another human being.  You can only find the contentment you are looking for in God and His gospel.

Oh, and here is another big shocker, regardless of what you’ve heard, you don’t deserve to be happy!  You are a sinner, like everyone else.  God is perfectly just, holy, righteous, and good.  You have broken His laws and are a guilty sinner.  You and I deserve to be punished.  We don’t deserve to be happy.  You and I deserve to be killed by God, and be sent to Hell for eternity, just like everyone else on the planet.  You see, it is a sin problem, not a relationship problem.  The only way it is a relationship problem is that as sinners we are enemies of God.  If we want peace with Him, we must repent and believe in the work of Christ on the cross, to justify us with God.

We read all of the New Age drivel on websites, blogs, and social media.  We listen to podcasts, and self-help gurus on the radio.  It validates, and justifies the selfish, idolatrous, sinful, thoughts.  Why do people consume these things?  I know why I am here.  I am here to combat the darkness that has been enslaving people, and ruining marriages, children, and families for far too long in this country.  Why are you here?  Are you here to flirt with the darkness?  Do you want to hear something that will give you permission to give up and give in to sin?  Are you being tempted by the New Age malarkey?  Are you setting up false teachers to tickle your ears?  Wake up!  We need to stop behaving like selfish children and truly understand what this means, “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”  Do you think you are something special?  Do you think you deserved His love?  If it weren’t for His grace, we’d all be lost.

Don’t get me wrong.  I am not telling someone who is getting physically abused to stay in the home.  If you are getting physically abused you should be separated.  “Separated” does no mean, “Oh goody, time to commit adultery.”  Being separated for a time can be necessary, but it is always supposed to be temporary.  If your spouse has committed adultery you may divorce them.  If your spouse is an unbeliever, and walks out on you, you may divorce.  If you really understand grace, even though you may divorce them, if they are repentant, you will forgive them and give grace to them, just like the way Christ gave grace to you, instead of what you deserve.

I don’t agree with the modern definition of psychological abuse.  Pretty much any difficult thing you talk about with a person can be deemed abusive anymore.  Obviously if you are a Christian you should not hurt your spouse emotionally.  You should not intentionally or maliciously hurt their feelings.  It is sinful to do so.  Your sin does not justify a divorce though unless it fits the criteria mentioned above.  Christ endured our scorn and ridicule while on the cross, dying for a bunch of sinners.  Do we think we deserve better than Christ?

We all want the romantic fairy tale marriage.  We all want to feel loved.  Some people are living the dream, but it might not have always been that way for them.  How do you think they got there?  It wasn’t by giving in and giving up that is for certain.  They had to fight against their own sin, and forgive the other’s sins, while loving God more than anyone or anything else.  They had to trust and obey God, not their ever-changing emotions.  If you give up you miss out on the sanctification that God has planned for you.  If you give up, you’ll just take your sin problems with you to another sinner and find some other reason to leave them.  You’ll never deal with the real problems as long as you use the cop out excuse of, “They were just toxic, it was a toxic relationship.”

Our only hope in marriage is Jesus Christ.  Our only hope in life and death is Jesus Christ.  If we have been saved from our sins by Christ, then we are obliged to demonstrate the same type of sacrificial love for our spouse.  We love them without any expectations of return on our investment.  We love them because Christ loves us.  Our sins put Christ on the cross.  It is as if we had the hammer and nails in our hands and put Him up there ourselves.  He died for us, knowing that we hated Him.  He got nothing worth having in saving us.  By God’s sanctifying work, the Holy Spirit conforms us to the will and word of God, to be Christlike to the world, including our spouse.  We love them even though they don’t deserve it.  We demonstrate grace to them when they don’t deserve it.  Marriage is a covenant with God, you, and your spouse, for the rest of your life.  It is a picture of the gospel, to be lived out in front of the world.  The husband is the head of the wife, the way that Christ is the head of the Church.  Christ died to save the Church, His bride.  The wife is the representation of the Church, submitting to the Bridegroom who saved her for Himself.  So love one another sacrificially, and stop all of this selfish carnal nonsense.  Obey God and glorify Him in your marriage.