And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 16, Number
In this issue:
Joe R. Price
God placed marriage at the center of family life (Gen. 1:27; 2:24; Matt. 19:4-6). Not only are families greatly harmed when marriages fail, so is society. (Witness the breakup of the two-parent home and the correlation to falling behind in education, increased poverty, growing crime rates and social dependency.) On top of this, and more importantly, is the spiritual problem of sin that occurs when marriages fail (1 Pet. 3:7; Eph. 5:22-33; Mal. 2:16).
What counsel can we glean from God’s word for those who will be getting married some day?
1. Choose a person to marry who knows what marriage is (and what it is not), and who is fully committed to the lifelong nature of marriage. Our young people are growing up in a time when marriage is being redefined by the immoral lusts of the day. Same-sex marriages are being pronounced legal by the courts, paving the way for the eventual legalization of polygamy. (We are made to wonder what will be next.) We must teach and reinforce to our children and grandchildren that God, not human beings, established and defined marriage. His will must be the guide followed for a marriage to thrive. This will not be easy in a world that prefers self-interest rather than God’s will.
We must honor God by honoring marriage as He arranged it. God gave marriage to humanity; one man and one woman for life, with one exception (Gen. 2:24; Matt. 19:3-6, 9; Rom. 7:2-3; 1 Cor. 7:39). Selecting a spouse ought to include commitment to this truth and finding someone who is equally committed to marriage as you are. You will have problems if you marry someone who is not committed to marriage for life – and God would spare you this pain. Where there is a mutual commitment to the permanency of marriage you will share an unwavering resolve to solve marital problems, to love unselfishly and to sacrifice unreservedly.
Someone objects, saying, “You don’t know what will happen in the future.” It is true we do not know the future, but we are talking about a choice made by both parties that is based on mutual commitment to marriage. Choose to honor the permanency of marriage, not because it is always easy, but because it is good, right and honorable. Then, find someone who shares this commitment and makes the same choice. That is the person to look for as a marriage partner.
2. Choose a faithful Christian to marry. We are not saying that marriage to an unbeliever is a sin (see 1 Pet. 3:1-2; 1 Cor. 7:12-15). We are advising the wisdom and benefit of marrying someone who is fully committed to being a faithful Christian. It is evident from reading the above passages that the Christian married to an unbeliever faces additional trials, tests and temptations in marriage. Mutual faith within a marriage solves many problems before they are problems at all. What will you do Sunday morning and Sunday evening when your unbelieving mate wants you to stay home with him/her and “do something fun together” instead of being alone while going to worship services? (Will you “compromise” and only go to one worship service?) When children come along, will they be taught the gospel growing up? At least one of their parents will not be giving the children an example of faithfulness to Jesus. What kind of answers will they be given when they start asking about God, the Bible, Jesus, sin and salvation? And, what standard of morality will be reflected in the words, clothing, entertainment and recreation of a home where one spouse takes little thought of God’s will on such matters? These are just some of the real situations you will face. Better to face them with a united front, for your sake and the sake of your children. Children can see inconsistency in parents faster than they can say “why doesn’t Mommy (or Daddy) believe in Jesus?” I know there are godly men and women who are married to unbelievers and who have raised godly children. We commend their faith, and, we understand they are the exception. I suspect they would be among the first to counsel you to marry someone who shares your faith. A partner is much more preferable in marriage than an adversary: “Can two walk together unless they are agreed?” (Amos 3:3)
3. Consider the person’s character. The internal traits of holiness, purity, honesty, unselfishness, kindness and goodness are just some of the qualities to look for in a marriage partner. You will come to know this person better than you know anyone else. No one in your life will more greatly influence you than your spouse. It has been said that many young women marry a young man thinking “I can change him”, but that rarely happens. And, many young men marry a young woman thinking, “They will never change”, and that rarely happens. The stability of a godly character will bring constancy to your marriage.
4. Stay morally pure. Be wise and guard yourself against lust and sexual sins before marriage. Do not put yourself into situations where fleshly temptations are easily aroused and fulfilled; “Flee youthful lusts” (2 Tim. 2:22). Failing to do so brings a harvest of despair, heartache and regret. If you have sinned in this matter, repent and guard yourself from future sin (1 Jno. 1:9).
5. Use wisdom. It is wise to carefully assess the character and faith of the potential marriage partner before getting serious about marriage. Avoid getting caught up in the “romance” of a relationship and failing to do so. Do not be pressured into a “love” relationship that fails to meet God’s expectation: “Do not stir up nor awaken love until it pleases” (Song of Sol. 2:7). Do not force marriage when you see danger signs ahead. Marriage is “for better or for worse”, and God’s word helps you marry someone who will stand by you through both.
Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 3:5-11
What type of growth does this (any) church need that pleases God? When spiritual growth occurs there will be physical growth, Acts 6:7.
I. EMPHASIS IS ON FAITHFULNESS TO CHRIST, NOT NUMERICAL RESULTS.
A. Christians are
Encouraged to be Faithful Seed Sowers and to let God Give the Results, Rom.
5:1-5; 1 Cor. 3:1-9.
II. EMPHASIS IS ON THE POWER OF THE GOSPEL TO SAVE, Rom. 1:16.
A. Not Gimmicks,
Entertainment or Social Gospel Approaches, Jno. 6:26-27; 2 Tim. 4:2; Matt.
14:13-15; Acts 3:1-8 (11).
III. THE PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY AND COMMITMENT OF EACH MEMBER TO HELP THE CHURCH GROW IS STRESSED, Eph. 4:11-16; 1 Cor. 12:12-27; Rom. 14:12.
IV. MORE INTEREST IN WORKING FOR THE LORD THAN WORKING TO PROMOTE YOURSELF.
A. Do the Work that Needs Doing while Encouraging Others to Work; Matt. 6:16-18; Jas. 3:16-18.
V. PREPARE YOURSELF TO HELP THE CHURCH GROW.
A. Prepare Yourself
to Teach Others, Col. 4:5-6; 2 Tim. 2:15, 1-3; Gal. 6:5.
Scripture Reading: Matthew 19:3-9
1. Matt. 19:3-12: The Pharisees test
I. QUESTION ONE: “IS IT LAWFUL FOR A MAN TO PUT AWAY HIS WIFE FOR EVERY CAUSE?” Matt. 19:3
“No, because marriage is not to be sundered.” (19:4-6)
II. QUESTION TWO: “WHY THEN DID MOSES COMMAND A CERTIFICATE OF DIVORCE, AND TO PUT HER AWAY?” Matt. 19:7-9
A. Moses Permitted
Putting Away Wives within God’s Parameters, 19:8; Deut. 24:1.
III. STATEMENT: “IF SUCH IS THE CASE OF THE MAN WITH HIS WIFE, IT IS BETTER NOT TO MARRY.” Matt. 19:10-12
A. Disciples were
(Current events in the light of Scripture)
Recreational Marijuana Use
Washington and Colorado have legalized the possession and use of marijuana. Is pot smoking harmless? Is it approved by God? Christians need the clear teaching of God’s word on the recreational use of marijuana.
Marijuana is still a banned substance under federal law. Unfortunately, the U.S. Justice Dept. has taken a hands-off approach to enforcement. More states are working to legalize it. Remember, just because man legalizes an action does not mean God approves it (cf. Acts 5:29).
Marijuana harms those who use it. It is not harmless fun. “Marijuana smoke is actually more irritating to the mouth, throat, air passages, and lungs than tobacco smoke. What’s more, it contains 50 to 70 percent more cancer-provoking hydrocarbons. And pot-smokers tend to inhale deeply and hold their breath while smoking. As a result, long-term marijuana users, like their tobacco-puffing counterparts, are at higher risk than the general population not only for chronic lung disease but also for cancer of the upper respiratory tract and lungs.” (family.custhelp.com) “Long-term marijuana users are also known for developing a marked lack of motivation… Other research has linked marijuana use with poor overall job performance. This includes increased tardiness, absenteeism, accidents, and workers’ compensation claims” (Ibid). A Christian smoking pot is not pursuing “righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness” (1 Tim. 6:11). Smoking a “gateway drug” is not a godly example (1 Tim. 4:12).
The purpose of recreational marijuana use is to become intoxicated. People smoke pot to “get high”. This can be likened to drinking to get “buzzed”. “Marijuana is a Schedule I hallucinogenic substance under the Washington Uniform Controlled Substances Act” (norml.org). People smoke pot for its “mood-altering, mind-altering” effects. The gospel says not to be drunk, high or buzzed, but to be sober-minded (Eph. 5:18; 1 Pet. 4:3; Tit. 2:6). Intoxication of the mind is the main point of recreational marijuana use. Social pot-smoking, like social drinking, is against the will of God.
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 01/20/2014
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA