Walking in Love

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Turning from sin and darkness to light; walking wisely; knowing the will of the Lord; manifesting Jesus in relationships: in so doing Christians imitate God, and walk in love, as Christ loved them.

Walking in Love

Be ye therefore imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, even as Christ also loved you, and gave himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for an odor of a sweet smell.

But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as becometh saints; nor filthiness, nor foolish talking, or jesting, which are not befitting: but rather giving of thanks. For this ye know of a surety, that no fornicator, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no man deceive you with empty words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the sons of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them; for ye were once darkness, but are now light in the Lord: walk as children of light (for the fruit of the light is in all goodness and righteousness and truth), proving what is well-pleasing unto the Lord; and have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather even reprove them; for the things which are done by them in secret it is a shame even to speak of. But all things when they are reproved are made manifest by the light: for everything that is made manifest is light. Wherefore he saith, Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall shine upon thee.

Look therefore carefully how ye walk, not as unwise, but as wise; redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And be not drunken with wine, wherein is riot, but be filled with the Spirit; speaking one to another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; giving thanks always for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; subjecting yourselves one to another in the fear of Christ.

Wives, be in subjection unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, being himself the saviour of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives also be to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself up for it; that he might sanctify it, having cleansed it by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the church to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. Even so ought husbands also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his own wife loveth himself: for no man ever hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as Christ also the church; because we are members of his body. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is great: but I speak in regard of Christ and of the church. Nevertheless do ye also severally love each one his own wife even as himself; and let the wife see that she fear her husband (Ephesians 5:1-33).

Walking in Love
Paul's Letter to the Ephesians

 
 
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Abuse, Assault, and Harassment

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We are hearing all sorts of news about abuse, assault, and harassment allegations now brought to light. #MeToo and #ChurchToo movements have exposed the prevalence of such behaviors, even unfortunately among those who would profess the Lord Jesus. What do the Scriptures teach about abuse, assault, and harassment, and how should Christians respond to such claims and behaviors?

Abuse, Assault, and Harassment

Abuse, Assault, and Harassment

 
 
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Walking in Wisdom

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Paul would have the Colossian Christians follow the higher way of Jesus in the household and among outsiders, walking in wisdom, glorifying Jesus in all they did. We do well to learn and do likewise.

Walking in Wisdom

Wives, be in subjection to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them. Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing in the Lord. Fathers, provoke not your children, that they be not discouraged. Servants, obey in all things them that are your masters according to the flesh; not with eye-service, as men-pleasers, but in singleness of heart, fearing the Lord: whatsoever ye do, work heartily, as unto the Lord, and not unto men; knowing that from the Lord ye shall receive the recompense of the inheritance: ye serve the Lord Christ. For he that doeth wrong shall receive again for the wrong that he hath done: and there is no respect of persons. Masters, render unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven.

Continue stedfastly in prayer, watching therein with thanksgiving; withal praying for us also, that God may open unto us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds; that I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak. Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer each one.

All my affairs shall Tychicus make known unto you, the beloved brother and faithful minister and fellow-servant in the Lord: whom I have sent unto you for this very purpose, that ye may know our state, and that he may comfort your hearts; together with Onesimus, the faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They shall make known unto you all things that are done here.

Aristarchus my fellow-prisoner saluteth you, and Mark, the cousin of Barnabas (touching whom ye received commandments; if he come unto you, receive him), and Jesus that is called Justus, who are of the circumcision: these only are my fellow-workers unto the kingdom of God, men that have been a comfort unto me. Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, saluteth you, always striving for you in his prayers, that ye may stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God. For I bear him witness, that he hath much labor for you, and for them in Laodicea, and for them in Hierapolis. Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas salute you.

Salute the brethren that are in Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the church that is in their house. And when this epistle hath been read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and that ye also read the epistle from Laodicea. And say to Archippus, Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfil it.

The salutation of me Paul with mine own hand. Remember my bonds. Grace be with you (Colossians 3:18-4:18).

Walking in Wisdom
Paul's Letter to the Colossians

 
 
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Power, Control, and Influence

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Power and control: we all want it more than we might like to admit. We do well to understand the dynamics of power, from whom power comes, and how we should exercise oversight and authority.

Power, Control, and Influence

Power, Control, and Influence
Example and Influence

 
 
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Hosea and Gomer, YHWH and Israel

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Disturbing. Shameful. Shocking! Why would YHWH do such things to Hosea as demanded in Hosea 1:1-3:5? Hosea would learn to understand YHWH’s love for Israel, and decry Israel’s shameful treatment of her God.

Hosea and Gomer, YHWH and Israel

The word of YHWH that came unto Hosea the son of Beeri, in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel.
When YHWH spake at the first by Hosea, YHWH said unto Hosea, “Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredom and children of whoredom; for the land doth commit great whoredom, departing from YHWH.”
So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim; and she conceived, and bare him a son.
And YHWH said unto him, “Call his name Jezreel; for yet a little while, and I will avenge the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu, and will cause the kingdom of the house of Israel to cease. And it shall come to pass at that day, that I will break the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel.”
And she conceived again, and bare a daughter.
And YHWH said unto him, “Call her name Lo-ruhamah; for I will no more have mercy upon the house of Israel, that I should in any wise pardon them. But I will have mercy upon the house of Judah, and will save them by YHWH their God, and will not save them by bow, nor by sword, nor by battle, by horses, nor by horsemen.”
Now when she had weaned Lo-ruhamah, she conceived, and bare a son.
And YHWH said, “Call his name Lo-ammi; for ye are not my people, and I will not be your God.”
Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass that, in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God. And the children of Judah and the children of Israel shall be gathered together, and they shall appoint themselves one head, and shall go up from the land; for great shall be the day of Jezreel. Say ye unto your brethren, Ammi; and to your sisters, Ruhamah.
“Contend with your mother, contend; for she is not my wife, neither am I her husband; and let her put away her whoredoms from her face, and her adulteries from between her breasts; lest I strip her naked, and set her as in the day that she was born, and make her as a wilderness, and set her like a dry land, and slay her with thirst. Yea, upon her children will I have no mercy; for they are children of whoredom; for their mother hath played the harlot; she that conceived them hath done shamefully;
for she said, ‘I will go after my lovers, that give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, mine oil and my drink.’
Therefore, behold, I will hedge up thy way with thorns, and I will build a wall against her, that she shall not find her paths. And she shall follow after her lovers, but she shall not overtake them; and she shall seek them, but shall not find them: then shall she say, I will go and return to my first husband; for then was it better with me than now. For she did not know that I gave her the grain, and the new wine, and the oil, and multiplied unto her silver and gold, which they used for Baal. Therefore will I take back my grain in the time thereof, and my new wine in the season thereof, and will pluck away my wool and my flax which should have covered her nakedness. And now will I uncover her lewdness in the sight of her lovers, and none shall deliver her out of my hand. I will also cause all her mirth to cease, her feasts, her new moons, and her sabbaths, and all her solemn assemblies. And I will lay waste her vines and her fig-trees, whereof she hath said, These are my hire that my lovers have given me; and I will make them a forest, and the beasts of the field shall eat them. And I will visit upon her the days of the Baalim, unto which she burned incense, when she decked herself with her earrings and her jewels, and went after her lovers, and forgat me,” saith YHWH.
“Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her. And I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope; and she shall make answer there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt. And it shall be at that day, saith YHWH, that thou shalt call me ‘Ishi,’ and shalt call me no more ‘Baali.’ For I will take away the names of the Baalim out of her mouth, and they shall no more be mentioned by their name. And in that day will I make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, and with the birds of the heavens, and with the creeping things of the ground: and I will break the bow and the sword and the battle out of the land, and will make them to lie down safely. And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in justice, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies. I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness; and thou shalt know YHWH.”
“And it shall come to pass in that day, I will answer,” saith YHWH, “I will answer the heavens, and they shall answer the earth; and the earth shall answer the grain, and the new wine, and the oil; and they shall answer Jezreel. And I will sow her unto me in the earth; and I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy; and I will say to them that were not my people, ‘Thou art my people’; and they shall say, ‘Thou art my God.'”
And YHWH said unto me, “Go again, love a woman beloved of her friend, and an adulteress, even as YHWH loveth the children of Israel, though they turn unto other gods, and love cakes of raisins.”
So I bought her to me for fifteen pieces of silver, and a homer of barley, and a half-homer of barley; and I said unto her, “Thou shalt abide for me many days; thou shalt not play the harlot, and thou shalt not be any man’s wife: so will I also be toward thee.”
For the children of Israel shall abide many days without king, and without prince, and without sacrifice, and without pillar, and without ephod or teraphim: afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek YHWH their God, and David their king, and shall come with fear unto YHWH and to his goodness in the latter days (Hosea 1:1-3:5).

Hosea and Gomer, YHWH and Israel
The Book of Hosea

 
 
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Sexuality in Light of the Resurrection

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Human sexuality is designed by God and has its place. And yet, even in terms of human sexuality, the resurrection is the game changer. How should we understand human sexuality in light of the resurrection?

Sexuality in Light of the Resurrection

Sexuality in Light of the Resurrection
A Theology of Sexuality

 
 
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The Voice 4.48: November 30, 2014

posted in: The Voice | 0

The Voice

Divorce and Adultery

And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except for fornication [Gk porneia], and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and he that marrieth her when she is put away committeth adultery (Matthew 19:9).

God clearly revealed His will for marriage in the words of the Lord Jesus: what God has joined man is not to separate (Matthew 19:8). Divorce, as the separation of what God has joined, is never what God intends for any marriage; it is a sin in and of itself, or it is the result of the sin of the sexually deviant behavior of the spouse being put away (Matthew 19:9). Throughout the pages of Scripture divorce is never commended; far too many have learned the suffering, misery, and pain that comes from the violations of the marriage covenant, either as spouses or as children or, in many sad situations, both.

As a result of the explosion of divorces in America, various permutations of false teachings on marriage, divorce, and remarriage among the Lord’s people have multiplied. One set of such teachings focus on how “divorce” and the roles of its participants are understood. Some are now suggesting that divorces for reasons other than for porneia, sexually deviant behavior, are not recognized as divorces by God; the state may recognize them but God does not. In such a view, if a man divorces his wife for any reason other than porneia, and goes and marries another person, his wife could now “divorce” him for his porneia and be free to go and marry another. This view is frequently called “mental divorce” since the wife’s divorce has no legal or civil basis but was an action done in the mind. Is this what Jesus had in mind in Matthew 19:3-9?

It is difficult to understand why Jesus would speak as He did if He had the “mental divorce” view in mind. Matthew provides the “exception clause” in Matthew 19:9; in Mark 10:11-12 and Luke 16:18 no such exception clause is recorded. This is not an attempt to undermine the integrity of the “exception clause” or to suggest that even divorces for the porneia of the offending spouse are inappropriate, but it does show us that for Jesus, the rule was that whoever divorces his spouse and marries another commits adultery. To use the “language of Ashdod” here, what are deemed “unscriptural” divorces are the rule, while “scriptural” divorces are the exception. By virtue of the language He uses Jesus recognizes that people divorce for all sorts of reasons which God does not legitimate; that is why the consequence of remarriage is that such ones commit adultery against their spouse (esp. Mark 10:11). Thus Jesus does perceive that such people divorce their spouses, that they have separated what God has joined; in doing so they have sinned. That sin has further consequences if they marry another. Nevertheless, once two such people are divorced, they are divorced. Jesus never says, “and once he has married another, she who had been put away can go and remarry”; such revelation is entirely lacking. All Jesus has said about the one having been put away is that any who marry him or her commits adultery (Matthew 5:32). That is equally true of the one having been put away for any reason as for the one who committed porneia.

Yet many wonder why Jesus would then say that the one who marries another “commits adultery” if they really are divorced and thus no longer married (Matthew 19:9). But we do well to remember what Jesus said in Matthew 19:8: what God has joined man is not to separate (and note well that Jesus uses an infinitive there: man is not to separate, not, man cannot separate). What happens once man separates what God has joined? We get no impression from the text that God considers them no longer joined. He recognizes that they have separated; they will suffer consequences for that. If they go and marry another a civil authority may deem them joined, and God sees that they are joining together, but considers it adultery, for they are having sex with someone other than the one to whom God joined them. God’s will for divorced people is to remain unmarried or to reconcile (1 Corinthians 7:10-11); reconciliation was in many cases condemned as abominable under the Law in Deuteronomy 24:1-4 but in the new covenant proves necessary precisely because God has only ever joined a person to one spouse. The only time when a person can marry another is if he or she divorced their spouse for the latter’s porneia (Matthew 19:9). This is not a “re-divorce” or a “mental divorce” after a first divorce; the text provides no such declarations. Once a divorce happens, once man has separated what God has joined, the two are divorced; if they marry others, they are charged with committing adultery. The text of the New Testament provides no basis upon which to justify later revisions of the purpose of the divorce or any later attempt to “divorce the divorcer.” If Jesus wanted to provide such revelation, He had ample opportunity to provide such clarification in the context of Matthew 19. None was forthcoming.

Jesus has spoken plainly on marriage and divorce in Matthew 5:31-32 and 19:3-9. Unbelievers, people interested in learning the truth, and young Christians almost always immediately understand exactly what Jesus means in those passages. Yes, those truths are hard; Jesus Himself confesses as much (Matthew 19:10-12). Let us not go beyond what is written, justifying what has no textual basis, but instead hold firm to God’s teachings on marriage and divorce!

Ethan R. Longhenry