The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?” (Matthew 19:3, NKJV)
Disregard for the permanency of marriage did not begin in our day. Millions and millions now live together without marriage; it is accepted as natural and normal. Millions more marry without the expectation of it lasting “until death we do part.” They marry “as long as our love lasts.” These would fit right in with the Pharisees who scrutinized Jesus on the subject of divorce. But, in His answer, Jesus exposed their low regard for marriage. Not a few who are married are looking for a way out – for some rationale with which to vindicate themselves as they prepare to separate what God joined together (Matt. 19:6). God, who gave marriage, made it a lifelong covenant, with His law obliging each spouse to the other (Rom. 7:2). Jesus will go on to tell these Pharisees that it is not lawful, “for just any reason,” for man to separate what God joins together (Matt. 19:6). God hates divorce (Mal. 2:16)! How strikingly from today’s advice: Don’t marry in the first place. Or, if you do, go ahead and divorce at the first sign of trouble. We do well to define and arrange our marriages according to God’s word. Marriages will thrive when God’s will for marriage is honored and obeyed.
1 Deliver me, O Lord, from evil men; Preserve me from violent men, 2 Who plan evil things in their hearts; They continually gather together for war. 3 They sharpen their tongues like a serpent; The poison of asps is under their lips. Selah (Psalm 140:1–3, NKJV)
David saw Jehovah as the One who would equip him against his enemies, preserving him in battle against evil, violent people. Those who attacked David in war also waged a propaganda war against him. Their lips were full of poison, directed toward his character and his God (remember the words of Goliath, 1 Sam. 17:26, 42-44). Christians are in a battle against spiritual forces that requires unyielding faith in the strength of the Lord to deliver us unto triumph against the adversaries of righteousness (Eph. 6:10-13). God’s deliverance from our enemies begins by us having the faith to put on His armor and fighting the good fight of faith (1 Tim. 6:12). Our life in Christ is not a bed of ease; it is the battlefield of faith. Take up the banner of the cross and live in its shadow. Trust and obey the word of the cross. Therein is full assurance that the Lord will deliver you from evil people, and preserve you for His heavenly kingdom (1 Cor. 1:18-21; 2 Tim. 4:17-18). “Selah” – Pause, ponder and profess with gratitude the greatness of our God, who delivers us from every adversary!
1 Now concerning the things of which you wrote to me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. 2 Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband. (1 Corinthians 7:1–2, NKJV)
The “present distress” of persecution facing the Corinthian Christians made it advisable for them not to marriage (1 Cor. 7:25-33). But, the temptation of sexual immorality was strong then, just as it is today. And so, God gave marriage as the holy fulfillment of human sexual desire. The apostle had just warned Christians to “flee fornication” (1 Cor. 6:18). Now, he reminds them that God gave marriage as the one, moral means of their sexual desires. The bed is “undefiled” in marriage (Heb. 13:4). This one flesh uniting of husband and wife meets one of the Lord’s purposes for marriage; the avoidance of sexual sin. Thus, both husband and wife are obliged to serve their mate in this matter (see 1 Cor. 7:3-4). The marriage bed is not an exercise in selfish pleasure. Nor is it a bargaining chip to hold power over one’s spouse. Such selfish treatment of the marriage bed shows shameful disrespect for what God deems to be a holy safeguard against sin. “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Heb. 13:4).
19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. (1 Corinthians 6:19–20, NKJV)
We have been reared to think of ourselves as autonomous, in control of ourselves and unfettered by the authority of others. In one sense, this is true, for we are free moral agents – each one morally responsible and accountable to God and others for our actions. This demonstrates that while we are free to act without regard for others, such a decision is sinful and foolish. We must regard God and man in all our actions. Not only were our bodies were given to us by God, we were “bought at a price” by the offering of the blood of Jesus Christ (Heb. 9:28; 10:10-12; 1 Pet. 1:18-19). Instead of using our bodies to fulfill sinful lusts through sexual immorality, we are to offer our bodies in the service of the Lord to do His will (see Rom. 12:1-2). Coming out of the sinful defilement of the world, God will dwell with us and we with Him (2 Cor. 6:16-7:1). So then, both our redemption and our subsequent relation with God demands that we “flee fornication” and pursue righteousness (1 Cor. 6:18; 2 Tim. 2:22).
Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. (1 Corinthians 6:18, NKJV)
Like the citizens of Corinth when the apostle Paul visited their city, many people today believe fornication (sexual immorality) is normal and natural, and no violation of social norms or divine truth. Yet, the Bible is clear. It violates God’s will. God intends us to use our bodies for holiness, not to fulfill sinful passions (1 Thess. 4:3-7). To commit sexual immorality (whether it is premarital sex, adultery – whether homosexual or heterosexual, bestiality, incest or pedophilia) is to sin against God and against the purpose He gave the body. Every sin we commit begins in the mind (“outside the body”), as Jesus taught in Mark 7:20-23. Sexually immorality is antagonistic to the very purpose God gave your body – to give glory to God as His dwelling place (1 Cor. 6:19-20). It is not love when sexual activity occurs outside of God-endorsed marriage; it is dishonorable in His sight. This is God’s judgment: “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Heb. 13:4). Christians are “joined to the Lord,” therefore, we must not join ourselves to a harlot (1 Cor. 6:16-18). Keep both mind and body pure, and serve the Lord in holiness.
4 The pangs of death surrounded me, and the floods of ungodliness made me afraid. 5 The sorrows of Sheol surrounded me; The snares of death confronted me. 6 In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried out to my God; He heard my voice from His temple, and my cry came before Him, even to His ears. (Psalm 18:4–6, NKJV)
Songwriters Frank E. Graeff and J. Lincoln Hall wrote, “Does Jesus Care?”, which begins, “Does Jesus care when my heart is pained too deeply for mirth or song, as the burdens press, and the cares distress, and the way grows weary and long? Oh yes, He cares, I know He cares, His heart is touched with my grief; When the days are weary, the long nights dreary, I know my Savior cares.” Death enveloped David like a noose around his neck. His only relief was the Lord, to whom he cried. God heard him, and saved him from his enemies (Psa. 18:3, 16-19). Each of us will face death at some point. Perhaps you (or a loved one) are facing it now. Christians are confident that death does not defeat our faith, because our Lord Jesus Christ has conquered death! Yes, He cares when that robber of life comes with its sorrow and pain. But, Jesus gives us joyous hope beyond this land of parting and weeping – of the land of endless day and of His eternal love. Oh yes, He cares!
17 O God, You have taught me from my youth; And to this day I declare Your wondrous works. 18 Now also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, do not forsake me, until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to everyone who is to come. (Psalm 71:17–18, NKJV)
From youth to old age, God teaches us of His mighty works. His creation speaks to us of unseen things – “His eternal power and Godhead” (Rom. 1:20). The heavens declare His glory (Psa. 19:1). From childhood, His Holy Scriptures teach wisdom and salvation to those who are trained thereby (2 Tim. 3:15). Those who are faithful to Him declare His wonderful works. Age does not diminish this righteous man’s determination to tell the next generation of God’s powerful works. May our resolve grow stronger as we grow older, to tell the next generation of the Almighty and His great works. Tell them of His eternal power, and of His enduring love. Tell them of His truth and His salvation (Psa. 71:15, 23-24). May the younger generation learn well the lessons their predecessors have discovered; youth fades and the body weakens, but the power and righteousness of God endures forever. Praise Him until your last breathe. He will be your everlasting strength.