Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her (Ephesians 5:25, NKJV)
How incredible would your marriage be if you loved you wife as Christ loved the church? Wonderful, you say? Hopefully so. Yet, what if your wife becomes “lukewarm” toward your love, just as the church of the Laodiceans became lukewarm toward Jesus Christ (Rev. 3:14-16)? Even that must not deter and diminish your love for your wife. You see, husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church. Christ continued to love the Laodicean church when it was less than loving, using words of rebuke and chastening to urge her repentance (Rev. 3:19). Christ’s utter and complete sacrifice of himself for His church is the model for every husband’s treatment of his wife. Loving your wife is not about getting something from her in return. It is not about always doing everything she wants. It is about always looking out for what is in her best interest, especially when that means making a sacrifice on your part. Hopefully, she will see your love and honor you for it. But, if she fails to see and value this sort of love, do not stop sacrificially loving her. You must remain true to the Lord, and that includes being a righteous, loving husband at all times.
And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:18, NKJV)
The rock upon which Jesus built His church is not Peter; it is the confession Peter had just made: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt. 16:16). Without this great truth, there would be no church, no “called out” body of redeemed souls who are purchased by the blood of the Son of God (Acts 20:28; Eph. 1:22-23; 25-27; Rev. 5:9-10). It is an obvious, yet neglected truth, that the church belongs to Christ. The church does not belong to you or me, or any other person. Therefore, no one has the right to alter it, abuse it, disrespect it, discount it or corrupt it with the “commandments and doctrines of men” (Col. 2:22; Matt. 15:7-9). The death of Jesus did not prevent the building of His church. Indeed, His death and resurrection declares His great power over sin and death. The church is the result of Christ’s great victory over sin and death. So, rather than minimizing the church as an afterthought, or as a non-essential, personal choice, let us praise God for the church of Christ and the heavenly blessings Christians have in Christ (Eph. 3:10-11; 1:3). There is only one church, and that is the church we must choose; the church which Christ built. The churches of men are not, and never will be, the church of Christ.
28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, 30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; 32 who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them. (Romans 1:28–32, NKJV)
God does not force one to believe in Him. But, there are eternal consequences for failing to do so. When people refuse to hold God in their consciousness, He hands them over to their worthless thinking and its sins. The psalmist observed, “The wicked in his proud countenance does not seek God; God is in none of his thoughts” (Psalm 10:4). But, the vacuum created by rejecting God does not remain empty; It is filled with all manner of evil thoughts and conduct. Exalting self and indulging in lusts, oppressing others, and ignoring God’s righteous judgment is their trademark. Taken over by sin, they continue to practice the very things that bring eternal death, while approving of the sinful deeds of others. The mind that abandons God is left to its own sinful devices, and eternal judgment. Turn your heart back to God and do what is proper in His sight.
26 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. 27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. (Romans 1:26–27, NKJV)
Vile passions constitute a constant burning of desire that consumes and controls one’s entire being. This passage makes it very clear that homosexual impulses, when acted upon, are among such “vile passions.” Those who practice homosexuality have “exchanged the truth of God for the lie” that their passions and practices are normal and natural (Rom. 1:25). They are not. Scripture says homosexuality is a chosen, sinful behavior, not a congenital trait (1 Cor. 6:9-11). Twice, the apostle notes that homosexual conduct conflicts with the “natural use” of the body. God created male and female to perfectly answer to one another, body and soul (Gen. 2:18-25). To change this divine arrangement into a shameful sin is a fraudulent perversion of sexuality that brings just penalty and punishment. It is quite apparent that that truth has been exchanged for a lie when one practices homosexuality, or when one accepts homosexuality as normal and natural. This work of the flesh requires repentance, as do all the rest (Gal. 5:19-21).
24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, 25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. (Romans 1:24–25, NKJV)
Mankind is under the wrath of God, and for good reason (Rom. 1:18-21). The refusal to honor and thank God plunged humanity into the darkness of pride and the foolishness of elevating human wisdom above God and His truth (Rom. 1:21-22). This led to idolatry – the corruption of true worship (Rom. 1:23). Idolatry (false worship) feeds on fleshly lusts. Impure worship opens the door to immoral living. When God is ignored and His truth is devalued, the boundaries of moral restraint (that are set by divine truth) are increasingly ignored. Just as false worship abandons truth for lies, immorality abandons the moral restraints of truth. Instead of honoring God with the body, it is used to fulfill the sinful lusts of the heart (1 Cor. 6:13, 15, 19). One must not think he is honoring God while using his body to fulfill the dishonorable lusts of immorality. When the truth of God is exchanged for the lie of idolatry, immorality follows. God allows it to happen, but His wrath is revealed against it. You cannot serve the god of self, and expect to be blessed by God our Creator.
And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. (Colossians 3:17, NKJV)
To do something “in the name of” the Lord Jesus means to do it by His power, authority and approval (see Acts 4:7). Why must we have Christ’s approval for all we say and do? One reason is because “the way of man is not in himself; It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps” (Jer. 10:23). We must have God’s direction in our lives, and the word of Christ supplies us with His moral, spiritual and doctrinal direction. Let His word richly dwell in your heart (Col. 3:15). It is His teaching, not our opinions, consciences, and human logic that marks out the right way to God. Another reason why all we say and do must be with Christ’s authority is because God’s thoughts and ways are far higher than ours (Isa. 55:8-9). We cannot rely on ourselves for salvation, and for how to live in fellowship with the Father. Christ, through His word, provides us the way, the truth and the life we must have in order to go to the Father now, and to live with Him forevermore. Jesus is “the Way” to the Father (Jno. 14:6).
If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord. (1 Corinthians 14:37, NKJV)
Jesus sent His apostles into all the world to preach His gospel to everyone (Mk. 16:15; Matt. 28:19). Before His death, Jesus told His apostles, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who receives whomever I send receives Me; and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me” (Jno. 13:20). Later, Jesus appeared to Paul (Saul of Tarsus), appointed him to be an apostle, and sent him to preach the gospel, too (Acts 26:16-20). We rightly conclude that there is absolutely no way one can receive Jesus, yet reject His apostles. Truly, the first Christians were commended precisely because “they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine” (Acts 2:42). Instead of unsuccessfully trying to separate the teachings of Paul, Peter, John and the other apostles from Christ, cherish and hold fast all they spoke and wrote. By doing so, you are cherishing the Son and the Father (who sent Jesus to the world). To do less is not only a rejection of the apostles, but also of the Father and the Son. The spiritual acknowledge this. Indeed, one is not “spiritual” when he refuses to receive the apostles’ teachings as “the commandments of the Lord.” We need all of the New Testament. All of it is from God (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. (Romans 5:1–2, NKJV)
The great grace of God is accessed by faith. Abraham’s faith is prototypical of the faith we must have in order to access grace (Rom. 4). Those who “walk in the steps of the faith” that Abraham had are those who are saved (Rom. 4:12-16). Notably, Abraham’s obedience perfected his faith (Jas. 2:21-24). In the same manner, obedient faith grants access to God’s grace today (Rom. 6:17-18). One greatly errs if he thinks God’s grace overlooks sin. “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it” (Rom. 6:1-2)? Faithful Christians will not develop a careless attitude toward what sin is, or toward what it does. The Holy Spirit warns us not to fall from grace, and persuades us to live by faith by obeying the “perfect law of liberty” (Gal. 5:4; 2 Cor. 5:7; Jas. 1:22-25). Do not falsely conclude that because God’s grace is so great, it will save you in spite of having unrepented sin in your life. That is not the faith of father Abraham. That will never be the faith that accesses and stands in grace.
Do you see a man hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him. (Proverbs 29:20, NKJV)
Do you know someone who seems to be an “expert” on just about every subject that comes up? Give him an opening, and he will be sure you know it! He will tell you the best car to buy, the best food to eat, the best place to live, the best…everything! And, the alternatives are always inferior – because he knows what is best! Except for the occasional renaissance man and woman, it is much wiser to be deliberate in choosing our words before we speak. People will soon tune out from listening to the person if they believe that person’s high opinion of himself drives most everything he says. Carefully choose your words, for it will be words “fitly spoken” that convey value and wisdom (Prov. 25:11). The fool is rash and rapid with his words, causing disruption and disturbance in his wake. By contrast, inspiration instructs us to “let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one” (Col. 4:6).
5 They will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 6 For this reason the gospel was preached also to those who are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit. (1 Peter 4:5–6, NKJV)
God’s assured judgment of sinners, including those practicing the immoral excesses named in this context (1 Peter 4:3), is the very reason the gospel is preached to the world. God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4). The world is dead in sin. The gospel of God gives the sinner life out of spiritual death (Rom. 1:16-17; 6:23). Sinners who believe the gospel will obey it by repenting and being baptized (Acts 2:37-41; 1 Pet. 3:21). The result of this is salvation – life “according to God in the spirit.” This new life necessarily compels the saved to “cease from sin” (1 Pet. 4:1). Although the saved sinner will be judged harshly by those who continue to practice sin (see 1 Pet. 4:4), God’s assured forgiveness and promised eternal life confirms our heart and lives in Him. Being reviled for good conduct is but one way we are willing to “suffer in the flesh” because we have “ceased from sin” (1 Pet. 4:1).