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User-friendly Christianity is now widely promoted as the best way to grow a church.
Yet jesus never made an effort to go to any church-growth seminars. He didn’t seem worried about attracting crowds. Pity, too. He could have avoided a lot of problems in ministry.
Consider this incident in John 6:60-71. He had just fed the 5000, then claimed He was “the bread of life.” Next, He told people no one could come to Him unless the Father draw s him or enables him.
“This is a hard teaching,” many of the disciples protested. “Who can accept it? (verse 60).
“Does this offend you?” Jesus asked. “There are some of you who do not believe” (verse 61,64).
Now that is no way to treat rye unchurched. These sincere “seekers” needed a chance to reexamine His claims in light go their own experience.
This was no time to get tough with them. Didn’t He want a large following?
Think of the impression that would have made on the boys in Jerusalem.
Jesus, however, was completely disinterested in such tactics.
In fact, He drove these men away! “Many of His disciples turned back,” the Bible says, “and no longer followed Him” (verse 66.)
Then Jesus had the audacity to ask the Twelve if they wanted to leave as well. Didn’t He understand anything about attracting and holding crowds?
“Go ahead and leave!” He might as well have said.
But the twelve knew better. Thyat’s why they were the twelve. And yet, even one of them wasn’t for real!
“Lord, to whom shall we go?” Peter asked on their behalf. “You have the words of eternal life. We believe that you are the Holy One of God” (verses 68-69).
The fact is, Jesus had His own style of church growth.
It was addition by subtraction, on thinning out the ranks. If you’re not sure, leave!
He never begged anyone to follow Him. He called. He commanded. He demanded. But He never begged.
If you think you have a better option, then go ahead and try it. But you won’t find anything better or more satisfying than real christianity. It works because it’s genuine. It truly does transform the heart and regenerate the soul. Nothing can compare to it.
Personal relationship with Christ is not the same as void religion. Religion has its set of rules you must adhere to in order to be pleasing in the sight of God. Relationship fulfilled the rules in order that we may have life and have it abundantly. In turn, we obey the command He summed up in “Love your God with all your heart, soul and mind and your neighbor as yourself” because we love Him. And we love Him because He first loved us while we were sinners…Christ died for US!!!
Portion taken from No Greater Savior.
There is no question about who Jesus is. The Bible makes it clear. The apostles made it clear. And Jesus Himself makes it clear. He is Lord!
The only real question that remains, then, is this: Is HE Lord of your life?
This about the answer.
Remember Lordship implies ownership. Does He own your tongue and what you say? Does He own your eyes and what they see? Does he own your hand and what they touch?
You don’t have to be perfect to have Him as your Lord. The disciples to whom He said, “You call me.. ‘Lord’ and rightly so” (John 13:13) were far from perfect. In fact, they would deny and forsake Him the very next day!
Jesus’ lordship is not conditioned upon our obedience. He is still Lord even when we fail Him. We can sin against His Lordship, but we can’t sin away His lordship. Once we belong to Him, He cannot love us more. And He will not loves us less than He already loves us. His love is perfect and constant.
The bible calls upon us to trust Christ with our lives and our eternal destiny. It makes no distinction between receiving Him as Savior and Lord. He is both and He is to be received as both. You don’t get half of Jesus at one point in your life and wait to receive rye other half at a later time.
When you bowed your heart and soul and entrusted your life to Him, you received ALL of Him – Savior and Lord. And He received all of you – your total person.
Once you belong to Him, Jesus calls upon you to obey Him. It won’t make Him any more your Lord than it will make Him any more your Savior. But it will determine the level of your commitment and the extent of your impact for the cause of Christ and the Kingdom.
How committed are you? Are you allowing Jesus to exercise Lordship over your life? His plan for you is much better than anything you could ever dream of. In order to become everything He created you to be, you must surrender to His lordship in your life.
We miss so much when we try to live on our own terms and our own agenda.
Portion of No Greater Savior Devotional.
Motherhood in the trenches…THAT is what has been going on lately in my little world. So…Abby is turning 1 this coming week and she is a total joy to be around. This sweet girl has a way of giving you the puppy eyes that make you melt. She has a smile that reflects God’s goodness in my life. We almost didn’t have her. I would have missed the world. Thank you God! You are so faithful to your children. Abigail is the 5th of the Lightner Crew and without her my life would not be complete.
Warning: Major MOM rant about how great my kids are (J/K…more about how amazing my God is than anything else!)
Franky is an incredible young man. This young man is a testimony of God’s amazing GRACE! Had him when I was 18 and absolutely clueless about motherhood. I thought I knew it all but little did I know…I was beyond foolish and arrogant to think I could handle it on my own. I will be forever grateful that God brought be back on my knees before Him when I was 19. I didn’t have much chance to “mess it up”, if you know what I mean. I hit the ground running with him. Teaching him night and day about God. It has proven to work so far…the Bible that is. Train a child in the way he should go… He is one of the most well rounded kids I have ever met. He is such an incredible brother, hard worker and devoted to God and his family. I am saying all this because what GOD has done in this child’s life deserves to be praised. Listen to what I am saying…WHAT GOD HAS DONE…no, not me…not anyone else. God has been the one to personally intervene in Franky’s life to mold him and shape him into the young man he is today. God deserves ALL the glory. I could have messed it up royally…I would have too! He stepped in, with Grace and Mercy to parent Franky through me. For that, I will be forever grateful. I can say I have seen God in an amazing, real and tangible way in this life…in my sons life.
The toddlers (Lex, Jade and Ken) are schooling. They are doing PreK 4/5. They absolutely love it. They are memorizing scripture, old testament books of the Bible, the Apostles and biblical feasts. They are brilliant. They are sponges! I see God so evident in these little one’s lives it makes me cry at times. Their innocence, how outgoing and emotionally healthy they are. They are being raised in a bubble… a bubble of NT christianity. God is doing amazing things in their lives at such a young age…Jade shared the gospel with an EMT on her own at 3 years old. I cried…I cried and worshipped God. I can’t help but sob at the greatness of the Creator. The One who rules the Universe yet takes the time to love, guide and protect my little blessings. To see God at work in their lives is my reward. My greatest joy!
How do you do it?
That is the question I am most asked.
Well, here is the secret sweet friends…GOD does it through me. I can’t do it. I really can’t! I am not eloquent enough, smart enough or spiritual enough to train warriors for Christ. The holy spirit in me and my precious husband IS the one doing it so to GOD goes all the glory but I will give you a few pointers on what we do in our home to train our children to be godly offspring.
Dave and I decided we would allow God to dictate the size of our family. We are sold out in living NT christianity and that entails doing what the Bible calls us to do and believing every word to be true. So, we believe children ARE a blessing from the Lord and He has the ability to open or close the womb…only He can dictate how many blessings He can entrust you with. I realize there are medical issues, etc as exceptions…I am not saying this is 100% for every single person. I do understand we live in a fallen world and medical issues come up…what we do not believe in is for finances to dictate how many children you are to have. We do not have children according to how many we could afford at the time for God is the provider! That is what faith is about. Hebrews 11:1
These past few years have been a whirlwind. Goodness gracious, at times I thought I was not going to make it out alive! LOL I was having newborns (via C-section) and toddlers every single year for the past 4. I was fighting adrenal fatigue and at times (If we are going to be honest) depression. I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. I couldn’t pray or read my bible at times. I honestly had no desire. I fought spiritual depression but through it all I begged God to give me the desire. Like Jacob, I wrestled with God until’ He brought me to the other side…This was mostly my prayer in those days ” Lord, I don’t want to pray, I don’t want to read my Bible, oh God I am so exhausted…please don’t let me go and give me the desire to be close to you again.” Other days it was a mere “Ohhhhhhh GODDDDDDDD Where ARE YOU!?!!!!!!” The holy spirit made intercession for me most of those days because I couldn’t myself. God was faithful to my relentless “Oh God’s show up for me’s”, and “Oh God where are you’s!”. That is all I had in me.
Exhaustion will bring about depression at times. See, just because we are doing what God wants us to do doesn’t mean it will be easy. It will be a piece of cake with angels playing harps in the background. Sometimes what God calls us to do takes us into tough situations…a battle and without Him sustaining us we would lose. looking back now…even in those seasons of spiritual dryness and what seemed like God had abandoned me (more like I went somewhere because God was right where I left Him)…He was the one who was holding me together. I cry…oh dear friends I cry when I look back at my life and see His hand through it all. How faithful. How amazing. How gracious is the God I serve!!!! Even when I left Him, when I was unfaithful to Him and His word, even when I had unbelief…He loved me still. He was still guiding my life through the valley. IT WAS HE THAT CARRIED ME THROUGH! What a blessing to see this now. If you are in this season in your life where you are exhausted or just in a valley…keep pushing through. If you don’t feel like praying, ask God to give you the desire. If you don’t feel like reading the Word, ask Him to give you the desire again. Be real with God. Genuine hearts that seek to bring Him glory is what he looks for.
2 Chronicles 16:9a “For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.”
Some of the things we do/don’t do in our home…
A few years back we decided to get rid of cable in our home. We did not want our kids to be influenced by the culture. A westernized culture that seeks to destroy the family model. I strongly believe parents overexpose their children to the world in order to teach them how to “function” in it while they are younger instead of setting a solid foundation and biblical worldview first. See, you wouldn’t send your child off to be a missionary in a distant country. Why? Because they are not equipped. How is it any different for the young minds that are being molded by everything around them from a young age? The formative years are THE MOST important years of a child. Their entire lives will be determined by how they are raised their first 5 years. Their choices, personality, worldview and even issues will be established by age 5. I am not the only one saying this. If you do your research you will see renown parenting authors and pastors agree in this.
Proverbs 4:23 ” More than anything you guard, protect your mind, for life flows from it.” See, what you hear will start taking root in your mind and eventually your heart. Your actions will be dictated by your values established in your heart. Guard your precious little one’s heart and mind by filtering in only wholesome entertainment.
We do not listen to secular music. At such a young age I want my children to be surrounded by wholesome music. We do listen to Jazz, classical or Andrea Bocelli. 🙂 My little girls do not know who Hannah Montana is or any other disrespectful, inappropriate “role model” for little girls out there and THAT is the way I want to keep it. Do they watch Princess movies or secular cartoons? YES! We have netflix so what we pick is commercial free and appropriate in content. Will we be perfect in every single choice? Probably not. I am aware of that. This is not about perfection…this is about making sure we are doing our best as parents to give them the best chance at life possible. My son plays video games, these are chosen by him and dad. He plays shooting games (he likes shooting like most boys!), but dad makes sure they are appropriate for his age and maturity…if they need to be on mute…THAT is what happens. The point is to gage where your child is at and as they grow give them more privileges along with responsibilities. Letting the rope go ever so slightly as they grow…allowing them room to breathe according to how they have been trained and what they have earned.
We are quick to discipline direct disobedience. I understand that they are young and learning yet I am called by God to teach them diligently. Not only am I called to teach them the Word, I am called to teach them to obey quickly. We are training our kids to transfer their dependency from us unto God as they grow up. They must learn to obey quickly if they are to have a solid relationship with Christ. When Christ calls, I want them to answer like Samuel “here I am Lord!”
We read to them Bible stories every night. This is a great time to bond with them and share the gospel as God leads.
Once a week we have family night and another we have bible study night with the toddlers and Franky. Dad reads from a study series that asks comprehension questions at the end. Franky participates along with doing bible study with mom and dad. Praying together is a sweet gift from the Lord…we do not take it for granted.
We are very conscious of what our little girls wear. As they grow into being young ladies, I want them to be fashionable yet modest. I have to do this by example so I am working diligently to eliminate anything from my wardrobe that can be a stumbling block to them. If you teach them modesty from a young age, it will not be difficult as they get older, since this is ALL they know. It is ingrained in them.
During homeschooling, academics are very important to us. We want them to be the best at everything they do yet scripture and our faith is at the forefront of our teaching. If you have a solid biblical foundation, it is much easier to succeed academically. Believe me…this comes from someone who teaches her toddlers Biology. I love learning, I love educating my children and have high standards for them. NOTHING is more important than their relationship with God though…NOTHING!
MOST importantly, I spend the day kissing and hugging my kiddos. There are a million practical things you can do with them but nothing will impact them as much as your genuine unconditional love.
As a wife and mom, I know my role is to be my husband’s help meet and to train my children to be godly offspring for the Lord. Nothing comes before this calling. No ministry, no need is greater than my God given call to train up the next generation of kingdom warriors. Motherhood is a calling. It is not a hobby…It is not an option you have to either embrace it or ship your kids out. If we are going to revolutionize the world and impact culture for Christ it must be done in the homes!
Deut 6:6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
We no longer need to wonder why MOST of the evangelical kids walk away from the faith during college years. In order to impart that faith to our children, we must first possess the faith! How do we do this? By living out NT Christianity. Our kids don’t want to be lectured on how to live if we are not living those truth’s ourselves. THAT is hypocrisy. Hypocrisy will turn them away from Christ faster than any sin imaginable.
We take very seriously the responsibility God has given us to raise Godly offspring. That doesn’t mean we will be perfect…by no means, but we certainly will do our best to follow His commands and to pour out our lives as a living sacrifice before Him. Sometimes that means we need to give up ‘our’ dreams and ‘wants’ to do everything He has prepared for us. Being a homemaker is a tough job. Homeschooling is even harder but both so rewarding. I honestly believe that the reason families are falling apart is because women have left the homes in exchange for finding “fulfillment” in the world. After all isn’t that the same lie satan sold eve? God was holding out on her?! He convinced her what God had for her wasn’t good enough. He made her doubt God’s good heart in the roles He had created.
We have been sold a lie…the lie that we simply don’t have enough patience, money, brains or whatever else to educate our own children so we end up shipping them off to someone else to do our job. Listen sweet friends, I am not saying this in a judgmental manner…I am saying this because I am tired of satan lying to us. ALL of us. We MUST reclaim the truth’s of God and His promises. We must come together and encourage one another in this journey. We must put an end to the lies and reclaim the family for GOD!!!!!
“She is to be a home keeper, that’s the sphere of her responsibility, that’s her place of employment, that’s where she should pour her life. For a mother to get a job outside the home and send the children to some kind of daycare place is to shirk her God-given responsibility. It also is failure to understand that her husband is to be the provider, as Ephesians 5 makes very clear. Even if you wanted to work outside the home to pay for your children to go to a Christian school, you made a big mistake. Better that you should stay in the home and raise your own children to be godly then to pass it on to somebody else.” John MacArthur
Will you start with your family today?
Here is what I can promise you…tons of sleepless nights (may or may not lead to depression!), lots of crying and needs to be met, everything you are poured out to be the world to a few tiny people, you may or may not have time for 10 minute showers…and most of your day will be spend planning, serving and loving those whom God has given you BUT the rewards are so very worth it! JOY UNSPEAKABLE and KNOWING YOU ARE IN THE MIDST OF GOD’S WILL!!!! Nothing compares! I promise!
What does God’s model for the Family look like?
I invite you to visit the links below…you will find inspiration and guidance in your journey!
Dr. Voddie Baucham
Dr. John MacArthur
Dr. John MacArthur on God’s Pattern for Wives
Motherhood is a Calling and where do your children rank?
Suggested Reading for moms of littles…
Beyond Bath Time. Embracing Motherhood. by Erin Davis…
Does the Bible call us to be doormats as modern christianity (even “biblical” counselors) suggests?
The exegetical work of 2 verses…One adressing an unbelieving spouse and one addressing believers.
1 Peter 3:1 states that wives are to submit to their husbands even if they are unbelievers but lets exegete the passage and see exactly what Paul is talking about and in what context.
1 Peter 3:1
In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives”
This exposition will break down sections and go over words to better understand what the passage says and doesn’t say.
That, if any of them are disobedient to the word – The word of God= the gospel. That is, if any wives have husbands who are not believers/Christians. This would be likely to happen when the gospel was first preached, as it does now, by the fact that wives might be converted, though their husbands were not. It cannot be inferred from this, that after they themselves had become Christians they had married unbelieving husbands.
The term “word” (Logos in greek) here refers particularly to the gospel as preached; and the idea is, that if they were regardless of that gospel when preached – unaffected by it, or if they openly rejected it, there might be hope still that they would be converted by the Christian influence of a wife at home. Not by preaching to him but by the way she lives her life. Paying close attention to her integrity, meekness, seeing to it that she respects him and that she maintains him in the position of leader in the home. A wife has no right to usurp the authority of her husband just because he is unsaved. He is to make all important final decisions after carefully considering her opinion on the matter.
They may be won without a word – In some other way than by preaching. This does not mean that they would be converted independently of the influence of truth – for truth is always the instrument of conversion, James 1:18; John 17:17; but that it was to be by another influence than preaching. A wife is never called to beat her husband over he head with a bible, no man wants to live with a woman who preaches to him daily. What this does not say is that she is to remain silent on all matters. That is where we go wrong in our christian culture. We are so biblically illiterate, such lack of sound teaching on exegesis and hermeneutics in the church it is frightening what we are telling women to do. This passage is used in the modern church to abuse women into being nothing more than a door mat (What sharia law does by the way!)
This passage is clearly stating that a woman is not go around preaching to her husband in an attempt to “get him saved” and usurp the role as leader he holds before God, it never states to roll over and play dead. That is not Christ honoring as you can see the rest of the scriptures that deal with the husband and how he is to treat his beloved wife, his greatest treasure. Even as an unbeliever God still holds him accountable for the leadership of the home and God will use her life to impact his, hopefully to His saving Grace. With that said, she have a voice, she IS important. She is never not commanded to roll over and play dead to all his demands. Dear friend, even in a marriage where both are unbelievers, two people must compromise. It is never one-sided. Why would it be with a believer-unbeliever marriage? From a secular perspective…if they both were not saved, wouldn’t they have to compromise in marriage? Wouldn’t they have to care about what the other cares about to make the marriage work? Can a marriage work with two people being self-seeking and selfish about their time, money and talents? It can’t. The husband needs to understand what is important to his wife and respect it as he is supposed to love her.. (nevermind the high standard God has for him). Even an unbelieving husband should have such respect and love for his wife to allow her to be her. To seek after her interests, to pursue interests that make her happy so long as they are reasonable. A wife should always be able to speak to him in a loving manner, yet do not compromise her convictions and NEVER violate her conscience!
Marriage is about compromise, it is about BOTH parties making sacrifices for the other (christians or not!). See, today churches want to hold wives to the perfect biblical standard and let men off the hook as if the Bible doesn’t deal with how they are to conduct themselves. It is unfair to hold wives to a standard of perfection while never addressing the husbands. It is equally unfair to take scripture out of context to make women door mats. God warned solomon not to marry pagan women…why? Because a wife is the greatest influence in a man’s life. For good or for evil. How does a wife influence her husband? Have you ever seen a door mat influence anyone? No. A wife that is courageous, active in her husband’s life, seeking his best interest…loving him yet acting as a conscience him at times is what the Proverbs 31 woman was about. She was no door mat. She was strong, dedicated, loyal and most importantly made decisions in the household. She didn’t sit in the corner cooking supper waiting for her husband’s permission to LIVE…her priorities were set. God, her husband and her children first.
By the behavior of the wives – By the conduct of their wives. The meaning here is, that the habitual conduct of the wife was to be such as to show the reality and power of her relationship with Christ; to show that it had such influence on her temper, her words, her whole demeanor, to demonstrate that it is the power of God, real and active in her life. Her life will be a testimony of God’s grace and power to an unbelieving husband without her having to preach to him.
Ephesians 5:24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.
Also the wives ought to be (subject) to their own husbands – subject ( hupotasso- Strong’s 5293) to place under. Speaking of an order in rank. The husband is to be the head of the wife, as Christ is his head and the wife is to place herself under her husband in rank in her home. Never usurp the leadership role.
This never speaks of a wife being a doormat, without opinions or value making her inferior but to avoid chaos it was so since the beginning of creation. Adam was the head, the wife was placed under him as his help meet. Not inferior, but holding a different role.
In everything – Pas- strong’s 3956- all, the whole, in every area…in context a wife is to place herself under the headship of her husband in all matters. A wife is never to usurp leadership of the home in any area of their lives. The husband is to be the head and she is to be the helper, never trying to exchange their roles as God told Eve her tendency would be…to rule over her husband (Gen 3:16).
This passage because it has been taken out of context with surrounding passages and has not been exegeted properly is used to tell christian women that they need to keep their mouth shuts in every area of life and that is nothing short of what Sharia teaches.
Christ would have never taught that knowing the value He places on his children and the amazing responsibility He relayed to husbands everywhere in scripture to care, nurture and cherish their precious wives.
Godly conduct should always be a wife’s number one priority, being a doormat is never in the bible. Submission is always spoken of in the context of headship, never making a woman LESS (inferior) than her husband. Christ loves his bride (the church) enough to give his own life for her. He didn’t hold anything back. Is the church in relationship to Christ a doormat without a voice, opinion, needs, desires etc? No. He didn’t ask of us to be doormats, he loved us unconditionally and such love leads us to repentance and to desire to obey Him. Even when the church is to submit to Christ as Lord, he desires a dialogue, a relationship. A relationship goes both ways…it is never a monologue. If he wanted robots without a will (door mats), he would have forced us all to love Him. He had all the power to do so. Yet He didn’t! He wants to be loved by us because we want to love Him after what He did for us. He cares about what we think, how we feel, our fears, our needs, our emotions…He wants to hear all of it. If Christ’s relationship with the church is supposed to be represented by a christian marriage then why on God’s green earth are we encouraging women to want anything less than what God created them to have?
A man who loves his wife, cares about her as an individual, respects her uniqueness and dwells with her in an understanding manner will hardly have an issue with his wife in this area.
Ephesians 5: 22Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord.23For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body.24But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her,26so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,27that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.28So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself;29for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church,30because we are members of His body.31FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND SHALL BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH.32This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.33Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.
We need to understand that equality of men and women in value, does not mean sameness between the them in roles, as the three persons of the TRINITY are equal in deity, but different in role. Moreover , in case of TRINITY, THE SON submits to THE Father and HIS (SON’s) submission is HIS (FATHER’s) GLORY. Christ’s submission to God the father was out of His love for Him. God doesn’t “rule” over Christ, Christ submits His will to the fathers on His own to bring Glory to the father. Christ could have refused to submit to God the father as He is equal in deity, but He chose not to as it would be against His word and character. Submission does not mean rule over. It is a hierarchy that is intended to bring order.
How is a husband to love his wife?
“Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them.” (Col. 3:19, NKJV)
When God says, “Husbands, love your wives,” he speaks of the woman as a complex being. He calls every man to love his whole wife just as every man loves his whole self (Eph. 5:29). This means that a husband must do all he can to understand his wife’s world. What follows are eight admonitions to love our wives with respect to their various facets.
1. Love Her Heart—Emotional Love
The Bible uses the word “love” over 350 times. Almost 10% of these times are in the Song of Solomon (which comprises less than 0.5 percent of Scripture). One thing we learn from this is that a husband should use words to express his love for his wife. “Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away! O my dove…let me see your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely” (Song 2:10). I know of no woman who wouldn’t love to hear her husband speak to her like that.
2. Love Her Mind—Intellectual Love
A loving husband graciously convinces his wife that, to him, she is the most important person in the world. By this I don’t mean that he persuades her that he will never leave her. That’s not good enough, of course. Does your wife know that you value her above all else? Intellectual love also means engaging your wife’s mind. Many men win the hand of their future wife by thoughtful, engaging, conversation. Too many men fail to take this habit into marriage.
3. Love Her Body—Physical Love
At the most basic level, by physical love a husband strives to meet his wife’s physical needs. An able man who consistently chooses not to provide for the physical needs of his wife does not love her. At the same time, men must help their wives steward God’s provisions in order to maximize their earnings.
Physical love is also complimentary. Your wife needn’t be a supermodel to receive regular, sincere, compliments. Physical love must be exclusive. Taking second looks at other women or carrying on about their beauty is destructive. Each man must strive to please his own wife (1 Cor. 7:3,33)
4. Love Her Soul—Spiritual Love
Men tend to be task-oriented. But often we neglect one of our greatest responsibilities; the cultivation of godliness in our wives. We need to become comfortable with the phrase, “as for me and my house” (Josh. 24:14-15). Joshua understood that as a covenant head, his choices had a profound impact of those under his care. He must always think of the spiritual good of his dependents.
This means making thoughtful, prayerful, decisions, even if they are unpopular. “We are going to church today even though that woman verbally hurt you last week. We must have family worship even with our busy schedule.” These are expressions of love.
5. Love Her Relationships—Relational Love
For couples with children, relational love may require a husband to protect his wife from her “closest relatives.” Be swift and firm to discipline children for disrespecting mom. Resist contradicting her in front of the children. Give her “time off” when necessary. Outside of the home, develop an interest in her friends. Help her to focus on friends that are best for her.
6. Love Her Humanity—Realistic Love
Be tender in your wife’s failures. She needs to know that you love her even if you are saddened by her sin. Be grateful that she is different than you. A loving husband sees his wife as God’s gift to him even if she is not perfect.
7. Love Her Calling—Supportive Love
If a wife’s greatest calling is to be submissive to her husband (Col. 3:18), a loving husband helps his wife to be submissive. Some wives never learn biblical submission because their husbands rarely set a positive example. They fight against the council of the church. They speak blasphemously of civil authorities. They complain about their employer’s policies. Yet they demand full submission from their wives. God says, all men must submit to proper authority (Rom. 13:1). You can hardly help your wife do this if you aren’t doing it yourself.
8. Love Her Maker—Theological Love
Ultimately, we are loveless because we love ourselves more than we love God and are dissatisfied with God’s provision. This means that the more you love God the better equipped you will be to truly love your wife.
By his matchless grace, God draws us to love him and empowers us to love others. Matthew Henry notes that the epistles which focus most on the glory of divine grace, and the majesty of the Lord Jesus, “are the most particular…in pressing the duties of the several relations.” The gospel is the good news that the Son of God “loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal. 2:20). Christ loves the whole Christian–heart, mind, body, soul–and every other part. Only as we come to terms with what that means will we be able to obey God’s word. “Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them.”
At the time Christ was born, the Roman empire was in control over Israel. There were two types of taxes imposed on the Jewish people. A tax on your income and on your property. Rome was very systematic and unforgiving when it came to taxing the people of Israel. Tax collectors or publicans were viewed in the same way prostitutes and murderers were viewed. They gathered mercilessly from their own country men to give to wealthy Rome. They were traitors in the people’s minds.
Matthew is one of the most clear books in terms of authorship. All early manuscripts have Matthews name attached to it. Unanimously asserting Matthew’s (Levi’s) authorship.
One of the reasons we see the genealogy of Christ at the beginning of Matthew is because he is giving scriptural proofs of the Messiahship of Jesus. Matthew takes Jesus’ lineage all the way back to the nation’s inception in the Abrahamic Covenant. (See below for a detailed explanation of the Abrahamic Covenant.)
It concentrates on linking Jesus to King David, whose ‘son’ the Messiah was to be, & fits Him into the development of God’s purpose of salvation in the OT. The genealogy shows Christ’s right to reign as King of Israel. The genealogy places Jesus fully in line with the history of OT Israel. By organizing that history into a regular scheme of three groups of fourteen generations, it indicates that the time of preparation is now complete and that in Jesus the time of fulfillment has arrived.
~ Traces Jesus descent through the royal line of Judah, it stakes His claim to the title “King of the Jews”.
~ It establishes His status as “Son of David”, not only by emphasizing David’s place in the genealogy but by showing that Jesus is a legitimate heir to the throne by pedigree.
It is highly unusual for women to be mentioned in genealogies (there are at least 50 genealogies in the OT).
Matthew names five:
~ Tamar: canaanite woman who posed as a prostitute to seduce Judah (Gen 38:13-30)
~ Rahab: a gentile & prostitute (Jos 2:1)
~ Ruth: moabite woman & worshiper or idols (Ruth 1:3)
~ Bathsheba: wife of Uriah, committed adultery with David (2 Samuel 11)
~ Mary: bore the stigma of pregnancy outside of marriage
All of these women are mentioned, most possibly as a testimony of God’s divine grace!
The difference between Matthew’s and Luke’s genealogy is that Luke records the actual physical genealogy of Joseph (the legal line) by way of ascention…starting with Jesus. Matthew’s genealogy is descending from Abraham to Jesus, recording the line of succession to the throne. The royal line. This genealogy establishes Jesus as Joseph’s legal heir.
~ Matthew shows the royal line.
~Luke shows the blood line.
The royal line could only come from the father. Since Joseph was not Jesus’ earthly father, his blood line (from Mary) had to be directly linked to the seed of David to be able to claim the throne. Through Joseph He gets the claim to the throne and through Mary he gets the claim of being from the blood of David.
David had two sons; Solomon & Nathan.
Joseph is a descendant of Solomon while Mary is a descendant of Nathan. Both from the tribe of Judah, both from the house of David. Making Christ the only ligitament heir to the throne of David.
Pedigree was of the utmost importance to the Jews. If anybody was going to claim to be King, they must prove it by way of pedigree.
After the conquest of caanan (the land flowing with milk and honey), it was essential to determine what your tribe/heritage was so that you knew where you were to live because the land was divided into sections for each tribe.
Example: in Numbers 26 &35 – you had to know your tribe, heritage and location of your father’s house so that you could identify the right section of land for you to live. Tribal identification was essential.
Also, in Ezra 2:62 – After the Babylonian captivity, when the Jews started coming back to Israel, some were claiming to be priests (the tribe of Levi). A pedigree was essential to prove where they came from. If this did not show them as descendants from the tribe of Levi they were removed from priesthood.
In Romans 11:1 Paul lays out his pedigree.
I say then, God has not rejected His people, has He? May it never be! For I too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.
Today there isn’t a Jew in the world that can prove by pedigree what tribe they are from. All this information has been lost. Jesus Christ was the last verifiable claimant to the throne of David.
This is not an exhaustive genealogy. Several additional generations must have elapsed between Rahab (Joshua’s time) & David…nearly 400 years later. It is speculated this was done in order to abbreviate the listing.
A covenant is an agreement between two parties. There are two types of covenants: conditional and unconditional. A conditional or bilateral covenant is an agreement that is binding on both parties for its fulfillment. Both parties agree to fulfill certain conditions. If either party fails to meet their responsibilities, the covenant is broken and neither party has to fulfill the expectations of the covenant. An unconditional or unilateral covenant is an agreement between two parties, but only one of the two parties has to do something. Nothing is required of the other party.
The Abrahamic Covenant is an unconditional covenant. God made promises to Abraham that required nothing of Abraham. Genesis 15:18-21 describes a part of the Abrahamic Covenant, specifically dealing with the dimensions of the land God promised to Abraham and his descendants.
The actual Abrahamic Covenant is found in Genesis 12:1-3. The ceremony recorded in Genesis 15 indicates the unconditional nature of the covenant. The only time that both parties of a covenant would pass between the pieces of animals (animal sacrifices) was when the fulfillment of the covenant was dependent upon both parties keeping commitments. Concerning the significance of God alone moving between the halves of the animals, it is to be noted that it is a smoking furnace and a flaming torch, representing God, not Abraham, which passed between the pieces. Such an act, it would seem, should be shared by both parties, but in this case it is doubtless explained by the fact that the covenant is principally a promise by God. He is the one who binds Himself. God caused a sleep to fall upon Abraham so that he would not be able to pass between the two halves of the animals. Fulfillment of the covenant fell to God alone.
God determined to call out a special people for Himself through whom He would bring blessing to all the nations. The Abrahamic Covenant is paramount to a proper understanding of the kingdom concept and is foundational to Old Testament theology. (1) The Abrahamic Covenant is described in Genesis 12:1–3 and is an unconditional covenant. There are no conditions attached to it (no “if” clauses, suggesting its fulfillment is dependent on man). (2) It is also a literal covenant in which the promises should be understood literally. The land that is promised should be understood in its literal or normal interpretation—it is not a figure of heaven. (3) It is also an everlasting covenant; the promises that God made to Israel are eternal.
There are three main features to the Abrahamic Covenant:
1. The promise of land (Genesis 12:1). God called Abraham from Ur of the Chaldeans to a land that He would give him (Genesis 12:1). This promise is reiterated in Genesis 13:14–18 where it is confirmed by a shoe covenant (a binding agreement see Ruth 4:7); its dimensions are given in Genesis 15:18–21 (precluding any notion of this being fulfilled in heaven). The land aspect of the Abrahamic Covenant is also expanded in Deuteronomy 30:1–10, which is the Palestinian Covenant.
2. The promise of descendants (Genesis 12:2). God promised Abraham that He would make a great nation out of him. Abraham, who was 75 years old and childless (Genesis 12:4), was promised many descendants. This promise is amplified in Genesis 17:6 where God promised that nations and kings would descend from the aged patriarch. This promise (which is expanded in the Davidic Covenant of 2 Samuel 7:12–16) would eventuate in the Davidic throne with Messiah’s kingdom rule over the Hebrew people.
3. The promise of blessing and redemption (Genesis 12:3). God promised to bless Abraham and the families of the earth through him. This promise is amplified in the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31–34; cf. Hebrews 8:6–13) and has to do with “Israel’s spiritual blessing and redemption.” Jeremiah 31:34 anticipates the forgiveness of sin. The unconditional and eternal nature of the covenant is seen in that the covenant is reaffirmed to Isaac (Genesis 21:12; 26:3–4). The “I will” promises suggest the unconditional aspect of the covenant. The covenant is further confirmed to Jacob (Genesis 28:14–15). It is noteworthy that God reaffirmed these promises amidst the sins of the patriarchs, which further emphasizes the unconditional nature of the Abrahamic Covenant.
God’s method of fulfilling the Abrahamic Covenant is literal, inasmuch as God partially fulfilled the covenant in history: God blessed Abraham by giving him the land (Genesis 13:14–17); God blessed him spiritually (Genesis 13:8, 18; 14:22, 23; 21:22); God gave him numerous descendants (Genesis 22:17; 49:3–28). The important element of the Abrahamic Covenant, however, demands a future fulfillment with Messiah’s kingdom rule:
(1) Israel as a nation will possess the land in the future. Numerous Old Testament passages anticipate the future blessing of Israel and her possession of the land as promised to Abraham. Ezekiel envisions a future day when Israel is restored to the land (Ezekiel 20:33–37, 40–42; 36:1–37:28).
(2) Israel as a nation will be converted, forgiven, and restored (Romans 11:25–27).
(3) Israel will repent and receive the forgiveness of God in the future (Zechariah 12:10–14). The Abrahamic Covenant finds its ultimate fulfillment in connection with the return of Messiah to rescue and bless His people Israel. It is through the nation Israel that God promised in Genesis 12:1–3 to bless the nations of the world. That ultimate blessing will issue in the forgiveness of sins and Messiah’s glorious kingdom reign on earth.
The Gospel of Matthew deals at length with matters of the law, tradition, the fulfillment of the Jewish scriptures, and of Jesus’ confrontations with the Jewish leaders of his day. The reason many scholars believe Matthew is the first book of the New Testament is because it offers an incredible transition from the Old Testament to the New Testament; old covenant to new. The constant references to the OT and Jesus’ conflict with the Jewish authorities serves as a “bridge” between both testaments.
Some of the themes we will see in Matthew:
* Jesus as the fulfillment of the messianic OT prophecies.
* How He applies OT text to various aspects of His ministry.
* How He viewed OT law & traditions of Jewish scribal teachings.
* His conflict with official Jewish religious representatives & the nation of Israel.
* The nature of the Christian church as an extension of Judaism (after all Jesus was a Jew!)
In the gospel of Matthew we will see for the first time how salvation was extended to the gentiles. In the OT salvation was only for the house of Israel. If a gentile wanted to worship the one true God, they had to go through a number of steps according to Jewish law first (they had to be circumsized, baptized, etc.).
Most modern scholars conclude that Matthew was written within the last 20 years of the first century (around A.D. 80, some say as early as A.D. 50) and confirmed by the writings of Eusebius ( ca. A.D. 265-339) who quotes Origen (ca. A.D. 185-254).
These are the reasons why Matthew is not dated earlier by most scholars.
1- If, as generally supposed Mark’s gospel was not written earlier than about AD 65, and Matthew used Mark, then it must have written after AD 65.
2- The destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 is believed to have influenced such passages as Matt 22:7, 23:38 and several parts of chapter 24.
3- The “anti-Jewish” tones suit the period around AD 85 because at this time Christians were excluded from synagogue worship since a “curse” against Nazarenes and heretics was added to the synagogue’s laws on worship ( AKA Liturgy ). Before this time the lines were not drawn as clearly on the subject.
**I must add that this date is not conclusive. Scholars form all walks of life still debate the dating of Matthew. No one knows the exact date, we just have an approximation.
Early Christian theologians unanimously believe this gospel was written by the disciple Matthew (The tax collector). Whose call can be found in Matt 9:9.
From the characteristics of the gospel we can assume that Matthew was a Jewish-Christian with a strong interest and extensive knowledge in the OT. He was very familiar with the traditions of the scribes and with the methods of Rabbinic debate. Matthew was capable of writing in Greek even though he was clearly Semitic ( relating to people who speak Aramaic, Hebrew or Arabic).
As I mentioned before Matthew was a tax collector whose former name was Levi. A tax collector back in those days had to be fluent in Greek as a job requirement. The name Levi as a general consensus was more of a tribal name, denoting he was from the tribe of Levi. In which case he was right at home with scribal tradition. This book was written to strengthen the faith of Jewish Christians and as a useful apologetics tool for Jewish evangelism. Matthew was written mainly to a Jewish audience.
Central Theological Emphases of Matthew.
* The fact that Jesus was the fulfillment of all OT prophesies as the much awaited Messiah as well as the fulfillment of the Law (The Old Covenant was done away with and a New Covenant started).
Christology (the study of the attributes of Christ)
* The major theme in Matthew is the explanation of who Christ is.
1- Christ as Messiah ( the word Messiah is Christ in Greek).
2- Christ as the Son of man ( Christ as a human being).
3- Christ as King. Jesus fulfills the institution of kingship in the OT, he is the “son of David”, the “greater than Solomon”. Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus focuses on his royal descent from Israel’s greatest King, David.
4- Christ as the Son of God. This is revealed to us not as much from Christ himself in this gospel as from God Himself, what others call Him, by Satan, demons and eventually by his disciples as they begin to get a deeper knowledge of who He is.
* The law. In this book you will see Jesus’ relation to the law. If He was the fulfillment of it, we must understand His relation to it especially when the Jewish people prided themselves in being the people whom God gave His laws to. The law was the entire focus of their life and religion. It was out of such concern for the law that the scribes developed a complex set of rules on how to live a correct life and worship which is called the Mishna. The scribes and pharisees were known for keeping the Mishna meticulously.
* The people of God.
1- The failure of Israel to repent and recognize their Messiah as John the Baptist calls them to repent.
2- The nature of the new community. Christ didn’t require membership of the nation of Israel but repentance for their sins. Those who responded to the call of repentance and faith became member of a new community of the forgiven. Membership of the people of God was not a matter of belonging to the right nation or ethnic group. Now it was composed of those who had heard and responded to the message of Christ and established a proper relationship with Him.
The structure of the gospel of Matthew (main section divisions).
* Three groups of fourteen generations ( 1:1-17)
* Three temptations with quotations in reply ( 4:1-11)
* Eight beatitudes ( 5:3-10)
* Six “antithesis” ( 5:21-47)
* Three types of religious observance (6:1-6, 16-18)
* Three symbolic actions (21:1-22)
* Three polemical parables (21:28 – 22:14)
* Seven woes on scribes and pharisees ( 23:13-36)
* Three prayers & return to sleeping disciples ( 26: 36-46)
* Three denials by Peter (26:69-75)
By topic this book can be divided as follows:
Intro – Matt 1:1 – 4:11
Ministry in Galilee – Matt 4:12 – 13:58
Wider ministry in the North – Matt 14:1 – 16:12
Towards Jerusalem – Matt 16:13 – 20:34
Confrontation in Jerusalem – Matt 21:1 – 25:46
Passion and Resurrection – Matt 26:1 – 28:20
There are five major discourses in this book.
The Sermon on the mount (chaps 5-7).
The Commissioning of the Apostles (chap 10).
The Parables about the Kingdom (chap 13).
Discourse about the Christ-likeness of the believer ( chap 18).
The Second Coming ( chaps. 24 & 25).
The exegetical Issue with Matthew.
On Jesus’ Olivet discourse, the prophetic passages present an interpretative challenge. In this discourse Jesus gives some details of the violent destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. His words in chapter 24:34 have led some to conclude that all these things He was speaking of were already fulfilled (although not literally) during the conquest of the Romans in that era. This view is called Preterism. This interpretation if flawed because it forced the reader to read into the passage spiritualized and allegorical meanings that are commonly not used in normal exegetical methods.
When interpreting Matthew the grammatical- historical hermeneutics approach to these passages is what should be followed. This method yields consistent, futuristic interpretation of yet to be fulfilled end time prophesy.
Hermeneutics: [Greek, hermeneutilos, from hermeneus =an interpreter (from Hermes)]. Applied to the study of Scripture: The art and science of Biblical interpretation. The “science” involves study of the ancient languages and the individual words in which a Biblical passage is written. The art involves unfolding the significance of a passage by discerning what the inspired writer meant to convey to the reader, taking into consideration the historical period, the culture of the times, and information within the entire context of the text.
Exegesis: [Greek, exegeomai, = ex “to explain”, or “to take from”; and hegeomai, “to lead”, “to guide”]. Applied to the study of Scripture: Taking from the Biblical text the information upon which to base an interpretation. Exegete: One who interprets a Biblical passage or text.
I pray you have come away with a much deeper understanding of what you will be studying these coming weeks in the gospel of Matthew! 🙂
I want to start by saying that I have personally spoken to Dr. Clarke via emails and he is a real humble, down to earth guy who, after reading his articles and listening to him on the radio will leave you saying “YES! finally, someone who loves the Lord and is biblically grounded on how a healthy, God honoring marriage is supposed to look like!” It is a breath of fresh air. Modern christian counseling is mostly based on pshycology. The focus is the changing of external behavior patterns instead of addressing the internal issues of the heart. It only addresses the symptoms instead of treating the problem. I have heard so many counselors who mean well tell a woman in marriages where the husband has a severe porn issue or has committed adultery (physical or in the heart as Christ says) that it is her job to win her husband back, that she is to stay with an adulterer who refuses to change, that she is to submit to such man… it is beyond heart breaking. Yet, does it truly work? Absolutely NOT! Why? Because most people do not understand that the bible is written in a perfect world…let me elaborate. “In a perfect world” a husband would love his wife as Christ loves the church and his wife will submit to him and respect him. When the Bible says “wives submit to your husbands in everything” it is assuming that “husbands love their wives as Christ loves the church.” THAT is the perfect scenerio. Yet we preach a wife to submit without holding the man accountable to his responsibility to love and honor her as the God appointed head, high priest and leader. We ask wives to submit while we let men off the hook without addressing their sin issues. No one likes addressing sin anymore. This is why Dr. Clarke is a breath of fresh air. This man not only understands scripture, he underdstanfs how we ought to apply it in a fallen world. He understands how sinners work. If you let them “off the hook” chances are they WILL continue to sin. You see, that is the nature of sinners. Without being faced to change , to repent and to turn to holy living…we are like pigs who roll in the mud or a dig that goes back to it’s vomit. I believe what he teaches, I believe it is biblical. As a teacher/counselor myself (nowhere near his expertise and wisdom, nontheless my gifting and call)…I have seen first hand that the approach of “love him regardless “, “do not address his sin” etc DOES NOT WORK! It leaves women depressed, hopeless in situations God never intended and bound by a covenant that was broken and continues to be broken by the very man they committed their lives to. THERE IS NO GREATER betrayal. If you are in a situation with your spouse that requires repentance and you aren’t getting anywhere, Dr.Clarke’s book is for you! Read the article below and the attached link to order his book! 🙂
BRING YOUR MARRIAGE BACK FROM THE DEAD
BRING A MARRIAGE BACK FROM THE DEAD HOW TO HEAL FROM ADULTERY AND OTHER SERIOUS MARITAL SINS
A married couple came in to see me for the first time: mid-thirties, two kids, Christians, church members. I’ll call them Bob and Susie. Susie, in tears, told me Bob had had an affair. It lasted three months, and she had just found out about it one month ago.
In that one month, they had sought advice from their pastor, a Christian therapist, several best-selling Christian books, and some close friends. They got the same four pieces of advice from every one of these Christian sources, and all the advice was directed at Susie.
Susie was told Bob’s affair was partly her fault.
She wasn’t meeting all of Bob’s needs. Bob wasn’t happy at home. Men don’t have affairs, she was told, unless the wife isn’t doing her job.
Susie was told she needed to win Bob back.
She’d lost him and now it was her responsibility to get him back. She needed to immediately pursue him. She needed to lose weight, cook more and better meals, clean the house better, and offer him plenty of passionate, exciting sex.
Susie was told to forgive Bob quickly and move on from the affair.
Don’t bring up the details. Don’t ask questions. Don’t vent your emotions. Don’t be sad and, above all, don’t be mad. Just be glad he’s willing to stay with you.
Susie was told it was a marriage problem.
The affair was only a symptom of a sick marriage. So, don’t focus on the affair but focus on improving the marriage. Work on communication, meeting needs and doing the love languages.
Does this advice sound familiar? I’ll bet it does. This is far and away the most popular Christian approach to adultery. It’s the advice given whether it is the husband or wife who has committed adultery.
It is the advice most pastors give. It is the advice most Christian therapists give. It is the advice most best-selling Christian authors give.
Fifteen years ago, it was the advice I gave to clients. Fifteen years ago, I would have told Bob and Susie the same four things. Because that’s how I had been taught by my graduate school professors and therapy mentors.
For the first two or three years of my practice, this was the approach I used. It is one of my deepest regrets as I look back on my therapy career. Why? Because this advice, this popular Christian approach to adultery, is wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.
It is certainly well-meaning, but it doesn’t work. It damages individuals. It damages marriages that can’t afford to be damaged more than they already are. Most of all, it’s not biblical.
If Bob and Susie follow the classic, traditional Christian counseling solution to adultery, there will be three consequences. I know because I saw these consequences happen to couples the first few years of my practice, and I keep seeing them happen to couples who come to me after trying the traditional approach.
First: Susie, the victim of Bob’s adultery, is further victimized.
She’s forced to take blame for this terrible action she did not do. She’s forced to feel guilt for driving her husband to another woman. She does not recover from the trauma. She is unable to vent her pain so it remains inside and gets worse. She is unable to forgive her husband. She is unable to trust her husband. She will always wonder if she’s being a good enough wife to keep Bob from having another affair. She’ll be anxious, depressed, insecure, and bitter.
Many pastors, church leaders, and Christian therapists will not confront Bob. They will confront Susie! Susie, who is already reeling from Bob’s adultery, now gets smashed again by her counselors and helpers. She’s told: “Susie, Bob’s adultery is your fault and you’d better get to work so he won’t stray again.” “Susie, not only is the adultery your fault but now it’s your fault that you’re angry and bitter.
Bob, the only one who sinned, gets a free pass! Disgraceful.
Second: Bob does not recover from his sin of adultery.
He does not fully confess it. He does not take full responsibility for it. He does not repent of his sin. He does not regain respect for his wife. The deeper personal issues which led to his sin are not uncovered and fixed. He does not make the real changes he needs to make. He stays emotionally attached to the paramour. This other woman, this tramp, stays lodged in his heart so his wife can’t get back in. He is, in fact, more likely to continue the affair with this woman or have another one.
Third: Bob and Susie’s marriage does not recover from his adultery.
Respect and trust are not re-established. Full forgiveness doesn’t happen. Communication remains poor. Their conflict resolution skills don’t improve. They do not develop an intimate connection. The unresolved trauma of the adultery continues to separate them.
If Bob and Susie follow the traditional Christian counseling approach to adultery, their marriage may survive and I hope it does. But survive is all it will do. It won’t thrive. It won’t be a great marriage. It will be a wounded marriage.
If Bob stops the affair, they will probably get a brief honeymoon phase. It’ll last three to six months. “Flight into health” is what we psychologists call it. They think they’re over the affair. Their counselor and pastor think they’re over the affair. They’re not.
They’re running away from the trauma because neither one really wants to face it and deal with it. After the honeymoon, they’ll crash and burn. All these consequences I’ve described will happen. Their attempt to run from the adultery, an attempt often encouraged by a counselor or pastor, will fail. The adultery will haunt them for the rest of their marriage.
Question: Why is this incorrect, unbiblical approach to adultery still the most popular one in the Christian community? There are two reasons.
Reason Number One: As counselors, we have been trained to achieve balance in marital therapy.
Good marriage work usually demands that you help each partner see his or her role in the relationship problems. It does typically take two to mess things up. “Here’s what you’re doing wrong, Bob.” “Here’s what you’re doing wrong, Susie.” In your basic marital case, you ask both spouses to change. In your basic marital case, you don’t zero in on one partner and demand that he or she change first.
We’re taught that this delicate balancing act applies to all marital cases. It does not! It makes sense for the basic, garden-variety marital case. It does not make sense when you have a smoking gun: one partner in serious sin.
Reason Number Two: Hardly anyone confronts sin anymore.
There has been a huge shift in Christian culture in the past fifteen to twenty years. We’ve gone from an emphasis on sin and its destructive power to grace and only grace. Everything is grace, grace, grace and forgiveness, forgiveness, forgiveness. But we have forgotten that there is no grace and forgiveness without true, complete confession and repentance (see 1 John 1:9). And there is no true repentance without confrontation of the sinner.
As Christian leaders, we used to call sin sin right to the face of the sinner. Why? In order to bring about healthy shame and guilt and brokenness and repentance and change. That was biblical love in action.
Now, too many of us have re-defined sin. Sin is not really sin. Sin is dysfunction or addiction or bad judgment. These things can certainly be involved in sin, but sin is rebellion against God first and foremost. We offer grace and forgiveness immediately. We want the sinner to feel good, not bad. The subtle message is: your behavior isn’t that bad, and you don’t have to feel that bad about it. This is unbiblical wimpiness in action.
I know very few pastors and Christian therapists who confront sinners head-on. What are their excuses for wimping out?
“I’m scared of the confrontation itself.”
Confrontation is incredibly intense, difficult, and painful (it also loses clients). But it’s what a good counselor does. If you’re not willing to confront sinners with loving firmness, you’re in the wrong line of work.
“I’m scared of the sinner’s wrath.”
It’s very common to be blasted and even hated for having the gall to confront a sinner. I’ve had a lot of ugly scenes in my office: yelling, hostility, rage, venting and raving, and slamming doors. Repentance is very seldom the initial reaction. You’ve heard the phrase “shoot the messenger.” Being a counselor is not a popularity contest. If everyone likes you, you’re doing something wrong.
“I’m a sinner, too.”
You ask yourself: “How can I, with my own sin and problems, confront anyone else?” Following that reasoning, how can you do anything as a Christian? If you’re going to wait until you’re perfect before you confront sin, you’ll never do it. I’m still waiting for my first sinless day. I’d settle for my first sinless hour.
“I don’t want to drive the sinner away.”
You think if you confront the sinner, you’ll lose any influence on him because he’ll reject you and leave the process. The truth is when you fail to confront the sinner, at that very moment you lose all influence on him. You are weak. You lose respect and power. You have fed his (or her) denial. You are an enabler of your spouse’s sin.
If the sinner does bolt, he bolts. But you’ve done your job. You’ve told the truth. You’ve given the sinner the opportunity to repent and change. Plus, you’ve protected and strengthened the victimized spouse.
I’m not throwing any stones! I used to avoid confronting sinners. I believed these same excuses. Fifteen years ago, I realized that the traditional, popular, don’t confront sin Christian approach to adultery wasn’t working. I turned to the Bible for answers.
What does the Bible say?
One of the great confrontations in the Bible is found in 2 Samuel 12:1-13. King David had committed adultery with Bathsheba and then, to cover his sin, had her husband killed. These verses record what happened when God sent the prophet Nathan to confront David and his sin.
Did Nathan excuse David’s sin in any way? No. Did Nathan bring up the stress of being a king? No. Did Nathan mention a mid-life crisis? No. Did Nathan indicate that Bathsheba had seduced David? No. Did Nathan say David’s wives and concubines hadn’t met his needs? No. It was direct, brutal confrontation. Nathan said, right to David’s face, “You are the man.” Using a story about a rich man who stole and slaughtered a poor man’s one and only lamb, Nathan nailed David to the wall.
What was the point of the confrontation? Repentance and restoration. That’s what God always wants for the sinner. In 2 Samuel 12:13, David gives the correct response to Nathan: ” . . . I have sinned against the Lord.” That’s the beginning of healing for every sinner: “I have sinned against the Lord.”
In 1 Corinthians Chapter 5, the Apostle Paul tells the Corinthian church what to do with a male church member who was having sex with his mother (or stepmother). Paul ordered the church to “hand this man over to Satan,” kick him out of the church immediately, and shun him. It was direct, brutal confrontation. Why? To produce repentance and restoration.
When someone we know, a fellow Christian, is in serious sin, we don’t have to guess at what to do. Jesus Christ, in Matthew 18:15-17, tells us exactly what to do:
And if your brother sins, go and reprove him in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that “by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed.” And if he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax-gatherer (NASB).
Here’s the bottom line. When someone is in serious sin, you confront that person immediately. No excuses and rationalizations are accepted. No one else is to blame but the sinner. The focus is on the sinner and the sin and repentance.
When one spouse is in serious sin, it’s Matthew 18 time.
My approach to adultery and other serious marital sins is based on Matthew 18:15-17. When one spouse is in serious sin, that sin is the smoking gun. It might be adultery. It might be sexual addiction. It might be alcoholism, drug addiction, or workaholism. It might be laziness, irresponsible spending, anger with verbal abuse, or controlling behavior.
Whatever the sin, I zero in on the sinner and make his sin the focus during the first phase of treatment. He’ll repent and change first. He’ll confess exactly what he’s done and work to fix his problem. He’ll help his partner heal from what he’s done to her. He’ll become the husband God wants him to be.
Later, the other spouse’s issues will be addressed. Later, the marital issues will be addressed.
Biblically, my approach makes sense. Clinically, it works well. The sinning spouse will go first. Then, the marriage. You don’t have to do a delicate balancing act. It’s neat, it’s clean, and it’s focused.
What if you could get one spouse to agree to change first? As that spouse changes, the marriage changes. As that spouse and the marriage changes, the other spouse also changes. That’s what happens with the Matthew 18 marital approach. Whether it works or not, it is biblical. But it works a great deal of the time.
Back to Bob and Susie
To give you an introductory look at my approach, I’ll share with you what I told Bob and Susie in that first counseling session. I’ll do it by giving my response to the four pieces of popular Christian advice they had received.
Popular Advice: Susie was told Bob’s affair was partly her fault.
My response: I told Bob his affair was 100 percent his fault.
I made it clear that Bob’s affair had nothing to do with Susie. It was his choice. I said: “Even if Susie was the worst wife in the world, she did nothing to cause you to have an affair. Susie is responsible for 50 percent of the marriage problems, but any behavior you do is 100 percent your responsibility. If you went out and robbed a bank today, would you blame that on Susie?”
Popular Advice: Susie was told she needed to win Bob back.
My Response: I told Bob he was going to have to win Susie back.
I told Susie to stop her pathetic, humiliating efforts to please Bob. I told her to stop chasing Bob. Stop being nice to Bob. Stop killing herself to make him love her again. Why reward the man who ripped her heart out?
By chasing Bob and trying so hard to be a good little wife, she was agreeing the affair was her fault. Since he had the affair, shouldn’t he be the one working harder? The first thing Susie must do is get Bob’s respect back. Without respect, there is no love. There is no repentance. Bob won’t change. And the marriage is over.
Popular Advice: Susie was told to forgive Bob quickly and move on from the affair.
My Response: Forgiveness is a process which involves a number of difficult steps.
One godly, older woman pulled Susie aside and said: “Don’t bring up his affair again, Honey.” Unfortunately, there are many pastors and Christian therapists who also offer this disastrous advice.
Is this advice recommended for any other trauma work? “As a child, you were sexually abused by a neighbor . . . just forgive him and quickly move on,”(which would even allow you to think it was your fault). Or, “A drunk driver killed your daughter . . . just forgive him quickly and move on.” Or, “A financial advisor stole your life savings . . . just quickly forgive and move on.” Of course not!
To heal from a trauma, you must turn and face it directly. Go over and over the details. Feel and express your emotions. Relive the pain. Process it over and over and over. Go through the stages of grief.
Here are the trauma recovery steps I gave Bob and Susie:
Step One: Bob will tell Susie everything about his adultery–verbally and in writing.
Step Two: Bob will write the Document.
Bob will put down on paper a detailed narrative of the entire affair: how it started, how it developed, the excuses and rationalizations he used to justify it, what he and the paramour talked about, where they went, what they did together, where they had sex, and how many times they had sex. The only exception is the gory details of the sex. For example, he will not discuss what they did in sex.
Bob will read the Document in the second session.
Step Three: Susie will write a Document of Response
She will write Bob an honest, heartfelt description of what his adultery has done to her. It will be her gut-level response to his sin. She won’t hold back. She will–emotionally speaking–throw up on paper.
Susie will read her document of response in the third session.
Step Four: The Mode
For as long as it takes, usually three to eight months, Bob and Susie will have completely honest, direct, and intense conversations about Bob’s adultery. Susie will vent her emotions whenever she wants and however she wants. Bob will listen, reflect, and say “I’m sorry” a million times. Susie will ask questions, and Bob will answer every question with kindness, patience, and humility.
This process heals Bob because he confesses his sin, faces it, and finds out why he did it. This process heals Susie because she knows exactly what happened and can work through it. This process heals the marriage because respect is restored, they learn how to communicate on a deep level, they learn how to resolve conflict, and they create real intimacy.
Popular Advice: Susie was told it was a marriage problem.
My Response: It’s not a marriage problem, but a sin problem.
Bob sinned big time. It’s all about Bob in the initial phase of treatment. He’ll do all the repenting. He’ll do all the work. He’ll do all the changing. Of course, there is marriage work to do. That will come later. It’ll come after Bob is well on his way to recovery. It’ll come after Bob respects and loves Susie again.
If Bob refuses any of the steps I require him to do, I won’t continue to see him in therapy. I will recommend to Susie that she immediately take the other Matthew 18 steps: confront with one or two witnesses and then confront with her church leaders.
If Bob doesn’t respond to these further confrontations, I will recommend immediate separation. Bob will be the one to leave the home. If he refuses to leave, Susie will go into shunning mode. When Bob breaks and repents and is ready to work, I’ll see him again.
If you want to know more about my Matthew 18 recovery from marital sin program, get my book, What to Do When Your Spouse Says, I Don’t Love You Anymore (Thomas Nelson, 2002).
Find a Christian therapist who follows my approach. Call Focus on the Family (1-800-a-family) and get a list of therapists in your area. Ask your pastor for a list. Call each therapist and ask how he/she deals with adultery or whatever serious sin your spouse has committed. If it’s the wimpy approach, move on to the next one on the list. Make it clear to each therapist you want my approach followed. Until you find the right therapist, start implementing my steps of confrontation and recovery.
My approach is brutally tough. It is controversial. It confronts the sinner. It empowers the victimized spouse. It is biblical. It works.
Order his book below!
Here I am folks, hazelnut-caramel-coconut coffee in hand, 3 sleeping babes (and one that refuses to nap but I gave her organic popcorn and put a movie on so I can escape to the almost unfamilair writing world), and a heart full of convictions.
It’s been too long. Lack of inspiration for the most part. See, I mostly write when I am inspired. I could not muster such inspiration in the midst of adrenal fatigue and being sick for the past 2 months. We now have 5 beautiful little ones, well, one not so little. My oldest will be 11 this month. OHHHH MYYY GOSHHH, I will have a teen in 2 years! :O
No, but really…I am super excited about this stage in his life. He is the most amazing young man I have ever had the privilege of meeting. He is loyal, loving, dedicated and sweetest boy EVER! He is definitively set apart for the Lord. See, I will not get to do certain things in my life because of my past/sins but Franky will. Just like David and Solomon. 🙂 I pray for nothing more than for God to bless my babies with salvation and wisdom.
Abby, the latest little Lightner is 6 months now. She is the sweetest thing ever ( well, by now you should get used to me saying this! LOL). She is such a constant source of Joy in my life, I don’t know what I would do without that little princess.
Having all 4 in 4 1/2 years (for a while there I had 4 under 4 and in diapers!), my adrenal glands were seriously exhausted! I did a round of whole food supplements which made the fatigue disappear but lo and behold, it came back when I finished my supp. So I found myself nearly at crashing point with no parachute. I am on a second round of whole food supplements and im starting to feel better.
During this time I have had time to think, get convicted on a few things and learn about the infinite grace of God. I am a type A. I need things in order the way they need to be done (according to your highness me, if that isn’t bad enough!) Being as fatigued as I was I just couldn’t do it all. No my house was not a mess (not completely) but not good enough to my standards, so I did alot of beating myself up over it. Which brought me to thinking..hmmm…I am always measuring myself ( my salvation to be specific) according to Jesus’ perfection hence I am always coming up short and it’s depressing. He is the standard…I know this…but my salvation is not dependent on “my abilities”, “my standards” or what I think is “good enough”. Even with all the theology I possess, I still have times in the valleys like everyone else. No one is exempt from valleys. The apostle Paul had them too. Spurgeon suffered from crippling spiritual depression and so did Calvin…I mean great men of faith dealt with severe valleys in their lives. Internal struggles. I have always known and believed that salvation is by faith alone. But somehow, without even knowing it, I always measured my salvation according to what I am currently doing or not doing for God. Let me explain. If my prayer life is improving then God is happy with me. If I am being “nicer” to people, “holier” or whatever the case may be THEN God is happy with me. Needles to say when my prayer life was nearly non-existent and I was less than “nice” God was furious with me, He had abandoned me, I was not saved and I am going to hell. Yep. That will plummet any good christian into deep despair. You would of thought I knew better!
Having 3 toddlers and an Infant to care for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week is a huge responsibility. Especially when your health is failing you. Throughout my day I prayed. I thank God for my kids, for my blessings, for whatever I can think of. Always keeping God in mind, always reciting scripture in my head but never having the time or energy to be on my knees for 30 minutes or do a bible study hours on end. This is the reality of the season I am in right now. God understands that. My husband works 60 hours a week and I take care of everything and everyone in the home by myself. When I crash on my rocking chair at night, my heart cries out “Abba, forgive me for my lack of faith, forgive me for the times I dishonored you today and for being less than gracious to my kids, forgive me for not wanting to pray…Abba I am soooooo very tired! Will you please restore to me the joy of your salvation? Would you please have mercy on me and give me the time to spend with you without little ones tugging on me (I cant even go potty without tiny ppl…I mean that WOULD be a vacation, nonetheless do a bible study) and when I have the time ( at 10 pm) would you give me the desire to pour myself into your word?”
I am so tired, so very tired of reading blogs on “you should always put God first in your life, the first thing in the morning you should do is to spend time in the word…read your bible for a few hours daily…study your bible daily…blah blah blah.” I seriously wonder what planet some of these ppl come from? You know what, I am not knocking down those moms that CAN wake up at 4am to read their bibles with little ones in the home. If you are one of those, you are a blessing and my hat is off to you. But if I go to bed at 11-12 after my babes last feeding to wake up at 5 before my children…I would end up in the hospital. But me….I am not a supermom…I am not some super spiritual being. I am an exhausted human being in this season in life. There will come a time when I can get up earlier and read my bible…there will be a time when I can do bible studies because my littles will be more independent. Right now, this season…everyone needs mom. My older son needs me, my 3 toddlers are very demanding (my 2 girls wake up 3 times at night to come to our bed!) my infant depends on me for everything. So my time of sleep is precious and a much-needed source of energy. My Lord knows that. That doesn’t mean I am putting God last. That doesn’t mean I am less than others. That doesn’t mean I am less committed. That means I AM IN THE SEASON OF BABES.
I think this is the hardest part to understand for young moms. They are so very hard on themselves. Dragging a bucket of guilt around. I didn’t pray enough. I didn’t read my bible enough. I didn’t…..yackity yack enough. LOL Whatever you may feel you are failing in. As if real spirituality HAS to look a certain way at all times! If that is the case, neither Spurgeon nor Calvin were spiritual enough! How do men who are immersed in the WORD suffer from crippling spiritual depression? But can I tell you mamas that God knows your heart?! He surely does! Dont let someone guilt trip you because they have both time and energy to do things you honestly just can’t right now. You be faithful to God in what He has given you and thrive in the season you are in. Sometimes motherhood is messy. Different seasons require different things from us. God knows if you don’t want anything to do with Him or if your heart cries out to Him in the midst of REAL LIFE. See, real life is me caring for the blessings God has entrusted to me. Real life is not me neglecting my children in order to feel more spiritual. Feelings like this seek to bring us back under the LAW. We are no longer under the LAW my friends, we are under GRACE!
We no longer have to seek to get on God’s good side. If you are found in Christ, you will never be plucked from His hand! You don’t have to perform like a circus monkey to be “good with God”. Now don’t misunderstand what I am saying, by no means do I say we are not to live by biblical principles. If we love Christ, our lives will show it, no matter how many times you mess up (I mess up DAILY!). What I am saying is that if you find yourself in a difficult season in life, or are battling spiritual depression like Spurgeon and Calvin did HANG ON! Stop comparing your walk with the walks of others, stop thinking that if you do not have this specific pattern of religious activities you are less than spiritual.
Love your God with all your heart. Let God love on you as His child. This (season) too shall pass. HOWEVER you can, draw near to Him. Sometimes this looks like ” me on my rocking chair crying out to God in exhaustion for grace and mercy!” Not necessarily….being on your knees 1 hour a day, fasting 2 times a week and doing 3 bible studies weekly. There is no formula for the “perfect” spiritual walk…THAT is what I am trying to say. You don’t HAVE to read a devo every morning IN ORDER to be ok with God or be MORE spiritual. If you are led to do so, I highly encourage it. It surely helps when you wake up to a devo but many moms feel so guilty because they don’t follow a “specific pattern” during a given season in life it sends them into depression.
There’s no need for that. There are some seasons in life that do not have any specific pattern and that’s ok.
I learned that God loves me despite my failures, my lack of super bible studies and theological genius (hardly) posts. He loves me because I am His child. He loves it when I talk to Him throughout the day with a thankful heart even though I dont get to be on my knees. He loves me unconditionally. His loves never depended on me. I didnt earn it, I don’t deserve it and I can’t do anything to lose it.
May your prayer be…”Lord even though I am not on my knees daily, my heart lives bowing down before your throne!”
God is in the business of encouraging moms. He loves to see a faithful woman training the next generation of godly offspring. He understands when you are weary…bring it to Him. He understands when you are tired and don’t want to pray and pray for Him to grant you the desire. Remember the apostles fell asleep in the Garden with Jesus. They were tired….awfully tired. Did God take their ministry away because of their short comings? Did He change His mind on the face of their seemingly lack of…well….interest in Him? No. Because He called them knowing they would fail at times.
We may fail at times but He who called you is faithful.
Love Him where you are at, with what you have and He will take care of the rest. No your life right now may not look as tidy as the woman who doesn’t have small children but that doesn’t make you less spiritual or a failure!
THAT makes YOU a woman who is in a different season in life. That’s all!
DO NOT compare yourself to other women who seem to “have it all together”…I do that too much…Give yourself some grace while going through a difficult season…if God readily gives you such grace why do you deny it to yourself?
Confession: I AM NOT SUPERWOMAN, I AM NOT INVINCIBLE…I am a fallen human being, saved by God’s amazing Grace trying to navigate this thing called the christian LIFE, being as faithful as I can to my God and Savior and THAT’S OK! I don’t need to be everyone else. I don’t need to be super anything for God to love me! I am a super nobody that a Great, Majestic, Beautiful God raised from a life of dirt to proclaim His truth and set His people FREE. Free from sin, free from comparison, free from guilt…and ONLY the abundant LOVE of the savior can do that! God didn’t choose people who “had it all together” to call to be the greatest men on earth (the apostles). He called broken, nobody’s that needed His grace and knew that without HIM they are nothing. THOSE are the kind of people God uses. The broken, nobody’s that depend on His mercy and grace!
Whatever you did yesterday, however you may have messed it up….today is a brand new day. Ask for forgiveness ( 1 John 1:9) and move on! Peter asked for forgiveness, he didn’t walk around beating himself over his past sin. He would have missed the great things God had in store for Him and perhaps you are too sweet friend!
My <3, Laire
Chip Ingram ( one of my favorite parenting teachers) series on Love, Sex and Lasting Relationships. What it looks like from a biblical standpoint and what hollywood’s message is today. The difference between LOVE & INFATUATION. If you have a pre-teen/ teen this is a MUST!