who do you trust?

Jesus said in John 10:10 that the thief came only to steal kill and destroy. By contrast, his purpose was to bring life and that life “abundantly.”

Jesus goes on in John 10 to assure us that he is a good shepherd. The proof that he is a good shepherd with the sheep’s best interest in mind is that he lays down his own life on behalf of the sheep.

do you believe that? Do I believe that? Do I believe today that Jesus wants me to have life and to have it abundantly? Do I believe that there is a thief and liar out there who wants to steal from me, kill me and destroy everything that I love?

If I believe it, or if you believe it, then why do we ignore what Jesus told us to do and how he told us to live? Doesn’t it follow that if Jesus has our best interests at heart, (which he demonstrated by dying for us even while we were powerless and sinners with nothing to offer back) then perhaps we should listen to him and follow his instructions for life?

Specifically, let’s talk about divorce. Unfortunately, several couples (I can think of five right off the top of my head) that I know are currently in various stages of this destructive act. Who hasn’t seen Mark Sanford’s slow motion public self-immolation?

All of us are at risk of taking steps down that path. So let’s think a minute about what our good shepherd who died for us so that we could have abundant life and his Father say about divorce. Let’s think about the counsel they left for us through Solomon. Then let’s think about the lie that the thief whispers in our ear. I have talked about these before here and here and I will keep doing so, because we tend to forget.

God hates divorce. Its that simple. God hates the promise breaking violent act of divorcing the spouse of our youth and the lackadaisical attitude it demonstrates about all of our promises and specifically the way that it demonstrates our faithlessness to Him.

10 Have we not all r one Father? Has not s one God created us? Why then are wet faithless to one another, profaning the covenant of our fathers? 11 Judah has beent faithless, and abomination has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem. For u Judah has profaned the sanctuary of the Lord, which he loves, and has married the daughter of a foreign god. 12 May the Lord cut off from the tents of Jacob any descendant [1] of the man who does this, who v brings an offering to the Lord of hosts!

13 And this second thing you do. w You cover the Lord‘s altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because he no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. 14 x But you say, “Why does he not?” Because the Lord y was witness between you and the wife of your youth, z to whom t you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. 15 a Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? [2] And what was the one God [3] seeking? [4]b Godly offspring. So guard yourselves [5] in your spirit, and let none of you bet faithless to the wife of your youth. 16 “For c the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, [6] says the Lord, the God of Israel, covers [7] his garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and t do not be faithless.”

do you see the connection? Malachi says that in our marriages, God “mixes a portion” of His spirit in the union and that He was a witness (the most important witness) of the promise that we made to each other that glorious day when we swore to love one another through thick and thin, sickness and health, wealth and poverty till parted by death.

Ephesians 5 makes this allusion of Malachi’s specific to us in this age. God demonstrates His relationship with His people to the rest of the world in our marriages. Our marriages are God’s illustration to the world of Christ and the church.

He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because n we are members of his body.31 o “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, andp the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, q let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she r respects her husband.

Jesus talked about divorce in several places two of which are in the Gospel of Matthew. In the sermon on the mount, he briefly touches on it. He did so more extensively in Matthew 19.

3 And Pharisees came up to him and r tested him by asking, s “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” 4 He answered, t “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, u ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and v the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. w What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” 7 They said to him, x “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” 8 He said to them,“Because of your y hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. 9 z And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.” [1]

10 The disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” 11 But he said to them, a “Not everyone can receive this saying, but onlyb those to c whom it is given. 12 For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs d for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let the one who is able to receive this receive it.”

emphasis added

Jesus makes plain that it is our own stubborn selfish hard hearted rebellion that causes divorce. It is not God’s plan. It is not the “abundant life” that he came to bring us. It is a sop to our hard heartedness. You have to get that. Jesus says that the only reason God allowed Moses to put divorce into the law was because humans were hard hearted and that in the beginning it was not so.

now let’s turn to Solomon.

earlier we talked about God’s thoughts on divorce and what Jesus had to say. Jesus proves his bona fides to us in his instructions because he is the good shepherd who laid down his life for us. We thus are forced to believe that he has our best interests at heart when he tells us what he told us about divorce.

Now let’s look for a minute at what Solomon had to say with the wisdom provided to him by God. Proverbs 5 is one of the few extended arguments made by Solomon in the book of Proverbs. It is addressed to “my son” and warns against going after strange women. In these modern times we live in, the warning is also applicable to “my daughter” and should be read also as the danger inherent in going after strange men.

what specifically does Solomon have to say about the dangers of adultery?

For the lips of a a forbidden [1] woman drip honey,
and her speech [2] is b smoother than oil,
4 but in the end she is c bitter as d wormwood,
e sharp as f a two-edged sword.
5 Her feet g go down to death;
her steps follow the path to [3] Sheol;
6 she h does not ponder the path of life;
her ways wander, and she does not know it.

At the beginning her lips “drip honey” but “in the end she is as bitter as wormwood”. Ever think about the fact that after the jolt of fresh infatuation, you will be stuck all over again with a human being. This new human being will have his or her own fresh set of strengths and weaknesses. This new human being will have a whole new set of emotional baggage and hidden minefields. This new human being will get depressed and stressed just like the one you left behind.

lets go on with Solomon

Keep your way far from her,
and do not go near the door of her house,
9 lest you give your honor to others
and your years to the merciless,
10 lest strangers take their fill of your strength,
and your j labors go to the house of a foreigner,
11 and at the end of your life you k groan,
when your flesh and body are consumed,
12 and you say, l “How I hated discipline,
and my heart m despised reproof!
13 I did not listen to the voice of my teachers
or incline my ear to my instructors.
14 n I am at the brink of utter ruin
in the assembled congregation.”

By giving in to adultery, you will be giving your honor to others, you will be giving your years to the merciless and your labors in the house of a foreigner. At the end of your life you will be consumed and groan about the fact that you neglected wise counsel and did your own thing.

Do you hear what he is saying? By taking the deceptive path toward what you think will bring you happiness, you are actually heading in the direction that will use you up and leave you empty. You will have forsaken the ones you love and who love you back for the emptiness of excitement with strangers. As a promise breaker, you will no longer be trustworthy either to the ones you betrayed or to the new crowd you seek to join. You will be surrounded by strangers and ruined in front of the assembled congregation. Everybody will know what you are.

Now lets look with Solomon at the flip side.

Drink o water from your own cistern,
flowing water from your own well.
16 Should your p springs be scattered abroad,
streams of water q in the streets?
17 r Let them be for yourself alone,
and not for strangers with you.
18 Let your o fountain be blessed,
and s rejoice in t the wife of your youth,
19 a lovely u deer, a graceful doe.
Let her breasts v fill you at all times with delight;
be intoxicated [4] always in her love.
20 Why should you be intoxicated, my son, with w a forbidden woman
and embrace the bosom of w an adulteress? [5]
21 For x a man’s ways are y before the eyes of the Lord,
and he z ponders [6] all his paths.
22 The a iniquities of the wicked b ensnare him,
and he is held fast in the cords of his sin.
23 c He dies for lack of discipline,
and because of his great folly he is d led astray.

ahhhh. cool water from my own well. so refreshing. so wonderful. so intoxicating. If we keep our fountain at home then it will be blessed. God sees what we delight in. God has made us in such a way that when we live disciplined lives obeying the teaching that He has set before us, then we are fulfilled and truly happy. We can choose to be delighted and intoxicated by the spouse of our youth.

think about it. who knows you better than your spouse? Your strengths, weaknesses, lessons learned the hard way etc etc.?

You guys went through stuff together. you signed your first mortgage together with fear and trepidation, but yet trust in God and each other that the future was bright enough to pay it. You suffered a miscarriage together and went through the agony of lost dreams, still born in the womb. You then joyfully welcomed that first child into the world and brought it home only to realize that the hospital forgot to provide the instruction book and you have no idea what to do with it. You learned together how to care for that baby and the ones that followed. You endured layoffs and unemployment together. you celebrated that big promotion and the raise that went with it, by buying a new couch and finally getting rid of that eyesore from college days. You moved to a strange city in a strange state together. And so on and so on, through all of life’s twists and turns.

In short, you grew up together with all the joy, pain, boredom, grief, sickness, etc that life brings. If you decide to turn your back on that, then you put the rest of your life into the hands of strangers who will never know you the way that the spouse of your youth knows you. If you decide to take delight in the spouse of your youth, then your history remains intact and God approves of your ways.

Do you see it?

Avoid the temptress or tempter. keep your feet on the path of truth. God is watching.

all right, now let’s go back where we started. In John 10:10, Jesus contrasts himself and his mission with the thief.

The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy. Jesus came to bring abundant life.

and here are we sheep in the middle. we have a choice to make.

do I send this email to someone not my spouse that will take me a step further down the road to adultery? Do I make this phone call? do I set up this lunch appointment? Do I…..? whatever it is.

What thoughts are going through my head in that moment? My spouse makes me miserable. I should be happy. This other person makes me happy. I can’t bear the thought of staying home with the spouse that makes me miserable. oh, who am I kidding we make each other miserable. Really it isn’t fair to either of us to stay locked down like this in misery. Surely God wants us to be happy. surely it is better for all of us if we just find a way out. After all, the kids shouldn’t have to watch us fight. I feel so awesome when I am around this other person. they make me feel wanted. They make me feel sexy again. and so on and so on.

Here is the thing. As human beings, we can think and reason. We have an absolutely amazing capacity to rationalize what we want to do and make it seem ok. We have an enemy who wants to destroy us who has thousands of years feeding rationalizations by humans to take them down the path to destruction. we also have the remnants of the flesh in us that want to be gratified.

The combination of these elements means that all we like sheep have gone astray. there is not a single one of us who isn’t bent.

we all need God’s power to keep us from rationalizing ourselves into indulging our flesh.

We also need to believe at a very deep level that pursuing God’s way is better for us. Because the bottom line is that we are going to do whatever we really truly want to do.

That is why I have titled this series “who do you trust?” Because that is the question.

Do we trust God who sent His only begotten Son to die a horrible death on the cross so that we could be reconciled to God with our very happiness?

Or do we trust our limited ability to decide what’s best for us as we rock along in our little bubble of RIGHT NOW.

It is kind of silly for us to think that we can do a better job of deciding what is better for us and those we love than God. God who loved us when we were unlovely. God who made the universe. God who designed us. God who cared enough about us to leave us His Word for us to get to know Him better.

But so many times every day that is what we do. We just decide that we know best. We then get off in the ditch and start begging for God to get us out or worse, we blame God for letting us get off the road in the first place.

God hates divorce. He wouldn’t accept offerings from promise breakers. Jesus said that divorce was only given because people were selfish and hard hearted.

So there it is. Do we trust God with our marriage? Or do we trust ourselves and our own rationalizations as we go down the path to blowing up our lives in the name of “happiness”?

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  1. […] who do you trust? […]

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