Faithfulness in Marriage

The Heidelberg Catechism: Lord’s Day 41

108. Question: What does the seventh commandment teach us?

 Answer: That all unchastity is cursed by God.[1] We must therefore detest it from the heart[2] and live chaste and disciplined lives, both within and outside of holy marriage.[3]

 [1] Lev. 18:30; Eph. 5:3-5. [2] Jude 22, 23. [3] I Cor. 7:1-9; I Thess. 4:3-8; Heb. 13:4.

 109. Question: Does God in this commandment forbid nothing more than adultery and similar shameful sins?

 Answer: Since we, body and soul, are temples of the Holy Spirit, it is God’s will that we keep ourselves pure and holy. Therefore He forbids all unchaste acts, gestures, words, thoughts, desires,[1] and whatever may entice us to unchastity.[2]

 [1] Matt. 5:27-29; I Cor. 6:18-20; Eph. 5:3, 4. [2] I Cor. 15:33; Eph. 5:18.

Discerning Good from Evil

Romans 16:17-19 – I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naïve people. Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I rejoice because of you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.

Take Heed Lest You Fall

These are some of Paul’s last words to the Church at Rome. With these words he revealed his Christian love and pastor’s heart for this congregation. After a significant, deep, and vital treatise on Christian doctrine and living, Paul stressed one last time how crucial it was for these Christians to take heed to what he shared with them.

Paul knew there were those wolves in sheep’s clothing (Acts 20) who would creep in among God’s people (from within and without) and cause divisions – some purposefully and others because they themselves had been deceived. Regardless, these wolves would place obstacles before God’s people. They would seek to undo and disrupt sound teaching, the very doctrine Paul took pains to communicate throughout his Letter to the Romans.

Deception, Then Derailment

Paul said to keep away from such trouble-makers. Don’t hang around them. No good can come from getting too close to them. Such people do not represent our Lord, regardless of how smooth their words are. They serve the idol of their own agenda, their own desires and cravings, not Christ’s. The first result of listening to them is deception. Once deception sets in, wandering from the faith is never far behind.

Paul loved the Church at Rome. Because he cared for them he therefore encouraged them and built them up by complimenting their obedience. But he warned them to be wise with regard to what is good and innocent concerning evil. Sticking your head in the sand won’t do here. The discernment Paul spoke of required learning and growing in the sound doctrine he had been teaching them throughout his letter. Their lives and souls were at stake, as well as future generations of Roman Christians. The same is true for you, your children, church, and friends if you wander from the sound, life-giving, life-transforming doctrine of God’s Word.

Walking Points

  • I encourage you to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ. Pray for the Spirit’s discernment regarding good and evil. Flee from evil and those who bring it, regardless of whether or not the world calls you judgmental. Cling to what is good and thank God for it.
  • Read through Paul’s Letter to the Romans with some friends and discuss what each chapter teaches you about truth and falsehood, good and evil.
  • How are your observations relevant to today’s world, and your life in particular? Write down those principles and your observations.

Prayer

All-wise Father, your Word presents to us, from beginning to end, commands and encouragement to take the right path and warnings against taking the wrong one. We are to believe in you and no other. We are to follow you and your Word and nothing else. We are to take the hard and narrow road and not the wide and easy one. Every page of Scripture beckons us to trust you and follow the map you have set before us. Please forgive me for those times when I, as did Christian in Pilgrim’s Progress, stray from the path, even a little. Thank you for your abundant grace which shows me my error and your Spirit who enables me to get back on the right path and continue my journey with you. Please help me to serve as a guide for others who are traveling through this world, seemingly unaware of the map and other road signs you have provided. Furthermore, help me lead and protect from false teachers and prophets, those you have entrusted to my care. For it is in the name of the Good Shepherd I pray. Amen.

Purpose-Driven Israelites

A Clear Purpose

 “Love the Lord your God and keep his requirements, his decrees, his laws and his commands always.”

With these words from Deuteronomy 11:1, God, through Moses, gave Israel a purpose. Her purpose was to “love God and obey him… always.” That’s a pretty clear purpose. Solomon summed it up like this in Ecclesiastes 12:13,

Now all has been heard;
here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
for this is the duty of all mankind.

But there’s more to it. It also included a “here’s what it looks like” portion. If the Israelites would be obedient to God, they would take possession of the land – the Promised Land – which God had set before them. Obedience would be tough, the risk may be great, but God assured them it would be worth their effort. More importantly, he promised to be with them always and never forsake them. In Deuteronomy 11:11-12 we read:

But the land you are crossing the Jordan to take possession of is a land of mountains and valleys that drinks rain from heaven. [12] It is a land the Lord your God cares for; the eyes of the Lord your God are continually on it from the beginning of the year to its end.

Love and Obey

The blessing of obedience to God’s covenantal commands was that Israel would get this coveted land and more. The curse of disobedience was that she wouldn’t… and more.

Obedience is an essential part of purpose. We can’t wiggle out of it in the New Testament, even though we know we are saved by grace through faith in Christ alone. Why? Because Christ reminds us multiple times in John 14 and 15, as well as in 1 John, that an expression of our love for him is doing what he says… it’s obeying his commands. This is to our Father’s glory, that we bear much fruit (John 15).

What would be the point of knowing God’s purpose for your life – the very reason for which you were created – if you didn’t pursue it? It’s only as we reveal our love for God by obeying him that we experience God’s blessing for our lives – which may take on a variety of manifestations as we travel down the path of righteousness.

But can any of us hope for more than the knowledge that the eyes of the Lord are continually on our purpose, from the beginning to the end? And it’s as we trust and obey God’s commands and pursue that purpose that we find ourselves aligned with his will for our lives, which is blessing enough for any of us.

Thanks be to God.