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Everything good in your life comes from God.
It might come THROUGH people or nature or something else, but it originates in God.
God and God alone is the source of all goodness.
I mention this, because people (including born-again believers) sometimes have a tendency to take credit for good things when they happen, or to attribute good things to other people or to anything other than God. We must be careful not to do that. We must be careful always to thank God for blessings, understanding that he’s behind all of them.
God doesn’t get offended when we misdirect our thank-you’s, but we miss out on the blessings that come with thanking him. When you leave God out of the thank-you equation, you lose. Go ahead and thank people, by all means (lest they get hurt or offended), but don’t forget to thank God.
Bad habits that keep you from being on target with God’s will are not something that you can break on your own or in isolation (that is, one at a time). For instance, wanting to quit smoking without understanding why you smoke in the first place will only lead to your failure. I have spoken with dozens of people (including Christians) over the past few years who are desperate to quit smoking but find they simply cannot do it. Their desire to inhale nicotine-laced smoke is stronger than their desire to quit.
Addictions are sensory- and memory-based. Even the thought of smoking gives addicted smokers the same sensation as actual inhalation of nicotine smoke. In fact, for some addicts, thinking about the addicted behavior is more satisfying than actually doing it. That’s because the thought of the desired addicted behavior releases the same chemical in the addict’s brain (dopamine) as is released during the the execution of the addicted behavior. Which is also why it’s so difficult to quit addictions like smoking, as you’re fighting not only the physical desire for nicotine, but also the strong memory of how it satisfies you, which is accompanied by a dopamine rush. Such a powerful force cannot be overcome just by wanting it to be overcome.
The day I was born-again, I went from drinking 6 to 8 drinks a day to drinking none. I had no desire to drink alcohol in the months following my rebirth. I did start to drink again later, but only sparingly and socially (one drink a few times a week). And then I stopped altogether.
I mention this because I’d been an alcoholic since I was a teenager. I’d been drinking heavily almost daily for 20 years before I was reborn. I never thought about quitting and would likely still be drinking heavily had I not turned to God. I’m not against alcohol per se (Jesus drank socially, and his first public miracle was turning water into wine), I’m just against alcohol for me.
But I know I could never have quit on my own or through any kind of a program or buddy/mentor system. Alcohol was my “medicine” that I legitimately thought I had the right to take. It was my default when things got stressful or hectic, or when I was feeling down or in the mood for a party. I used any excuse to drink, so that over the years nearly every activity I did was memory-stamped with alcohol and the initial euphoria it induced in me.
Such a pervasive addiction would have been almost impossible for me to escape on my own. I’m strong-willed, but not that strong-willed. I thank God that he sprang me from alcohol addiction not because I asked him to, but because whatever alcohol gave me, God then gave me instead. The reliance on alcohol was turned into a reliance on God, so that whenever I felt stressed or depressed, I turned to God. If I was unhappy with something, I turned to God. God rather than alcohol became my default, but this change I could not have arranged on my own. It came through submission to God and only through submission to God and was ultimately effected by God, not by me. First came my submission to God, then came my healing from addiction.
There is no other way to be fully healed from addiction than through divine intervention (in other words, a miracle). But it first requires full submission to God. Prayer – however fervent – without full submission to God will not stop the addiction.
Do you have an addiction that you’re trying to quit? Stop thinking about your efforts to overcome it and focus instead on submitting yourself, body and soul, to God. The more you submit to God, the less power your addiction has over you. The more you submit to God, the more dependent you become on him and the more you will turn to him for all your needs rather than to drugs or to people. Fully submitting yourself to God will not only solve all your problems, it will give you the best ongoing high you’ve ever had, without any hangover or other nasty withdrawal symptoms.
If you have only one addiction during the rest of your time on Earth, let it be to God. We’re made to be addicted to him. Let your dopamine rush come from thinking about God and spending time with God. Let it come from just thinking about spending time with God. Let your focus be on him and him only, and he will get rid of everything that doesn’t belong in your life. You won’t have to do a thing. That’s a scriptural guarantee:
“Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness,
and everything you need will be given to you.”
All good things come from God. He is the originator and source of all goodness. Goodness can come through people and things, yes, but it originates in God. He sets it in motion. He sends it to you.
May your addiction be only and always to God.
Judas Iscariot was one heck of a preacher. He was excellent at his missionary job, which is why none of the other disciples suspected him of betraying Jesus. At the very end, he was, of course, outright in his betrayal, but earlier on he was as swept up in the Jesus wave as the other followers. He thought he believed in Jesus, he thought he felt the same about the mission as all the other disciples. It was only toward the end of the three years working with Jesus that his beliefs and feelings changed, and he, the arch-deceiver, began to see Jesus as the deceiver. But Judas carefully hid his doubts, as deceivers do, and doubled down on his enthusiasm in case anyone should suspect his plans.
There are many followers of Judas Iscariot in the Christian preacher community, especially on YouTube. I know preachers who are alcoholics, preachers who are on antidepressants, preachers who just consider preaching a way to make a living and to be looked after in retirement. These are all modern-day Judases, but I doubt that any of them would see themselves as such. They come across as ultra-sincere and committed to Jesus. Sometimes they’re so good at preaching their sincerity, they start to believe it themselves. It’s only when they step away from the pulpit that their doubts creep in.
By God’s Spirit, you can discern the Judases among us. They love to preach, because while they’re preaching, they feel real. The common impression is that Judas Iscariot was bad or at best mediocre at what he did. But he was good at preaching, one of the best among the disciples. His stellar performance as a preacher and subsequent presumed commitment to the mission is what led to his being entrusted with the group’s finances. Scripture tells us that he stole from the funds the disciples held in common. “But surely someone who preaches like that can’t be dishonest!?!”
Televangelists and their latest incarnation, the YouTube prophets, are all Judases. I do not apologize for making that generalization, as I have yet to come across any televangelist or anyone who self-promotes on YouTube who is not a Judas Iscariot-level false prophet. If you want to work on and practice your skill of discernment, pick any televangelist or self-promoting prophet on YouTube and see if you can find their Judas streak. As I said, they all have one. Sometimes it’s blatant, but other times it takes a few minutes to find.
There are two things they all have in common, these followers of Judas. The first is that they’re glib preachers, smooth with their words. Paul, by his own confession, stumbled over his, which is one of the reasons why he relied so heavily on his letters to get the message out. God would have had a hand in Paul’s lack of spoken eloquence, just as he has a hand in the surfeit of spoken eloquence of Judas’s followers.
The second thing that Judas preachers all have in common is their focus on money. They’ll preach for free, but they’ll solicit donations, or they’ll preach for a salary. Money will always be part and parcel of preaching the Gospel for them, as it was for Judas. They worship mammon, so preaching the Word is just a means to an end (the end being making money). Genuine followers of Jesus never accept a penny for preaching the Word. They’ll graciously and with gratitude accept any donations that are offered free-willingly, but they’ll never solicit them. That is one of the key ways to discern a follower of Jesus from a follower of Judas. God will permit the tares to grow among the wheat until Judgement Day, so it’s up to us to discern who’s a tare and who’s wheat, lest we, too, be deceived.
I know a few Judas preachers personally, and it’s difficult at times for me to keep quiet about them, but God wants me to let them be. He well knows who they are and he tells me that even the Judases have a role to play in bringing believers to the Kingdom. God uses everyone and everything to draw his people ever closer to him. Jesus knew about Judas, but he let him continue to preach to the end. He let him continue because Judas had a role to play in the redemption process, which he played willingly.
We’re not to expose the Judases among us, but rather to discern who they are and let them be. There’s nothing to be gained in exposing them, nothing to be gained in confronting them, and nothing to be gained in trying to stop them from preaching. They are an earned reward for people who prefer to have their ears tickled with smooth words.
God lets those people be, too.
He doesn’t force himself on anyone.
One of the few things we know for sure about Jesus is that he never sinned during his time on Earth. He came into the world sinless and he left it sinless. Had he not be entirely sinless, he wouldn’t have been able to pay the sin debt owed by Adam. But the debt’s been paid; the kingdom’s come; and Jesus is at the right hand of God, where he belongs.
But Jesus being sinless doesn’t mean that Jesus always wanted to do what God wanted him to do. What most Christians don’t consider (and they should consider it, they really, really should) is that while Jesus was always obedient to God, he didn’t always want to be. Sometimes he dragged his heels, sometimes he jumped the gun, and sometimes he tried to negotiate his way around it.
This is important, that we acknowledge that Jesus didn’t always want to do what God was asking him to do but that he did it anyway. Because if we’re honest with ourselves, we’ll admit that we don’t always want to do what God is asking us to do. All of us occasionally try to find a way around God’s will or a justification for not doing it. All of us do this, and if you say you don’t, you’re lying to yourself.
We’re constantly being tested to see whether we want what God is offering or what the world is offering. But God is not going to permit us to be tempted when we’re all fired up after a revival meeting; no, he’s going to test us after we’ve been fasting for 40 days and nights in the wilderness. He wants to see the real us, not the one we claim to be with our Christian friends. He wants to see how we respond not when we’re at the top of our game, but when we’re scraping the bottom of the barrel; when we’re tired and cranky; when we’ve spent the past 3 weeks sleeping on the airport floor: when we’re hungry and thirsty and exhausted and lost and people are being downright nasty to us. That’s when we’ll be tested. That’s when we’ll be pressed to do God’s will against every nerve and bone in our body.
This is where many people fall. They fail the test and then decide not to get back up again. But if we understand that Jesus himself didn’t always want to do what God tasked him to do (that is, that he didn’t always want to choose to forgive, that he didn’t always want to turn the other cheek, that he didn’t always want to love his enemies, etc.), it makes it easier for us to be obedient through gritted teeth. Because you wanna bet that Jesus was gritting his teeth on many an occasion when he chose to do God’s will. He wasn’t always doing it with a smile on his face. No-one on Earth always does God’s will with a smile on their face. It’s not possible to do that.
But it is possible to be obedient to God while gritting your teeth or grumbling under your breath. God’s not asking you to give up who you are or to stop being authentically you; he’s just inviting you to choose his way rather than the world’s way. That’s what it means to be obedient to God, to do God’s will, and it can be done through gritted teeth and while grumbling.
Or you can choose not to do God’s will, and fail the test. When that happens, you need to acknowledge your failure and move on. Don’t grovel in your failure; learn from it. And you’d might as well learn from it, because you’re going to be tested again on that exact same point. You don’t get out of something by failing it, not in God’s economy: You get a re-do when you least expect it.
Case in point: Several weeks ago, I had a run-in with a woman at a bus shelter in Halifax. She was smoking, pointedly ignoring all the “NO SMOKING” signs painted around the shelter’s interior. I politely asked her to stop smoking, but she ignored me. I asked her again, she still ignored me, and that’s when things took a turn for the worse. It’s also when I should have backed off and let God deal with her, but I wasn’t in the mood to do that on that particular day. So I locked horns with the woman.
I won’t bore you with the details, but let’s just say it got nasty. Real nasty. It almost came to physical blows, but God sent us off in different directions before that could happen.
A few weeks later, the night before I left Halifax, I was on a bus, and who should get on but the woman I’d locked horns with. She sat down next to me, but she didn’t recognize me at first. She’d had a problem finding her monthly bus pass when she was boarding the bus, so I asked her if she wanted mine, as I was leaving town the next day and wouldn’t need it anymore. She thanked me and said no, she had a pass already, she just needed to find it at the bottom of her purse. She dug through her bag for a minute and triumphantly flashed her pass at me and the bus driver. Then she thanked me again for my offer and complimented me on my coat.
It was at that point that I noticed a glimmer of recognition in her eyes, but not clear recognition. I could tell that she was trying to place me from somewhere, but she wasn’t sure where. So we chatted for a few minutes about the weather turning cold and about my upcoming trip, and then she gathered her things together to get off the bus. That, I think, is when the penny dropped for her and she remembered where she knew me from. But instead of lighting into me (which she could easily have done), she instead stared me straight in the face and wished me a good night and safe travels. I returned her well wishes, and we nodded and smiled good-bye to each other as if we were old friends.
I think I can say with confidence that I passed the re-do test, as did she. God’s timing is perfect. The funny thing is, during our brief bus trip together, the woman reminded me so much of me. We had similar mannerisms and ways of expressing ourselves, and it wouldn’t surprise me if she were a Christian, though not necessarily a born-again one. I have a feeling I’ll see her again someday, and we’ll have a good laugh over our bus shelter battle. God’s sense of humor, like his timing, is always perfect.
But WE are not perfect, and neither was Jesus during his time on Earth. That means we sometimes have to do God’s will through gritted teeth and while grumbling under our breath. That means we sometimes get mad at God. He’s our Dad, after all. (Surely you’ve been angry with your earthly father!) God would rather that you be real with him than fake it, and anger is a reasonable response to being asked to do something you don’t want to do.
Choosing God’s way was something Jesus always did, though not always with a smile on his face. God doesn’t expect us to do what even Jesus couldn’t do. What he does expect us to do is to grumble and to fail on occasion; and when we do fail, to get back on the horse ASAP. Obedience to God doesn’t require a smiling face, just a grudging “yes” when we’d sometimes rather say “no”.
A simple “yes” will do it.
God will do all the rest.
To praise God means to love him; to love God means to praise him.
There is no praise without love and no love without praise.
The two are the same.
You don’t have stand with your arms outstretched and waving back and forth to praise God. You don’t even have to look to the heavens.
You just do the same things with God as you do with anyone else you love.
You spend time with him. That’s praising him.
You run to him with your problems. That’s praising him.
You run to him with your joys. That’s praising him.
You share your every thought with him and listen quietly to his. That’s praising him.
Even if you don’t initially agree with him, you always let God take the lead. That’s praising him.
Invite him to go for a walk with you. Invite him to sit with you in your favourite hidey-hole. Sing songs with him. My favorite duet with God is the BeeGees’ “How Deep Is Your Love?”
Here are my lines:
“I believe in you, you know the door to my very soul
You’re the light in my deepest darkest hour
You’re my savior when I fall”
Here are God’s lines:
“And you may not think I care for you, when you know down inside that I really do
And it’s me you need to show how deep is your love….”
God, as scripture tells us, is a jealous God. He wants us all to himself. He wants us so much to himself that he made it the first and greatest Commandment that we are to give our everything to him and to him only. But he knows we get distracted. He knows sometimes we forget that he’s right there with us, he can be so quiet. He never butts in (unless we invite him to). He lets us open ourselves to him and invite him in, and then he gladly comes. When we invite him in permanently, he never leaves. He told us “I will never leave you nor forsake you”, I will never desert you; I will never betray you.
God will only leave if we want him to.
May you never want God to leave.
To love God is to praise him. He knows whether or not we love him (he knows everything about us), but he needs us to show it, too. He needs us to show him that we love him. You show God you love him by doing everything he advises you to do, like Jesus did during his time on Earth.
It’s the little things that make a love great, not the grand gestures (though they have their place), the little things, especially and foremost spending quiet time together enjoying each other’s company. You don’t even have to say anything when you’re with God, just let his love wash over you and yours over him. That’s praise and the highest form of worship. It’s what Jesus was talking about when he said God was looking for people to worship him in Spirit and in Truth: for people to love God for no other reason than that they love him. Not out of obligation or a sense of duty, but as a state of being, like being in love.
To love God is to praise him; to praise God is to love him. The two are the same.
Praise without love is an empty thing.
Give God and God only all your love and you’ll get back so much in return, it will bowl you over like a tidal wave. That’s why the Commandment is to love God with everything you’ve got, because God wants to return your investment in him with exponentially compounding interest; for every penny’s worth of love you invest in God, he’ll give you a dollar’s worth, or ten dollars’ worth, or a million dollars’ worth. Who knows where he’ll stop? Look at Abraham and Noah and Moses and David. Look at Jesus. Look at Paul. Look at all these spiritual brothers of ours and see how their love investment in God was returned a million-fold or billion-fold or more. God wants to do that for all of us, if we would just let him, if we would just love him the way he’s enabled us to love him.
There’s no limit to how much we can love God. We put that limit on ourselves; God doesn’t.
To love God is to praise him; to praise him is to love him.
May you love God – may you praise him – with everything you’ve got.
This time last summer, I was nearing the end of a 40-day/40-night Bible read-through. Some hardy souls read along with me, while others did the deed at their own pace over the following months. I was thinking about that read-through last night and the unique perspective you get from God’s Word when you read through it without pausing to mull it over. It’s somewhat like the difference between taking a quick shower and a long hot bath. I love taking baths, but a quick shower can also be refreshing.
The Bible is a really, really, really, really, really long book with lots of words in it (around 800,000). Some scholars study the Bible as their life’s work, but most people – including those who call themselves Christian – never bother to read it. As born-again believers, we should be reading scripture every day, not as an obligation, but as something we just do naturally, like breathing.
When I was first born-again, I couldn’t put the Bible down. I read all four Gospels in one sitting within a few hours of being reborn. God’s Word was like mother’s milk to me as a new-born-again. I couldn’t get enough of it.
That hunger for and dependence on God’s Word has not left me in the 23 years since my rebirth. I always have a Bible close at hand, which got me interrogated a few times by Homeland Security for having one in my purse while boarding a plane. For me, scripture is a reminder of who and how I need to be. I sometimes wear a cross around my neck for the same reason – to remind myself, when I’m out in the world, that I’m not of the world, that I need to respond to situations differently than the world.
The very physical presence of the cross and what it represents to me and others has kept many a sharp word from spilling over the boundary of my lips and has also reminded me to say a quick prayer instead of muttering a curse when I encounter conflict. Physical objects that are close to hand are helpful that way. I guess I could just as well tie a string around my finger as a reminder, but the neck cross serves the dual purpose not only of reminding me how I should act in the heat of the moment, but also of branding me as a believer in the eyes of the world. Moses advised the children of Israel to put physical reminders like frontlets on themselves so they would always keep the Ten Commandments in mind and act accordingly. My cross serves the same purpose.
Last year’s Bible read-through left an impression on me that I hadn’t anticipated. When I recall doing the daily readings, I also remember the time of day (almost always the morning), the sunlight streaming through the window, the stillness and quietness of the country setting, and the jumble of boxes and sheet-draped furniture that I sat among to read (I had brought my things out of storage, hoping finally to go through them). It seems that the physicality of my surroundings became part and parcel of God’s Word. In the same way, when I recall my first reading of the Gospels in the hours after my rebirth, I also recall the kitchen table I sat at, and I can still hear the fridge humming and buzzing behind me.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that our seemingly random physical realities are part and parcel of our experience and understanding of God. Jesus tells us that God is a Spirit being. But we are very much trapped in the physical realm of time and space, so how can the physical comprehend the spiritual? Or maybe the question should be: How can we move beyond the physical to comprehend the spiritual?
I don’t think God wants us to do that. If he did, he wouldn’t have given us our senses. In many ways, the physical impressions made on us reinforce the spiritual impressions, just as the spiritual impressions reinforce the physical ones. The two work hand-in-hand to impress on our memories the things we need to remember, each working as triggers for the other. So our physicality in the mortal realm, far from keeping us from knowing God, allows us to know him in a way different than we’ll know him in Heaven. But we can still know him while we’re yet on Earth. He is still with us, if we’re born-again. Jesus is, too, through the power of God’s Holy Spirit, because he told us he’d be with us until the end of the world.
When I was thinking last night about the Bible read-through and the Bible in general, I asked myself whether I could sum up the Bible in one word, and if I so, what would that word be? I decided instead of taking the Bible as a whole, I would divide it into the Old Testament and the New Testament, and assign one word to each part. The Old Testament I would sum up as “God”, and the New Testament I would sum up as “Jesus”.
That was easy.
But if I moved beyond the personalities that dominate each part of the Bible and looked instead at what those personalities did to dominate it, I found that “promises” describes what God does in the Old Testament and “fulfills” describes what Jesus does in the New Testament.
So, taken together, we have “God promises” and “Jesus fulfills”. That pretty much describes the whole Bible and would have saved us 40 days and 40 nights of reading if I had just posted a blog article with those four words.
But of course, we need to go deeper and look at “promises” as being both an encouragement and a warning, and at “fulfills” as being the very physical walking out of God’s promises over time. Without the intensely physical context of Jesus living and moving and working physically in and through the world, both before and after his resurrection, God’s supernatural promises could not have been kept.
I’ve mentioned before how Jesus is the rubber hitting the road when it comes to God. Jesus not only made real all things pertaining to God, he kept it real. There was no pretentiousness with Jesus. There was no “thee” and “thou”, no demanding that people bow before him. He was just a regular guy, a carpenter’s son from Nazareth who’d turned preacher. Other than for the one time he rode on a donkey to fulfill scripture, he walked or took a boat everywhere he went. He didn’t drive a chariot. He wasn’t carried around by half a dozen slaves. He was very low-key, hands-on, and accessible.
I like knowing this because remember that Jesus did everything that God advised him to do. He took all his cues on what to say and how to act from his Father. Now if Jesus took all his cues from God, then that means God acts very much like Jesus, or better said, Jesus acts like God. If Jesus was without pretentiousness, then so is God. If Jesus was low-key, hands-on and accessible, then so is God.
Scripture shows us glorious visions of God resplendent on a throne, but it also shows us God walking in a garden in Paradise in the cool of the day, God making coats for Adam and Eve, God meeting up with Moses in various places, and God spending time, one on one, with Abraham and Noah. In all those encounters, God is very much like Jesus with people, with a very low-key, rubber-hitting-the-road kind of vibe. That’s the heavenly Father I know. He doesn’t want me to “thee” and “thou” him. He just wants me to be real with him, the way he is with those who love him and do his will.
Our physical bodies during our time on Earth are a rough draft of the perfect bodies we’ll have in Heaven. And just as our bodies now are crude and imperfect compared to what our heavenly ones will be, so are our senses crude and imperfect when it comes to spiritual things. Paul says we see now through a glass darkly, but we’ll be able to see God as he really is when we get Home. The Bible can only show us God through a glass darkly; we can get an idea of him from scripture, but we can’t fully know what he’s like. The way Jesus was during his time on Earth is as close to God as we’ll ever get, not only in how God is in and of himself, but what he wants and expects from us, and what we’ll get in return if we do what he wants and expects.
Jesus famously summed up the Law and the prophets of the Old Testament as “treat others as you want to be treated”. Mind you, that’s more than one word, but it’s a pretty good summation. In fact, I think it’s as good a summation as you’re going to get, and also very characteristic of Jesus’ approach to keep things low-key and accessible to all. Why write (or read) over half a million words when you can say the same thing in less than 10?
Even so, given the choice, I’d rather eat a delicious five-course meal than just swallow a vitamin that has the same nutrients. The Bible is a smorgasbord of wisdom, advice, warnings, history, promises, tragedies and prophecy. It needs to be read, all ~800,000 words of it. Sometimes we graze on it, sometimes we gorge, sometimes we gnaw slowly but steadily on it, and sometimes we do a whirlwind 40-day read-through to get the gist of what it has to say and to note which sections we want to return to later to study more in-depth.
But we need to read the Bible; that is without a doubt. And we should be reading parts of it every day, not as an obligation, but as a need.
It doesn’t matter what time of the day you read the Bible and it doesn’t matter how much of it you read; it just matters that you read it.
For the entirety of his ministry years, Jesus was the sole human who knew beyond a doubt that he was the Messiah. His disciples claimed to know (Peter even once by the power of God’s Spirit proclaimed it), but they didn’t really believe, not beyond a doubt. If they had really believed, they wouldn’t have run away when Jesus was arrested. If they had really believed, they wouldn’t have denied knowing him when they were outed as being his followers. If the Marys had really believed that Jesus was the Messiah, they wouldn’t have shown up at his grave on the third day with spices to anoint his body. All of these actions – running away, denying knowing Jesus, and preparing the body for burial – show that while Jesus’ followers claimed to believe he was the Messiah, they didn’t really believe, not the way Jesus did.
Only after they saw and touched resurrected Jesus did they believe beyond a doubt.
It must have been a peculiar kind of solitude for Jesus, being the only human who knew who he was. Sure, God knew he was the Messiah, as did all the holy beings. The unholy ones knew, too, and were constantly blabbing it before Jesus had the chance to shut them up by casting them out. And there’s the odd thing about Jesus being the only human who knew who he was – Jesus didn’t want anyone else to know he was the Messiah, not until the time was right. So he was OK with his disciples’ and followers’ skin-deep belief in his messiahship, at least in the first few years of his ministry work.
Being the Messiah would have been a big secret to carry around. Even before Jesus started his ministry, his family would have known he was a prophet (imagine how many times he’d healed their illnesses and turned water into wine at home before debuting those miracles in public). But like his followers, his family also didn’t believe he was the Messiah until after his resurrection. They knew he was a prophet, sure, but THE Prophet? The one foretold by Moses and written about by David and Isaiah all the Old Testament prophets? Nah, not our Jesus. Remember how his mother and sisters tried to drag him back to Nazareth, thinking he’d lost his mind, and how his brothers ragged on him to declare himself publicly, if he really was who he said he was. There was no belief in those actions by his family, not belief in Jesus as the Messiah. But after his resurrection, his Mother and his brother James fell into line with his disciples and followers as true believers.
We, as born-again believers, know what it is to be alone in our beliefs. Most of us don’t have genuine born-again family members, at least not still on Earth, and most of us don’t know any genuine born-again believers in the flesh. Instead, we operate fully by faith, having neither seen Jesus with our own eyes nor being in the company of other true believers. It is a peculiar kind of solitude that we live during our time on Earth that is not unlike the solitude that Jesus experienced. But, like Jesus, we are also never alone: We have our heavenly Father with us always, through his Spirit, and we have the cloud of witnesses.
If I have to sit, stand, walk, eat, pray, worship and sleep alone for the rest of my time here, I’m OK with that. I may be more or less alone in my beliefs and very alone physically, yet I never feel alone, because God and Jesus and all my cloud homies are with me in Spirit. It’s a peculiar kind of solitude, but a fulfilling and a blessed one.
I’m never lonely.
We need to accept being alone in our beliefs because that’s how it’s going to be during our time here as born-again believers. That’s how it was for Jesus and that’s how it is for us.
As Jeremiah put it, I’d rather sit alone than in an assembly of mockers and unbelievers.
Amen to that.
One of the fastest and easiest ways to fail at being a Christian is to expect other people to do all the work for you. Yes, Jesus had to do the heavy lifting to get the show on the road, but it’s done now, and the rest is up to us. But who needs all that hassle? Life is hard enough as it is. Having faith takes too much effort; believing beyond the witness of your eyes just spins your head around. And Jesus already did everything for us and forgave us all our sins, so what does it matter what I do, if I’m once-saved-always-saved? I’m going to Heaven regardless, right? That’s what mainstream churchianity tells me. It makes much more sense to believe what most people believe (rather than scripture) and to rely on the witness of my own two eyes. That’s a classic way to fail at being a Christian.
Have a problem? Go to a minister or a pastor or a Christian counsellor. Talk to a priest. That will guarantee that you’ll fail at being a Christian, because Jesus told us to go to God with our problems, not to people. As born-again followers of Jesus, we have a direct line of communication with God and Jesus through God’s Holy Spirit. But don’t use that, no, go to a person instead. That’s a great way to fail at being a Christian.
Another sure-fire way to fail is to wallow in your sin. Forget about repentance, forget about choosing to forgive before you take your prayers to God. Who has time for that? If you want to fail spectacularly at being a Christian, do a Catholic-style repentance, which is to recite vain repetitions a dozen times, and you’re good to go. Congratulations – you’ve failed at being a Christian! As for forgiving, all you have to do is say you’ve forgiven someone for something they did, and then the next day throw it back in their face. You can do that over and over and over again. And while you’re doing it, don’t forget to tell others about what that person did to you, in all its gory detail, and definitely don’t forget to follow up with a comment about how you’ve forgiven that person. You’re not going to fail at being a Christian unless you claim to have forgiven someone, but by your words and actions show that you haven’t.
Failing at being a Christian comes especially easy when you’re in a group of like-minded people. Make sure they’re nominal Christians who take their cue from the world, not from God. You can drink with them, curse with them, fool around with them (wink wink), do drugs with them, watch porn with them – heck, you can do whatever you want with them, because doing what feels good is one of the best ways to fail at being a Christian.
Jesus told us that our road would be hard during our time on Earth, and that if the world persecuted him, they’d persecute us, too. But who wants to be persecuted? What kind of a life goal is that? It’s much better to fail at being a Christian by always choosing the comfortable way rather than the right way, and by taking movie stars and athletes and YouTube pastors as your models rather than Jesus. If you want to enjoy a whole lifetime of failing at being a Christian, make sure you get a well-paying job with good benefits and a pension, make sure you marry and have kids, make sure you buy a house and a car and have a big investment portfolio, and make sure you confine “being a Christian” to one hour a week on Sundays and the occasional religious holiday. In other words, make sure you live your life totally opposite to how Jesus lived his. Be like most Christians rather than like Jesus. Do that, and I guarantee you that you’ll successfully fail at being a Christian right up until the day you die.
And then, my friend, you’ll get the eternal reward that you deserve.
We sometimes make the mistake, as born-again believers, of thinking that everyone is the same, that everyone deep down has the same common decency or at least the same capacity for common decency, but we’re wrong about that. There are some people who don’t have common decency and don’t even have the capacity for it. They’re more like animal predators than humans. That’s not to say they don’t have a right to live. And yet it is to say that if we try to live among those people, we shouldn’t be surprised if they cut our head off and rape what’s left. If we spend time around them knowing what they’re capable of and yet still insist that they’re “just like us”, then we get what’s coming to us. We get what we deserve, because we didn’t use our God-given common sense and instead tried to superimpose our fantasy world over a cruel reality.
Jesus distinguished two types of people in the world – those who were of God, and those who were of Satan. He didn’t mention that those who were of Satan could switch to become those who were of God, but he did say that those who were of God could end up children of Satan.
When I was a very young born-again believer, I thought that everyone alive on Earth had a shot at going Home. I thought that as long as a person was still breathing or had brain activity, there was hope for that person’s salvation. Now I believe that just like there are animal predators in the wild whose sole function is to keep the ecosystem in balance by killing the weak and infirm, so, too, are there human predators among us whose sole purpose is much the same as their animal counterparts, only on a spiritual level. These human predators can’t be reached by the Word because they have no capacity to receive it. God didn’t give them the capacity.
It’s a shock to the system when this realization hits you. As a born-again believer and adopted child of God, I have to admit it kind of freaks me out to be sharing the air with people who hate God (or, worse, are indifferent to him). They can never love God because they haven’t been created to love him; they’ve been created to deliver punishment.
I’ve known a few of these people intimately. I know I’ve known them, because God tells me not to pray for them. I used to pray for them, when I was newly born-again, but God one day told me to stop, and so I stopped.
I was raised by and around kind people. Being raised by and around kind people, I always assumed that everyone was kind. So I had to learn the hard way that not everyone is, and that some people pretend to be kind just to get what they want from you. Lying is a way of life for some people, so much so that they don’t even know they’re doing it most of the time. They just open their mouth and out comes a lie, because that’s what comes naturally to them. That’s how they were made.
When I lie, my palms sweat, my heart pounds, and I fail miserably at convincing anyone of my tall tale. I was never a good liar as an atheist. I couldn’t look someone in the face when lying to them, let alone look them in the eye. At the same time, I hated being lied to even more than being physically beaten. At least when you’re physically beaten, the evidence is right out there in front of you. But with lies, if the liar doesn’t admit to lying, then it’s just a cat and mouse game, with the liar usually winning by making up as many lies as necessary to wear the opponent down.
Jesus calls Satan the Father of Lies and explains that Satan was created that way. It wasn’t that God created Satan as a truth-teller and then somewhere along the line Satan developed a hankering for lying. No. Satan was created to lie. In the same way, there are people walking among us who are children of Satan not because they chose to be but because they were born that way – without the capacity to love Truth, which means without the capacity to love God.
As I said, I have known some of these people intimately, and as a born-again believer, I know now to keep my distance from them. I would never purposely be cruel to them or name them, but I let them be. Nothing good ever comes from poking a stick in a spiritual hornet’s nest. They have their purpose (otherwise, they wouldn’t be here), but they are not targets for conversion.
There are whole regions of the world that are full of natural born liars without common decency, whole regions that are the territory of Satan’s children. In fact, lying is so much a part of some cultures, that it is ingrained in the people as a cultural value. In those cultures, someone who is particularly good at lying (that is, someone who can fool even born liars) is considered to be highly accomplished. These cultures are now being blended with former Christian cultures, the latter which also have their fair share of natural-born liars without common decency.
When we try to superimpose our understanding of how people should be (kind, decent, honest, hard-working, etc.) over people who have no capacity for those character traits, we do no-one a favour. It’s better to see these people for who and what they are, and to give them a wide berth and stay out of their space, the same as you’d give a rabid animal a wide berth. Those who are born children of Satan will die children of Satan, and there’s nothing we can do to change that.
There was a man several years ago who gained some notoriety for living among grizzly bears in Alaska during the summer months. He talked to them and interacted with them as if they were children, and for the most part the bears tolerated him. However, there was a difference between the bears that lived in close proximity to people and those that did not. The bears that lived in close proximity to people became acclimatized to people and so, while not tame, were at least OK with people being in their vicinity, including the man who talked to them like children. But the bears that lived deeper in the woods and never came into contact with people were a different bear altogether.
The man who spent his summers with grizzlies learned that fact the hard way when he tried to use the same interaction techniques that had been successful with the human-acclimatized bears on bears that were not human-acclimatized. The non-human-acclimatized bears came down from the mountains to spend the colder months on the plains, where it was warmer. The man wasn’t usually in the plains area during the fall months, which is when he encountered one of these ferociously wild bears and met a sordid end. His mistake was in thinking that all bears were basically the same deep down and so could be treated and interacted with the same. Many people make the same mistake by thinking that all people are the same deep down. They are not. Some are born with the capacity to love God, and some are not. Some, as difficult as it may be for us to accept, are naturally-born children of Satan.
Jesus doesn’t tell us to seek out the children of Satan to destroy them. In fact, he tells us in the parable of the wheat and the tares to let them be, that God will deal with them at the Judgment. Meanwhile, as we make our way along the path homeward, we need to be fully aware of the existence of these people so that we can steer clear of them (which is not difficult to do, as they likewise want to steer clear of us). Don’t hate them, don’t publicly expose or ostracize them, and don’t preach to them: just let them be. God will deal with them in his way and in his time.
The best sleep I ever had was in a 4X4 outhouse in Oakville, Ontario. I hadn’t planned on sleeping there, but I got caught in a fall thunderstorm at my storage unit, and by the time the rain had stopped and I’d ventured outdoors, the gates of the facility were shut and locked and there was no way out. I could have spent the night in my storage unit, but it was too cold there, so I went to the outdoor heated bathroom, spread a giant garbage bag over the floor, laid down with my legs propped up on the wall (the floor wasn’t large enough for me to stretch my legs out), and promptly fell asleep. Because the outhouse was only dimly lit, I didn’t realize until the next morning, when I woke up magnificently refreshed and opened the door, letting the daylight stream into the tiny room, that the place was full of spiders. Big ones. Big black ones. There must have been at least a hundred of those big black spiders all over the walls and ceiling, but not one of them bothered me or bit during the night.
I still think of that sleep when I toss and turn in my expensive hotel beds or short-term condo rentals. I don’t think the quality of the bed or the pillow or the bedding or even the sleeping environment is important. I don’t think location is important. I don’t think what you eat or drink or otherwise ingest before you go to bed is important, any more than your bedtime routine is. Based on my own experience over many years of sleeping in thousands of locations, I think you sleep well when you’re good and tired, when you say your prayers, and when God grants you a good night’s sleep.
Some other good sleeps I’ve had were on rock-hard benches at airports, using my laptop as a pillow and surrounded by loudspeaker announcements (not to mention blindingly bright lights and screaming kids) or on sleeping cars in trains. The sleeping cars in trains I paid for and expected to have good sleeps in, but the airport bench sleeps were an unexpected surprise. I also have fantastic naps when I’m riding in one of the older models of subway cars in Toronto, when I have a long journey of at least 45 minutes to an hour. Regardless of how crowded the car is, as long as I can nab a seat, I just close my eyes and I’m out for the duration.
I mention this because Jesus didn’t have much by way of beds during most of his ministry years, and yet every day he put in a full day’s work and then some. So he must have been sufficiently refreshed by his sleeps, even if they were just on cold hard dirt or at the back of a heaving boat.
I also mention this because I’ll likely be starting a regime of camping soon as I relaunch my travels. Hotels and Airbnb’s are too expensive at the moment, so I’ve been exploring the camping option again.
I say “again”, because two years ago, I spent two nights camping and promptly threw my tent and tarp into a dumpster after the second night, as soon as it was light enough for me to find the dumpster. “Never again”, I swore to myself. But as born-again believers, we know not to swear anything (not to ourselves or to anyone), and common wisdom teaches us through humbling experience never to say “never again”. So I guess the “never again” timeframe I mentioned a few years ago is coming up in a few days, which I am with some trepidation preparing for.
Not wanting to relive my rookie camping mistakes, I’ve been watching “How To” camping videos on YouTube. I can see now why my previous camping efforts failed so dismally, but at the same time, I have to laugh at how much equipment you’re expected to buy and drag around with you if you want a good night’s sleep in a tent. I guess, like a sponsored runner on a coast-to-coast marathon with a supplies van trailing behind, I’ll have to hire someone to drag everything around for me, since I can’t drive and therefore don’t have a car.
Or I’ll just do what Jesus did, which I assume was to lay his robe on the ground, lay down on top of it, say his prayers, and fall asleep.
I’ll let you know how it goes. ;D
“Thou shalt not commit adultery
Welcome to the Foundational Tutorial lessons on the Ten Commandments! These lessons are intended for you to learn what you need to learn; they are not meant as a condemnation or judgement. As born-again followers of Jesus, we’re all still here on Earth because we’re all still learning about the Kingdom and how to live in it. As much as he was the Messiah, Jesus was also a teacher during his time here. His followers are likewise expected to teach others, after they themselves have learned what they need to learn, and practiced it.
We aren’t expected to be perfect (even Jesus wasn’t perfect), but we are expected to strive for perfection (“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in Heaven is perfect”) and to constantly work at improving ourselves.
The foundation of Jesus’ teachings was the Ten Commandments and everything that stemmed from the Commandments, so we clearly need to focus on them. They are the lifeline for staying on God’s Way, particularly in times of trouble and temptation. You’ll note that there are no asterisks (*) on any of the Commandments. That means there are no exceptions to these ten rules. You break them, you pay the price.
For an overview of the blessings that come from keeping the Commandments and the curses that come from not keeping them, see Deuteronomy 28.
LESSON FOUR CONTENTS
1. ADULTERY: A DEFINITION
– What Is Adultery?
– Physical Adultery
– Spiritual Adultery
– Are You Committing Spiritual Adultery?
– How to Avoid Committing Spiritual Adultery
– Is Your Marriage Adulterous?
– Will You Do the Right Thing or Look the Other Way?
3. tl;dr: SUMMARY
When I started this blog several years ago, I made a point of stating that I wouldn’t shy away from speaking God’s Truth, even if it drove people away. My personal experience has been that when I hear something in God’s Word that makes me turn away, it’s because I need to hear it. I’m resisting hearing it because I need to hear it.
I mention this because I’ve been resisting doing something that I should have done months ago, and that’s to present the teaching on adultery as part of the Ten Commandments foundational series. In direct violation of what I said I wouldn’t do, I have shied away from speaking God’s Truth, solely because I knew it would hurt some people to hear it. It wouldn’t just prick them; it would hit them like a tidal wave, and I didn’t want to do that to them. God let me shy away for a while, but now he’s on my case, and I have to go forward with it. I have to speak God’s Truth, because to do anything else is unacceptable to me.
I heard someone ask recently why people don’t preach (or teach) on sin anymore, and I guess one of the reasons is because they don’t want to discourage and alienate anyone, knowing that many people who consider themselves Christians are so deep in sin, they no longer realize that what they’re doing is actually sin.
So without any further ado, and with my apologies both for delaying the publishing of this installment of the series and for any (hopefully short-lived) grief this may cause you, I present the teaching on God’s Commandment not to commit adultery.
As I mentioned in the preamble, I’ve been putting off dealing with this Commandment because I know it’s going to hit some people hard and I don’t, despite the force of my words on this blog, enjoy hitting people. I don’t want to be the bearer of the message that causes them emotional suffering. I understand that people steeped in this sin don’t want to think of their marriage as adulterous and therefore illegitimate in God’s eyes. They don’t want their back pushed to the wall, forcing them to choose between God and their lover.
But I’ve finally gotten to the point where, firstly, I have to do what’s right in God’s eyes (not necessarily in people’s eyes), and secondly, my business isn’t your feelings: My business is your soul. I’d rather hurt your feelings if it leads you to repentance, than to coddle your emotions and leave you wallowing in sin.
If you’re in a relationship that puts you in violation of God’s Commandment on adultery, you need to end it. You can choose to stay in the relationship (you have free will), but it would be the wrong choice and you’ll suffer for it. Every part of your life will be adversely affected by your wrong choice, and you will contribute to the sin of others. You will not only be the sinner in that case; you will also be the tempter.
WHAT IS ADULTERY?
The Bible defines two types of adultery – physical adultery and spiritual adultery. Both are equally sinful in God’s eyes and both require the sinner to repent and not to sin that sin again.
A. PHYSICAL ADULTERY
Physical adultery is illegitimate sexual relations, that is, sexual relations that are illegitimate in God’s eyes. They may be legitimate in the world’s eyes, but if they’re not legitimate in God’s, they are adulterous. Jesus is very clear that marriage forms the sole basis for legitimate sexual relations. His definition of marriage is God’s definition, which is the life-long union of one biological man and one biological woman, joined in a life-long contract with, by, and under God.
Life-long means just that – you remain married until one of you dies. It is not an eternal union, but an earthly union that ends at death. Jesus tells us that in Heaven, there are no marriages and no people living as husband and wife. Marriage is only for our time on Earth.
Physical adultery also includes intense flirting, fantasy, and pornography. As Jesus says, for a person to lust after someone other than his or her spouse is the same as committing adultery with that person. Even just thinking about someone other than your spouse in a sexual way is the same as committing full-fledged adultery. So when those thoughts come to you (and they will come to you as a temptation, be sure of that), you need to pray to God to take them away. Let God know that you don’t want to entertain those thoughts, and he will take them away from you. If you don’t ask God to take them away, if you purposely entertain adulterous thoughts, you are guilty of committing adultery.
God permits you to be tempted, but he will always be there to remove the temptation, if you ask him. And if you do ask him for his help (always recommended), you then need to do whatever he tells you to do.
Fornication, which refers to sexual relations prior to the consummation of a marriage, falls under the category of adultery as well. You don’t have to be married to commit adultery; any illegitimate sexual relationship – however fleeting – outside a God-sanctioned marriage is considered adulterous in God’s eyes.
The devil has been working overtime over the past few centuries to discredit God’s Law on adultery and fornication as “old-fashioned” and irrelevant. People even joke about the word fornication now, the way they joke about the word “sin”. But who cares what the devil is telling people to think and believe; as born-again believers, we should only be concerned with what God is telling us. The world, inspired and guided by the devil, celebrates and encourages adultery through condoning pre-marital sex, multiple marriages and divorces, civil unions of people who are biologically the same sex, civil unions of people and their pets, etc., all of which is adulterous behaviour. We don’t have to participate in what the world encourages us to do; we need to stay on the strait and narrow course set for us by God. Understanding and following God’s Commandment on adultery is part of that course.
B. SPIRITUAL ADULTERY
The Old Testament is full of warnings against committing spiritual adultery, but what is it, and how do we know if we’re committing it?
We need to know what spiritual adultery is, because like sexual adultery, spiritual adultery is forbidden by Commandment. Spiritual adultery is just as much a sin as physical adultery.
To commit spiritual adultery is to give your love, adoration, and worship to someone or something other than God. The children of Israel were notorious for committing this type of adultery, and they suffered accordingly for it, but modern-day Christians aren’t much better. I know people who call themselves Christians, but who have Buddhist statues in their house and do yoga (including chanting mantras). Then there are the so-called ecumenical Christians who believe that all of the “Abrahamic” religions worship the same God. Or they believe that all religions deserve the same respect, and so bow down to whatever idol is presented to them so as not to offend the idol worshipers.
When you stray from God and embrace other “gods” (a.k.a. fallen beings), even out of politeness, you’re committing spiritual adultery. It’s not only a sin, it’s breaking the Commandment on adultery and so leading you away from God. Your back is to God when you’re committing spiritual adultery: You turn your back on God. That is not the way to Heaven.
ARE YOU COMMITTING SPIRITUAL ADULTERY?
Let’s take a moment to take stock. It’s possible that you’re committing spiritual adultery without knowing it.
- If you do yoga, you’re committing spiritual adultery.
- If you have a dream catcher, you’re committing spiritual adultery.
- If you have statues, effigies, or pictures of any “god” or “saint”, and if you defer to those items in prayer or touch them for “good luck”, you’re committing spiritual adultery. The Bible calls such things “abominations” that have no place in the life of believers.
- Superstitious cultural beliefs are a very deep well of spiritual adultery and should be banished from your mind and heart.
- Using the services of spiritual mediums is a huge no-no, even when they claim to be channeling God’s Spirit or a holy angel or the spirit of a departed loved one.
- Anything or anyone that takes your spiritual focus off God and his Word is a temptation to spiritual adultery.
HOW TO AVOID COMMITTING SPIRITUAL ADULTERY
There is only one God and only one Messiah. God should take all your love, adoration and worship, and Jesus is your one and only leader and so the only one you should be following. As a born-again believer who has God’s Spirit with you night and day, you don’t need to go through Jesus to get to God; you can pray to God directly, as Jesus promised us we would be able to do, but you still need to go to God in Jesus’ name, as a follower of Jesus. Jesus doesn’t need to intercede for us (he did that already); we can go to God directly as Jesus’ born-again, Spirit-filled follower. Note that you do not go to God in your own name or in the name of your pastor or priest or in the name of an angel or a saint; you go to God in Jesus’ name and Jesus’ name only. Going to God in any name other than Jesus’ is spiritual adultery.
I could go on, but hopefully you understand. Scripture tells us that God is a “jealous God”. We need to grasp not only that God is intensely jealous over us, but that his jealousy is for our benefit, to keep us on the strait and narrow and from consciously or unconsciously straying down paths of demon worship. We should never invoke or pray to angels or saints or try to ‘make contact’ with a deceased loved one or the spirit world in general. Our prayers should exclusively be directed to God (in Jesus’ name) and to Jesus (as Jesus’ follower and friend). We should NEVER, under any circumstance, talk to the dead or to other spirits, unless we are casting a spirit out (sole exception). We should ONLY and EXCLUSIVELY talk to God and Jesus, through the power of God’s Holy Spirit.
If we worship only God and follow only Jesus, and if we direct all our prayers to God and Jesus, we’ll be safe from committing spiritual adultery.
IS YOUR MARRIAGE ADULTEROUS?
Jesus said that divorce, which is the process of ending a marriage before death, has only one legitimate grounds in God’s eyes, and those grounds are fornication. Note that the fornication must occur before the consummation of the marriage. The best example in the Bible of a marriage that could have ended because of fornication was, ironically, that of Jesus’ own parents. When Mary got pregnant with Jesus, she was betrothed (that is, married, but the marriage had not yet been consummated) to Joseph. He could have divorced Mary based on fornication, as he knew he wasn’t the father of her child, which meant she must have had sexual relations with someone else. However, God intervened and assured him that Mary was still a virgin and that the child was conceived by none other than his Holy Spirit.
Based on God’s assurance, Joseph did not divorce Mary. However, you can imagine that the couple would have been the source of village gossip about Mary’s pre-marital pregnancy, and Jesus would have suffered from the gossip as well. Even during his ministry years, Jesus’ adversaries made snide remarks about his parentage. In any case, Joseph could have legitimately chosen to divorce Mary, according to Jesus’ explanation of the one acceptable grounds for divorce, but he chose not to.
Adultery is not grounds for divorce. Adultery is a sin, but it is not grounds for divorce. The mainstream church has for centuries willfully or out of ignorance misinterpreted Jesus’ teaching on adultery, and in so doing has led millions of souls into sin by permitting them to divorce on the grounds of adultery. The mainstream church then throws oil on their conflagration by “remarrying” those who have received an illegitimate divorce, plunging them even deeper into an adulterous situation. Many high-profile preachers are living in adulterous marriages according to Jesus’ definition of adultery and divorce. You can bet that Satan put those high-profile preachers in front of people as a way to normalize and condone adultery through illegitimate divorces.
WILL YOU DO THE RIGHT THING, OR LOOK THE OTHER WAY?
Jesus’ teaching on adultery is as plain as plain can be. It hasn’t changed for thousands of years and will not change now. If you are born-again and living in an adulterous relationship or engaging in fornication through intense flirting, fantasy, or porn or through a relationship that is illegitimate in God’s eyes, you know you need to stop. I’m not the one telling you to stop – God and Jesus are telling you to stop. I’m just the messenger.
If you’ve divorced and remarried, and your first spouse is still alive, then your second marriage is illegitimate. There is no arguing that; it’s a scripture-based fact.
If you’re in an abusive marriage, you leave the abuser and live separately from him or her, but you don’t divorce and you don’t remarry. You remain living separately and celibately until you reunite with your spouse. If you don’t reunite, you remain living separate and celibate until you or your spouse dies.
Jesus presented his teaching and then left it for people to choose on their own. He didn’t strong-arm them or force them this way or that; he simply made it abundantly clear which choice they should make, which one was the right one in God’s eyes. (That’s what I’m doing here.) But whether they chose to remain in their sin or do the right thing he left up to them, even while strongly urging them to do the right thing in God’s eyes. (That’s also what I’m doing here.)
Jesus told us that considering the dangers of sexual temptations, it’s better not to marry or have children. The path Jesus chose (to remain unmarried and childless) was the optimal one for those in the Kingdom who are Homeward-bound, but he also cautioned that being a spiritual eunuch for the Kingdom of Heaven’s sake is not for everyone. When the disciples got the call and started following Jesus, the first thing Jesus had them do was to leave their spouse and children, along with their jobs and homes and everything that had previously defined them. So even if you’re married and have children, those ties need not prevent you from following Jesus with the same commitment as the disciples, if you’re called to do so. You’ll know you’re called because you’ll know: There will be zero doubt in your mind. When Jesus calls, he doesn’t whisper. His call is loud and distinct, and his sheep clearly hear his voice.
3. tl;dr: SUMMARY
- If you’ve been breaking the Commandment on adultery without knowing it, now is the time to stop; tomorrow may be too late for you.
- Marriage is a life-long contract between a biological man and a biological woman that only ends with the death of either of them. The marriage does not continue in Heaven.
- Adultery is a physical (sexual) relationship that takes place outside of marriage, and spiritual adultery is the spiritual worship, adoration, or reliance on anything or anyone other than God. Spiritual adultery is just as sinful as physical adultery.
- Divorce is only valid in cases of proven fornication, which must take place prior to the consummation of the marriage. Mary falling pregnant while betrothed but before consummating her marriage with Joseph is a good example of the one legitimate grounds for divorce in God’s eyes.
- The best way to avoid all these potential problems is to live single and celibate – to become, as Jesus called it, a eunuch (spiritually) for the Kingdom of Heaven’s sake.
“I have sworn and I will perform it,
that I will keep thy righteous judgments.”