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One Flesh – A Great Mystery

For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother

and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.

This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

Ephesians 5:31-32

 

Discovering Truth:

We have been looking at God’s creation of the man and the woman, His design and His intent, as He created them and joined them into one flesh.  We will continue to discuss this amazing truth today.  It may seem that we are jumping ahead to the New Testament and leaving the Creation account found in Genesis, but that is not the case at all.

Before we begin, please take the time to prayerfully read Ephesians 5:15-33.

The Apostle Paul writes a beautiful exposition on walking in wisdom and being filled with the Spirit, and then applies these truths to the Christian husband and wife.  As he concludes his spiritual instruction for the husband and wife, he quotes our passage from Genesis about the husband and wife becoming one flesh.  Then he declares that this is a great mystery, but he is speaking concerning Christ and the church.

In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul frequently used the word mystery as he refers to the church.  (You can use a concordance to search out those scriptures if you like.)  A mystery was a secret, hidden truth, which remained hidden until God revealed that truth.  The Old Testament saints did not understand the church as God revealed it in the New Testament. We discover so many truths in a much deeper way as Jesus revealed them, and as the Apostles also expounded them. Truths that were hidden were a mystery, but at God’s appointed time, they were revealed by Him.  This is the type mystery to which the Apostle Paul is referring.

Specifically, He is referring to the one flesh relationship, “bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh” – one flesh.  We know that this quote comes from Adam’s declaration about the woman as the Lord gave her to him, and we know that they were joined as one flesh.

But in the passage that we are considering, the Apostle Paul is explaining the proper relationship between the husband and the wife.  He uses, as his example and explanation, the relationship between Jesus Christ and the church (His bride).  And in this explanation, he refers to one flesh, bone of his bones, flesh of his flesh, members of his body.  Truly, it is a great mystery!  What exactly is the Apostle Paul saying? Is he referring to Adam and Eve? Is he referring to a husband a wife? Or is he referring to Christ and the church? Let’s take a look at all three!

 Adam and Eve:  In a very literal sense, Eve was flesh of Adam’s flesh, and bone of his bones.  God had literally formed her from his flesh and bone.  Therefore, she was named Woman. Remember? There they were joined as one flesh. This passage is true of them – literally.

Husband and Wife: In Ephesians 5, we find the Apostle Paul using these truths, now applied to the husband and wife. Now, in this case, centuries after Adam and Eve, the wife was not literally taken out of the husband’s side and formed from his rib.  But as we saw when Jesus addressed the truth of marriage in Matthew 19, using the same Genesis passage, He declares that God has joined the husband and wife into one flesh, and that they are no longer two, but one flesh. It was not literal flesh and bone, as with Adam and Eve, but nevertheless, as God views a husband and wife, He very much views them as one flesh because He joined them as such, bone of the husband’s bones and flesh of his flesh.  I know huge questions arise as we try to understand.  Our problem is that we must by faith accept what the Word of God declares to be true. (Think of examples like: we died in Christ, and are raised in Him, that God placed our sin on Jesus. Think of truths like: we are seated in the heavenlies with Christ.  There are so many examples that we accept by faith.) These are deep spiritual truths.  But how can I know that the Lord really wants a husband and wife to be one flesh, viewing themselves truly as bone of his bones and flesh of his flesh? Listen to the commands that Word of God is giving to the husband in our Ephesians passage:

So, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies

He who loves his wife loves himself

For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes it and cherishes it

Can you see how the husband is to view his wife as his own body, “flesh of his flesh, and bone of his bones,” and love and care for her as such? And the wife, too, must learn to view herself as a part of her husband. For the Word of God says he is the head.  She is a part of him.  They are one flesh!

So, it is now a symbolic truth, first literally seen in the creation of Adam and Eve, but now one which shows a husband and wife how to live to the glory of God, and one which produces very real results in any marriage where the husband and/or wife is willing to believe and trust the Lord so as to walk in truth! And one further note, when we humble ourselves and walk in this truth, we reflect Christ and the church, others will see the reflection (especially our children), and we bring much glory to the Lord.

Christ and the Church:  The relationship between Christ and the church is given as the example to the wife for the rightful headship and a proper response to her husband as head.  The husband looks to the example of Christ to understand the wife as a member of his body and how to properly love and care for her.  Wow!  Amazing, high and holy truth.  So, does one flesh, ”bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh”  also apply to Christ and the church?  Absolutely, yes.  For He is now the Head of the church, and we are members of His body!  And one day, He will return to this Earth to get His bride, and the fulness of this mystery will be complete. Deep spiritual truth that our mind struggles to comprehend, but absolute truth of the Word of God. It is a spiritual truth. A great mystery indeed.

So, in conclusion, let us return to our Genesis passage of God’s creation of the man and the woman, the creation of Adam first, the creation of woman from flesh of his flesh and bone of his bone, and the joining of the two into one flesh.  In His unsearchable wisdom, God was creating humankind and woven into that creation was a great mystery, not only a pattern for all marriages to follow, but a glorious picture of the beauty of Christ and the church, which was yet to come. We should all stand in amazement!

 

Personal Reflection:

What shall I say to you as I reflect on my life regarding the truth of one flesh? I can only say as the Apostle Paul in Philippians 3:12:

Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.

I shared with you that when David and I were married we remained as two individuals.  God had joined us as one, and He viewed us as one, but we had no idea what we had really been called to.  I made every mistake imaginable (and so did David), but the Lord taught me to take my eyes off David and all his faults, failures, and sins, and concentrate of being the wife that God had called me to be.  And that was a tough job!

However, in the final analysis, what I learned is that God blesses His Word.  When I stopped arguing with God, defending myself and my “rights”, going my own way (whether blatantly or manipulatively), and then bowed before the Lord in humility and honesty, God was faithful to forgive all my mistakes, refresh my heart and mind, and give me the grace to press on.  I found that a very close walk with the Lord was the only answer.  In and of myself, I would always go astray and go my own way, thinking that my way would produce a better result.  How foolish of me!

Over and over the Lord would bring me back to the truth of one flesh. Over and over the Lord would bring me back to the truth that He had given David to me as my head. Over and over He would remind me of the picture of Christ and the church. I remember when the question occurred to me: What would it look like if the church declared that she would be “her own woman” and that she didn’t need a Head?

Oh my, what I must have looked like to my Lord! I was independent. I acted apart from my husband. I sometimes opposed him, but I also cleverly tried to manipulate him to get my way.

I cannot emphasize enough that the Spirit and the flesh are contrary to one another.  My flesh will ALWAYS pull me away from truth.  We are only able to walk where God calls us to walk by His grace and by His Spirit.  When we stumble (and we will), we go back to the Lord. He will lift us up!

My journey has not been an easy walk, but it is one that I would not trade. The more I walk in one flesh with my husband, viewing myself as a part of David, and viewing him as my head, the more the Lord blesses our marriage.  Neither of us are the same as we were 40 years ago as we entered this marriage, and neither of us would go back to our old ways.  Why? Because there is a joy now that we did not know when we were independent of one another and insisting on our own ways!

All I can say is that we are a walking, breathing testimony that God blesses His Word. So, I beg you, don’t be afraid to walk in truth.   I know it is not easy. I know all the arguments, fears, and doubts, but I also know the joy that the Lord will bring. None of us are yet perfected, but may we continue to press on, that we may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of us … all for His glory!

 

So, Until Next Time:

In truth an honesty before the Lord, examine your life.

If you are married, how do you view you and your husband?

Do you live as one flesh?

You will have to give your husband fully to the Lord in prayer, no longer pointing out his faults and failures as excuses for your actions.

Seek the Lord.  Ask Him to renew your mind according to truth.

Ask Him to show you the things that you need to change.

Be willing to take one step at a time, obedient to what the Lord shows you.

Trust the Lord as you walk by faith in His Word.

Every wise woman – will seek to honor the Lord in her marriage.

 

As I worked on this writing the first verse and chorus of a well-known hymn by Louisa Stead came to my mind.  With much love, I leave you with those words:

‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,

Just to take Him at His word;

Just to rest upon His promise;

Just to know, Thus saith the Lord.

Jesus, Jesus how I trust Him,

How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er,

Jesus, Jesus, Precious Jesus!

O for grace to trust Him more.

 

 

 

The Beauty of One Flesh

And Adam said: “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh;

She shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”

Therefore, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife,

and they shall become one flesh.

And they were both naked the man and his wife,

and were not ashamed.

Genesis 2:23-25

 

Discovering Truth:

Today we will return to God’s creation of the man and the woman. You will recall that the man was created by the hand of God from the dust of the ground. You will also recall that God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and then God took a rib and formed the woman from the rib and brought her to the man.  We now see Adam’s delight as he exclaims that the woman is bone of his bones and flesh of his flesh.  He then names her, giving her an identification: She shall be called Woman because she was taken out of Man.

It is again important to note that God never intended the man and the woman to function as two separate individuals.  From their very creation to the naming of the woman, we can see they were intended to be one.  But let us continue in the Scriptures to further understand this truth.  Clear instruction is now given that a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.  Again, we see there was no intent in the creation of the man and the woman for them to function as two distinct individuals.  There were to be joined into one flesh.

There are two simultaneous steps taken as two people get married.  First, they must leave. The word leave means: to loosen, to relinquish, to depart from, to forsake. They must leave their individual families as their primary relationships.  Secondly, they must cleave – be joined one to another.  The word joined actually means: to stick to, to cling to, to adhere to, to stay close to.

And as Adam and his wife were joined into one flesh, we find that they were naked and were not ashamed.  There we find the beautiful culmination of God’s creation of the man and the woman.  Together they were one flesh, not ashamed, and in perfect harmony! What a beautiful picture! And remember, as God looked at His creation, He declared it to be very good.  His perfect design was complete! All designed according to His great wisdom!

But there is so much truth to be found in this passage that I wonder if we could ever reach the depths and heights of it all. In Matthew 19 and Mark 10, we find the Pharisees coming to Jesus to ask a controversial question, hoping to divide the followers of Jesus.  They ask Him about divorce.  Rather than answer their question directly, He brings them back to the truth found in the Creation.  He answers them by saying: Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning made them male and female? And He said: For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.  So then, they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, let not man separate.

From Jesus’ words we can see several important truths.  First, the truths found in Genesis 2 regarding the man and the woman apply to every married couple.  Jesus makes that application here as He goes back and quotes God’s intentions from the Creation. He establishes that each of those truths are still true today.  Next, notice what He says: What God has joinedWhat God has joined! When a man and woman are joined in marriage, it is God that joins. That is why He can declare with authority: What God has joined, let not man separate! God intends a marriage to be permanent, for He is the One who has joined a husband and wife, and not we ourselves!

We will look at the one flesh union again in our next writing, but for now, let us continue to think upon the truths set before us – God designed a husband and wife to leave their individual families and be joined by Him into one flesh. No longer two, but one!

 

Personal Reflection:

As of this writing, my husband and I have been married almost 40 years. We had a church wedding, and these verses were read at our wedding, as they may have been at yours.  But I had absolutely no idea of the truth of these verses.  David and I entered our marriage as two individuals, and quite honestly, we continued in our marriage as two individuals.  Certainly, there was the physical, intimate oneness, and even a friendship, but our lives were still very independent of one another.  He had his ways; I had mine. He had his job; I had mine.  He had his schedule; I had mine.  I suppose you can understand why I said we were still two individuals. It actually never entered my mind that God intended us to function as one.  And I wouldn’t have even known where to begin. I’m sure my beginning would have been to get him to come over to my ways. But God had much higher, bigger, and better plans than I could ever have had.

He began to teach me about one flesh, bone of his bones, flesh of his flesh, and spiritual truth I had never known in my life.  The journey continues … 40 years of marriage … still learning to be one flesh with my husband … all to the glory of God!

There are no quick fixes, nor easy answers, but we will talk more about that next time!

 

So, Until Next Time:

Spend time thinking on these truths from the Word of God:

          Bone of my bones

          Flesh of my flesh

          The name Woman

          The importance of leaving father and mother

          The importance of cleaving to your spouse

          The necessity of becoming one flesh

          Naked and not ashamed

          What God has joined together

Lots of truth to meditate on and pray through!

Every wise woman – seeks God’s wisdom for her life!

 

So then, they are no longer two, but one flesh.

Matthew 19:6

 

A special note written with much love:  If you are struggling in your marriage or find yourself as a divorcee, please don’t leave truth.  We are just beginning this journey, and God has wonderful answers in His Word that only He can open up to you.  Don’t give up!  Keep seeking Him! He has a perfect plan for your life, and He is faithful to His children! 

 

 

 

God’s Creation – The Woman

Discovering Truth:

And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him … And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found a help meet for him.  And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam and he slept: and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made He a woman, and brought her unto the man.

Genesis 2:18-22 (KJV)

Let us return to our consideration of God’s Creation.  We have learned that God created the heavens and the earth in His wisdom and His mighty power, and we observed that as He created day by day, He declared that His masterful creation was good.  Now for the first time in the Word of God, God declares that something is not good.  It is not good that the man should be alone.

Immediately, upon that declaration, God announced His solution to this situation.  There was no animal found that was the proper help for Adam, so God created the perfect help for him, designed especially for him.

We observe that Adam did not go to God asking for the woman. God Himself declared that it was not good for the man to be alone.  Then God Himself caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and God Himself took the rib and formed it into a woman.

What an amazing God!  Woman is not the plan of the man, nor of the woman.  Woman was not designed by the man, nor by the woman.  Woman was designed exclusively by God, and exclusively for His purpose. He was making another human being to be with Adam. But what exactly was God doing in the creation of a woman? And why did He choose to create her from the rib of the man?

God could have formed another human from the dust of the ground, as He had formed Adam.  He could have formed them simultaneously had He chosen to.  But He didn’t!  He chose to create the man first, and He chose to create the woman from his rib. Why are these truths significant?

Do you recall that we made note of the fact that God created the man from the dust of the ground?  He then made the garden, brought the man to the garden, and placed him there to serve Him.  He made him from the very substance where He intended him to serve.  Remember? Now, God makes the woman from the side of the man and brings her to the man. He seems to follow the same pattern.  He makes her from the very substance – the side of man – which designates where she will serve. And just as He brought Adam to the garden and placed him there, God now brings the woman to the man and gives her to him.  This will be her place of service – alongside the man as a God-ordained help for him.  Can you see those parallels?

We can see the pattern, but does the question arise in your mind as to exactly what is the meaning of a help? If we take the time to see how this Hebrew word is used elsewhere in the Scriptures, we find that it is most often used of God Himself being our Help!  It is a very strong help, not a weak, demeaning word at all! And the word meet is most often translated as: before, in front of, in the presence of, in the sight of, corresponding to.

So, let us put all our observations together.  What was God doing as He created the woman?  In the simplest of words, He was creating another person to be with Adam in the garden, a person to serve with him, alongside him, a person to be a help and companion to him in the work that God had already designed the man to do.

But let us not forget that God created the man first.  In God’s perfect creative order, that was significant.  The man was intended to lead. And let us not forget that the woman was made from the man.  They were not intended to be two separate humans.  They were designed to function as one flesh.  And that will be the topic of our next writing. But for now, let us pray that God would give us understanding into His intentions and purpose for the woman. She truly was a special and beautiful creation!

 

Personal Reflection:

I can recall so many things! I recall when the Lord opened my eyes (and heart) to these truths.  I remember being broken and humbled before the Lord when I saw that I had missed these truths and God’s purpose for my life.  Not only was it not good for man to be alone.  Very specifically, it was not good for David to be alone.  And not only did God create a help for Adam, as David’s wife, I now understood that God had created me to be a help to David.  This was a turning point in my life.

Depending on God’s grace and His Spirit, I basically had to reorder my life.  I found that I had to seek Him because He would have to show me how to be a help to David.  Every wife has her own husband.  There are no carbon copies.  We must each learn how to be a wife/help to our own husband! And it will take God to show the individual path. But, be sure, He only leads on the path of truth!

I also recall another big step for me.  Sometimes God puts a question in my mind, in order that He may answer that very question.  The question that came to mind as I studied these truths was: Is there any other noun in the Scriptures that God used to name the wife besides help or wife or woman?  I would have to search the Scriptures to find the answer.  What I found was in Malachi 2:14. Here God called the wife the man’s companion.  Immediately, my mind returned to the Genesis passage.  I recalled that “aloneness” was the thing that was not good for the man.  Therefore, God had given him a companion.  That was a very important word for me to understand.  I now viewed myself as David’s wife, his help and his companion.  Why was that so important to me?  Being a companion focuses on the relationship, not just the work!   What my husband really needed was a helpful companion!  Oh, I could see, I had so much to learn!

But this one thing I knew.  I would begin to view myself as a help and companion to David – as a helpful companion to him!  By the way, in Genesis 1:31, when God finished all His Creation, Scripture tells us: God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good.

 I was truly learning that God’s design for the woman was never a negative, nor inferior thing.  Both the man and the woman were His perfect creation, perfectly designed to fulfill His purposes for them. God’s way is very good. He declared it to be so!

 

So, Until the Next Time:

Take the truths of the Word of God back to Him in prayer.

Ask Him to give you understanding.

Ask Him how these truths apply to your life.

If you are married, ask the Lord to give you a new view of your relationship to your husband.  (We all need our minds renewed daily.)

If you are not married (God definitely calls some to a single life), ask God to show you how these truths apply to you, and also how you can encourage married women around you in the truth of God.

Trust the Lord!

 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,

And lean not on your own understanding.

In all your ways acknowledge Him,

And He shall direct your paths.

Proverbs 3: 5-6

 

Every Wise Woman – Introduction

The wise woman builds her house,

But the foolish tears it down with her own hands.

Proverbs 14:1

 

The year was 2017. The diagnosis was bilateral invasive breast cancer.  The events of the year were certainly unexpected and unpredictable, but the Lord, in His faithfulness, love, grace, and mercy, carried us through by His amazing strength.  As of today, following much prayer, many doctors’ appointments, and two surgeries, as far and we know medically, my body is cancer free.  But 2017 also brought some other things into my life.

We all know that the Scriptures teach that our life is but a vapor and will fade away.  We know that it is appointed to each of us a time to die, and we know that our days are numbered. But 2017 brought a time of examination into my life. With a clear view that my life could have ended here on earth, I had to ask the Lord what He would have me do with the future days that He has graciously placed before me. The Lord has so blessed my life through His Word over the last 33 years. He saved me, totally changed our marriage, helped me raise our son, taught me so many truths, and essentially gave me a new life. I cannot keep these blessings to myself.  I must share them and allow the Lord to bring them into the hands of those who need encouragement in truth. I also leave these writings, with great love, to the next generation.

So … for 2018, I have been led to write devotional posts entitled Every Wise Woman.  Simple devotional thoughts will be written to encourage women in their walk with the Lord, in their marriages, and in their homes with their families. We will build truth upon truth through these simple devotions. The posts are not already written.  I will write as the Lord leads. I do appreciate your prayers.

I invite you to join the journey and to invite others to join us, as well. You will be able to  find these posts on our blog at http://www.wisdomandkindness.com and can follow the blog there to have the posts sent to your email address, or you can have them show in your Facebook feed by liking our Facebook page entitled Wisdom and Kindness.

Looking forward to the journey. Praying that you will join us.  May the Lord bless!

 

Am I a Pleasant Wife?

Pleasant Words

Several weeks had passed.  I had given a devotion on pleasant words, and we had discussed Proverbs 16:24:  Pleasant words are as a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and health to the bones.  Somehow those words kept ringing in my mind, along with a question: Am I a pleasant wife?  Because I could not shake the question, I decided to take a little self-examination, so I began to filter everything that I said through the “pleasant words” filter.  Were my words really pleasant ones?  Were they sweet to my husband’s soul? Did my words bring healing to him?

I knew that in the way that I spoke to my husband there were not angry nor bitter words; neither were there harsh nor loud words.  Certainly there were not sarcastic nor demeaning words.  Yet, I wasn’t so sure that they were “pleasant” words.

Through the years I had learned a number of scriptures that had greatly affected the way that I spoke to my husband:

It is better to dwell in the wilderness than with a contentious and an angry woman.  Proverbs 21:19

It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman in a wide house.  Proverbs 21:9

A continual dropping in a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike.  Proverbs 27:15

The contentions of a wife are a continual dropping.  Proverbs 19:13

A soft answer turns away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger.  Proverbs 15:1

Yes, I had learned many lessons through the years, and The Lord had worked many truths into my life and my manner of speaking, yet this question about “pleasant” words continued to press upon my heart.  What I discovered was that for me to be a pleasant wife, it would require even more of me.

Pleasant Words:  Pleasant words would be more than just not being angry or harsh.  Pleasant words would be agreeable and delightful. Pleasant words would be kind and gracious.  Indeed, they would be sweet words.

A Pleasant Attitude: Next, I found that a pleasant heart attitude would be a prerequisite for pleasant words to be spoken.  The Bible says that it is from the heart where our words flow, so I would need to keep a pleasant heart attitude toward my husband.  My words would surely reveal my heart.

A Pleasant Tone:  The next thing that I discovered was often my words themselves were fine, but I spoke with a short, and maybe even impatient, tone.  I heard that short tone come out far too often.  Sometimes, even an exasperated sigh spoke volumes.

Pleasant Facial Expressions:  And then there were the rolling of my eyes, the raised eyebrows, the scornful brow, and even glaring eyes which spoke loudly, even without words.  So, pleasant facial expressions were added to my list of needed changes.  Even though that may sound foolish, so much is communicated just by our facial expressions and body language. I knew it was important.

So, the self-examination was over, and I was pretty sure that I had not passed it.  I began to make a concerted effort to change those areas which The Lord had shown me, as I continued to pray for Him to help me truly speak pleasant words. Within days, I began to see a very positive change occur, not only in my words, but also in my husband’s reactions to me.

I must confess, I am still working toward speaking pleasant words and being a pleasant wife. As with any change, it comes one step at a time.  In this case, I guess the change will come one word at a time, one phrase at a time, one response at a time, but I truly do desire to be sweetness to my husband’s soul and health to his bones.

Pleasant words are as a honeycomb,

sweet to the soul,

and health to the bones.

Proverbs 16:24

The Mystery of Marriage

Great Mystery

… And they two shall be one flesh. Ephesians 5:31

God has painted a most beautiful picture of  life, as it is intended with Him, in the union of marriage.  God Himself chose marriage as the means of portraying this spiritual truth.  Marriage was neither designed nor instituted by mankind.  Neither can it be changed by mankind.

What was the great spiritual truth that God was portraying as He formed the man from the dust of the ground and then formed the woman from the man’s own rib?  What was the significance of God bringing the woman to the man and the two becoming one flesh?  And, very importantly, how can a Christian marriage aptly reflect these great truths?

One important observation that should be made by the one that believes and loves God’s Word is that this picture of marriage is found both at Creation in Genesis (Genesis 2:18-25) and in the closing chapters and verses of Revelation (Revelation 21:2,9; 22:17).  In the very beginning of the Bible, we find God creating a man and his bride.  At the very end of the Bible, we find the God-man, Christ Jesus, coming for His bride.  Perhaps we would not have the spiritual eyes to link the two truths, but the Apostle Paul sheds great light upon these truths in Ephesians 5.  As the Apostle was exhorting and instructing the believers at Ephesus in very practical ways that husbands and wives should treat one another, he uses Jesus Christ and the church as the example.  In his explanation of the proper relationship between a husband and wife, he says:  This is a great mystery:  but I speak concerning Christ and the church (Ephesians 5:32).  A mystery was that which could only be made known by divine revelation.  It was a truth that was hidden or covered until God Himself revealed it – at His appointed time.  The word mystery can be understood in the context of Colossians 1:26: Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to His saints.  In the same way, the Apostle Paul says that this mystery of marriage concerns Christ and the church.  As Christians, therefore, we should humble ourselves before the Lord asking that He help us understand this mystery which He has revealed in His Word.

God has chosen to demonstrate, in a visible way, the spiritual truth of Christ and the church.  And that visible demonstration is to be seen in marriage – in the relationship between a husband and wife.  For the Christian, this truth has tremendous implication as to how we are to respond to our own husband or to our own wife.  How often do we consider that our day-to-day functioning as husband and wife can bring much glory to the Lord, or actually cause His name to be blasphemed (Titus 2:5)? Let us consider a few parallels between God’s institution of marriage and Christ and the church.

–  Adam was formed first, then Eve (Genesis 2:7).  Christ was existent long before the church became His bride (Colossians 1:16-17).

–  God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, so that his bride could be taken from his side (Genesis 2:21).  It was through the death of Christ that the church was brought forth.  He was pierced in His side (John 19:34).

–  Adam called Eve bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh (Genesis 2:23).  Regarding Christ, the church is called members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones (Ephesians 5:30).

–  Just as God joined Adam and his wife into one flesh (Matthew 19:4-6), Christ and the church are joined into one flesh, as the believer becomes a member of His body (Ephesians 5:30).

–  Interestingly, the Scripture teaches that Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived (1 Timothy 2:14).  Similarly, Christ was not deceived, as He came and paid the sin debt for his bride (John 18:11).

–  Traditionally, a bride was bought with a dowry.  Christ bought and paid for His bride. For ye are bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:20).

–  God brought the woman and gave her to Adam (Genesis 2:22).  A bride was traditionally given in marriage by her Father.  It is the Father that gives the church to Christ (John 18:9).

–  A bride traditionally gave up her identity and took the name and identity of her husband.  The Scripture teaches:  Male and female created He them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created (Genesis 5:2).  Likewise, the Christian should leave the old life behind and take upon the identity and name of her new Husband.  Listen to this beautiful analogy in the Psalms:  Hearken, O daughter, and consider, and incline thine ear; forget also thine own people, and thy father’s house; So shall the king greatly desire thy beauty: for he is thy Lord; and worship thou him (Psalm 45:10-11).

–  In marriage, God joins the two together (Mark 10:8-9).  In salvation, the believer is joined to the Lord (1 Corinthians 6:17).

–  As the marriage is consummated, the wife gives herself to the husband, and the husband comes in unto her.  In salvation, the believer gives herself to the Lord, and He, through the Holy Spirit, comes in unto her (Romans 8:9) .

–  The intimacy between a husband and wife should continue throughout their lives.  The intimate relationship between a believer and the Lord will continue throughout eternity (Revelation 21:2,3).

–  The husband and wife are to forsake all others and be faithful unto death (Romans 7:2).  The Lord has said that He will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).  The church is to forsake all else and be faithful unto death (Revelation 2:10).

–  The husband is to be the head, and the wife is to be a member of his body (Ephesians 5:23, 31).  Christ is the Head of the church, and the church, collectively, are members of His body (Ephesians 5:30).

–  The husband is to love the wife (Ephesians 5:25).  The wife is to respect her husband and arrange herself under his authority (Ephesians 5:24,33).  Christ loves the church with a perfect love, and the church is to respect and reverence Him and to arrange herself under His authority (Ephesians 5:24-25) For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.  This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.  Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

Ephesians 5:31-33

We have lost much of the beauty of marriage.  It is a relationship as no other.  It is the relationship that God Himself has chosen to reveal the mystery of Christ and the church.  As those around us view our marriage, they should see a picture of Christ and His church – because God has chosen that relationship to reveal His truth.  May the Lord renew our minds and hearts that we may see our marriage as He sees it.  Then, may we guard carefully the beauty and the mystery of marriage.

For of Him, and through Him, and to Him are all things:

to whom be glory forever.

Amen
Romans 11:36

Living for the Great Things

But the Greatest of These

Every human being who has ever lived has had the same number of hours in each day.  From the most famous president or king to the least-known person of all time, each has had the same amount of time given for each day.  Our Lord Himself, as He entered time and walked upon the earth, had twenty-four hours in each day.  Do you know how our Lord spent His time?  Jesus said that He always did those things that pleased the Father (John 8:29).  What are the things that please the Father?  What are the things that He considers “great” things?  How should we spend each day that we have been given upon this earth?

When asked which was the greatest commandment in the law, Jesus answered: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.  This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like unto it, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.  On these two commandments hang all the law and prophets (Matthew 22:37-40).

Do you want to live for the greatest things?  The greatest things in this life will never be the grandiose, showy things admired by men.  The greatest things that one could ever hope to attain to are loving God and loving others with the love of God.  This love will require all of your heart, all of your life, and all of your time.

The Bible speaks of important and great things, yet none is greater than love.  And now abideth faith, hope, charity (love), these three; but the greatest of these is love (1 Corinthians 13:13).

How great is faith?  Certainly, it is a great thing.  The Scriptures teach that without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6), and that by grace are ye saved, through faith (Ephesians 2:8).  Most surely, faith is a great thing, but the greatest of these is love.

What a wonderful thing hope is!  Hope is that confident, sure expectation that God will do what He has said – and that confident assurance that He will come again.  Truly peace and rest come from hope, but the greatest of these is love.

Why is love the greatest of all things?  Perhaps it is because it brings much glory to our Lord, for it reflects Him as He is.  But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace are ye saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:4-6).

Look closely:  it was because of His great love for us, even knowing how sinful that we were, that He died for us.  You see, He did what was for our true good, no matter the cost.  And indeed, the cost was great – it cost Him His only Son.  In this act, we see such demonstration of His love (Romans 5:8, 1 John 4:9-11).

Did you know that on the very evening that Jesus was going to be taken and eventually be crucified, He called His disciples together to emphasize some things to them?  Listen to the words of Jesus:  A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another (John 13:34).  This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.  Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends (John 15:12-13).  These things I command you, that ye love one another (John 15:17).  And the final words of the final prayer of Jesus to the Father:  And I have declared unto them Thy name, and will declare it:  that the love wherewith Thou has loved Me may be in them, and I in them (John 17:26).  Yes, the greatest of these is love!

Listen as the Apostle Paul teaches why love is the greatest of all things: … For he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.  For this, “Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet”; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.  Love worketh no ill to his neighbor:  therefore love is the fulfilling of the law (Romans 13:8-10).  The Apostle Paul speaks this same truth as he writes to the Galatians:  For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself (Galatians 5:14).  Yes, the greatest of these is love!

Do you want to live for the great things?  The greatest thing you can do for anyone is to love him or her as God has loved you.  No matter the depth of their sin, no matter the cost to you, no matter the response, you do what is for their truest good.  That is how God has loved you!

What is the greatest thing that you can do for your husband?  Love him, as God has loved you! What is the greatest thing that you can do for your children?  Love them, as God has loved you! What is the greatest thing that you can do for whoever comes to your mind?  Love them, as God has loved you! The Apostle John, who was taught by Jesus Himself in those final hours, declares:  He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love (1 John 4:8).  And speaking of the sacrificial love of the Father in sending His only Son to bear our sins for forgiveness, John says:  Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another (1 John 4:11).

Yes, the greatest of these is love!  Die to yourself, and live for the great things.  You only have twenty-four hours in each day.  And living for the great things is the most fulfilling life that you can find!

On that fateful night before Jesus was bound and taken away, He said to His disciples:  These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full (John 15:11).

Lord, renew our minds.  Remind us that we need not spend our lives consumed with ourselves.  You are a perfect Heavenly Father, and You care perfectly for Your children.  You will care for our needs.  Help us seek the great things – the truly great things.  And thank You, Lord,  for the great love wherewith You loved us.