Tag Archive | one flesh

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! 

 

 

 

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

No More Tug-o-War

imageCan you remember playing the game tug-o-war as a child? One player would get on one end of the rope, and the other would get on the other end.  Then each would pull as hard as he could to cause the other to come over to his side.  Remember?

Unfortunately, this simple game depicts so many marriages today. But, what is God’s intent for a marriage?  Does He intend for a husband and wife to pull against one another throughout a lifetime of marriage?  Are there Biblical answers that can help us? How can we find a solution?

When I think back before my husband and I got married, I lived independently.  I taught kindergarten, had my own apartment, had my own vehicle, paid all my own bills, and lived completely independently.  I had my own schedule, my own way of doing things, my own opinions, and lived as I liked.  Although we had dates, which we thoroughly enjoyed, basically I did what I wanted to do, when I wanted to do it.  What a rude awakening when we got married!

I now had another person living in the house with me.  Subconsciously, what I expected was for him to fit into my schedule.  Although I loved being married, I wanted him to adapt to my life and my schedule.  However, it wasn’t long before a problem became evident.  My precious husband had his own lifestyle, schedule, opinions, and way of doing things.  That is when the tug-o-war began.

My husband tried to pull me his way, and I tried to pull him mine.  The tug-o-war continued for years.  I wanted him to be like me.  I pulled; he pulled.  I pulled; he pulled.  I whined, and he got angry.  Neither of us really made much progress, and many conflicts arose.  Would we forever live in this tug-o-war?

It was The Lord who turned our marriage around.  Although many truths of God’s Word worked together to change my heart, and thus, my life, one of the truly beneficial truths that I learned was that of becoming “one flesh” with my husband.

These were the verses that The Lord used to totally change our marriage:

And the rib, which The Lord God had taken from the man, made He a woman, and brought her to the man.  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 shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife:  and they shall be one flesh.   Genesis 2:22-24

Jesus answered and said unto them,  Have ye not read, that He which made them in the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife:  and they twain shall be one flesh?  Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh.     Matthew 19:4-6

But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.  For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; And the twain shall be one flesh, so then they are no more twain, but one flesh.   Mark 10:6-8

I discovered that God created the man and woman to live as one flesh.  When the man and the woman married, God Himself did an unseen work.  It was God Who joined them together as one.  In Jesus’ teachings, He explicitly declared that God’s plan from the beginning had never changed, and for the married couple, they were no longer two, but they were now one!  They were one because God had joined them as one!  Oh my, how clearly I saw my dilemma. My husband and I were still living as two.  Obviously, we wanted to live as one.  I wanted him to live as I lived.  He wanted me to live as he lived. And the only thing that was produced was a tug-o-war.

Then came the difficult truth to understand and grasp. In the teaching on headship in Ephesians 5, the Apostle Paul referred to the same truth as he quoted Genesis 2:

For we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones.  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.    Ephesians 5:30-32

He explained that this was a great mystery, which really means that it is a hidden truth that is only revealed by God.  What Paul showed us was that the woman was created from the man’s rib, as bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh.  He further expounded on this mystery as he compared the man and his wife to Christ and the church.  The church is called members of his body, flesh of his flesh and bone of His bones.

Oh no, I was beginning to see that Christ is the head of the church, and we are as members of His body, one flesh with Him!  What did that mean for me?  That meant that as the wife, my husband was the head, and I was a part of his body!  Yes, this is a great mystery!  When God was creating the man and the woman, He had been creating a picture of Christ and the church, a marvelous mystery to be revealed thousands of years later.  Likewise, a husband and wife can now look at the relationship of Christ and the church as a picture of how, together, their marriage can reflect Christ to the world.  This is a great mystery, indeed!

But what did this “theological” mystery mean in my simple life?  It meant that my husband is my head, and I am a member of him.  Yes, we were to be one flesh, but it was me who was to be one flesh with him.  Make no mistake, God gives the perfect balance to this truth, but I learned that day to stop trying to pull my husband over to my ways. I saw that I needed to move over to his side.  I needed to start pulling with him, and not against him.

I now saw that if I stopped pulling against him, there would no longer be a tug-o-war.  Very quietly and very gently, without saying one word to my husband, I laid down the rope.  No more tug-o-war.  No longer two, but one flesh.  Thank you, Lord, for one flesh!