Chapter 5: Common Law “Marriage” part I
And those who are in the flesh cannot please God. However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh—for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live (Romans 8:8-13).
Two Become One:
For anyone who reasons, “If I become one with someone through sexual intercourse and we are considered as married, what’s the purpose of marriage? I don’t need a certificate to validate my relationship. In the sight of God, we’re already married,” I direct them to Jesus’ response to the Samaritan woman. In John 4:17-19, we read: “The woman answered and said, ‘I have no husband.’ Jesus said to her, ‘You have correctly said, “I have no husband;” for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; this you have said truly.’ The woman said to Him, ‘Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet.’”
There are a couple of items that need to be addressed. One, Jesus said that she stated correctly ‘I have no husband’ yet she had five husbands prior to her current common-law husband. If she is five times divorced and Jesus made it known that she didn’t have a husband, she is cleared of still being married post-divorce. Secondly, though she was entering into sexual relations with the one not her husband, Jesus did not consider that as validation of marriage in God’s sight. Her granted divorces were honored by God as no longer married and equally, her common-law husband wasn’t a husband at all.
We see continually that marriage is the place of covenant; the only place that God can and will honor sexual relations between a man and a woman. Sexual intercourse is to be kept holy as God intended. It is not for us to use as a tool to alleviate tension, validate a romantic relationship, or abuse in any capacity. Sex outside of marriage is a sin and extremely dangerous, much like a toddler with a butcher knife or loaded gun.
The next question asked a lot among followers of The Way (Christ) is, “What is appropriate conduct in dating?” Let’s look at the next section of Bible passages:
Now concerning the things of which you wrote to me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband. Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control (1 Corinthians 7:1-5, NKJV)
The phrase “to touch a woman” is an idiom referring to “sexual relations.” Apto is the Greek word Paul uses for “to touch.” It has the sense of touch, cling, take hold of; to kindle as in “to kindle a fire.” It can mean any form of physical touch from light caress to actual sexual intercourse.
Paul continues with the word “nevertheless” which connects all that he is saying. Dating is a western practice that isn’t found anywhere in the Bible. This would lead me to believe that dating as we know it in modern western society is invalid. With Paul’s apt “nevertheless,” he instructs men and women to marry and then (as in post-marriage vows) conduct yourselves in any form of touch that is holy in the sight of God.
Many argue that there are numerous things not mentioned in the Bible yet that does not constitute then as sin and that is true for many things such as celebrating birthdays or things of that nature. However, with dating, there are Scriptures that specifically speak to relations between a man and woman that would directly negate the form of dating for which is common today. If “dating” simply meant spending quality time together getting to know one another, that would be acceptable, but all the excessive touching between unmarried couples is indeed sin.
Paul continues to instruct the married couple to not abstain from sex. Within marriage, the man and woman are no longer their own, they belong to each other. We can conclude from this one section of verses alone that touching within the confines of dating is not permitted. We all know that few, if anyone, will uphold God’s way of thinking, sad as the fact is. If you must date, keep your body parts, all of them, to yourself since the more two touch, the more they “burn” and are tempted to forget God and act in the flesh (literally and metaphorically), and will possibly lead to a marriage or some form of improper conduct that God never designed or ordained.
Living together, having sex before marriage, merging households without marriage – these are merely common occurrences in the modern-day Babylon in which we live. We’ve set such a low precedence that no one, including Christians, seems to know right from wrong in any given situation, especially in the arena of romantic relationships.
As I’m writing this, I am currently involved with attempting to help two men out of their unholy unions with women not their wives. Both men feel so trapped that they struggle to see a way out. They’re all miserable because none of the four entered their relationships while in right standing with God; Yeshua was not consulted in the least. These men, because they’re living together in sin with their girlfriends, have wedged themselves into a role of father to their girlfriends’ children and husband to women not their wives. These four have basically been playing marriage all the while having no marital covenant – a recipe for disaster!
One fellow and his live-in girlfriend are both married to estranged spouses. He refused to get out of the relationship when it was suggested and, because he hesitated to do what was holy and helpful for everyone, he eventually became aggressive as they both would badger one another mentally, emotionally and physically. As a result, now he’s in jail. If only he’d been obedient to God so as to remove himself from an adulterous relationship, he’d not be in jail. He tried so hard to force something to work that couldn’t and it ended in a worse way than necessary. This guy was too worried about her kids because he was their only support that he missed God’s plan altogether.
Because of his emotional and financial ties to her children, he felt as though he couldn’t leave. So, he remained in an unhealthy, unholy, unhappy relationship and it ended more poorly than if he had just said, “This isn’t working. It isn’t right in God’s sight. We need to separate.” Fear became a factor; afraid of hurting her, hurting her kids, leaving them abandoned, etc. When fear is in play, wisdom cannot prevail. When fear is in action, God’s voice cannot be clearly heard or obliged. Because of placing himself in a situation that was against God, fear became the lead which causes nothing less than chaos and confusion.
The other gentleman has children and his girlfriend has a child; together they’ve lived for many years. He is acting as father to her child and she is acting as mother to his children. Now he’s trying to get his life aligned with Yeshua and feels stuck just like the other guy. He doesn’t hate her but he doesn’t love her. They can’t divorce because they’re not legally married and he feels trapped in his own home. He illegally positioned himself to become something (husband, father) he never was. They are “common law” married but, in the sight of God, they’re simply living illegally due to fornication and lack of covenant. He too is fearful of what will happen when and if he breaks the relationship as she and her child have nowhere to go.
My suggestion to them both would be to align themselves with God and, in so doing, pull the plug on the very unhealthy relationship, stop having sex, stop living together and recalibrate from there. Fear is a terrible thing but always comes into action when lives are not aligned with the God who has already overcome fear. Imagine if they both began to walk in surrender to Christ. They would no longer worry about the outcome, but only that they are living a holy lifestyle in accordance to God’s commands. By recalibrating their thinking from an earthly, fleshly perspective into a heavenly, godly one, all fears would calm and they would have faith to do what is correct trusting that Yahweh will work things out for all involved.
Those who live in common-law relationships miserable and sometimes volatile are setting a very low bar of life for their kids. They currently worry that the kids will be hurt if they split, but I say that they’ll be hurt worse in the long run if they don’t make an immediate change. Doesn’t everyone want their children to grow in a home where the parent or parents are at peace, joyful, and walking in accordance to Christ’s will? Living together unmarried will always, in time, lead to misery. The only exception is when the couple repents, aligns with Christ and then moves forward.
Question #4: Being a primary care giver of a chronically ill child is difficult on a marriage because I now have separate rolls and it can be very lonely. What do I do?
Yes, indeed, this is a common problem in marriages with anyone caring for a chronically ill, handicapped, or otherwise disabled child. We can become so consumed with caring for the child that we completely neglect our marriage. Speaking for myself, I had to purpose to make time with Michael, not only intimately as in “time alone,” but in allowing him to help. Eeeekkk! When he helped, I generally didn’t like the way he did it (just being honest here). One time Sophia had a long stay at the hospital two hours away and Michael took off work to come with us. Generally, when she was admitted, he didn’t come with us because he was always working and could not take time off. This became intensely annoying and I don’t often get irritated with him. I couldn’t figure out why I was so annoyed as I usually appreciate any time with him. I discovered quickly that I didn’t like him having any say in my interaction with the doctors, mainly because I had all the information needed and could spit it out in my sleep. When he jumped in, he didn’t know and would have to think hard to answer and, as you would conclude, still had to look to me for the appropriate response. This definitely rubbed me the wrong way and Sophia too.
Unfortunately, whoever is doing all the caring tends to get in such a routine that, when our spouse tries to help, it’s more frustrating than helpful as it interferes with the status quo and overall flow of things. Over time, I learned to let him help with Sophia even when he was slower to the draw than I because:
- He needed to be an active participant
- I needed a break from the daily pressures
- It allowed us to bond over the situation instead of being pulled apart
I’m sure there are other valid reasons, but these are the top three. We as women (sometimes men too) tend to be so focused on helping our child that we lose all sight of helping our marriage. We can be, at times, controlling. I’m sure it isn’t you, but it was definitely me. It wasn’t that I needed to control for the sake of control, it was because I knew I had everything down to a science and could do it faster and better than he. However, if you want to maintain or regain a healthy marriage, you must, of necessity, allow your husband to take the lead even when you may have to secretly go behind them and do it correctly. I have found that caring for Sophia jointly was far more productive and easier than going it alone simply because “I do it better.” Sophia also had to learn to allow him to do things for her because she knew I did it all so effortlessly. Letting Michael take the reins from time to time strengthened our marriage and it swept away the loneliness. Truly, working together, even though I still do the lion’s share of the caring, helped in the area of not feeling so alone and altogether by myself in this quest to aid my child.
After all, we must keep in the forefront of our minds and hearts that we entered into covenant with our husband, not our children. If we don’t do whatever is necessary to strengthen our marriage, everyone involved will inevitably lose in the process of trying to gain something else (a healthy child). The more we as followers of Christ begin to gain knowledge and understanding of “covenant,” we will be better equipped to be strong in our marriages all the while caring for our child.
Ecclesiastes 4:9: “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: if either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone?”
Question #3: Financially, having a chronically ill child is a burden and, when I have so many appointments and need to be with my child, I leave my job to care for a child. How do I deal with feeling like I am not contributing to the financial need as I struggle?
This is a tough one for anyone dealing with the financial burden of a chronically ill child. Personally, we would have gone bankrupt many times over had it not been for the grace of God moving through family and friends. Not only was Sophia ill ten years, I too had to deal with my own physical illnesses centering around autoimmune disease, which of course compounded the financial dilemma. Even when I wanted to work (and I love working!), it was out of the question. For one thing, I could not leave Sophia, and the second thing, I could not have done the work even if I had someone to care for her needs and get her to and from doctors’ appointments. It is a huge strain feeling as though you have nothing to contribute.
My solace and resolve with the matter came when I finally released the burden to the Lord. It sounds like a trite thing to say as though “Oh, just give it to God” is an easy thing to do. It is, in fact, not. It isn’t a matter of faith, or at least it wasn’t for me. Rather, it was feeling like I was utterly useless in the arena of contributing to the welfare of the family. Michael was left working ridiculous hours in the attempt to make ends meet. I would be embarrassed that family and friends, of necessity, would have to pitch in to help financially. That alone was disturbing to me, not that we had to accept charity as I’m all for charity, but that we had to receive so much of it. Once I looked at things differently, I was at peace.
I had to stop looking at things as, “Poor Michael, he’s so put upon with the burden of a sickly child and wife who cannot contribute.” I began to see through the single vision of God. I allowed Him to help me get over myself and recognize His grace and mercy through it all. Michael didn’t feel the way I did, so why should I? I could finally see that Michael was appreciative that I would give my time to properly nurture our daughter, to forfeit making more money for the purpose of meeting our child’s needs. When people would give to us, it wasn’t because they felt obligated, but because they love us so much that they willingly gave of their own so that we would not do without. This is biblical! I had to completely alter my fleshly way of seeing so as to become awakened to a heavenly perspective. God’s hand has been upon us since the beginning. I had to learn to value my role in taking care of our family. Michael was fine with dealing with the financial end while I stayed home taking care of everything else.
A mother, or in some cases, a father, grandparent, or other caregiver, must allow themselves to see their own worth and value their contribution to the family unit instead of feeling “less than” simply because they do not directly contribute financially. It’s all about our vision. It’s all about perspective and perception. Just because we see it one way does not make us accurate in our limited assessment. We must get over ourselves, get over feeling sorry for ourselves as though we don’t matter or that we are not as valuable to the family as the financial contributor. It’s actually very self-centered, prideful in fact, to feel sorry for ourselves and feel less than worthy. If we are doing what we need for our child, we are doing our part. In fact, we are freeing the non-primary-caregiver to go and make money so that they are not burdened with what we do.
Hebrews 13:3-6 reads, “Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them. And those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are in the body…make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, ‘I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,’ so that we confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?’” Look at it this way in accordance to Hebrews 13: your child is, in a sense, the prisoner in his or her own body. They are ill-treated by their illness. In this, we must be free from the love of money so that we can join them in their imprisonment so as to aid them. It is more important to help than to make money. “Do not be afraid,” is our direct instruction, because the Lord has not abandoned us. Our rest and our peace is in the hand of the Lord.
Question #2: How do I handle watching the disappointment in my child’s eyes when they want to and try to do something very important to them and they cannot; I just hold them in my arms as they cry?
This question is tough and, if you are a parent of a disabled or chronically ill child, you know it all too well. I can recall when Sophia would desperately want to go to school, go play, or simply hang out with her friends yet could not because of illness. It is truly a gut-wrenching thing to know your child is in not only physical pain, but also mental and emotional pain. It messes with their psyche. I would have to leave the room and cry for her without her seeing my distress lest I cause her more suffering. For me, and I can speak only for myself, the only comfort I found was in knowing God has a perfect plan for Sophia, that, in His right timing, old things will pass away and everything Satan means against her for evil will turn for her good because I love the Lord.
Clinging to the promises of God are all we have in those moments, literally. The only solace any of us have in any tormenting or strenuous situation is faith. Faith that God is faithful when we are faithless. Faith that there is a God, that He is compassionate, and that He knows what He’s doing. I regularly went to Psalm 27, which reads, “I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” The next part is vital which instructs, “Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord.” It sounds much easier than it is, this is know. Regardless, it is the Lord’s instruction because His faith is in Himself. I can’t tell you how many times I had to cling to these Scriptures when all else seemed to fail. All the meds, the doctors, and anything I did to help her failed and miserably so. But God…these words, though cliché to many, are powerful. But God. But God has a plan for all the suffering. But God has a purpose for the sorrow, tears, and anguish of any given moment. All I know is that God is faithful to His righteous seed and, if you have proclaimed that Jesus is the risen Son of God both in word, heart, and deed, there is a brighter day ahead.
I would always remind myself that, beyond the terrible days, weeks, months and, yes, years, God will turn the curses into a blessing. It is an unbreakable promise of God written in Deuteronomy 23:5 stating, “Nevertheless, the Lord your God was not willing to listen to Balaam, but the Lord your God turned the curse into a blessing for you because the Lord your God loves you.” Brilliant! My hope has to be, your hope has to be in God alone. There is no other Source than He. It is a great time to encourage your child that God is faithful even when it doesn’t feel like it, that He will accomplish the impossible on our behalf in a way we cannot imagine. Teaching them to be content in all things, in every circumstance, is vital to whatever comes next. In our weakness, we are made strong through Christ.
Question #1: How do I handle watching other healthy children who easily forget about my child; those kids who move on and don’t look back. There are days when it is just too much as a parent and I want to escape from it all, but I know I can’t because my child cannot so I just continue feeling exhausted, overwhelmed, and sad.
As a parent of a child who was chronically ill ten years and, though recovering, still has bad weeks here and there, I can attest to the frustration and deep sorrow a parent feels watching healthy children live their lives with no thought of your sick child. I can’t count high enough to recount all the times I would be in church or around people with healthy, thriving kids and feel so compelled to cry aloud that I could scarcely contain my sorrow and utter agony. It isn’t that we want the well kids to be ill, rather we desire for our own child to have the freedom to run, grow, and thrive like their peers.
There is truly an inexpressible pain a parent feels watching their unwell child day in and day out with no signs of improvement. If one is not careful to self-adjust, jealousy can set in quickly. For those who know the Word of God well, you are aware that jealousy is a murdering spirit. It will annihilate the best of relationships, yourself, and those around you. Most parents don’t equate these feelings to jealousy but, if we are honest and if we look deeply enough into our soul so as to access the root problem, it is jealousy at its worst. I defer to I Corinthians 3:3 which reads, “You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarrels among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans?”
Most liken this Scripture to different circumstances, but I believe it aptly describes the root of a parents’ problem when we feel such things. It is veiled jealousy in so much as it doesn’t at all feel like jealousy. It feels more like just wanting the best for your kid. This is how jealousy attacks – it is disguised as love. We want so desperately for our child to be well that we begin, in our heart of hearts, to pine after wellness. This pining, per se, comes from pure motives yet morphs into sin, the sin of jealousy. Believe me, I have experienced this first-hand and it is ugly! I’m not generally a jealous person so it took me quite by surprise when I felt it so strongly the first time. If I’m being completely candid, the spirit of jealousy stems from pride. Allow me to explain.
When you or I are in a situation we do not understand, do not like, and is altogether gut wrenching, after a while, pride says, “You and your child deserve better. God is not in love with mankind as a whole, and definitely not you or your child personally. If He were, this would not be happening. How can such a good God allow such heartbreak and agony?” The thing with which I had to come to terms is that, if I am to tell the absolute truth about the matter, we all deserve hell because of the sin-sick nature of mankind. Anything short of hell is a bonus, at least so far as I can tell. In other words, anything less than hell is God’s intense mercy on me, my child, or anyone else on planet Earth. I recognize this can sound harsh but, I promise you, this is how I had to bring myself back to reality and by “reality,” I mean God’s truth v. my skewed perspective of how I believe things should be.
I like to reference Job in these matters. Job suffered and initially blessed God. He lost everything except his nagging wife. Eventually, he suffered intense bodily afflictions. By chapter 30, Job was complaining about his poor estate. Chapter 31 shows Job defending his integrity. By chapter 32, the young prophet Elihu rebukes Job as led by Holy Spirit and this goes on several chapters. By chapter 38, God rebukes Job intensely because of him defending himself and demanding the counsel of the Lord so as to question Him. Chapter 42:1-6, the last chapter, Job is humbled in the presence of the Lord and says to God, “I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge? Therefore, I have declared that which I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. Hear me now, and I will speak. I will ask You, and You instruct me. I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You; therefore I retract, and I repent in dust and ashes.” Job repented. This is crucial to understand in any case of intense, long-term suffering of any kind. Job plead his case expecting God to “fix things” due to how well and long he had served the Lord. This point of view was ungodly and wrong in every way. In the end, once he repented the situation (surrendered to God’s holiness), his life was Spirit-filled instead of based on “things he didn’t really know.” In the end, life was better than before the trial started. God had a plan Job could not see or understand at the time. All God wanted him to do was relent, surrender, and watch and wait for God’s supernatural hand to move.
What is my point? As parents, we want the best for our children. When, in our exhaustion, we get caught up into the emotions of the situation, we cannot see clearly. More specifically, we cannot see God clearly, even though we say with our lips, “I believe. I have faith in God.” Too often, we say it out of habit, but not truly from the heart of faith. We are frequently so irritated that God isn’t healing our child as we believe He should or fast enough, we completely lose perspective. By “perspective” I mean heavenly perspective. We are to set our minds on things above and not things of this earth and illness itself is of the earth. Our focal point is wrong. Other healthy kids as a focus is incorrect. Our child not healing fast enough is not the correct focus. We are to be sober and vigilant in our communion with the Lord. The only way to combat the jealousy is to request of the Lord a change of perspective instead of constantly begging for a change of situation. Playing the comparison game in our minds is terribly misguiding.
It is completely natural to want our kids to be like normal, healthy kids. I feel the same way. However, normalcy should not be our goal. Holiness and God’s perfected will in every matter should be. God has made us supernatural in His image once we receive His Spirit. My favorite author, Watchman Nee, said something to the effect that God’s people are usually too quick to beg to be well when, all the while, we should have the patience to see what God is doing in the trial, and he was a man of severe ongoing suffering. I agree. The body in which we dwell is flesh, which means it is flawed due to the entrance of sin into the world. Some bodies hold up better and longer than others. I have no explanation as to the selection of who is who. What I do know is that, as a parent specifically, we get terribly caught up in the emotion of dealing with our children and, in our emotionalism, we miss the hand of God. We pray the wrong prayers or with the wrong motives, though we are sincere.
For me personally, I had to regularly and repeatedly take my eyes off my child, off other children, off what I believed should happen and when, and begin to praise the Lord for His goodness and mercies which are new every day. What I am saying is not for the novice Christian but rather for the one who desires the perfect will of God in everything. It doesn’t mean we don’t have emotions, that we don’t ever feel frustration, sadness, or irritation. It does mean we must filter all our emotions through the Spirit of God. We must inquire of the Lord, “What should I pray? What should I do or not do? Reveal to me how to rest amid this horrific storm. Father, I believe, help me with my unbelief. I trust You with my life and the life of my ill child. I thank You, Father, that You are more in love with my child than I ever could be because they are Yours first and then mine secondly. Father, orchestrate my footsteps. Lead me to the right place so that I will properly do my part as a parent, but help me relinquish the other parts which are not mine to fix. Thank You that those other children are healthy and do not know the anguish of my child. Help me to set my mind on things above, to meditate on Your Word night and day, to be sober minded and vigilant in Your will above my own, to see as You see, to respond in accordance to Your righteousness, to cast down imaginations and strongholds, and every high thing that exalts itself above the name of Christ in my life, and to think on whatsoever is true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, of virtue, and of praise. I surrender this situation to You completely. Thank You for the rest which only You can supernaturally provide for my soul. Selah.”
Chapter 13: The Last Days
If anyone doubts we are living in the last days, read the Scriptures below and turn on the news. It will verify that what we’re witnessing has been foretold. The disciples were living in the last days and that was over two thousand years ago. One may suggest there are no “last days” since it’s taking so long, but I encourage you to look at God’s timing and not man’s timing. If a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like a day, it has only been a little over two days since the resurrection of Christ. God is not slow, we simply need to see how He sees.
II Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you…” Establishing God’s timeline is vital when assessing the times. Once we understand how God’s timing works, we’ll be less impatient for His coming and readily able to focus on the task at hand. Additionally, we’ll better handle what we’re seeing, not in fear, but in faith.
When I hear the news (I refuse to watch it), I am not afraid and I am never surprised at the level of wickedness going on. Matthew 10:21 is playing out verbatim. People are killing people; brothers are killing brothers, parents and children are killing each other, and much, much worse. I just heard a story where a mother gave birth to twins in a toilet and then smothered them to death. The days are evil and, though they’ve always been evil, people are growing ever more so. Hearts are waxing cold, faith is wavering, hope is dwindling, and people are narcissistic on unprecedented levels. Morality is fluid as opposed to God’s Word, which is absolute and concrete.
With this situation of fluid morality, God is not the bar; each person’s own relative sense of morality is the bar. Each person who is not surrendered to God sets their own level of what is right in their own eyes; hence, the outcome is disastrous. God has set a solid working precedent. With the falling away from Yeshua, who then determines what is good or evil, right or wrong? One says, “Homosexuality, adultery, fornication, pedophilia, or other sexual sins is right” and another says it’s wrong. One says, “Abortion is a woman’s right,” yet another says it’s murder. One says, “I have a right to hate my neighbor or brother” yet others say that right does not exist. The only true demarcation line is in God’s sound and holy Word. It is definitive and unchanging.
In these final hours, God is revealing who are wheat and who are the tares as noted in Matthew 13:24-30. The more dire things become, whom we choose to follow (Jesus or Lucifer) will testify as to whether we stand for God or for lusts of the flesh. Matthew 10 expresses we will be tested and, if we choose people over God, we do not love God. This may sound contradictory to brotherly love, but rest assured, they go hand in hand.
We are to love as Christ loves and He is in love with the human race He created. Contrarily, when we choose the way of mother, father, sister, brother, etc. over the ways of God, we are against Him. In other words, I love my brother or sister, but not to the point where I’ll allow their wickedness to sway me into sin based on my love for them. If my best friend or loved one hates a person, I cannot jump into hatred with them just because I love them. Selfish love would dictate I follow them in sin because I do not want to disappoint them or lose their love. Selfless love will always command standing against their wrongdoing even if it means them walking away.
Love is a balancing act. We are to love and honor all mankind, but not to the point where we step out of bounds with God. In the last days, being a “lover of self” will cause a person of God, even the elite if possible, to stumble because they have not made definitive demarcation lines in their hearts. True brotherly love as from Heaven will not allow us to follow the crowd. Likewise, the last days will cause people to kill one another over petty differences. Do not allow an evil heart of bitterness to grow. Do not allow a heart of luke-warmness infect us. Followers of the Lord Jesus must be sober and vigilant at all times and in every circumstance so as not to be deceived in either Kingdom directive.
Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the Word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the Day of Judgment and destruction of ungodly men. But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance (II Peter 3:3-9).
“Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death (Matthew 10:21, NAS).”
“not as Cain, who was of the evil one and slew his brother. And for what reason did he slay him? Because his deeds were evil, and his brother’s were righteous (I John 3:12, NAS).”
For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household. He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me (Matthew 10:35-38, NAS).
Chapter 6: Righteous Judgment vs. Being Judgmental
I Corinthians 5:9-13, I Corinthians 5:1, II Thessalonians 3:6 are a few texts which bring a stark clarity as to what we are to do with immoral people called by the name of Christ. For those brothers who remain immoral after proper admonition, do not associate with them until they choose repentance before God. We who are walking according to the Spirit are judges of the body of Christ. Christians who operate in sin say, “No one can judge me” but that isn’t true. Only the obedient followers of Christ who are walking according to the Spirit cannot be judged. This is because they continually judge and correct themselves according to Holy Spirit. In this, no judge is required since there is no offense.
So as to confirm my statement, look at Galatians 5:22-26 which states, “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to His cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited or provoke one another or be jealous of one another.” In short, this means those without sin cannot be judged.
There is no law against the love of Christ or the offshoots of love. However, those who are in Christ yet do not abide the love of Christ (which produces a multitude of good fruit), we are to judge one another so as to correct with the purpose of restoration unto Christ and His body. This admonition is from a heart of love, not from judgmental condemnation. Keep in mind that James 2:13 states that mercy triumphs over judgment. We are to be merciful, especially in righteous judgment – that’s what makes it righteous.
As far as those in the world who are not in Christ are concerned, leave them alone so far as correction; we are not their judge because they belong to the evil one. Love them. Honor them. Respect them. By your love, allow them to experience the love of Christ so they may come out of darkness and into the Light.
Contradiction or Not?
“Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge of it (James 4:11, NAS).”
“But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God (Romans 14:10, NAS).”
These and other texts like them are about being judgmental and standing in a “judgy spirit” as I like to call it. Being judgmental, aka critical, is not the same as standing in righteous judgment. I can know the difference this way:
- If my judgment of someone in sin causes me to hate them, desire for them to ‘get what’s comin’ to them, see myself as better than they, causes me contempt against them, and/or I condemn them, it is not righteousness driving my judgment and I have entered sin alongside them.
- If my judgment of the brethren in sin causes me to love them through verbal correction and prayer for them so as to be restored, it is righteous judgment.
If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of that person and do not associate with him, so that he will be put to shame. Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother (II Thessalonians 3:14-15, NAS).”
“If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother (Matthew 18:15, NAS).”
“Do not sharply rebuke an older man, but rather appeal to him as a father, to the younger men as brothers (I Timothy 5:1, NAS).”
“For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment (James 2:13, NAS).”
In brief, never stand with a haughty, judgmental spirit against a brother. All admonishment for their sin must come from a heart of God’s unfailing love. The admonished must see that, though the correction may seem harsh, the love of God is not. They must know we are correcting them with the sole purpose of being restored, not for condemnation. The purpose of godly correction is not punishment, but of discipline so they may be won back to Yahweh.
God’s righteous judges are not called to be curt, rude, belittling, maligning, condemning, or anything else of this ilk. Kingdom brotherly love is not mean-spirited, but kind and compassionate. All righteous judgment comes from love. A judgmental spirit, contrarily, always condemns and that is not of God. Test every spirit. Test those who admonish others according to the Word of God. Be humble, receive proper correction, realign with Christ, and go forward in the love of Christ. The more we correct ourselves, the less outside correction we’ll require. Always love the brethren whether encouraging or disciplining. Furthermore, proper discipline is encouraging.
“I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges. Remove the wicked man from among yourselves. (I Corinthians 5:9-13, NAS)
“But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one (I Corinthians 5:11, NAS).”
“Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from every brother who leads an unruly life and not according to the tradition which you received from us (II Thessalonians 3:6, NAS).”
Chapter Sixteen: Bearing One Another’s Weaknesses
This is a subject near to my heart as it has been grossly misinterpreted by most. Have you ever had a loved one in dire need of assistance and, since you want to ‘bear their burdens’ according to our Lord’s instruction, you get dragged into their chaos and feel more burdened than they? It happens all the time. We think we’re doing right by people when we engage in their problems and we wear ourselves out trying to help when all we do is feel as bad or worse and no one gets actual aid.
We must keep the ‘bear one another’s burdens’ in proper perspective with the fullness of the Word. To be sure, the only way to accomplish this daunting task too big for mere mortals is to first be a person who casts their own cares upon the shoulders of Christ. We must learn to, and I quote, “Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.”
If we cannot care for ourselves in such a manner allowing ourselves to be burden-free through Christ, how can we consider attempting to help someone outside ourselves? We will only further exacerbate our own problems and theirs. It goes back to the question, “Why worry?” If I as a minister, wife and mom cannot cease worry about my own, what good would I be to another? How could I rightly say to one in need, “Trust God” if I’m not doing it myself? I can teach others to pray with power and authority, faith and praise because I first practice it myself with my family. I first must surrender before I can call someone else to surrender.
When I do this, I can indeed help bear another’s burdens because I can, with ease, lead them to the Christ who bears my burdens. Then, we are both free of burdens. Burden-bearing is about no one but Christ alone, the one bearing the entirety of the burden. All roads lead to Christ and Christ is the only road to God the Father, the quintessential burden-bearer.
In summation, the first step in bearing another person’s burdens is to make sure you, first and foremost, have cast your cares upon Christ. Then, and only then, will you be equipped with the power and presence of Holy Spirit so as to lead them to the One who can lighten their heavy load.
My personal self-evaluation: If my yoke is hard and my burden is heavy, I have not cast my cares upon Him and a recalibration is required. With all I’ve endured with mine and Sophia’s health, when things became too hard and heavy, I consult the King and resubmit my troubles to the trouble-checker. At that, I immediately experience the relief of such heaviness and go on about my day. I deal with today as tomorrow has enough troubles of its own and will care for itself.
“Come unto Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30, NAS).”
“Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves (Romans 15:1, NAS).”
“Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions (Romans 14:1, NAS).”
“Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble (Hebrews 12:12, NAS).”
So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father (Colossians 3:12-17).
Chapter 14: It’s All About Refinement
If I have heard once, I have heard a thousand times, “They were such a good person until thus and so happened; then they really changed for the worse.” With all my being, I believe trials and tests do not change a person, they simply bring to light who the person is at their center. It was definitely true in Job’s case as well as my own. Neither of us knew what was wicked within until the disasters came.
Adam lived in utopia and it was true for him. The worst comes out of people in dyer situations because the love of Christ is not in effect. Sure, they may be saved from hell but a person led by Holy Spirit would be able to recognize what God was allowing to happen and even why, instead of tail-spinning out of control and losing sight of God’s reality. Just because one is led by Holy Spirit for a long time does not mean that, in an instant, they can’t revert back to the flesh. Satan is crouching at the door waiting for an opportunity to stumble you. You and I must daily die, which is merely a result of having been transformed into the image of God.
When my first husband left with a note on the coffee table, I fell apart. I began cursing, ranting and raving. Why? It was because I had no grounding in an intimate relationship with God. I had never once said, “Father, show me everything that is wrong within me. Lead me into righteousness.” I had received salvation at the age of six and went on my way “getting people saved” as I was taught. I didn’t drink, curse, sleep around or do drugs. I was basically a “good” kid. However, in reality, it was all a lie because there is no one good but God.
I failed to hear from God, receive warnings, admonition, or anything of the kind. If I had, I would not have married two wrong men. I knew nothing of God except being able to quote a few Scriptures. In my mind, making a profession of faith was equated to “an intimate relationship” when it was nothing more than the beginning of what should have developed into an intimate relationship. I was weak in Christ on my best days and was so because I thought myself spiritually strong and mature.
A terrible weakness in God’s people is the feeling of unworthiness, yet we call it humility. When you focus on your own unworthiness, you are focused on self. Although it certainly appears humble and righteous on the surface, contrary to popular belief, this is another lie from Satan. It is actually false humility, self-abasement, and self-righteousness.
False Humility: “I am unworthy to walk in the shoes of Jesus, so I won’t. I’ll sit here quietly in my recliner of do-nothing. Praise God, one day I’m going up yonder in the sweet by and by. I’ll wait here ‘til I get to Heaven to throw my crowns at His precious feet. Who am I to walk in authority and speak with boldness? I’m too humble to do that.”
True Humility: “I am unworthy and I know it. However, with that knowledge, I (the unworthy one) choose to surrender and live only unto Christ (the worthy One). I choose His worth and allow Him to speak, think and operate through my mortal body. I choose to walk boldly and courageously in the authority and power He projects through me. I give God all praise, honor and glory for all accomplished.”
I pray every believer will get this imbedded in their spirit, heart, and mind. God is not asking for your perfection or power since you have none to offer. He is asking for your willingness to allow Him to move through your weak mortal body as you are merged with Him as one entity. Allow refinement when the hard times hit let you be overtaken by the evil one through despair. God is the perfection in the weakest places of life. Yoked together Christ is the only hope for strength and a sound mind.
“so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ (I Peter 1:7, NAS).”
“If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it (Genesis 4:7, NAS).”
I must be transparent. The “mamma bear” Alexys and the “minister” Alexys are often in conflict. As a minister, I purpose to live a life of balance, love, patience, kindness, holiness and to be at peace with everyone, at least as far as it is up to me. Adversely, as a mother of a chronically ill child, I often feel the urge to, at the very least, tell someone off. Or, at the worst, punch someone squarely between the eyes for their neglect, bullying or disregard for my child who only wants to be well and accepted by her peers.
For example (in no particular order):
- Dealing with doctors who pass her around from this one to that one or one questions another’s diagnosis or treatment and look at me as though I’ve done something wrong.
- When kids her age at school or elsewhere tease and/or bully her because they don’t understand her situation, why she likes colored hair, why she’s so shut down, or why she doesn’t fit the acceptable body image.
- When the youth pastor at our church refuses, though begged repeatedly over a year, to reach out to her or have girls her age reach out to her. He visited her once, had a couple girls text her a few times and, just like that, she was quickly discarded and forgotten like yesterday’s news.
- Dealing with the school powers-that-be who threaten to call truancy because they question the word of doctors as though she isn’t really too sick to attend; who demand meeting after futile meeting.
In the aforementioned scenarios, yes, I definitely want to scream at and hit someone albeit completely contradictory to who I am in Christ. These are the times where I preach the Word of God to myself so as not to completely ruin my testimony for the Christ whom I love and serve. Mamma-bear has, on occasion, gotten the better of me because I despise the injustice thrown at my kid.
The struggle is real and I have to combat it on a regular basis. When these people who are in positions to help my child do not and, furthermore, cause more harm, I battle with mamma-bear, with the inclination of my fleshly man to do what would otherwise come very natural to me. My personality is very aggressive, forthright, proactive and protective and, therefore, it would be nothing for me to blast someone (and I have). I purpose daily to walk according to the Spirit of the Living God versus my natural man. I have to daily find the balance between knowing when and what to speak to whom and just letting loose when the notion strikes.
I have definitely learned, throughout all of this that, in fact, I am fully capable of restraint, patience, and silence; that I can choose to be self-controlled, to be silent when necessary, and, when I speak up, I can do so without yelling or demeaning the person at which my words are directed.
I Corinthians 1:27: “but I discipline my body to make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.”